District should answer lunch questions

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Natchez Adams School District has found itself in a bit of a pickle over, of all things, lunch money.

The district recently discovered it owes the state more than $100,000 in lunch money. That’s just for the unpaid lunches over the past year and a half.

What may have started off as an innocent practice — allowing students to charge the cost of lunch at the district’s cafeterias — has resulted in a big financial burden on an already cash-strapped district.

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The problem originated, Natchez-Adams Superintendent Frederick Hill said last week, as early as 2004. If that’s the case and the amount of meals charged has been relatively consistent through the years, the total bill would top $500,000.

Apparently, the state is willing to forgive the previous years of bills, however, though we’re not certain we understand why it would.

Since the great majority of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch costs, perhaps the original thinking was that simply allowing all to charge was easier than having someone be paid to handle the small amount of money that would be collected?

Or perhaps the thought was that it would be more fair to all to have their not appear to be a “haves” and “have nots” in the lunch line.

Regardless, we applaud Hill for stating unequivocally that the money must be paid back. Further, we urge the school board publicly to explain how the mess happened in the first place and what’s being done to prevent it in the future.

No one wants to imagine a child going without food — and they shouldn’t be allowed to do so — but parents should be held responsible for finding the required lunch money. But the parents should be held accountable by a school district that carefully watches its Ps and Qs.