Household Economic Survey
I am excited to communicate that the USDA has announced that school meals will be served free to students for the 2021-22 school year. This is great news for our families!
As a result of this announcement, the USDA has withdrawn the Free and Reduced lunch application form. An unintended consequence of this action is that Kansas schools are no longer able to use this application process for identifying students who would qualify for At-Risk funding through the Kansas school finance formula. Without the USDA application process, USD 113 does not have a process to identify students in order to obtain the additional funding.
At-Risk funding is a big portion of the budget for USD 113. Last year, this amounted to $541,883. Unfortunately, this was down from the prior year’s At-Risk aid of $589,860. We don’t have any indication that there were fewer families in need last year than before, so why the difference? After the USDA announced free school meals early last fall, there was no incentive for families to complete the required forms. Why complete paperwork for free meals when meals are already free?
Fortunately, the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) has provided schools with a tool to identify students who would qualify for free lunches. The Household Economic Survey will be a part of the enrollment process this year for families enrolling their children in schools.
So why should families take the time to complete this survey when meals are already free? The USD 113 Board of Education at their June meeting approved an incentive for families. Students whose families have completed the survey and who qualify for the “free” lunch designation will have their Instructional, Technology and Textbook fees waived. This amounts to $45 per elementary student and $90 per middle and high school student.
This document asks two simple questions: 1) number of people in the household, and 2) total income for the household. Some important points to consider:
• Following the guidelines from KSDE, USD 113 must offer the Household Economic Survey to all families.
• Families are encouraged to complete the document, but are not required to complete the survey to enroll children in school. Parents can choose to not complete this form.
• Families who complete the survey and qualify for the “free lunch” designation will have Instructional, Technology and Textbook fees waived.
• Information regarding household income will be kept confidential.
Families are encouraged to help our school district obtain extra funding through the state’s finance formula. By completing the paperwork and qualifying, families will experience financial relief from reduced enrollment cost; at the same time, they will help our schools maximize state aid funding.