Lang: Lowell is still 1 Year out from joining CEP – Nutter : That Needs to be Re-evaluated NOW


C.E.P. Reimbursement could still be Windfall for Lowell School Dept.

I respect Jay Lang and his knowledge of finance and especially the Lowell School Dept. budget. However no matter what the former Deputy Supt. stated in his final meeting July 15th, I think Lowell needs to reconsider entering into the CEP for the 2015 /2016 School Year.

I watched the July 15th meeting of the School Committee and
at the 67:20 mark Deputy Supt. Lang states that Lowell has some concerns about the potential loss of Chapt. 70 and entitlement funds and sites Worcester has another city that is not jumping in yet.

However according to the Worcester Telegram: On Thursday July 23rd, the Worcester School Committee was scheduled to refer an administrative inquiry about whether to join the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision to its Finance and Operations Standing Committee, according to Superintendent Melinda J. Boone

According to an explanation published by the state education department, as districts have adopted the USDA program, eliminating the need for them to count their students who are eligible for free- or reduced-price lunches, the state has had to come up with other ways to define low-income students.

The federal program, which pays for lunches for all students in districts that have large low-income populations, has already been adopted in Boston, Lawrence, New Bedford and other major urban centers around the state. Worcester, too, is “learning towards it,” said the district’s nutrition director, Donna Lombardi, “but there are still some details that have to be clarified.”

Chief among them is the state’s new definition of low-income students, which has ramifications for other income-eligible government resources the district relies on, Ms. Lombardi said. “Which is why we’re cautiously evaluating (the Community Eligibility Provision),” she said, with an eye on rolling it out for the start of the upcoming school year, with the School Committee’s approval.

The new definition, which is based on students’ participation in a range of other need-based government services, will affect everything from the size of grants that districts are eligible to receive to the amount of annual education aid they get from the state.

After some careful evaluation, however, Worcester officials “believe (the state’s) database is accurate,” Ms. Lombardi said, and “feel we’re ready to proceed forward” with consideration of the universal free lunch program.(Bold mine)

If Worcester is ready to jump in and Boston, Springfield and New Bedford already belong..why is Lowell dragging its feet?

According to school officials in some other cities that used the Community Eligibility Provision in the last school year, there’s little debate that the program works. “It just seemed like a no-brainer to me,” said Andre R. Ravenelle, superintendent of the Fitchburg schools, which began offering universal free lunch during the 2014-15 school year. “We went with it, and it’s been great.”

One of the program’s main selling points is its simplification of the USDA free lunch system. Participating districts can simply offer free meals to whoever wants them. Previously, school systems had to process individual free- and reduced-price applications, which in addition to creating lots of paperwork led to difficult interactions between administrators and families that were just on the cusp of eligibility, Mr. Ravenelle said. “Many districts have ended up on the other side of a table with parents because of lack of (student meal) payments, and that’s a really sticky place to be,” he said, adding that the USDA’s new program “takes all of that away.”

Azell Cavaan, a spokeswoman for the Springfield schools, which also adopted the Community Eligibility Provision at the start of the last school year, said the program also creates a healthier environment for students. “It levels the playing field,” she said, by eliminating the distinction of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. “There are no more stigmas in the classrooms or lunchrooms.”

Yesterday I showed why the Greater Lowell Tech had concerns about applying for the CEP program. Using this year’s calculations, I’d like to show what would happen (as far has I can tell) if Lowell participated.

From the Lowell School Dept. Website: Children need healthy meals to learn. Lowell Public Schools offers healthy meals every school day
Breakfast costs $ .75; lunch costs $2.05.

According to this chart , reimbursement under C.E.P for this upcoming School year would be between : $3.13 – $3.15 per meal served, depending upon F&R %. Multiply that times meals served daily, then totaled monthly and that is your reimbursement figure received monthly

The .+.06 is for districts who have had their menus certified by the DOE. This means that Nutrition, Health and Safety which oversees nutrition programs for the DOE has certified that the menus and offerings served by LEA’s are compliant with the HHFKA. I would imagine that a company as large as Aramark has done this.

Think about this – Looking ONLY at what Lowell just paid for “Un-Paid” Lunches $153,783, let’s say for sake of this exercise we combine the cost for breakfast and Lunch $2.80 and divide the un-paid lunches by that amount – That would mean in a school district with 14,000 students Approx. 54,922 meals were served that were never paid for or approx. 305 PER DAY!

IF the City was part of the CEP instead of paying the $153,783 the City would have received at a reimbursement rate of $3.13

So until someone from the Lowell School Department or Lowell School Committee can explain to me the disadvantage of Lowell being part of this program especially now that Worcester is jumping on board, I will continue to say I can’t understand why the City would not want to give EVERY STUDENT IN LOWELL A FREE BREAKFAST AND LUNCH? and keep asking WHY are we not part of the C.E.P.?

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