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Officials Consider Taking Loss on Old Lunch Debt

School officials discussed ways to deal with about $24,000 worth of outstanding debt from unpaid school lunch bills at a meeting yesterday.

As school officials mull ways to in lunch debt owed by Wellesley families, one such solution came to light at a meeting yesterday: chalk it up to a loss.

At a Thursday afternoon meeting including principals, members of the School Committee, administrators and a representative from , School Business Manager Judy Belliveau said the nearly $24,000 in debt incurred prior to the 2011-2012 school year could be looked at as a “business loss.”

In total, 30 families are responsible for $23,856.75 in school lunch debt, which dates back to an undetermined time prior to the implementation of a new school lunch policy and school lunch service system at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, according to Belliveau.

Belliveau said families in many cases questioned whether they owed the money at all.

“There was a sense that the communication between the schools as well as the old…system was not necessarily accurate,” she said.

School officials were able to whittle the original total debt down from $170,000 to $24,000 by May 1. And though letters from constables, officials and calls from principals followed, Belliveau said payments since May have been minimal.

“At this point, do we consider it a business loss?” she said.

The total remaining amount owed by families is less than 2 percent of the annual income of the food service program, which is about $1 million per year, Belliveau said. The schools incurred  last year, but that is typical and likely to be recovered, according to Superintendent David Lussier.

Under the current school lunch policy, drafted in June 2011, a student must hold a balance equivalent to 10 lunches. If a student reaches zero, that student may have five “alternative” lunches, which the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education defines as a cheese sandwich, vegetable, fruit and milk. After that, the student may not be served a lunch.

There was no action taken on the policy at the meeting, and Lussier said he did not know whether there would be a new policy put in place prior to the start of school, Sept. 4, but that the administration and School Committee are in good position to implement a new policy if necessary. 

roger weinreb August 25, 2012 at 11:13 PM
In the the private sector a "business loss", also know as an NOL has tax ramifications. How will a municipality taking an NOL effect the Wellesley tax payers who are being asked to absorb the loss???. This is taxpayer money. Real people absorb the consequence not some abstract municipal entity.

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