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School enrollment expected to increase 1 percent next year

Number of Phoenix High graduates almost double this year
By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Next year?s school lunches will cost a quarter more but they will be more nutritious. Increased school lunch fees and next year?s district budget were just two of multiple items discussed during Tuesday night?s school board meeting. Joyce Lopes, assistant superintendent of business services for the Western Placer Unified School District, presented the board with ?budget assumptions? for the 2012-2013 school year, and asked for their review and input. ?At the next board meeting, we?ll be bringing a budget to you to approve,? Lopes said. The Placer County Office of Education and School Services of California ?have recommended we plan for a $441 per ADA (Average Daily Attendance) on-going revenue limit budget reduction? for the 2012-2013 school year, according to Lopes. The school district receives funding per average daily attendance, according to previous News Messenger Reports. That?s because the state has a tax initiative on the ballot for November, according to Lopes. If the tax passes, the districts ADA revenue limit would be $5,174 per student. If it doesn?t pass, according to Lopes, the district is planning for that limit to be $4,786 per student. There is an ?assumed one percent increase in enrollment? for 2012-13, Lopes said. Estimated actual average daily attendance for this school year is 6,310 and is projected to increase to 6,323 next year, according to Lopes. ?I don?t want to build something into the budget that we don?t attain,? Lopes said to the board. ?I?m looking to you for advice. Maybe it?s too optimistic and we want to be conservative in enrollment assumptions.? Board member Paul Carras responded. ?I?m personally comfortable with the numbers here,? Carras said. ?I think being as conservative as we can be is the only way to go.? School lunch prices will increase by 25 cents next school year and the price for milk will increase 10 cents. ?In 2010, President Obama signed the Healthy Free Hunger Free Kids Act, and as a result of that, lunch meal patterns are changing July 1 this year,? Lopes said. ?Specifically looking at lunch, we are required to increase the quantity of fruits and vegetables provided. At least half of the grains have to be whole grain and have various meat and meat alternatives.? Lopes said that the new requirements ?are going to increase our food costs.? ?Food costs for the new meal patterns will be at least (increase by) 10 percent,? Lopes said. ?We serve between 250,000 and 300,000 lunches per year.? Lopes said 62 percent of those meals are through the free and reduced lunch program. ?You said it?s necessary to increase the cost by 10 percent but hasn?t this program operated in the black for the past couple of years?? asked board president Damian Armitage. Lopes said that the nutrition services budget will ?break even? this year, and ?will not be in the black.? Armitage said he asked that question to ?make sure we are not subsidizing General Fund at the cost of lunches.? In other district news, least 20 students this year will graduate from Phoenix High School, according to Mary Boyle, deputy superintendent of educational services. Graduation was scheduled for Wednesday night, after press time. ?We?ve had between seven and 12 graduates for the last several years,? Boyle said. ?This year, we have over 20 graduates.? Phoenix High School Principal Michael Doherty talked about why the number of graduates has risen. ?We?ve done a lot of different things at Phoenix to try to encourage our students,? Doherty said. ?We have weekly credit sheet reports and that shows where a student stands on how many credits they?ve earned.? Phoenix High School students are required to earn two credits per week, Doherty said, and if a student doesn?t achieve that, ?we try to find out why.? If a student is 18 and doesn?t earn the required two credits, they are kept at school ?a half hour per day to get those credits,? Doherty said. The school now has a sports program and students have to earn credits one week to play those sports the following the week. Phoenix School also has ?step parties? to celebrate students who have earned 12 credits, Doherty said, and the school has Sun City Lincoln Hills tutors who visit the school weekly. ?The tutors have really impacted the students,? Doherty said. ?They have someone they can identify with, and the folks enjoy our students.?