The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 23, 2012

School construction updates to be presented to Joplin board at Tuesday meeting

Price of school lunches going up

The Joplin School Board will focus on construction updates at tonight’s meeting as the school district continues to accept bids for new buildings to replace those destroyed in last year’s tornado.

“There’s going to be a lot happening here shortly,” said Randy Steele, board president. “The exciting part is when you see foundations being poured and ground changing, and the site changing.”

The board will look at bids for dirt work and utilities for the new combined Joplin High School and Franklin Technology Center, and bids for East Middle School’s wood flooring, athletic equipment, casework and fire sprinkler system.

Steele also will sign the paperwork that makes the sale of $35 million of the $62 million bond issue that was passed in April official. At its June meeting, the board approved the sale of the bonds. Steel said the district will wait to sell the additional bonds until the last minute because of interest rates.

The board also will look at price increases for school lunches, a federally mandated increase through the Department of Agriculture. The increase will affect only students paying full price for lunches, and not those who receive free or reduced-price lunches.

Lunches for elementary and middle school students will increase by 10 cents, to $1.50 and $1.60, respectively. High school lunches will increase by 15 cents, to $1.75. A la carte milk will increase by 5 cents, to 35 cents a carton.

“You don’t want to do things like that, but we’ve been put in that position; we don’t have a choice,” Steele said. “We want to make sure kids eat breakfast and lunch every day.”

The increase comes from an increase in the cost of food, milk, fuel and labor. The school district last increased the food prices in 2007. A presentation will be given to the board by Rick Kenkel, food services director.

About 38 percent of Joplin students will be affected by the price increase, Kenkel said, and he expects those increases to continue for the next 10 years.

Steele said he encourages families to check if they qualify for free or reduced-price lunches for the upcoming school year, and to fill out necessary paperwork if they do.

The board also will hear a presentation on the Big Smiles dental program. Dentists and assistants visit children during school hours for checkups and evaluations at no cost to the district.

The program is primarily funded through grants, corporate sponsorships and Medicaid reimbursement. A dentist and dental assistants go to the schools a few times per year. The program involved more than 15,000 children in Missouri in 2011.

Steele said that if the board approves the program, members hope to implement it this fall at schools throughout the district.

Time and place

A WORK SESSION will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the regular session will start at 7 p.m. today at the school district’s administration building, 3901 E. 32nd St.

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