Students in the Guilford County schools could face a 25-cent increase in school lunch prices next year, administrators said Thursday night.
The increase may be needed to keep pace with rising food prices, Superintendent E. Wayne Trogdon told the county Board of Education's budget committee.The proposed hike would boost prices for plate lunches from $1 to $1.25 in elementary schools, and from $1.25 to $1.50 in middle and high schools.
If approved by the school board, the increase would be the first in five years for Guilford students.
``We've had a disastrous year, with the increase in food prices,' Trogdon told the committee.
After the meeting, board Chairwoman Jeanette Pippin said it is too soon to say how much - if any - lunch prices will rise. Before setting the prices, the board will receive a formal request from Jean Reece, the schools' nutrition director.
``It is very preliminary,' Pippin said. ``Even if they're saying it might have to be $1.25, it could be less, it could be more. It could be nothing.'
Howard Cross, assistant superintendent for logistics, said the school system's nutrition department has offset the rising costs of food, labor and fringe benefits for food service workers by consolidating cooking sites and cutting the number of employees.
But this year, the lunch program faced several setbacks: The federal government ran out of free surplus cheese and cut back on other commodity giveaways. Therefore, the schools had to buy more food, and prices were higher because of drought, winter freezes and a dairy shortage.
Also, cafeterias lost money when severe weather closed the schools seven days before Jan. 1. Two of those days will not be made up.
With those losses, more cost increases expected in 1990-91 and no more room to cut expenses, the system needs to raise meal prices by 40 cents, according to the information given to the board. Administrators said they can hold the increase to 25 cents if the board provides a $210,000 subsidy to the school-lunch program.
In other business, Cross said the Guilford schools tentatively will seek $1.8 million from the county for buildings and equipment in fiscal year 1990-91.
The request includes money for roofing, furniture, removing asbestos, paving, cafeteria equipment, carpet and athletic facilities.
The schools' preliminary budget also seeks more than $42 million from the county for school operations, an increase of 15.27 percent over this year's allocation.
Cross said the county schools may join Greensboro and High Point in seeking a special allocation of county money to remove fuel oil tanks.