DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. – Davidson County Schools has currently racked up $41,000 in school lunch debt and administrators said they’re not too sure why these lunch tabs aren’t being paid.
The largest lunch debt in the school district as of Friday is almost $6,000 at a single school.
“Principals are trying really hard to get all the money collected,” said Superintendent Emily Lipe.
Schools have until the end of the year to collect the money before the charges are placed on the county’s tab, according to a federal mandate.
“We have to use our local dollars to pay for that, so $41,000 if that’s how much we’re still left with at the end of the school year, that’s a significant amount a money,” said Lipe.
School officials said that’s two thirds of a teacher’s salary.
With these lunch charges growing at a steady rate, district officials are looking at ways to cut the numbers.
“We communicate with our parents and encourage families that can qualify to complete the free and reduce lunch forms,” said Lipe.
43 percent of students in the county are already on free and reduced lunch.
“Also, our cafeteria manager can set up payment plans for anyone who doesn’t qualify for free and reduced lunch,” said Ashley Lemely, principal of Southwood Elementary.
Principal Lemely said they’re trying to take the school’s lunch debt into their own hands.
“We did not want to fundraise for charges that are incurred by someone else,” Lemely said.
She teamed up with parents and administration to creatively collect money.
“A school dance where it’s something the kids can enjoy doing. Also, a yard sale is possibly in the works,” she said.
That way county funds can help go toward other school needs.