A measure unanimously approved by the Bibb County school board Thursday will allow every student in the school system -- regardless of income level -- to get free breakfasts and lunches.
As part of the federal Community Eligibility Program, the government will reimburse the school system for the full value of free lunches for all students.
Cleta Long, school nutrition director for the Bibb County school system, told school board members that the program could mean an additional estimated $1 million for the system’s nutrition program.
School board member Lester Miller, who serves as the chairman of the board’s Fiscal Services Committee, said there should be about $500,000 in additional savings collectively for parents who currently are paying for school lunches.
“It’s definitely a win-win for everybody,” Miller said. “It treats everybody equally. It takes away the paperwork that the staff has to deal with, and it helps students whose parents don’t fill out their paperwork. ... It’s a no-brainer.”
The board initially heard about the program last spring, but there were questions about whether it would affect other federal funding. That issue was resolved.
Beyond the savings, board member Lynn Farmer noted that by making the school meals free for everyone, students previously receiving free lunches will no longer be stigmatized.
In other business Thursday:
The board voted 7-1 to create a performance learning center to be located on the second floor of the Hutchings College and Career Academy. Board member Ella Carter was the lone dissenting vote.
The program, which is voluntary, isn’t disciplinary. Rather, it would help identify students who are “over-aged and under-credited” and help them get back on a path to graduation. The program would mainly focus on ninth- and 10th-graders.
The board unanimously approved 4901 Faubus Ave. -- the current site of Morgan Elementary School -- to be the site of a new elementary school. The district must receive approval from the state for the site, which is the next step in the process.
The board also unanimously agreed to receive a grant from the state’s Department of Natural Resources that will provide funding to buy a new, energy-efficient school bus to replace an aging, less environmentally friendly bus in the fleet. The grant will pay for about $25,000 of the cost, with the remaining funding to come from the school system’s extra penny sales tax.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.