Marble Falls ISD mulls raising school lunch prices

By Nathan Hendrix
Staff Writer

The Marble Falls Indepedent School District school board considered increasing school meal prices for the 2019-2020 school year at the monthly school board meeting on Tuesday.

The proposal was presented by assistant superintendent of administration Dr. Jeff Gasaway who emphasized that the measure was first read only – meaning the board did not vote to approve on Tuesday.

The district is considering the changes due to a $118,532 loss in the food service budget last year – the first loss in seven years. Board member Rick Edwards questioned the cause of the deficit because the district passed a balanced budget.

We can manage food costs, and we can somewhat manage salaries,” said Mary Davidson, director of child nutrition. “What really makes or breaks a food service is the amount of lunches served.”

Gasaway said participation is the area where the district has missed its goals. However, the increased prices will not cover 100 percent of the losses. Davidson estimated that the price increase would generate $56,000 in additional revenue – still approximately $60,000 short of balancing the loss.

We're really taking a multi-pronged approach to this,” Gasaway said. “We're also looking at cost-saving measures with staffing.”

The cost of payroll and benefits has risen an estimated average of two percent per year since the last reported deficit, but the district has not raised prices to reflect the increasing costs of payroll. The last price hike for school meals was in April 2015.

Many districts do an increase almost yearly,” Gasaway said. “We feel fortunate that it's been four years that we've had to raise our prices, and we hope it puts us in a position to go four more years before another price increase.”

Gasaway stressed that the price hike was not an effort to be competitive with other area schools and their meal costs. Even with the price increase, Marble Falls ISD will still have some of the lowest priced meals in the area.

As of this school year, Marble Falls ISD offers the lowest-priced breakfasts in the area except for Llano ISD and Burnet CISD; those two districts offer free breakfast to elementary students. Even after a proposed 25 cent increase, MFISD would still offer the cheapest breakfast to elementary students.

The proposal also calls for a 40 cent increase in breakfast prices for middle and high school; a 15 cent increase on elementary student lunch prices; and a 40 cent increase in secondary student lunch prices. Adult prices for meals are expected to be increased also, but Gasaway said the primary focus is student meals because that's the bulk of the revenue for meals sold. . . .

Read more on board member discusssion and other considerations about the school bond issue in the Friday, Feb. 22 issue of The Highlander. To offer a comment or news tip, email nathan@highlandernews.com.

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