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Thursday, September 08, 2005

Discounts going up?

I'm curious to see whether there will be a widespread change in the discount levels this year. At least here in NJ, this is the first year that the NSLP forms will cover an entire household, instead of requiring a separate form for each student. One problem that schools have had is that high school (and middle school) students are embarassed to receive free lunches, so they don't return the form.

It's a pattern I see over and over: the elementary schools in a district are at an 80% discount, the middle schools are at 60%, and the high school is at 40%. And since the high school is large, it drags the weighted average way down. I've seen districts use the forms as raffle tickets; students will actually return them if they have a chance at winning a CD player or something.

Now if the high school student's form is sent back with a younger sibling, it will actually reach the district. Will we be able to detect a trend toward higher discounts?

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