Archived Story

City school lunch prices to rise per federal mandate

Published 12:41pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Alexander City Board of Education voted 4-0 to raise the price of lunches for all schools at its meeting Tuesday.

Kindergarten through sixth grade lunches will be raised from $1.85 to $1.90, and seventh through 12th grade lunches will be raised to $2.20.

CFO Rhonda Blythe said the raised prices are mandated by the federal government.

“This is another USDA requirement. There has to be an effort by the schools to reduce the difference between the rate that we’re charging for paid meals and the reimbursement rate,” Blythe said.

Blythe said the price increases only apply to lunch and not to breakfast.

“Basically we don’t have any other options,” said board member Steve Robinson. “We hate to do this, but we have to do this.”

Board member Kelly Waldrop was not present.

The board also approved renewal of the contract with Southern Foods, who provides food services for the city schools. The contract had many addendums, according to Blythe.

“These addendums … split up management fees, and we had to add that we would buy American,” Blythe said. “It also added how we would expand on how record keeping is going to be. Basically this is coming straight out of guidelines from USDA.”

Board President David Sturdivant then read a letter from Outlook Publisher Kenneth Boone pertaining to a perceived violation of the Alabama Open Meetings Act of 2005 during the April 24 BOE meeting in which the board discussed candidates for superintendent.

Boone wrote that “it appears by the length of the (executive) session and the subsequent vote without further discussion that the Alexander City Board of Education violated” the act.

“Under the Open Meetings Act, a public board is only allowed to meet behind closed doors for very specific reasons,” Boone wrote.

Boone wrote that Tallapoosa Publishers had contacted the Alabama Press Assocation’s expert on the Open Meetings Act – Dennis R. Bailey of the Montgomery Law firm Rushton, Stakely, Johnston and Garrett – to brief him on the incident.

“Bailey said, ‘In my opinion, the deliberative process was not open to the public … There is strong circumstantial and direct evidence that the Alexander City Board of Education deliberated the merits of various candidates … in executive session rather than in an open meeting and thereby violated the OMA,’” Boone wrote.

Boone requested that the BOE “cease any further activity that violates the Open Meetings Act, or that could appear to violate the Open Meetings Act, and (Tallapoosa Publishers vows) further legal action on behalf of the public should the board disregard state sunshine laws in the future.”

“The Outlook is confident that the apparent violation of the state ‘sunshine laws’ was unintentional and that the board’s decision on the superintendent’s job would not have changed had more of the discussion been held in public. In other words, we support the board’s decision but dispute the methodology used to come to that decision,” Boone wrote. “We feel that this apparent violation of the Open Meetings Act was simple oversight and feel this public notification is all that is required to remedy the situation unless similar incidences occur in the future.”

The board also heard from Deputy Chief Willie Robinson and Sgt. James Orr regarding a grant for which the Alexander City Police Department is applying that would fund the addition of two school resource officers.

The grant, Orr said, would fund 75 percent of the salaries for the two officers. He and Robinson requested the board and the ACPD split the remaining 25 percent of the cost, to which the board unanimously agreed.

“It’s a bargain,” said Superintendent Lou Ann Wagoner. “It’s one of those offers you almost can’t turn down.”

The board also:

- recognized board member Fred Norris for his 10 years of service and presented him with a plaque

- recognized the Benjamin Russell High School valedictorians Kelly Harris, Hamp Haynes and Robert Weaver and salutatorian Anna Lee Price

- recognized Tiara Thomas for winning the National Achievement Scholarship

- recognized the other top 10 seniors from BRHS: Alexandra Brazzell, Gavin Fuller, Katy Gray, Lorin Holcombe, Trey Kidd and Elizabeth Nelson

- recognized the following 4-H students for their achievements in the state 4-H Shotgun Championship: Clayton Boone, Chason Channell, Tyler Watts, Wilson Harris, Becca Cooper, Sam Cooper, John Chapman and Myles Landers

- heard a restraint report from 504 Coordinator Kristi Boone, who reported that only one child in the school system had been safely restrained for less than one minute during the 2012-2013 year