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By Katina Caraganis


SHIRLEY — The Ayer-Shirley Regional School Committee voted Wednesday night to increase school lunch prices for the upcoming year.

Evan Katz, director of finance for the district, proposed the committee approve raising the breakfast prices at the Lura A. White School in Shirley and the middle school from $1 to $1.50 while maintaining the current breakfast price of $1.75 at the high school. Breakfast at page-Hilltop is Ayer was already at $1.50.

Lunch prices at Lura A. White in Shirley will increase from $2.25 to $2.50; from $2 to $2.50 at Page-Hilltop in Ayer, $2.25 to $2.50 at the middle school, and from $2.25 to $2.75 at the high school.

Katz said barring any significant changes in labor costs, food prices or sales volume, these prices would remain in effect through fiscal 2013.

The increases, coupled with the potential for lower food costs and a reduction in labor costs, will help to close a large portion of a $90,000 increase in expenses to the food-services budget.

A deficit of $14,000 would remain, but Katz says the gap can be covered through planned program changes that will increase revenue and reduce expenses.

“I think we can close that gap. We still have among the lowest prices in the area,” Katz told the committee.

School Committee member Bob Prescott said he was impressed with the numbers.

“It looks like we’re doing really good with the numbers compared to everyone else,” he said.

Katz also told the committee that the Business Department is in the process of tying up loose ends with the district’s fiscal 2011 budget.

The region’s $300,000 transition budget was funded by a grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

In a memo dated July 14 to the School Committee, Katz wrote that “due to legal expenses that far exceeded everyone’s projections, we are slightly over budget. Based on items paid to date, plus the pending telephone installation, planned grant expenses will exceed revenue by $16,749.”

His recommendation for managing the shortfall is to apply $3,892 in excess fiscal 2011 transportation revenue. Shirley’s assessment for transportation was $3,892 greater than actual expenses.

He also recommended covering the remaining $12,587 with fiscal 2012 revenue, which has been approved by the Department of Revenue.