The Howard County Board of Education took the following actions at its June 14 meeting. For more information, call 992-0500.
LUNCH PRICES -- The board, citing rising labor and food costs in school food service programs and a decrease in federal food subsidies, voted 5 to 0 to raise student lunch prices at county middle and high schools by 25 percent beginning in September.
The price of student lunches at middle and high schools will increase from $1 to $1.25. Adult lunches at all schools will also go up -- from $1.35 to $1.65, a 22 percent increase. Elementary school lunch prices for students will remain at $1.
During the coming school year, labor and salary costs for all food service programs in county schools are expected to increase by 6 percent, while the cost of food, supplies and equipment will increase by at least 7 percent. School food service programs will cost the school system an estimated $440,000 a month in 1991, school officials said. The programs cost approximately $400,000 a month during the school year that recently ended.
The last time lunch prices were increased in county schools was 1981, when student lunch prices jumped from 75 cents to $1 at the middle and high schools and from 70 to 95 cents at elementary schools.
SCHOOL BUS OWNERSHIP -- The board scheduled a June 28 vote on a staff proposal that the school system buy and operate some school buses, a service that is now provided by private contractors. According to a staff report, the school system could save as much as $1.7 million in the next 10 years by buying and operating 40 additional buses that will be needed to meet soaring enrollment in county schools.
Howard County has one of the largest privately contracted school bus services in the state, with 333 buses transporting 23,200 students daily.
The proposal calls for the school system to acquire seven school buses in 1991, and an unspecified additional number of buses in subsequent years.
Owning the buses would enable the school system to reduce transportation costs in a variety of ways, according to the report. An existing county-owned garage could be used for maintenance and repair of the buses for the first three years of the program, and possibly longer, and the school system would save on fuel costs because government agencies are exempt from federal and state fuel taxes. As the school's fleet of buses expanded, the school would save additional money by buying fuel and equipment at bulk rates, the report said.
The school system would pay more per bus to operate the five new buses in 1991 than it would to pay contractors because of the initial expense of purchasing buses and hiring drivers. It would begin to save money in 1992, and continue saving money on school-operated buses through the year 2000, according to the report.
The total cost of operating the buses from 1990 to 2000 would be $13.9 million, compared with $15.6 million the school system would pay to contractors for the same service, according to the report.
SCHOOL RENAMING -- The board scheduled a June 28 public hearing on a staff recommendation to change the name of Whiskey Bottom Road Elementary School in North Laurel to Laurel Woods Elementary School beginning this September.
A campaign by some fifth graders unhappy with the school's current name prompted the recommendation. The students said students at other schools laugh at the name Whiskey Bottom and that the word "whiskey" is inappropriate in a school name.
At a school board meeting last month, about 25 fifth graders from the school asked board members to rename the school, and gave them a list of proposed names. "Laurel Woods" was suggested because the Whiskey Bottom school is located in North Laurel and the woods surrounding the school are filled with laurel plants.
The school was named Whiskey Bottom Road Elementary when it opened in 1972 after an old local wagon trail along which casks of whiskey were hauled, according to newspaper accounts of the school board meeting at which the name was chosen.
The public hearing will be held during the regular June 28 school board meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. in the Department of Education Building, 10910 Route 108, Ellicott City.