School board

Rotary club members asked for donations outside of local grocery stores to raise the money, which will be used to buy an automated external defibrillator (AED), a portable electronic device that treats cardiac emergencies.

“We truly hope they never have to use it,” said Rotary representative Arthur Haaxma.  “But, if they do, it’s there now.”

Transitioning out of Cunningham and Columbia

The process of deciding what to do with the soon to be empty buildings of Cunningham Elementary School and Columbia Elementary school is underway.

The School Board must decide if the buildings will be kept under school board ownership or declared as surplus and returned to the county.

“Members of the community have approached us with ideas of what they want to do with the buildings,” said Superintendent Gena Keller.  A few churches have asked for the used of Columbia, while another group is interested in retrofitting Cunningham for adult use as a law enforcement training facility.  “The encouraging piece is that at least there is interest.”

However, leasing the buildings while they are still under school ownership may not be a winning deal for the school board.  If the buildings were to remain under school board ownership, the school board would be responsible for paying for $2,000 in annual insurance the buildings require, as well as paying for any repairs and maintenance staff.

“From a revenue standpoint, I don’t know that it’ll make us money,” said Assistant Superintendent Chuck Winkler.  “It may be better for the county.”

“I don’t know if we can survive another year of such hidden costs,” said Keller.

The extra supplies within the two schools will also need to be properly stored, given away or sold.

“We want to have smart parameters about the furniture that we do need.  You need to always have five classroom sets available for growth,” said Keller. “Once anything is declared surplus, we can donate, we can sell, or we can call 1-800-GOT-JUNK.”

School Lunch Prices to Increase

In order to be in compliance with the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, Fluvanna Public Schools will raise all of their school meal prices by 10 cents next year.

“We’ve been a little hesitant and drug our feet not to raise [lunch] prices, just in sensitivity to what people were facing in the economy.  But we have to be in compliance,” said Superintendent Gena Keller.

Elementary school lunches will go from $2.15 to $2.25 and high school lunches will go from $2.40 to $2.50.

The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 requires that all schools that charged less than $2.59 for paid lunches (not including free and reduced lunches) are required to adjust their price to cover the difference.  However, the law also caps the required increase in lunch prices at ten cents in any year.  For the next two school years, lunches will go up by 10 cents, to meet the $2.59 “lunch equity” figure.

Fluvanna County Public Schools is struggling with the credit system that its food service department uses.  Many children charge the food they receive at school to an account, billed to their parents.  However, parents have no way of checking their account balance electronically, often leading to escalating, unpaid bills.

“Some children have charged a tremendous amount, we’re working to make sure that parents are aware of what’s going on,” said Keller.  “When you get into lots of dollars, it becomes quickly unmanageable and people become blindsided.”

The schools have tried counseling parents who qualify to apply for free and reduced lunch, which would provide the school with more federal funding to pay for lunches, but, as School Board Chair Camilla Washington says, “It’s a touchy subject.”

“If you look at the application itself, it can be very intimidating.  [Parents] could certainly just throw it in the trash rather than ask for some help to fill it out,” said Washington.

According to Keller, school counselors will be on hand to help students and families confidentially discuss how to pay for school lunches or apply for assistance.


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