SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah-Chatham County School Board finally voted 6-3 to increase the cost of school lunch on Wednesday.
This comes after the board delayed the vote to make sure the drastic increase would be legal. After years of being in the red, the school nutritional program says they are struggling.
The board will raise the cost to $3, which doesn’t sound like a lot. Compared to districts of similar size and economy, this increase will definitely be the highest in the state.
This school lunch raise will generate about $1.1 million in additional revenue for the Savannah-Chatham County School District’s nutritional program.
The district will charge high school and elementary school students the same price for lunch: $3.00.
Board members weighed the pros and cons for nearly 30 minutes. Despite the fact that this measure will not make up for the shortfall, supporters say something needs to be done.
“We have talked about it for every single year since I’ve been on the board and its time for us to do something instead of kick the can down the road," said Dr. Michael Johnson. "Next time it might be a dollar.”
“This is an additional expense," said Dr. Dionne Hoskins-Brown. "It is an optional expense. Parents can choose to have their students bring their lunches to school.”
The Augusta, Richmond, and Forsyth County School Districts are the only school systems that come close, and they are still 20 cents cheaper.
“If we were looking at our regular budget and we were one-third percent short," said Julie Wade, who represents District 1 on the SCCPSS board. "We wouldn’t just say ok, lets increase the mileage one third and we will make up the difference. No, we would look at cuts and efficiencies to see why our district is so out of line with the rest of the state.”
Others argue the Savannah-Chatham County mileage rate is much lower than some of their comparable districts which accounts for their budget shortfalls in the nutritional program.
The price should begin to increase in August.