School District's Charging Policy

Charging Policy endorsed by the School Board 

Newmarket School District                                                                                                          EFAA

 

School Lunch Program Meal Charges

 

 

The District encourages all parents and guardians (hereinafter "parents") to provide a healthy breakfast and lunch for their student(s). Parents are welcome to send students to school with a "brown bag/lunch box" meal. The District provides the opportunity to purchase breakfast and lunch from the school cafeteria. Each meal meets or exceeds the federal nutrition standards. Payment is expected no later than when the meal is served. Payment may be in cash, check or as a debit against funds deposited into an established student lunch account.

 

The school lunch program is required by federal law to operate as a non-profit which must end each fiscal year without a negative balance. Uncollected debt must be paid to the school lunch program from other funds. Therefore, parents of students required to pay the full or reduced price for meals must ensure that the school lunch program is paid for their student's meals. The District's policy is to quickly escalate efforts to bring student meal accounts into positive balance, to avoid circumstances where these accounts build significant debt.


Student Meal Accounts

 The District uses a point-of-sale computerized meal payment system which has an account for all students. Parents of students who will be purchasing meals using this system are required to establish and maintain a positive balance in the student's meal account.

 

Funds may be deposited into a student lunch account by cash, check, or on-line payment. Cash or checks made out to: Newmarket School District should be presented to the Cashier at the cafeteria. A check may also be mailed to: Newmarket School District. The District utilizes the services of

Myschoolbucks.com. The use of checks or on-line payments is encouraged, as each provides a record. Parents are responsible for any fees charged by the on-line service. In accordance with United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") guidance SP 02-2015, there will be no processing fee for deposits to a student meal account made by cash or check.

 

A fee of $25.00 will be charged to the parents for each check returned for insufficient funds.  In accordance with RSA 358-C:5, notice of the fee charged for a check that is returned for insufficient funds shall be included in any letter sent to a Parent seeking payment because the student meal account has a negative balance.


Parental Restrictions on Use of Student Meal Account

 Parents who establish a meal account for their student are responsible for establishing with their student any restrictions the parent chooses to place on use of the account. Unless restricted by the parent, a student may purchase a Ia carte items in addition to the regular meal choices. Some students purchase more than one meal at one sitting. Setting and ensuring compliance with

limitations on the use of the student's meal account afford families an opportunity to develop their student's understanding of the responsible use of credit and debit accounts, which will benefit the student throughout life. Parents must monitor the student's use of the meal account to ensure that a sufficient balance is available at all times for their student to charge meals. The District's on-line payment system allows a parent to check their students balance at any time.

 The District's policy is to ensure that students have access to healthy meals and that no student will be subject to different treatment from the standard school meal or school cafeteria procedures. Therefore, the District will allow students to purchase a meal, even If the student's meal account has insufficient funds. This policy applies to all meal offerings generally available at the cafeteria, breakfast, lunch, and after school snacks.

Balance Statements

 The District will work proactively with parents to maintain a positive balance in their student's meal account. The Superintendent shall establish a procedure at each school requiring that a low balance statement be sent to parents whenever the balance in a student's meal account falls to or below a set amount that approximates the amount typically necessary to pay for one week of meals.

 The notices will be sent by e-mail when practical, otherwise by a note, sealed in an envelope, and sent home with the student.  Only those District staff who have received training on the confidentiality requirements of federal and state law, including the United States Department of Agriculture's ("USDA") guidance for school meal programs, and who have a need to access a child's account balance and eligibility information may communicate with parents regarding unpaid meal charges.

Volunteers, including parent volunteers will not be used to communicate with parents regarding unpaid meal charges. 42 U.S.C. 1758(b)(6}.

 

Notice prior to the account reaching zero is intended to reinforce the requirement that a positive balance be maintained in the student meal account. If a student meal account falls into debt, the initial focus will be on resuming payments for meals being consumed to stop the growth of the debt. The secondary focus will be on restoring the account to routinely having a positive balance.

 

The District recognizes that unexpected financial hardships occur and will work with parents in this circumstance to limit the amount of accumulated debt.  To do so, it is essential that parents respond to notices and cooperate with district staff efforts.  Fairness and equal treatment requires that those able to pay, but who fall behind, must promptly bring their students meal account into a positive balance.  The District's proactive approach is intended to help ensure students have healthy meals and that parents do not accumulate significant debt to the school meal program.


Students without Cash in Hand or A Positive Account Balance

 

Regardless of whether a student has money to pay for a meal or has a negative balance in the student meal account, a student requesting a meal shall be provided with a meal from among the choices available to all students.  The only exception will be where the student's parents have provided the District with specific written direction that the student not be provided with a school lunch program meal, the student has a meal sent from home, or otherwise has access to an appropriate meal.  Under no circumstances will a student's selected meal be thrown away because of the status of the student's meal account.

 

It is the parents' responsibility to provide their student with a meal from home or to pay for school prepared  meals.  Therefore, the District's policy is to direct communications to parents about student meal debt.  When parents chose to provide meals sent from home, it is the parents' responsibility to explain to their student the necessity of the student not using the school meal program.

 

Initial efforts to contact parents will be by e-mail or phone, however if those efforts are unsuccessful, letters to parents may be sent home in sealed envelopes with the student. Where the District has not received a response from the parents or the parents do not cooperate in resolving negative student meal account balances and the student continues to use the school meal program, for students in grade seven or higher, the principal or designee may communicate directly with the student in a manner that is private and which does not publicly identify or stigmatize the student. Resolution of the problem should seek to ensure the student has ongoing access to an appropriate meal.


Should the student's meal account balance fall below zero, a balance statement requesting immediate payment shall be sent to parents no less than once each week.

 

If the student's meal account balance debt grows to $10.00 or more a letter demanding immediate payment shall be sent by US Mall to the parent or the parent shall be contacted by the Principal or designee by phone or in person.  Where warranted, the Principal may arrange a payment schedule to address current meal consumption and arrearages while the school continues to provide the student with meals.

 

If the student's meal account debt grows to $30.00 or more the parents will be requested to meet with the principal. When appropriate, the Principal should explore with the parents whether an

application for free or reduced cost meals is warranted.  Where extenuating circumstances of financial hardship exist and the family is not eligible for free or reduced cost meals, the District will work with the parents to identify and engage governmental and private charitable resources which are available to assist the family.

 

If a student with a negative balance in his or her meal account seeks to purchase a meal with cash or check, the student will be allowed to do so. There is no requirement that the funds be applied first to the debt.

 

Unresolved  Debt

 

If the Principal determines that the best available information is that the parents are able to pay the expenses of the student's meals and the parents decline to cooperate with resolving the debt in a timely manner, the Principal shall send a letter to the parents directing them to have their student bring meals from home and cease utilizing the school meal program. The student may resume using the school meal program when a positive account balance is restored in the student's meal account.

 

If the student continues to use the school meal program, a second letter shall be sent to the parents using certified mail, return receipt requested.

 

If the account balance reaches $50.00, and parents continue to fail to provide the student with a meal sent from home, continue to fail to provide funds for their student to use the school lunch program, continue to refuse to cooperate with reasonable requests by District staff to address the overdue  debt, and the parent is believed to have the ability to pay, the Superintendent may pursue payment through civil legal action, including filing a claim in small claims court pursuant to RSA Chapter 503.

The Superintendent is delegated authority to assess the likelihood that civil action will lead to payment, the resources required to pursue collection, and to pursue such action only when doing so is in the best interest of the District.

 

The Superintendent shall try to identify non-profit charities that are willing to contribute funds to the district to assist in keeping a positive balance in the meal account of students whose parents do not qualify for free meals and who due to financial hardship are unable to consistently keep the student meal account in a positive balance.  If at the end of the fiscal year uncollected debt in student meal accounts must, as a last resort to fulfill federal requirements, be paid to the school meal program  from other District funds, the parents' debt for unpaid meal charges shall be owed to the District. Applying the policy set forth above, the Superintendent shall determine if further collection efforts


 

are in the best interest of the District. Any payments collected on debt that has been offset with District funds, shall be credited to the District. All debt collection efforts shall comply with RSA Chapter 358-C, New Hampshire's Unfair, Deceptive or Unreasonable Collection Practices Act.

 

 


Students are not allowed to charge milk or snack; they may only charge lunch or breakfast.
 
Parents/guardian’s will be notified via email, letter or phone call of a student’s low balance. 


If you have any questions about payment options, please call 603-292-7934.
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Linda Hopey,
Dec 6, 2017, 6:21 AM