CPSB addresses concerns for school lunch program

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Calcasieu Parish School Board debated the proposed food service program at the board's administrative and personnel committee meeting on Tuesday.

The committee provided the public with detailed facts and information regarding how much of the general fund has provided for the food service department over the last 20 years.

The board first took close to 1 million dollars out of the fund 20 years ago.

Since then the board has continued this practice, as they took 5 million dollars out of the general fund last year alone.

"Everyone's been well aware that we've done that," said Karl Brucchaus, the chief financial officer for Calcasieu Parish Schools. "Why did we do that? To sustain the program at a level that we were comfortable with."

The comfort is no longer there now, however, as the board must cut 17 million dollars in spending.

Reducing this amount in spending would equal at least 157 cafeteria jobs.

Some board members argued in favor of cutting spending in the food service department.

"If we don't do this we're going to have to cut educational programs," said Bill Jongbloed, CPSB member, District 6. "That could includes teaching jobs as well."

Other board members feel taking money from the food service department is not the way to go.

"When we talk about children and educating them, feeding them is part of that," said Joe Andrepont, CPSB president.

Andrepont said getting rid of 157 cafeteria jobs would equal at least 48% of the workers in that food services department.

"I don't know of any recommendation from staff coming from any other department that's going to be hit at that magnitude," said Andrepont.

Even if the board must turn to another option, board members said they would like to look at a few different options before making a final decision.

"Why preferred meals, our first option? Why not come in with a second option and let's compare them apples to apples?" said Mack Delaffosse, CPSB Member, District 7.

The board passed a motion to discuss making changes to the current lunch program at the board's next budget meeting.

That meeting is scheduled for April 15th.

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