2008-10-23 / Front Page

School Committee questions the drop in school lunch sales

By Eileen M. Daly

The School Committee considered the possible reasons behind a significant drop in the meal sales at the Lawn and Melrose Avenue Schools during their Oct. 16 meeting.

One of the potential reasons considered by the committee concerned the appeal of the food choices for the students. Everyone agreed that the fruit and produce are of very high quality, but the new emphasis on healthy entrées seems not to be resonating with the students. A representative from Lawn Avenue School reported that fewer kids are buying lunch and that the children have been complaining about the food choices. Melrose Avenue School Principal Carole Melucci reported that children are not complaining at Melrose Avenue, but they are not buying as much as they had been previously. School panel Vice-chairwoman Julie Kallfelz suggested that a discussion be held with the food vendor and also suggested that students should express their concerns directly to the chef whenever possible.

B.J. Whitehouse, of the school board, strongly recommended that the principals of the two schools encourage the children to put their concerns into writing, as he felt that would make it significantly easier to address the issues with the vendor.

In another matter, Julia Held of the school panel, gave the first reading of the Jamestown School Department's proposed Policy on Bullying and Cyber bullying. Following the reading, School Committee member William Brennan questioned whether the policy was an expansion of the Rhode Island state laws on bullying. Held pointing out that the law, in fact, mandates that each school department have a policy on bullying. Whitehouse concurred saying that the policy represented "parameters not procedures." The issue of whether or not the policy should include adults or whether it should be specific to children was also raised. Kallfelz expressed concern that students have a policy for addressing potential abuses by adults. Whitehouse said that there are numerous policies and laws in place to address any potential abuses by adults. The committee agreed to keep the bullying policy specific to children. Another reading of the policy will be given at the next meeting.

Another significant concern for the School Committee during Thursday's meeting concerned the possible overcrowding of buses. Director of Student Services Robert Fricklas offered his report on the current status of the busses and indicated that the busses should not be overcrowded. It is possible that some students are not riding their assigned bus, he said, but rather are opting to walk to another stop in order to board a bus with a later departure time. If that is occurring, he said, it would account for the reports of overcrowding. Several methods of insuring that students ride their assigned busses were discussed. The committee agreed to continue to monitor the situation.

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