JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Valley View School District is implementing changes to their meal charge policy to avoid thousands of dollars' worth of meals never being paid for.
"Before it was just open ended, we didn't have a cap set and most schools around us did," Valley View Superintendent Bryan Russell said.
The old plan had nothing in place to encourage parents to pay for their child's meals.
Now, students can only freely charge up to $25 in fees.
"Which is basically a week if you charge breakfast and lunch for a full week," Russell said.
After they owe $25, the students will be given an alternate meal and will not be allowed to buy extra, a la carte items.
Russel said the meals will be a different tray of food, but not a brown bag sandwich meal that some schools choose to provide.
Then, after a student charges $100, the district will no longer allow them to get food at school unless the parent or guardian calls Russell to set up a payment plan.
"I think it's their responsibility to make sure that their children are fed and so it's their financial responsibility to pay for those meals," Russell said. "There's not many places where you go and just expect to charge things and never pay your bill. So, there has to be a limit for schools and we are setting that at $100."
This policy does not affect children who are on the free and reduced lunch program, only families who are deemed able to afford the food.
Russell said for families who do not establish a payment plan with him, the district may have to go through a collection agency to get that money.
Right now, the district has more than $24,000 in meal charges they have not been able to collect.
"Our goal is to feed kids, but we must collect the money that we're out," Russell said. "Because if not, at the end of the year we cannot finish with a negative balance in charge accounts so we have to make that up out of our general budget."
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