While a new state law will result in significantly more Lawrence students starting off their day with a school breakfast, the local cost of serving additional students probably will be minimal, a Lawrence school official said Friday.
Under a law passed last month, all Kansas schools are required to have a breakfast program in place by August 1993. However, schools where less than 35 percent of students are receiving free or reduced-price lunches can be considered for exemption from the requirement.
The Lawrence school district already serves breakfast at seven elementary schools: Cordley, East Heights, Kennedy, New York, Schwegler, Quail Run and Woodlawn. Breakfast also is offered at Lawrence High School and the Lawrence Alternative High School.
Jeanette Armstrong, the district's director of food services, said that unless the number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches drops significantly, at least four other schools Hillcrest, Pinckney, Grant and Central Junior High School will have no option but to offer breakfast programs.
ALTHOUGH the district's nine other schools could request exemptions from the requirement, it's very likely that breakfast will be offered in those schools as well, Armstrong said.
"The exemptions will not be offered automatically," explained Sandy Ford, coordinator of food services at the State Department of Education.
Ford said that in considering a request to excuse a school from offering breakfast, state officials will consider the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, what kind of participation could be expected at the school and even the nature of the school's community.
"There are some communities with such a strong community cohesiveness that there really isn't a high need for the breakfast program," Ford said.
FORD SAID her office is still in the process of developing guidelines for granting exemptions.
Armstrong said she's sensed that many school districts don't realize the exemptions won't be automatic.
"I just really feel there are some school districts that are in for some big surprises," Armstrong said. However, she said, "I think this is a positive law that's coming down."
Currently, Armstrong said, the only money for the breakfast program coming out of the district's general fund is for paying people to supervise the breakfast sites. All other costs, such as those related to food and its preparation by cooks, are covered by the food service budget. The revenues for that budget are state and federal reimbursement funds and students' meal fees.
FOR 60 cents (30 cents for those receiving reduced-price meals), a student gets a breakfast of milk, juice or fruit, and either two bread items, two meat items or a meat-bread combination.
Armstrong said a common meat-bread combination is pancakes and sausage. Other bread items include cold cereal, waffles and biscuits.
Lawrence school board member Harriet Shaffer said she's been pleased with the breakfast program, which began with four schools in the district in 1989.
"We started the program based on the research that students did better in school if they had a full stomach," Shaffer said.
Shaffer said some people might argue that feeding students each morning is the responsibility of parents. However, Shaffer said, "There are children who come to school hungry, so I've always supported the program for the sake of the children."
SHAFFER noted that in expanding the program to other schools, each building will have to work out its own logistics for getting students to school for breakfast.
Janet Broers, principal at Cordley School, said students who ride the bus arrive to school around 8:25 a.m., and breakfast is served from then until the start of classes at 8:50 a.m.
She said students arriving early who already have eaten breakfast are allowed to socialize quietly or do their homework in a separate area of the cafeteria.