The state of Minnesota funding for schools is very complex. Within the system there is something called compensatory funding, which provides a significant amount of state funds for all schools. This is determined by the percent of students who qualify for free or reduced meals. (Last year we received over $650,000 from compensatory funding.) As a district we believe we are missing a significant number of students who qualify, because they either don’t eat school lunch, or their families are making paid lunch work within their budget so they don’t fill out the forms. Therefore we are missing out on some of this revenue. Students don’t have to eat the meals for our school to qualify for this revenue, but we do need the form completed. By making this a routine experience for all families, it will be helping all students get free meals, not just their own. We will eliminate the need for families to make any decision as to whether they qualify or wish to apply. If we hit the ultimate goal of 95% of students having completed forms, it is our estimate that we could get as much as $250,000 more from the state. This extra revenue will more than pay for the meals for all students and we can spend the remainder on any aspect of education we choose. The catch is we need to get this information to the state by December 15th to qualify for the extra money, or we must wait until next year.
We are making this a top priority, not just because of the financial benefit to the district, but research shows, and we believe, kids learn better if they have eaten. This additional revenue can allow us to make meals as much a part of each student’s education in Menahga, as text books and computers. Therefore, we are offering incentives for the whole school if we get the completed forms in. First, if we get forms completed for at least 80% of our students, ALL students would receive free meals. To hit 80% we need forms for about 240 more students, but we only need one form per family. Families who have qualified or already completed forms this year do not need to resubmit them. If we meet this goal, we will provide free meals and a full, unlimited salad bar with lunch for ALL students. If we can get 90% completion, the principals and I will serve an ice cream sundae party to the entire school. If we can get 95% completion, we will have a pizza party for the entire scho ol.
This program will save families who are currently paying for lunch about $175 this year per child. If successful, the program would save around $350 per child next year. I have been asked the question “Can families still pay for lunch if they choose?” The answer is yes, the money you save is yours to do with what you wish. I would be perfectly happy if you used it to support your family in other ways, but if you wish to continue paying for school meals, we will still be tracking the meal counts for every child. We will not however send a bill. You can simply write a check and you can choose to use it to support any school program you desire including the district’s food service program.
The application is on our website at the following link: http://www.menahga.k12.mn.us/page/2516
ALL FINANCIAL INFORMATION YOU PROVIDE IS CONFIDENTIAL UNDER PENALTY OF LAW
For privacy, envelopes are available in each office. If you have questions regarding the forms, please contact Deb at the district Office: 218-564-4141 ext. 330