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Trustees to review recommendations at April 5 meeting
Prices around the Morgan Hill School District are rising, in part because the district is facing nearly $3 million in cuts next year, and partly because officials want to bring them in line with those in other districts.

School Board trustees discussed raising prices for school lunches and community use of district pools at their March 8 meeting. During last week’s Monday night’s four-hour meeting, trustees considered charging more for use of district facilities.

Currently, elementary students pay $1.50 for lunch, while secondary students pay $1.75. Prices were last raised in January 2003, when the board voted to increase them by 25 cents.

Janet Felice, director of food service for the district told trustees she had gathered information on lunch prices in other districts and found that increasing prices to $2 would put MHSD in the middle of the other districts in terms of lunch cost.

According to Felice’s research, Gilroy students pay $1.75 for lunch at elementary schools and $2.00 in the secondary schools. Students in the Evergreen School District pay $1.60 in elementary, $1.85 in middle school and $2.05 in high school. Santa Clara students pay $2.00 in elementary and $2.25 in secondary.

Of three of the districts Felice cited that have lower prices, two of them are planning increases for next year.

Felice recommended trustees increase only lunch, not brunch, prices 25 cents next year and the following year.

The increases are recommended because Felice said they will “assist the food service department in maintaining a positive ending balance to help in future equipment replacement, employee benefits and salaries and food/paper price increases.

The food service department does not put money into or take money out of the School District’s general operating fund. The department functions as an individual business.

The improvements Felice has made in the meals – increasing portion sizes and providing a choice of entree and more fresh fruits and vegetables – have increased the cost of providing the meals.

Trustees voted to increase prices as recommended at the meeting.

Trustees will also consider an increase to use fees for district pools. Currently, users are charged $24 per hour. District officials are recommending an increase to $52 per hour, effective June 12.

According to the staff report, the district does not recoup costs incurred to the general fund. The increase would help offset those costs, which include chemicals, maintenance, water and electricity.

Regular district pool users include the Morgan Hill Swim Club, El Toro Aquatics and the Live Oak Sports Camp. The city has requested use of the pool for lifeguard training.

The staff report lists three school districts – Palo Alto, San Jose and Gilroy – and their community use fees. Depending on the season, Gilroy charges between $17 and $33 per hour; San Jose between $45 and $130 per hour, and Palo Alto between $313 and $575 per day.

Although the recommended increase to $52 per hour was on the agenda for action, trustees voted to table the action until the next meeting April 5. Deputy Superintendent Bonnie Tognazzini told trustees more information would be presented to them.

Trustees did vote, 6-0, in favor of raising developer fees. Trustees discussed during the March 8 meeting raising the Level 1 fee to $2.24 per square foot for residential and to 36 cents per square foot.

Currently, Level 1 fees are $2.14 and 34 cents. According to law, the new fees will go into effect 60 days after Monday night’s approval.

Fees for use of district facilities by the community were not voted on by trustees during Monday’s meeting, but trustees did begin discussing possible increases.

Tognazzini presented a report prepared by her office which listed actual costs – lighting, heating, air condiditoning, custodial time – for community use. Even though the district raised fees by 2 percent last year, Tognazzini said, the fees still do not reimburse the general fund for all the costs incurred.

The fees are also less than charged by other districts, she said.

The staff report listed for trustees fees charged by Gilroy, San Jose, Palo Alto and Milpitas, as well as fees charged by the City of Morgan Hill for use of the Community Center facilities.

Gilroy, for example, charges $17 per hour for non-profit groups to rent a multi-purpose room and kitchen; Morgan Hill, charging $9.60, is the lowest of all the districts researched. Milpitas charges $35 per hour.

Trustees will consider the useage fees again at the April 5 meeting.

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