Hermiston School Board Approves Free School Meals to All Students

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Hermiston School District Board Vice Chairperson Bonnie Luisi, left, Chair Sally Hansell, center, and HSD Superintendent Tricia Mooney listen to a presentation Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, at the school district office. (Photo by Travis Snell/Hermiston Herald)

Hermiston School District students are getting free breakfasts and lunches for the 2023-24 school year.

The Hermiston School District Board of Education at its meeting Monday, Aug. 14, approved the plan for all students enrolled at HSD sites..

Katie Saul, HSD business services director, said the school provided free meals this past school year for kindergarten through eighth-grade students via the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. However, Hermiston High School didn’t qualify for CEP during the 2022-23 school year, she said.

This school year though HSD officials were able to get the high school CEP-qualified so that all students are eligible for free school meals starting Aug. 30.

“So we were able to meet that (CEP eligibility) last year for K-8, and we were just barely unable to meet that last year for the high school, but when we recalculated the numbers we were able to now include the high school this coming year,” Saul said.

According to a HSD press release, the CEP is a provision of The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, which allows the nation’s highest poverty districts and schools to serve students free meals without collecting household applications.

“For our high school students it means that they no longer have to complete a lunch application. We are hoping that making it free for all students that we’ll see more participation at the building, with our breakfast and lunch program,” Saul said. “We’ve been free breakfast for multiple years just through our contract with our food service provider. However, the lunch at the high school level was $4.90, so being able to save those students almost $5 a day really adds up, and we hope they take advantage of that.”

According to the release, outstanding balances on student lunch accounts still are due and must be paid in a timely manner. Federal regulations prohibit the district from waiving these past charges. Positive account balances may remain on lunch accounts for students to purchase al-a-carte items, or a refund can be requested by emailing busmgr@hermistonsd.org.

Board members also heard the district’s projected budget for the upcoming school year. Saul told the board the district expects to finish the 2023-24 academic year with a funding balance of nearly $10.9 million.

According to HSD records, the district’s projected beginning fund balance is $14 million. Its projected revenue is $74.3 million, while its projected expenditures is $77.4 million for a projected ending fund balance of $10,893,464.

In an email, Saul stated the “school district shows the ending fund balance as a percentage of annual revenue, inclusive of the year’s beginning fund balance. So, while our ending fund balance is projected to decrease for this year, it is still projected to be 12.34% of total revenue.”

In other news, the board accepted the resignations for:

  • Tyra Carter, special education assistant, West Park Elementary
  • Kristin Dunten, language arts teacher, HHS
  • Bryan Edwards, campus monitor, HHS
  • Jim Miller, special education teacher, Sandstone Middle School
  • Kimberly Rodriguez, English Language Department assistant, and Kaleen Thomas, Title 1 assistant, both Sunset Elementary.

The board also approved the appointment of:

  • Heather Combs, fifth grade teacher, Rocky Heights Elementary
  • Molly Crist, special education assistant, Highland Hills Elementary
  • Rachel Dagley, secretary registrar, HHS
  • Christopher Garrigues, teacher on special assignment/secondary instructional coach, HSD office
  • Nina Grenup, second grade teacher, Loma Vista Elementary
  • Sean Hagensieker, special education teacher, Sandstone
  • Noelle Johnson, social studies teacher, Armand Larive Middle School
  • Samantha Matlock, science teacher, HHS
  • McKenna McGraw, educational assistant, Sandstone
  • Fred Morgan, teacher of special assignment/dean of students, HHS
  • Rachelle Nycz, language arts teacher, Armand Larive.
  • Heather Osborne, special education assistant, Loma Vista
  • Ricardo Sotelo Santoyo, science teacher, HHS
  • Amy Wieseler, evaluation specialist, Highland Hills

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