HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Possible price hikes affecting school meals and bus service dominated the discussion at a BOE meeting this afternoon. Members debated proposed changes to the Department of Education's operating budget for the next school year.
One factor was a federal government requirement that states must eventually have their meal price match what the USDA pays them for free student meals. The DOE estimates it'll generate an additional $6.1 million dollars in revenue by raising lunch prices an average of 90 cents or $162 per year.
Some members voiced concerns over the large increase and asked for a budget change that would reflect half the price hike. The recommendation passed but some disagreed.
"I think this is an unwise approach. I think the choice has to be for people to pay the cost of lunch or bring home lunch," said Board of Education member Jim Williams.
"Whether families should bear the total brunt or whether the cost should be spread among more of the community, I think is a policy decision that the legislature should address," said Brian De Lima, BOE vice chairperson.
If a price hike is later approved, students receiving free or reduced-cost meals would not be affected, and those who do pay more would not be subsidizing needy families.
The DOE also asked for an additional $42 million in general funds for the student transportation program.