After maintaining school meal prices at the same rate since 2016, the St. Michael-Albertville school board recently voted to approve raising rates on breakfast and lunch prices by $.10 for the 2019-20 school year.
Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault said district staff checked with five comparable school districts, and she said STMA’s lunch prices are below all others they queried even with the dime increase. For breakfast, STMA’s prices are lower than all other districts surveyed with the exception of matching Wayzata’s elementary school breakfast prices. The new rates are $1.85 for breakfast, $2.60 for elementary lunch and $2.75 for middle and high school lunch. Breakfast will continue to be free for kindergarteners.
The meal prices are rising despite a 26 percent fund balance in the district’s food service fund. Foucault said the food service fund balance has given them funds to renovate and improve their kitchen and food service areas, as they cannot use food service funds for other areas of the budget. She also said the breakfast program did not break even last year, its first year of operation, due to the additional staff hours required, but she said they expect to break even on breakfast with the increased rate.
Long Term Facilities Maintenance Levy Approval
The board also approved a small increase to the district’s long term facilities maintenance levy. This program began in 2017 as a way to give Minnesota school districts funding for facility maintenance needs. Each district’s funding level is determined based on its per-pupil enrollment, age of buildings and a formula allowance. STMA receives $380 per pupil per year, approximately two-thirds of which is funded through the state and one-third through a local levy. The 2019 long term facilities maintenance levy is expected to rise around $40,000 over last year, per the formula.
Foucault said this year’s long term facilities maintenance budget of $1.5 million funded parking lot and sidewalk repairs, roof maintenance, fire panel updates, re-carpeting middle school band and choir rooms and media centers, cafeteria floor replacement at Albertville Primary, tennis court repair and a new floor at the activity center’s upper track, among other items. Buildings and grounds coordinator, Terry Zerwas, said they are putting some of these funds aside each year so the district will be ready when the new turf field need replacement.
Foucault added that if they chose not to levy these dollars, the district would be giving up about $1 million in state aid because they must contribute their share locally in order to receive the state funding.
“In the last 10 years we’ve done a lot of maintenance, trying to catch up,” Zerwas said, “because the dollars for doing this stuff was very difficult to obtain. Without [the long term facility maintenance fund], I’m competing against kids. And you’re going to lose every time.”