Columbia County school officials agreed Tuesday to cover an $8,800 shortage in the School Nutrition fund.
New federal regulations prevent school lunch programs from ending a fiscal year in debt. Most nutrition programs operate a self-sustaining budget separate from the general fund.
Initially, the program was reporting a nearly $30,000 shortage because pupils had not paid for lunches they had charged during the school year. Through ice cream sales, many schools made up much of what they owed.
Officials said schools will continue trying to collect on the debt during the summer months.
Superintendent Charles Nagle told the school board Tuesday that he intends to bring them a new policy to prevent such a large debt in the future.
"We're going to put things in place and put in safeguards," he said.
Also at the meeting, the board gave final approval to a $173 million budget for next school year.
The budget is about $3.4 million less than the current year. The decrease reflects a cut in state funding of about $10 million, but includes $5.9 million in federal stimulus funds.
To compensate for the loss, officials cut more than 100 positions to save about $5.5 million. Nearly 70 teaching and paraprofessional positions were cut.
"They all say you have to do more with less," board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said. "If we budget any less, we'll have to offer less."
To offer Lakeside High students more opportunities for remediation or enrichment, the school board approved introducing a "power period" into the school's schedule.
Power period will be a 30-minute block between second and third periods where students will receive non-graded instruction on a potentially wide variety of courses, said Lakeside Principal Jeff Carney.
Courses could be offered to help students who performed poorly on the Criterion-Reference Competency Test or the Georgia High School Graduation Test. Other courses might offer reviews for the graduation test or End of Course Tests.
The power period time will be accumulated by shaving five minutes from the end of each school period. All of the school's certified personnel -- teachers, counselors and administrators -- will instruct to keep class sizes down to about 15 students.
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