By Melissa Fales
Changes to use of school facilities policies approved
At their Feb. 23 meeting, the School Committee voted to amend the application form and accompanying fee schedule to use or rent school facilities. The policy subcommittee presented the revised documents which outline new guidelines for non–profit groups in Ware to hold their sign-ups in a school building at the same time another event is happening there. The policy states that these non-profit groups must first request permission from the primary organization. Policy subcommittee chair Danielle Souza pointed out that if a non-profit organization chooses to “piggyback” its signups with another event in this manner, the non-profit must pay a $50.00 security deposit in addition to the $50 security deposit paid by the primary organization. “We also made mention in the policy that these security deposits will only be returned to the organizations after assurance that no damage was done to school property by either group,” Souza said.
Final draft of cafeteria policy approved
The committee also approved a new cafeteria policy outlining how many lunches students with a negative balance in their lunch account may charge before they receive an alternate lunch. This new policy is in response to an increased number of student lunch accounts that are going unpaid. The district provides these students with an alternate lunch, consisting of a basic sandwich and milk, and the growing cost of these lunches comes out of the Food Services budget.
According to the new policy, students at Stanley M. Koziol Elementary School can have 5 charged lunches on their account, students at Ware Middle School may have 2 charged lunches, and Ware Junior High School students can charge 1 lunch. No charging will be allowed for Ware High School students.
Superintendent Mary-Elizabeth Beach said a letter will be going out to all families reminding them that it’s never too late to sign up for the free or reduced lunch program. She said the district realizes that financial circumstances change for families and a family not eligible for the program at the beginning of the year might be eligible now. In addition, Beach pointed out that the district receives some reimbursement for free and reduced lunches. Souza added that the program is 100 percent confidential and urged families to use it.
School Choice subcommittee update
Chairman Christopher Desjardins said the School Choice subcommittee hasn’t met since their meeting last month with a representative of the Easthampton School Committee and school counsel. At that meeting, they determined it wasn’t feasible to try to change the School Choice law at this time and instead, decided to focus on different ways to try to address the challenges it creates.
Beach suggested Desjardins should try to contact those school districts that didn’t respond to his initial invitation to band together to try to change the School Choice law, since the focus of the subcommittee has shifted. Desjardins said he would contact those districts and offer examples of measures Ware has taken to combat School Choice, such as inviting realtors to tour school facilities. He said he would ask the districts to pass on suggestions and strategies they have implemented even if they weren’t interested in meeting formally. Committee member Brian Winslow encouraged any parents or residents with ideas about ways to address the School Choice dilemma to contact any member of the School Committee. Their email addresses are available at http://www.warepublicschools.com.