Lunch plan in bad taste

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Regardless of how they try to rationalize it, the Ironton City School district is weighing a serious decision with severe consequences: It is the bottom line vs. student well-being.

That is exactly the question the district is facing.

Unfortunately, their good intentions and fiscal responsibility have prompted a decision that could ultimately hurt some segment of students, the very people the schools are there to serve.

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The problem stems from the district’s decision to deny hot lunch to any student who has a lunch account balance of more than $10.

Those students will be provided with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and milk. They will be charged the same $1.75 as the hot lunch.

This decision was communicated poorly and is wrong on many levels — but it is not too late for Superintendent Dean Nance to stop this before it begins on Monday.

Although there is clearly a problem with the district subsidizing students who are spending their lunch money elsewhere, the problem is that this punishes others who simply may not have the money.

Students who get these sack lunches are being singled out and are likely to be labeled and teased by their peers. Fear of this may prompt some students not to seek a lunch at all.

The other major problem is the time frame given for parents who owe money to correct this. The notifications were sent out last week with the deadline to correct the problem Friday.

If those families are eligible for free or reduced lunch, this may not be a problem. If not, this could be a significant amount of money to come up with in a very short time.

The district clearly has to address this issue but other steps could be taken that won’t single the children out and put their nutrition — and ultimately ability to learn — at jeopardy.

It is inexcusable in the cases where the parents and students have simply shown a lack of responsibility.

But the Ironton district has a responsibility too and that is, first and foremost, to put education above the bottom line.