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Students beat exit exam average, lunch prices go up

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Lincoln’s high school students did very well on their exit-exam scores, surpassing the statewide average. That’s according to Mary Boyle, the Western Placer Unified School District’s assistant superintendent for educational services, speaking at the district’s meeting Tuesday. High-school students first take the state-mandated high school exit exam when they are sophomores. Eighty-five percent of the district’s sophomores who took the test in March passed, Boyle said, tying the Placer County average and beating the statewide average of 80 percent. On the second portion of the test – English language arts – 86 percent of Western Placer Unified School District students passed, beating the Placer County average of 85 percent and the statewide average of 81 percent. “We have not done above the average in the past three years but we have this year,” Boyle told the district’s board of trustees Tuesday. “We’re very pleased.” For those students who did not pass, there is ample opportunity to pass the test before graduation, according to Ryland. They can re-take the test multiple times in their junior and senior years, and they even have the opportunity to take it two years after their class graduates. “That’s very good,” said board member Brian Haley upon hearing about the test scores. Those test scores, Boyle pointed out, represent a 5-percent rise for the district over previous years. Boyle credited all the teachers in the district for the higher scores, as the education the students received from their first days at school helped prepare them for the exit exam. “The preparation starts long before (high school),” said Board President Paul Carras. “We’re very appreciative of the efforts put forth by our staff and students.” Boyle called teachers “the glue that holds it all together” and said she was very proud of their efforts and those of the students. School meal prices to increase In other news, students will pay a little more for school meals, as the board unanimously enacted a measure that will raise prices anywhere from 25 cents to 75 cents at Tuesday’s meeting. That increase is to compensate for rising costs in meal service within the district, according to the agenda packet. About 477,000 breakfasts and lunches for all grade levels will be served this year, according to Jeff Dardis, food services director for the district. That’s up about 2,000 meals from last year and is due to growth within the district. Most affected were breakfast prices, which did not go up when lunch prices were raised several years ago, according to Terri Ryland, assistant superintendent for business and support services. Breakfasts for kindergarten through eighth grade levels now cost 25 cents more, bringing to total to $1.75 per meal. For high school students, the price is now $2 – up 50 cents from last year’s price. For adult students, breakfasts now cost $2.50, up from $1.75 – but those prices now include milk, which was not included in the previous price. Lunches for adults and those in the Headstart Program are each up 25 cents, to $3.50 and $2.75, respectively. Lunch prices for the rest of the district remain unchanged, at $2.50 per lunch. The price increases translate to about $43,000 for the district, which will make the cafeteria services fund break even, according to Ryland. Lincoln resident Linda Jacobs has two grandchildren in Western Placer schools and she said she is not bothered by the increase. “Everything is going up so I guess that’s just what happens,” Jacobs said. “At least they’re still having school lunches.” Brooke Castro has a child entering Lincoln’s schools, and she said she doesn’t care about the price increase. “There are more important things to fight about,” Castro said. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.