Eating their Money

Every time Superintendent Kevin Maxwell kvetches about the lack of funding for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, remember this:

Next year, parents won’t have to ask. A feature of a new software system coming to county schools will allow parents to look online and see whether their children are really buying a balanced hot lunch or surviving on ice cream and cookies.

“Parents are going to love it,” said Jodi Risse, supervisor of food and nutrition services in county schools.

The Board of Education is paying $283,643 for the new system from Georgia-based Horizon Software. It will replace the current system used in county schools, which is more than 20 years old, Risse said.

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It works like this: Instead of handing out lunch money every day, parents can log in to an online program and use a Visa, MasterCard or e-check to put money in their child’s account. Then students use their student ID in the cafeteria to access the account and pay for lunch.

Meanwhile, parents can go back into the same online system and see an itemized list – just like a credit-card statement – of what their child bought.

“It’s usually lunch, lunch, lunch, but then (you see) every a la carte item, ice cream, cookies or chips,” said Tina Bennett, a director with Horizon.

I cannot possibly fathom a more ridiculous use of $283,643 from the school budget than this.

Amazingly, a similar system is already in place in county public schools; it’s called the “brown bag” program, where parents actually make a meal for their child and send them to school with it. It gives the parent immediate access to foods their child is consuming at lunch, involves parents in the lives of their kids, and (more importantly) it costs nothing to me as a taxpayer.

Anne Arundel Public Schools have absolutely no responsibility to be the food police to parents. While I’m appalled by the waste of money this program is, I’m not surprised given the fiscal irresponsibility shown by Maxwell and our unelected Board of Education, particularly when you consider that this system costs as much as the salaries of several teachers…..


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