Should they stay or should they go? That's the question school officials are debating in the Prior Lake-Savage district amid complaints from Prior Lake High School students and parents that new federal school lunch guidelines don't provide enough calories to meet active students' needs.
Janeen Peterson, the district's director of food services, presented the school's options at a recent school board meeting, with a board decision expected in April or May.
One solution is to keep the National School Lunch Program, which would mean losing the federal funding attached to participation. The school currently receives $992 per day in reimbursement from state and federal sources, including $810 for students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches. The district could then implement a two-year pilot program, said spokeswoman Kristi Mussman.
Finances are one important consideration, but the district will lose money whether it remains a part of the program or not, Mussman said.
Those guidelines are part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, federal legislation passed in 2010. This year, the government added to previous guidelines, restricting the total calories, fat and sodium content of foods served for lunch. There is also an emphasis on whole grains and a requirement to take one fruit or vegetable.
"What it will really come down to is what students, parents and staff would like to see in a lunch program at PLHS," Mussman said. The district will send out a survey in late March to determine what students, parents and staff want.
Last fall, Wayzata High School also opted out of the federal program, citing similar concerns with portion size, calorie content and overall satisfaction.
Some school start times might change
Start times will remain the same for elementary schools in Minneapolis next school year, but changes are possible at middle and high schools.
Minneapolis Public Schools announced the results of its parents survey late last week, saying parents overwhelmingly prefer start times between 8 and 8:30 a.m., and dismissal times between 2:30 and 3 p.m.
School start times in Minneapolis vary widely, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
"Although start and dismissal times will remain the same for elementary schools, we are still considering making changes for middle and/or high schools in order to lengthen the school day and offer students more academic options," officials said on the district's website.
More than 8,000 parents, students and staff members responded to the district's start time survey.
Legacy nominations deadline approaching
Nominations for the Legacy Awards are due March 23 in the Eden Prairie School District. The awards honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the district.
Awards are made for Teacher of the Year, Staff Employee of the Year, Alumnus of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and Student of the Year. Nomination forms are available at each school site and at www.foundationforepschools.org/legacy. Winners will be honored May 6.