B y Darren Marcy

 

The Whitehall Board of Education approved a 25-cent increase on the price of lunches and breakfasts for the coming school year.

The increase, the first in more than 15 years, according to school superintendent Patrick Dee, comes as a result of an accounting overhaul that revealed the lunch program was short about $112,500 this past year.

The increase is not likely to be the last as the district works to get a handle on an account that has been running a significant deficit for many years.

Jodi Birch, school business manager, said the shortfall was discovered as a new accounting system was put in place.

“We revamped the accounting of the school lunch fund to ensure the way we’re paying for it is a true reflection of the costs of the program,” Birch said. “This is the result.”

In the past, Birch said, some expenses of the program had been mistakenly billed to the general fund, including labor costs like health insurance and other benefits.

When the true cost of the program was analyzed, it was found that the lunch program was operated at a loss of about $75,000 for the most recent fiscal year that ended June 30.

On top of that loss, the district has been transferring about $36,500 each year from the general fund into the lunch fund. That brings the true deficit of the program to about $112,500 each year.

The general fund is taxpayer-funded and the lunch fund is supposed to pay for itself.

“The school lunch fund is supposed to be self-sustaining,” Birch said. “It’s not paid for by tax dollars.”

 

This is only a preview of the story published in the Whitehall Times. To read the full story, pick up a print copy of this week’s paper at the newsstand or read it online here.

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