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USD 428 receives help for hungry students
Computer and lights purchases approved
chromebooks file pic 2016
Great Bend Middle School students work on Chromebooks in this file photo from October of 2016. Great Bend USD 428 replaces Chromebooks on a three-year rotation. Desktop and laptop computers for teachers and labs are replaced on a five-year rotation. - photo by File photo by Susan Thacker

Great Bend USD 428 received $600 from anonymous donors this month to help buy lunches for students who owe the school district for meals.

Superintendent Khris Thexton said this wasn’t the first time funds had been donated to the student lunch program for this purpose. The latest gifts replenished an earlier one and came from two donors. One was a $400 gift with four schools each receiving $100: Great Bend High School, Great Bend Middle School, Jefferson Elementary School and Park Elementary School. A second anonymous gift for $200 was simply donated to the student lunch program.

The gifts were announced at Monday’s school board meeting during the regular report of contributions and grant submissions. In addition to these gifts, the district received a $500 donation to the USD 428 Gifts and Grants Fund from Insurance Planning Inc.

“We appreciate the generosity of all of the people in our community,” Thexton said.

Meal policy

Students pay $1 for breakfast and $2.10 for lunch, plus 30 cents for milk. If they are eligible for reduced prices, breakfast is 30 cents and lunch is 40 cents. The student handbook notes that the school cafeteria encourages good nutrition. Lunch options include five or more hot lunch choices, a chef salad, combo lunch or snacks.

In 2017, anticipating new federal policies, the school board revised its policy on what to do when students are in arrears on their school lunches. Parents are asked to pack a lunch for those students, but if they don’t have a meal the district may provide students with peanut butter, crackers and milk as an alternative.

Districts are not required by law to allow students to charge any meals, but those that do must set a dollar amount or a maximum number of meals at which point no further charges will be accepted. (The policy does not apply for students who are eligible for free meals.)

Currently, students are allowed to be in arrears by $2.80 if the receive reduced-price meals. For students who pay full price, the grace amount ranges from $8.60 to $9.25, depending on the grade.

“After the grace period amount has been reached, the school principal will ask the parent/guardian to send sack lunches with the student until the delinquent account is paid,” Thexton said. “The donations will pay for the cost of a meal when the child hits the debt limit.”

Computer purchase

In other business Monday, the school board approved the purchase of 33 desktop computers and 133 laptop computers for teacher use and computer labs, at a total cost of $171,523.50.

Thexton noted that the school’s computers are updated using a five-year rotation cycle and the Chromebook purchases are on a three-year cycle to maintain up-to-date technology for staff and students. This year’s expenditure was similar to what the district spent in 2018.

As computers are retired, they are made available for teachers and staff to purchase. That usually occurs in the summer.

School districts can use State of Kansas contracts for purchases as an alternative to going through the competitive bidding process and that is what USD 428 does. The computers are being purchased through Hewlett-Packard. The cost of the purchased computers was $651.50 per desktop and $1,128 per laptop.

Stadium lights

As previously reported, the school board also approved the purchase of professional lighting for Memorial Stadium at GBHS. The cost includes $139,000 for lights from Musco and $19,400 to a local contractor for installation. An update to that report: Hammeke Electric in Great Bend is the local contractor that submitted the low bid of $19,400.