BOE REJECTS SCHOOL MEAL PRICE INCREASE
HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Board of Education has decided against raising public school meal prices out of concern for working families hard hit by the recession and already facing higher fees for afterschool programs, summer school, and student transportation.
The Board voted 8-2 Thursday night to oppose increasing the 95-cent school breakfast to $1 and the $2.20 lunch to $2.35 as recommended by the Department of Education.
The proposed price hikes came in response to Act 26, which was passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Linda Lingle in 2009. It mandated the Department to set breakfast and lunch prices at no less than half the cost of preparing the meals due to escalating food, energy and labor costs.
Board Chairman Garrett Toguchi called for the Legislature to repeal Act 26, and provide sufficient funding for the school food program instead of passing on steeper costs to struggling families.
“A hungry student cannot learn,” Toguchi said, noting that new meal prices just took effect in January, when lunch rose from $1.25 to the current $2.20, and breakfast increased from 35 cents to 95 cents.
“While some families may be able to absorb what appears to be a modest increase, students in the so-called ‘gap’ group would not qualify for free and reduced lunch,” Toguchi added. “These are the very same families whose students are also ineligible for state subsidies available for afterschool programs and bus transportation – services that have already become more expensive.”
The one-way bus fare increased to 75 cents from 35 cents this year, while next year, the fee for the afterschool A-Plus program will jump $25 to $80, and summer school will cost $190, up from $160.
Here’s a list of budget items the Leg, the BoE and the Abercrombie administration agree not to deal with: Hawaii DoE: Cost of waste, fraud, and corruption between $191M and $431M per year