AP NEWS

L-D School District receives donations for delinquent school lunch accounts

March 17, 2019

LEAD — Roughly one month ago, a Lead-Deadwood School Board agenda item and resulting discussion regarding how to address delinquent school lunch accounts and collect unpaid balances went viral.

The idea of hiring a collection agency to perform the task has since gone by the wayside. With other means and measures being evaluated, in the interim, concerned community members stepped forth to pay it forward for folks needing help with lunch bills.

“We have gotten some donations as a result of the conversation,” Leikvold said. “We’ve got $1,860 so far. We do not yet know how we are going to allocate that.”

Business Manager Margie Rantapaa is reviewing USDA rules and regulations that govern how the funds can be allocated.

“We don’t have a policy right now on redistributing that donated money, so between now and the April meeting, we’re going to work on that,” Leikvold said. “We also have policy EF right now which has to do with how we collect these delinquent lunch accounts, and we’re going to take a pen to that, decide what we want to leave in, what we want to take out. Hopefully, we’ll bring that to you in April, as well.”

Leikvold emphasized the fact that regardless of any policy, the approach at the Lead-Deadwood School District is to continue to feed children the same lunch their peers are afforded, regardless of their account balance.

“A lot of caring people out there who were interested in helping out,” Leikvold said. “I’m not sure they all fully grasp the concept that the Lead-Deadwood School District feeds all of the children the same, regardless of their debt, which is different than many other school districts in the state, that don’t treat them the same.”

Thanks to concerned citizens and discussions calling attention to the challenge, both are combining to chip away at the delinquent account balance.

“We were at $9,800 (in unpaid balances) when we started this conversation. Now, with the donations, we’re at $6,200, and probably half of that $6,200 are people that are $50 bucks are less,” Leikvold said. “So, we’re really talking about, probably 20 families. We’re still feeding the kids the same. We have had some large debts paid off in the last month. Maybe it’s a coincidence, I don’t know for sure.”

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