Your opinion--free/reduced lunch matter

Discussion in 'General Education' started by shouldbeasleep, Jan 21, 2009.

  1. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Jan 21, 2009

    The school where I work decided this year to issue the kids cards with a barcode on them that reads their id number. They are supposed to use these cards to check out books and to use them when they go through the lunch line. Supposedly this is to make the task of going through the lunch line faster since it's difficult for the younger ones to remember a 5-digit number.

    On Tuesday, the admin decided to charge students a dollar if a new card has to be made. (The original card is given to them free of charge.)

    We have a large number of free/reduced lunch students. Do you think it's legal to ask them to pay the dollar?

    Two of my mildly intellectually disabled kids have lost their cards. They are both free lunch. I just decided to send the money down for them (and two other free/reduced lunch kids) instead of trying to make them pay. One's father is also mentally handicapped (her older brother runs the household), and the other's family doesn't speak English. The other two I paid for are just struggling.

    I don't mind paying. However, I think this is a poor decision on the school's part, let alone possibly illegal.

    What do you think?
     
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  3. njsiii

    njsiii Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2009

    I think someone has to be responsible for these cards. That means either the student, if they can't do it then the parent, if they can't do it, then the teacher.
     
  4. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    There might be some USDA regulations that cover this.
     
  5. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    well I know there's a fee at our school because the students lose their id's because they let someone borrow to eat lunch with. We have a really big problem with free and reduced lunch fraud amongst the students who see it as helping out a friend rather than defrauding tax payers. They pass their id's around so much that they end up losing them and have to pay a fee to get a new one. But a dollar is nothing to how much they would have to pay for an actual lunch.

    I know another reason they are charged is because it costs money to buy the placards and ink for the machines that make the IDs, from what I'm told it's fairly expensive and the fee offsets the cost of maintaining and operating the machine.
     
  6. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    My school was 100% free/reduced lunch
    if kids lost their ID it was $1.50 (Middle school)
    If a kid does not have their card they go to the end of the line and have to wait.
     
  7. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Personally the kids shouldn't have the cards until right before they go to lunch. Then after lunch the teacher should immediately collect them. That is the first step of ensuring that they are not misplaced. Kids aren't fully responsible for themselves yet. Heck, adults lose things all the time as well.

    I can understand their point for charging students. You have situations that certainly qualify for hardships. Even so, it does cost money and someone does have to be responsible. I think that you just have to do your best to safeguard them, for your student's sake, and then after that the parents have to pay the fee. What happens if they don't?
     
  8. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    But they also use the card for checking out books at the library
     
  9. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Jan 21, 2009

    Yes, I agree that I've got to do what I can to make sure they aren't lost. So I keep them in a special basket, I hand them out right before lunch, and I collect them when they come back in from lunch.

    Some still get lost...although I suspect that will be cut down now that I told them that I was getting fussed at because they weren't being careful. They like me enough to see that I shouldn't be the one to get nailed.

    However, I still can't see how you can charge someone for something they have to have at school. We can't even force them pay for a field trip. We have to attach a note on the back of the permission form stating that the field trip is a school- sponsored event and that they don't have to pay. (All in incomprehensible legalese so that 99% of the parents don't know this. And in very tiny type.)

    So, yes...someone has to be responsible...and it should be the kids.

    I'm just thinking there is a bit of a legal issue.

    I'm not going to say a word about it since I already feel like I've brought too much attention to myself already. (I ...ahem... sent back an e-mail to the media specialist telling her that I was told to make sure all my kids had cards now, and that she didn't need to send a notice to all of the grade level chairs with my name and the names of my irresponsible students who she had to make cards for.) I usually don't stoop to being annoyed about dumb e-mails sent out school-wide but apparently I was a bit irked at trying to get a dollar from some of these kids and yet being told they HAD to have them.

    And what exactly does this have to do with me teaching?
     
  10. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    This is just another one of those things we get stuck with. I'd paid the kid's dollar too under those circumstances it's not going to make or break you and we all chose our battles.

    I doubt seriously that you can have the system change their policies and the expenses have to be paid by someone. If there wasn't a fee attached kids wouldn't care how often they'd have to have them replaced and there would be a long line in front of the office every morning for kids who lost their ID's, then they'd be late getting to class, they'd interrupt everyone upon their entrance, and all the teachers would be mad about that.

    This is just one of those things that is supposed to make life more convenient and less complicated but not for everyone.
     
  11. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Our lunch room cashiers used to collect the cards after the students went through the line up. The cards were then returned to the teachers after lunch. The teachers passed them out before going to the lunch room.
     
  12. Writer's Block

    Writer's Block Companion

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    Jan 22, 2009

    Our school charges for id's also if they are lost. It is trying to make the kids responsible for something. So much of the time anymore, responsibilites are lacking (homework, studying, etc). This is a way to teach them responsibility without it being too big of a thing.

    Our kids (MS) lose their id's all the time. They have to pay $5 for a replacement. It costs the school money to replace them (the card itself, the ink to print them out, etc)., and they have to pay $1 for the lanyard if that is lost. Again, it covers the cost of the materials.

    If they didn't have to pay to replace them, where is the money going to come from? I understand paying for the students you described--I would have done the same thing--but when it happens over and over again, it's expensive.
     
  13. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    Jan 22, 2009

    As in most Cases of IDs the ID belongs to the school so students should/must replace a lost ID.....
    Since it is a case of "responsibilities" there is nothing wrong with a student eating last or eating a PB&J sandwich instead of the "mystery meat" sandwich or "the red stuff with noodles". no kid has ever died from not eating a school lunch (I don't know if any who have died from eating a school lunch :eek: )
    I have an allergy to fish, When I was in grade school Fridays were fish day so I got a PB&J sandwich instead, served by the sweetest lunch ladies in the world, was I at any disadvantage? NO! Some kids would fake something to get the PB&J.​
    :soapbox:
    Since I am of the Baby Boomer Generation, my parents were part of the G.I. Generation & Silent Generation, they put man on the moon, ended polio, grew up during the deprivation of the Great Depression, won World War II, rebuilt Europe and Japan, went on to build and rebuild United States industries in the years following the war and faced the Cold War all without a free/reduced lunch program in schools imagine that.
    Maybe a little deprivation might help in the learning process to gain responsibilities. :2cents:
     
  14. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Jan 22, 2009

    I did end up talking to the P today because we were going over a lot of things and it came up naturally.

    The upshot is they will pay for the card regardless of free or reduced lunch status. The P called down to the lunch manager while I was there and put her on speaker phone and asked her if we could make the free/reduced pay, and she said she didn't know. So he called the district manager who said "yes" as long as we didn't deny them a lunch.

    (I emphasized the speaker phone thing because while she was on she told the P that the "fifth grade really had some problems". So I leaned over to the phone and said who I was and that I was a fifth grade teacher and that it would all be taken care of by next Wednesday. I think she was taken aback that I was there. I got a chuckle out of it.)

    So anyway, we agreed that they also wouldn't be allowed to buy ice cream if they didn't have their cards. When I told my kids that, they grumbled. Which gave me another private chuckle. One parent came by after school today to get me the dollar. Hah! Guess the ice cream made a difference!

    So my legal question was answered by the district manager. What a pain this has been. I imagine I'll have some parents complaining next. I'm all set to say, "This is a school-wide decision having to do with the lunchroom. I'm a teacher. Let me know if you have an issue with anything to do with teaching."

    Thanks for you input. I look forward to not having this be an issue anymore.

    Now on to the real problem of getting them to understand how to model division of fractions.
     
  15. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Jan 22, 2009

    $1.00's cheap. Our replacement cards cost $5.00. Temporary badges are $1.00 -- no badge, ISS for you. Our kids have to have them around their neck and displayed at all times. We're 99.99% free/reduced lunch. It doesn't bother me at all. The kids have money for soft drinks/candy/chips after school at the store.
     
  16. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    I am just going to say that kid will memorize their student ID numbers if they want to. Our kids all the way down to pre-k memorized a 6 digit number. It takes about the first six weeks of school. We give the class a pizza party to the first class that who memorizes it first.
     
  17. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Same here, txmom.
     
  18. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    Our kids have to pay to replace their ID. In addition to having them for library and lunch they also wear them for identification. We do ID checks once a week. Other than that no one bothers me about my kids having an ID. If they don't have it they eat last. We have almost 400 kids at one lunch so no one wants to eat last.
     
  19. catsos2

    catsos2 Companion

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    We also have a $5 replacement fee. Most of our kids (I think it's something like 97%) are free or reduced. $5 for a lost card is a lot cheaper than $3 a day, everyday for lunch.

    Yes, it can be a stress on some families, but those kids tend not to lose them more than once. With a $5 fee, most kids are pretty careful.

    We also charge them for a new one if we see that they have been chewing on them or destroying them in some other way.
     
  20. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

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    We have lunch cards but it is the teachers responsibility to take care and distribute them to the children. We're at a K-5 school, so our little ones have a hard time with responsibility. We have a huge percentage of free/reduced lunch but if they don't have a card or fail to bring in that small fee that has accumulated over time, the students are forced to have cereal.

    On a different tangent... sorry for hijacking..
    I STILL can't believe how many students get the free program here at my school. They get fed breakfast, a free snack through a government program, free lunch, and free after school snack. It boggles my mind, where does parental fiscal responsibility come into play?:2cents:
     
  21. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Crzy, I don't mind my tax money paying for programs that feed students who normally wouldn't eat breakfast if not for at school; however, I wonder how many of those students getting free/reduced lunch actually need it.
     
  22. Crzy_ArtTeacher

    Crzy_ArtTeacher Comrade

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    Yes STG, don't get me wrong I agree with you, when it's need-based. However, I know that many of the parents in my district take advantage of the programs.
     
  23. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I have been behind some of my students' parents in line at the food store, it burns me to see them use food stamps to buy the high priced meat and food stuffs and use their cash to buy beer and Liquor and I am buying macaroni & cheese

    Or see kids on free/reduced lunch and they come to school with new iPods and new $150 shoes where I just bought $10 shoes from Walmart.
     
  24. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I agree with Dave - I would send the note home that the kid needs to bring in a $1. If they don't, and they don't have the card, what is the cafeteria going to do? They can't not feed the kid. They might get PBJ. They might not get any extras. They will learn to be more careful with the card, and nobody is starving or even hungry.

    Maybe you could get some lanyards or something for them (I would say good old yarn but that's probably illegal now...) so they can keep them on until they get back to the classroom.
     
  25. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    When my parents first got married and both worked on a dairy farm, their budget was very tight. One night they went to the store and got some very cheap stew meat to make dinner. The woman in front of them had a cart full of expensive steaks and food, including a few packages of the same cheap meat my parents were having for dinner. As they put the stuff up on the counter, she explained to the cashier that the cheap stew meat was for her dogs, since her food stamps wouldn't pay for dog food.

    So her dog ate just as well as my parents that night. It is a shame people abuse social programs like that, and it is no wonder my parents don't support them at all.
     
  26. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    I have mixed feelings here. Some of these parents pick up their kids in huge SUV's with TV's mounted in them. The kids come in reeking of cigarette smoke. But they get free lunches. Go figure.
     
  27. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    silver-that's horrible!!!

    I know the school I'm tutoring at is mostly free/reduced, and the cars these kids get picked up in shocks me.
     
  28. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    The teacher is in no way responsible for paying for these lost cards. It is kind and I would do it for several of my students, but the "someone" who "has to be responsible" isn't the teacher. My opinion, of course.
     
  29. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Is it possible that you could keep the cards for the children to use? That will save them from having to remember where they are.

    Also, you could keep a donation can in your classroom for spare change. Ask the kids to bring in coins they find on the street or maybe some spare change from paying for lunch and use the money for missing ID cards. That way your class learns to take care of each other in a small way.
     
  30. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I agree, I would pay a dollar myself to have an extra card for me to keep and take it to lunch every day for them to check out.
     
  31. Irishdave

    Irishdave Enthusiast

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    I had a extra card for myself I would treat my subs to lunch
     
  32. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    I believe if losing things is a manifestation of the students' disabilities, then it is NOT legal. If the students don't have TSS workers or aids then I would think that it is more illegal. I teach at a title 1 school and money is never a concern. For an example, i'm planning a school trip and if a student can't afford it, then the school district will pay for them to go. Also, if your school receives title 1 funding, then this would be even more illegal. I'm not completely sure though.
     
  33. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    This is from MY experience. I teach in an urban setting where more than 90% of the students are in poverty. A lot our students ONLY get fed at school. Their parents are involved with whatever it may be, but it is NOT the child's choice to have these parents. We have a lot of students who live in homeless shelters. WE NEED free breakfast and lunch. I believe that we should send home dinners for the children. It really saddens me when I think that some of the students will not have food in their tummies over the weekend. Children don't choose to be in the situations that they're in. Please think about how we can help the children, not the parents. A lot of times there aren't any parents.
     
  34. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Your district/city doesn't have a weekend backpack program? Every Friday, some of the kids get food 0 snack, pb, jelly, bread, etc. for over the weekend. They bring the backpack back on Monday and it's filled again the following Friday.
     
  35. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Awww...that's really nice.
     
  36. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Totally agree with you. I don't think our older kids need a freakin' card with an id number on it. It's never been a problem in the past, and the line went smoothly when they told the cashier the number. Media specialist argued against them for the older kids when it came up in preplanning. She said it was going to be a pain in the neck to make them when they got lost.

    I solved the whole mess by making my bossiest girl be in charge of passing them out and collecting them after they've been swiped. The P. gave me a sturdy box to keep the cards in rather than the basket. It's a cigar box.

    He has a sense of humor. I think he was waiting for me to say something about it being inappropriate. I didn't bite and I just took it.
     
  37. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    We don't have this and I wish we did. This is a really nice program. :) Kids need food in their tummies.
     
  38. Momzoid

    Momzoid Companion

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    Our kids have numbers to memorize. Its the same number they will use as long as they are in our school system. If the child forgets their number or puts it in wrong, our sweet cashier will say "baby what's your name" if she doesn't remember it. Then looks it up on the computer- punches a few buttons, presto! Then the kid can eat. Why make it complicated? Why add more to a teacher who already has enough of non-teaching stuff to do!:soapbox:
     
  39. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    Our school uses badges also, except the students HAVE to wear them all day. They have little clips, but I bought my class the lanyards. If they lose the badge it is a dollar. They can type in the number at lunch if they don't have the badge, but they can't buy ice cream or check out library books. We have a calculator holder pocket chart in the room, each student has puts their badge in their number slot when it is time to pack up. They put them on when they unpack in the morning.
    I've had a couple lose the badge, and only 2 issues this year with it. Both were about students whose families were going thru a hard time financially. I knew things were tough, and went to the P, told him the situation and was able to get the badges for free for them. I sent a note home to the parents letting them know that badges were replaced, but that next time the students would be responsible for paying for them.

    My main issue was kids chewing on the cards. YUCK-O! I sprayed them with Lysol and that ended that!!! :)
     

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