DAYTON, Tenn. -- Rhea County students will pay 25 cents more for lunch next year.
On Thursday, school board members raised prices in response to a federal mandate.
Director of Schools Jerry Levengood said the federal school lunch program is requiring an increase of at least 14 cents per meal next year. But he recommended the larger increase in an effort to put off another hike for three years or so.
Lunches cost $2.25 for elementary students and $2.50 for high school students this year.
Food Service Director Sally Lane said she did not intend to ask for a raise in the price before the mandate. But as a result of the board's action, she said she plans to implement a districtwide free breakfast program for all students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
"We'll evaluate that about Christmastime and see if we can continue," she said.
In other matters, the board authorized Levengood to join school officials from Bradley, Polk, Monroe and Meigs counties seeking a grant to upgrade technology in their systems.
Levengood said Rhea could receive as much as $100,000 and be required to match that with up to $5,000 in local funds.
Any money received would be used in schools other than the present high school, which is to be renovated for use as a junior high.
The board also decided it wanted more study on a proposal to have a high school student serve as a nonvoting member of the board. Board member Dale Harris questioned whether "one student truly can represent the views of all students."
Board member Bimbo McCawley said he supports the concept, but he recommended more research be done before the board acts.
"I think I see a lot of opportunities," he said. "There may be more hardship than it's worth, but I don't see that. But let's find out."
Board members asked Levengood to check with other systems where students participate and learn about their experiences before the board acts.