Interesting and disappointing to me that only one of the present 6 Lowell School Committee members and no challenger, nor anyone from the new Supt.’s administration have stepped up to respond and answer the question of why Lowell does not and may not this year participate in the C.E.P.
Kim Scott remembered that the Committee had a very brief discussion and that former Deputy Lang at the last meeting may have mentioned it but since LTC hasn’t posted the video didn’t recall what was said.
Thankfully, Greater Lowell Technical School Committee member Ray Boutin was curious about the program when he read that the school may qualify and with fellow member Fred Bahou he emailed Business Manager George Garabedian and the Tech. Supt. asking them to look into it.
Mr. Garabedian supplied a very understandable explanation of why that school system hasn’t joined.
Here is his response:
Sorry for the delay in responding. We did look at this a year ago when it first was launched. I know it sounds great, but, when we looked closer we had some concerns. We noticed that our reimbursement dollars from the Feds would be lower than currently receive. We would also lose the revenue from paid breakfast and lunches. Using the calculator on the DESE Website the combined annual revenue reduction for the lunch program was approx. $200K. We could not afford that loss. I think part of the problem is that we are on the cusp of qualifying for the program at approx. 41% Direct Certification.
In addition, there are still some concerns about how this program may affect the Chapter 70 funding calculation as the Low Income student figures come from the free and reduce lunch counts which include Direct Certifications as well as from applications. I spoke to a rep. from DESE who indicated that matter still has not been finalized. Also there have been questions about how it may affect Federal Grant Funding.
I believe that these are some of the reasons that other districts are not jumping into the program at this time, i.e. (Lowell, Lynn, Malden, Worcester) to name a few.
We will continue to review this option next year.
I hope that this was helpful. Please let me know if you would like to discuss further.
It would have been nice to see someone from Lowell respond with dollar figures to show what the school dept. collects / spends versus what this program may bring in and to see what the state or Feds say about the funding. Hopefully this isn’t an indication of what we can expect from these candidates and the new Supt.