The Lawrence school board on Monday will consider a third proposal to change student fees, which would add fees for students who qualify for reduced-price lunches; new meal prices; and some organizational updates.
The board will revisit the possibility of increasing student fees. District staff members have compiled a new proposal after pushback from some board members and concerns about equity for families that are struggling to make ends meet.
Currently, the basic student fees for instructional materials (formerly called the books, materials and technology fee) are $97 per year for grades K-5 and $147 for grades 6-12. The proposal would add $3, charging $100 for grades K-5 and virtual K-12, and $150 for grades 6-12. There is also a $15 transportation fee for field trips. Additional fees come with a student’s participation in extra activities.
Students who qualify for reduced-price and free lunches have not been required to pay student fees in the past. Students who qualify for free lunches would still be exempt, but this proposal would require students with reduced-price lunches to pay $30 for grades K-5 and virtual K-12 and $45 for grades 6-12. That equates to 30% of the full-price fee amounts, reduced from the 50% that staff members suggested at the June 27 board meeting.
Device fees, which are currently not required for the district-issued iPads and Macbooks, may also be required. Depending on whether they pay full or reduced prices for lunches, elementary and middle school students would pay $15 or $10 in device fees, and high school students would pay $25 or $15 in device fees. Students who qualify for free lunches would be exempt.
Altogether, for students who pay full prices for lunches, the required elementary fees would be $130; middle school, $180; and high school, $190 per year. Those who qualify for reduced-price lunches would pay $40, $55 or $60, respectively.
The summarized proposal of fees for the 2022-2023 school year is below.Schedule-of-Enrollment-Fees-2022.23
Additionally, the board on Monday is expected to finalize meal prices for this coming school year as free meals will no longer be available by default to all students. This means families who do not qualify for free or reduced-priced meals must pay full prices when the new school year begins.
In addition, families must fill out an application for free or reduced-price lunches. The district will make that application available soon after meal prices are set. We will also post information and details about how to apply.
Under the proposed prices in the meeting agenda, none of the student meal prices are increasing over the prices approved for the 2020-2021 school year, according to the agenda. However, the price of lunches for adults will increase by 90 cents, and breakfasts by 10 cents.
Lunches will cost $2.80 for elementary students, $3 for middle school students, $3.05 for high school students, 40 cents for students with reduced-price meals, and $4.65 for adults. Breakfasts will cost $1.80 for elementary students, $1.90 for middle school students, $1.95 for high school students, 30 cents for students with reduced-price meals, and $2.55 for adults.
Meal prices are on the board’s consent agenda, meaning they will likely be approved in one vote with a list of other items unless a board member or the superintendent asks to discuss them.
In other business:
• The board will also revisit the Board Governance and Operations Manual, which the board policy committee reviews annually and suggests adjustments.
Some proposed changes pending approval include requiring board members to notify the district when they receive inquiries from media; revising policy to say board members do not have to respond to communications from the public “that contain vulgar language, or are of a harassing, threatening, or discriminatory nature”; tightening rules about public commentary during board meetings; and editing language within the roles of board and district advisory committees.
The full draft of the manual with proposed changes incorporated is available at this link.
• The board will look to elect its new president, who was formerly Erica Hill, and vice president, who was formerly Shannon Kimball. Pending a vote, Kimball will move to the presidency. The board will also consider appointing the clerk of the board, district treasurer, deputy clerk, deputy treasurer and homelessness coordinator.
• Legal counsel: The board will consider designating Brad Finkeldei of Stevens & Brand LLP as legal counsel for the 2022-23 school year. Finkeldei is also a Lawrence City Commissioner.
The meeting will start at 6 p.m. Monday, July 11 at district offices, 110 McDonald Drive. Meetings are open to the public, livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel and broadcast on Midco channel 26. Full meeting agendas are available at this link.
To give public comment virtually during the board meeting, email PublicComment@usd497.org by 6 p.m. on the day of the meeting to sign up to participate by Webex video/phone conferencing.