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Overdue school lunch bills could limit student activities


TOWNSEND — The North Middlesex Regional School District School Committee is looking into ways recover outstanding school lunch balances.

The School Committee’s policy subcommittee met Tuesday morning to discuss revisions to the policy.

Superintendent Joan Landers said that uncollected meal charges are a huge cost to the school system. The school district is currently owed nearly $10,000 in meal charges.

“It’s about ensuring that we are being fiscally responsible,” Landers said.

Subcommittee Chairman Randee Rusch said collection of the meal charges benefits the students.

“Any money that is owed us for the meals takes away from the educational quality for the children,” Rusch said.

A statement will be added to the policy indicating that the schools may choose to settle outstanding balances in small claims court if they are not paid in a timely manner after parents are notified of the charges.

Members of the subcommittee decided to remove a clause in the policy saying that failure to pay the account could result in delays in issuing report cards or transfer cards, following a discussion with an attorney who said the clause couldn’t be legally enforced.

However, they chose to keep in a stipulation that students with outstanding balances could be prohibited from participating in senior activities or graduation exercises.

Another possible penalty is that students could be prohibited from participating in any future fee-based program, such as field trips or extra-curricular activities.

The wording of the policy was not voted upon. Members will continue to research and look over the policy in its current form, and will revisit it at their next meeting July 30 at 9 a.m. before returning to the School Committee.

Class sizes, harassment policies

Members also discussed writing a class size policy for review at the next meeting. They decided the policy should not set a specific limit on how many students could be in a class, but should broadly state the factors that will go into determining appropriate class sizes.

Last on the agenda was a discussion of the need for a comprehensive harassment policy instead of many separate sections for different types of harassment.

Rusch said the policy needs to include harassment in the entire school community, including among faculty and staff, as well as within the student population.

The subcommittee will work on compiling the harassment policy to be discussed at a future meeting.

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