SCSD9 agrees to meal price increases

BIG PINEY – Food prices spiked 8.8 percent between March 2021 and March 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The cost to fill up a car or truck at the gas station exceeded $4 per gallon in all 50 states on May 18, the Washington Post reported.

Families, individuals, businesses and organizations are feeling the pinch of inflation, and Sublette County School District No. 9 is no exception.

As a result, at its May 17 meeting, the SCSD9 Board of Trustees approved a motion to increase school meal prices across the district for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Spiraling food and transportation costs prompted the district to propose the additional meal costs, said Angie Clifford, food service director for SCSD9. The district bumped up prices five years ago, but the 2017 rates are not sustainable to cover the 2022-2023 school meal program, Clifford added.

Under the plan adopted by the trustees on May 17, students will pay an additional 25 cents per breakfast at Big Piney and LaBarge elementary schools, Big Piney Middle School and Big Piney High School, an increase from $1.75 per meal to $2.00.

Lunch prices at LBES and BPES will go up by 60 cents, from $2.40 to $3.00. At BPMS and BPHS, rates will go up 50 cents, from $2.75 to $3.25.

The USDA’s waiver program providing free meals for all students during the pandemic expires at the end of June 2022, said Superintendent Dr. Charles Jenks.

Families qualifying for free and reduced meals will not be affected by the district’s price increase, Clifford told the Examiner. Costs for reduced meals will remain at 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch, she added.

The USDA establishes income thresholds for free and reduced meals under the National School Lunch Program. SCSD9 receives updated guidelines from the USDA on qualifications for free and reduced meals each summer, Clifford said.

Once the district is permitted to publish the new guidelines, SCSD9 posts the information and applications in press releases, on the district website and through email, said Clifford. Clifford will also mail out paper applications to families this year.

Families that may qualify for free and reduced meals are encouraged to fill out their applications before school year starts.

Additional district news

Trustees voted to increase SCSD9’s services contract with Sierra Wickham to administer psychological evaluations to students in the district by $14,000. The change in the contract is meant to cover additional student evaluations as required by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Board Chair John Fear thanked retiring staff members Vicky Hubbert and Sherri Bohleen for their many years of service with the district. Hubbert served as food service coordinator at Big Piney Elementary School and Bohleen was a cook at BPES.

Following an executive session, the board approved the following extra-duty assignments: Jeff Makelky, BPHS activities director, Jess Nugent, BPMS activities director, Jeromy Moffat, head high school football coach and Shane Voss, sixth-grade boys’ basketball coach.

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