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School meal price increase tabled

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

McCOOK, Nebraska --The McCook school board tabled a school lunch price hike until it can get more information.

The increase is needed to respond to new federal guidelines concerning government reimbursements to schools offering free- and reduced-price lunches.

The new guidelines are to prevent schools from receiving higher reimbursements that what they charge for meals.

To meet the new federal guidelines, the McCook School system was notified last year that it will have to increase meal prices by 30 cents.

In June 2011, the board approved a 10 cent price hike for school breakfasts and lunches, with the idea to increase prices gradually. Another 10 cent increase would be implemented in two years, with an additional 10 cent increase two years after that.

Superintendent Grant Norgaard said Monday night that schools do not have the five to six years they thought they had to get to that level, so the increase is coming sooner rather than later.

He said the Nebraska State Department of Education, that works between the state and government, notified schools late last week to hold off on increasing prices, until more clarification is received.

"Clearly we are going to have to increase our prices over time," he said, but what the time table will be in doing this is unclear at this point.

The board unanimously tabled the proposed 5 cent increase. School board president Tom Bredvick commented that it would helpful if government reimbursements could be more regionalized, as "the cost of beef is different on the West Coast than in the Midwest," he said.

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