School district pays off school lunch debt from last school year

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The North Platte Public Schools resume classes next week. What has been done to pay off any debt from student school lunch accounts left over from the 2018-2019 school year?

Schools lunch debt from the 2018-2019 NPPS school year is paid off by the school district to start the year on a clean slate. (Source of image: MGN GFX)

Executive Director of Finance, Facilities and Operations for the North Platte Public Schools, Stuart Simpson, said at the end of each school year, parents are given a notice that they have a balance, whether in the positive or negative. They are then given a certain period of time to either pay it off, or come and collect a check for any remaining funds.

"We let the balances ride for about a month because we know parents are busy with, number one students getting out of school, planning their summer vacation, getting them acclimated to students in the summer, as well as they still have to get out and work at their job so we realize that that’s going on," said Simpson.

At the first of July, if there is a negative balance that has not been paid, the school will pay it off using money from district funds.

"We wait until about the 1st of July and then evaluate the balance in the accounts," said Simpson, "For us this year, there was only about $350 that we had to reimburse the accounts for and it was across the district, not one specific building. We’re just trying to make sure that we start these students fresh without any worry and then hopefully as parents start the school year out, they’ll be thinking about lunch balances."

Simpson said in the grand scope of things, the sum the district had to pay back was not that significant. "I think for us looking at 4,000 kids, $350 is minor."

On the flip side, if the student concludes the year with a positive balance, the funds will roll over to the next school year. If they have moved or will not be continuing school in the district, they can go to either the school districts central office in North Platte, or the Sodexo Office. Where do those leftover school lunch funds go if they're not picked up?

"We just roll those back into the school nutrition fund and leave them sitting there," said Simpson, "Obviously it goes towards support of the program, no matter what we’re doing."

Simpson added the school district will continue the free breakfast program they had in place last year saying "It’s free across the district because I look at it as us giving the opportunity to students to come ready to learn and that takes the barrier away from our teachers in the classroom."