During the Thursday evening meeting of the Hamilton County School Board, the board voted to accept a proposed 50 cent price increase to school meals.
Board member Rhonda Thurman questioned the increase, saying it did not make sense financially because student participation in school meals was already down. She asked, "Does it make sense to go up on something that's gone down?"
It was stated to the board that the reason for the price increase was an increase in the meal costs due to new federal regulations.
In an effort to make meals healthier and curb obesity, the federal government mandated that starting next fall, all grains used must be whole grains and each meal must contain a fruit or vegetable.
The board was told, "This next year, a fruit or a vegetable has to be on that tray for it to be a reimbursable meal."
Another regulation cuts the amount of sodium that can be used. An official said this was difficult, but that having to use all whole grains was the hardest because "some students aren't indoctrinated to that yet."
Ms. Thurman said that if kids did not like the changes, they would just throw more food away. She said, "It just worries me that so many kids are going to be hungry. I know there are some kids out there whose parents can't afford it."
Board member Jeffrey Wilson said, "If I didn't like it at $2.75, I'm certainly not going to buy it at $3.25."
During the meeting, the board also voted to rezone some students at Rivermont to Hardy and some students at Clifton Hills to Donaldson. The concern was not just overcrowding, but that some students were being bused far from their homes.
Superintendent Rick Smith said, "We think it's a correction that needs to be made. They're the only elementary students right now we're busing across the river."
Vice Chairman George Ricks Sr. said, "It's hard for parents to go across the river and volunteer for causes...If we want parental involvement, we have to do community schools."
It was also pointed out that if a student became sick at school, some parents would not be able to travel across the river to pick them up.
Also announced at the meeting were the winners of teacher of the year. For the elementary division, Lisa Steele, a second grade teacher at Ooltewah Elementary won. For the middle school division, Cathy Jones, a fifth grade teacher at Nolan Elementary won. For the high school division, Tiffany Williams from Tyner Academy was selected.