With school closed through the end of the academic year, Seneca Valley School District is providing free lunches to nearly twice as many children as it does during the school year.
At a virtual school board meeting Monday, Superintendent Tracy Vitale said about 1,100 of the district's 7,000 students participate in the free or reduced-cost school lunch program. When the school closure began March 13, the district provided meals to nearly 200 students at two or three sites.
But after the district received a waiver from the federal government to provide the meals for all children regardless of family income, that number has exploded.
“We started off, early on, with almost 200 children,” Vitale said. “I am pleased, yet sad, to report that we are now feeding 2,152 children.”
The superintendent added that while there is “no guarantee” the district will receive the same reimbursement for these meals — $2.20 per breakfast and $3.40 per lunch from the federal government and 10 cents for each meal from the state — she is confident the district can provide the meals through June 5, the last school day for those in kindergarten through grade 11.
“So long as the federal government and the state come through on their past promises, we hope to cover the food in that way,” she said. “If, at any point, we would run out of funds in the cafeteria fund, we would then come to the school district and ask for that fund to be made whole from the school district.”
The school board approved the suspension of certain policies to grant Vitale flexibility in how grading, graduation requirements and grade promotion will be handled during the school closure in the midst of the pandemic.
The suspension was granted, and the superintendent will be allowed to establish alternative policies, for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
Additionally, the board suspended “any applicable” district policy such that they may now hold board meetings virtually, rather than in-person.
Employees who physically come to work at district cafeterias will receive financial incentives to finish out the year.
The board approved additional time-and-a-half wages for three days, as well as a $600 stipend for those workers which will be payable on June 26.