Madison County students will have to pay a little more next school year for breakfast and lunch.

The Madison County School Board approved the lunch price for the 2008-09 school year Thursday at $2, an increase of 25 cents, and the cost of breakfast at $1.10, a 10-cent increase.

The price increase should generate $160,000 in additional revenue for the 2008-09 year for district food services.

Last year, the lunch price at elementary schools were raised 25 cents to be equal to middle and high school lunch price of $1.75.

“You hate to do it, but when the food costs go up and those types of things you have to sort of move along or you’re not going to have any operation,” Emily Agee, food service director for the district, said about the increase.

“Our program is self supporting,” she said. “Our program is funded based on student participation. Right now, to produce a meal this current year was $2.77. Our (lunch) meal cost was $1.75. The federal reimbursement for a paid meal is 23 cents. You can sort of add that up.”

The number of students eating meals at school has either decreased or remained steady based on the individual school, Agee said.

Food services also has had to eliminate 31 hours of labor because of the decrease in student participation in the program.

“For the first time that I’ve ever known, we’ve reduced hours,” Agee said. “We’ve never done that before. Nobody lost a job. We just had to reduce some hours.”

The food service department conducted student surveys and met with high school student voice groups to get input and ideas about meals.

“We’re brainstorming about how we can encourage kids to eat with us and how can we get the word out to parents about how our program is supported,” Agee said.

“It’s not just local,” she said. “It’s national of schools facing the challenge of trying to feed the kids and trying to keep prices reasonable. It’s true you can’t go out anywhere and buy a meal for $2, but families have a lot of other bills, too.”

The board also heard a presentation about professional development from Randy Peffer, chief academic officer for the school district.

“Due to budget cuts statewide, professional development is one of those places where the state department and legislature had cut some monies,” he said. “So, we’re trying to provide the quality of professional development for all teachers of Madison County, as well as administrators, on a much-reduced budget.”

The district will be offering a Madison County Teaching, Learning and Technology Conference on July 28-31 at Madison Central High School and the district achievement center.

Participants can earn up to 24 hours of professional development free of charge during the conference.

“It’s going to be Madison teachers teaching Madison teachers,” Peffer said. “We’re taking the experts in the district and letting them teach one another. It’s a great opportunity.”

Bryan Marshall can be reached at bmarshall@richmondregister.com or 624-6691.

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