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Students will be eligible for free meals

June 4, 2013
By Beth Christian Broschart Staff Writer (bbroschart@theintermountain.com) , The Inter-Mountain

Members of the Randolph County Board of Education learned Monday that nearly every student in the county will be eligible for free school breakfast and lunch next year.

Lorrayne Corley, child nutrition director, said 14 of the 15 county schools will be eligible for participation in the USDA's Community Eligibility Option Program for the 2013-2014 school year. The only school that did not qualify was Elkins High School.

"County wide our need is 39.4 percent, but the state does not round up," Corley said, noting that the required need percentage is 40 percent for a school to qualify for the program. "We are about 30 students shy of all of the county schools being eligible for the program that provides free breakfast and lunch."

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Catherine Fazzini speaks with members of the Randolph County Board of Education Monday about the State Purchasing Card Program. Fazzini, a specialist from the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, answered questions about the benefits of paying bills with this card.

Corley said the program, part of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2012, provided free meals to the seven elementary schools in Randolph County its first year.

"This year we added Tygarts Valley and Elkins Middle School," Corley said. "This means 2,310 students are eligible for free meals. Next year, 3,449 students will be eligible."

For the purposes of determining eligibility for the program, student need includes: those students directly certified through supplemental nutrition assistance program or temporary assistance for needy families; homeless students; income eligible Head Start students; Pre-K Even Start students; migrant youth students; runaway students; and foster children.

School totals were combined in order to reach the eligibility requirement. Group A includes Beverly Elementary, Harman School and Coalton Elementary, for a combined need of 42.75 percent. Group B includes Homestead Elementary, Valley Head Elementary, North Elementary and Elkins Middle, for a combined need of 40.14 percent.

Group C includes Tygarts Valley Middle/High School, Third Ward Elementary and Midland, for a combined need of 40.33 percent. Pickens, the Alternative Learning Center and George Ward Elementary comprise Group D for a combined need of 46.11 percent.

The need determined at Jennings Randolph Elementary School was 53.65 percent. Elkins High School's need was determined to be 26.45 percent, well below the 40 percent required.

Also during Tuesday's meeting:

Fazzini said 35 of the state's 55 school boards use the program.

"The state auditor began offering a State Purchasing Card back in 1996 and that program has been very successful," Fazzini said. "Back in 2008, he started offering this program to local governments. Today, we have about 250 local government agencies throughout the state that participate in the program."

Fazzini said the card is issued through United Bank.

"Purchasing cards work a little different than credit cards," Fazzini explained. "With purchasing cards, you can put a lot more restrictions on the card and it is not a line of credit. This is not something you would make charges to and then make payments every month - it is something you will pay the balance of every month. It is essentially just an alternative way of payment."

Fazzini said they are not trying to change the way the board approves the payment of their monthly invoices, but are really just offering another method of paying the vendors. She said the savings come from not having to write so many checks. The card also pays a quarterly rebate based on the transactions.

The cards can be used to pay any vendor that accepts Visa and can be used in a store, over the phone or on the Internet. Purchases can include utilities, travel expenses, office supplies, fuel, service fees and building projects.

Fazzini said she recommends, if the board chooses to participate in the program, to begin small by just using the card to pay the accounts payable invoices.

She told board members that some school systems use a "declining card."

"This program is good for Faculty Senate," Fazzini said. "This means there is a set card limit and it declines with each payment. This works out well for these purchases."

Fazzini said misuse of the card is a felony in West Virginia.

Representatives from Community Care of West Virginia spoke with the Randolph County Board of Education members Feb. 4 about providing at least four school-based health clinics in Randolph County Schools.

During the group's parent informational meeting Feb. 21 at Tygarts Valley High School, guidance counselor Mark Allen publicly asked why the local clinic in Mill Creek - Valley Health Care Inc. - could not come into the school and offer services.

At the March 18 board meeting, Mike Hinchman, CEO of Valley Health Clinic, said his company has a natural interest in the community and wanted board members to know they would be willing to collaborate if in-school medical clinic services were needed. Hinchman added that such an arrangement would offer students "seamless continuity" because many students are already patients.

Hinchman spoke again with the board on April 15 to address any questions the board had about in-school clinics and what his organization could offer.

The next regular meeting for the Randolph County Board of Education is slated for 6 p.m. June 17.

 
 

 

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