Feds Mandate School Lunch Increase for Methuen ~ Schools to Start Before Labor Day

D.J. DeebBy: DJ Deeb – July, 2015

June proved to be a busy and interesting month for Methuen Public Schools. The Federal Government is once again meddling in our schools through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by requiring that school lunch prices be increased.

First off, Congratulations to the Class of 2015 who had a very successful commencement ceremony at the Tsongas Arena on June 6th and to all of Methuen’s students for completing another successful School Year in 2014-2015.

At our June 8th School Committee meeting, members were presented with a proposal to raise school lunches by .05 cents for the 2015-2016 School Year in order to meet a Price Equity Mandate by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Although I stood alone on this issue I proudly voted against this increase, not because it is not needed, but because I do not believe that we should be given a mandate by the USDA. At the meeting I stated, “I do believe that if we should vote on a price that we should be ones to set the price.” The School Committee is not a rubber stamp for Federal mandates. If it is required why vote on it?

This is in no way a criticism of our outstanding Food Service Staff at Methuen Public Schools. These individuals do a great job serving and meeting the needs of Methuen’s students.

I refuse to go along with the USDA mandate first off because I do not believe that the USDA or the National School Lunch Program should exist. We can save taxpayers over $156 Billion per year by eliminating this wasteful Federal agency. I oppose and have always opposed any federal subsidies or regulations on local schools or educational programs. I favor local control!

I want to remind parents and students that Methuen Public Schools will begin before Labor Day in 2015-2016. Labor Day is late this year and falls on Monday, September 7th. It has thus been decided that Methuen Public Schools will reopen for faculty and staff on Monday, August 31st and for students on Tuesday, September 1st. Staff and student will have an extra long weekend in order to wrap-up Summer by having Friday, September 4th off. Those three days prior will allow teachers to distribute books and materials, review protocols, and send home papers to be signed. Staff and students can then hit the ground running when they return from the long Labor Day Weekend break on Tuesday, September 8th. With this calendar, the 180th Instructional Day will be Wednesday, June 15th and the 185th Instructional Day (if all snow days are used) will be Wednesday, June 20th. This affords plenty of extra time in planning for snow days if next winter proves to be similar to the one we just had. Let’s certainly hope that is not the case and everyone gets out on June 15th.

Have a great Summer!

D.J. Deeb is a Methuen resident and member of the Methuen School Committee. Deeb is an Adjunct Professor of History/Government at Bunker Hill Community College and an Adjunct Political Science Instructor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He teaches Social Studies full-time at Reading Memorial High School. He is the author of Israel, Palestine, and the Quest for Middle East Peace (University Press, 2013) and The Collapse of Middle East Peace (IUniverse, 2003).