Waterloo School Board considers change to lunch payment policy - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Waterloo School Board considers change to lunch payment policy

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WATERLOO (WKOW) - An online petition with more than five hundred signatures urges Waterloo's school district leaders to modify the practice of taking away hot lunches from middle and high schoolers, if it's discovered their lunch account balances have insufficient funds.

A proposed , three-day grace period of serving students hot lunches, even if a student's account lacks needed funds,
is to be considered Monday by members of the Waterloo School Board.

Waterloo Schools superintendent Connie Schiestel says student families receive emails, phone calls, and lunch line reminders to students of low, fund balances to try to help students avoid having a depleted lunch account.

But signers of the petition started by parent-teacher organization secretary Angie Stinnett includes scathing criticism of Waterloo's lunch account practices, with one signee calling them the equivalent of bullying kids.

Parent and school board candidate Laura Cotting tells 27 News she complained about her son's hot lunch tray being taken away, but felt school officials were unmoved.

"It was more of an attitude, 'You have to keep lunch money in your account, otherwise you're having consequences for your child' Basically being told my kids will be humiliated and made to suffer because of the actions that I did," Cotting says.

School board candidate Laurie Freund tells 27 News the policy is wrong-headed.  "Students should not be used in bill collection."

Schiestel says Waterloo's policy is relatively consistent with policies at school districts elsewhere. At Madison schools, middle and high schoolers receive a two day grace period of hot lunch when lunch accounts have insufficient funds.

Waterloo students who have hot lunch trays taken away, are offered a cold lunch alternative of peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Schiestel says because the hot lunches have been served before accounts are checked, if funds are insufficient, the food is thrown away. She says fund verification does not take place before the food is served due to middle and high schoolers having several, a la carte hot food choices.

If the proposed change is approved on the first reading Monday night, the proposal will continue to a second reading and approval on April 14.  At the earliest, it would take effect starting April 21.

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