The Fate of Tunagate: Proposed Amendment
September 12, 2019
Members of the Board of Education on Tuesday night nixed a controversial proposal that would have required students with over $10 in lunch debt to eat tuna fish for lunch.
Across and even beyond the district, the “tunafish policy” was a hotly-debated issue due to the concerns of parents and community members, who felt as though a stigma would be placed on the children who could not afford the other meals.
Justin Smith, Assistant Superintendent and the Administrative Liaison for Policy and Legislation, proposed amendments to Policy 8550, which deals with unpaid meal charges. The revised policy would provide students with lunch debt the option to select the “meal of the day” as their alternative meal in lieu of tuna.
The BOE made it clear on Tuesday night that their goal is to channel empathy and compassion into all matters regarding students and families.
“We advocate for families,” Superintendent Joe Meloche said.
A point discussed during the meeting seemed to indicate that students will still be allowed to participate in athletics, as well as extracurriculars, despite unpaid meal charges. Ruth Schultz, a member of the board, reiterated that the district has always assisted students with financial needs.
“We’ve always stated that if somebody doesn’t have the financial needs to pay the student activity fee, the district does pay for those financial needs,” Schultz said.
President of the board, Eric Goodwin, emphasized the importance of the balance between compassion and fiscal responsibility within the school district.
“We want to make sure to [provide] students with what they need while also holding people accountable where they need to be held accountable,” Goodwin said.
Although the draft of the revised policy was discussed among board members, the policy has yet to be formally read or released to the public. As of now, the public is only aware of the policy pertaining to the BOE’s discussions on the matter. However, the BOE hopes that, from now into the future, families facing adverse financial situations will feel supported.
“I do think as a school district we are always putting the students first,” Goodwin said.
The BOE is satisfied with the overall implications of the drafted policy, and several members expressed their own contentment with the revisions.
“I think this policy addresses all the concerns I had,” board member Carol Matlack said.