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Ravenna schools eyes new program

By Justin Boyd Record-Courier staff writer Published: November 16, 1997 12:00 AM

With the proposed system, Ravenna high school and middle school students would use individualized computer cards to pay for school lunches next semester. The system would be gradually expanded to include other services, said Philip Warner, Ravenna schools superintendent. Warner presented the plan to the board Thursday.

"We're looking for ways to be more efficient, more accurate in our technology," he said in an interview Saturday.

The system would cost about $31,000 to be installed by IAMCARD Inc. of Dayton, Warner said.

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The school system expects to recover initial installation and equipment costs when more students at the middle and high schools take advantage of the federal school lunch program, Warner said.

"We feel that this won't be an expenditure in food service but will cause students to take advantage of free and reduced lunches more often," he said.

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Board member Connie Mansfield agreed the cards would make it easier for students to take advantage of the lunch program.

"First and foremost (the system) reduces absolutely any stigma attached to a free or reduced lunch," she said. "And no kid should not eat because they're embarrassed."

Mansfield said the cards would allow parents to pay for lunches on a regular schedule rather than searching for money every day. She said the system would also enable parents to designate what kinds of food their kids could buy with the cards.

The next phase of the proposed program would include using the cards for lunches in elementary schools, Warner said. Elementary school teachers would keep the cards for their students, he said.

In a third step, the school system would use the cards to take attendance. Students would swipe their cards through scanners when they entered or left buildings, Warner said. The high school and middle school would take attendance with the cards by fall 1998 if the plan is approved, he said.

Board President Mark Hairston was supportive of the proposed system.

"We've actually been researching this for about two years," he said. "There's a lot of things this system can do."

Hairston pointed out that computerizing duties such as taking attendance and keeping track of textbook distribution would free teachers from administrative work.

"We're looking to give our teachers back some of their time in the classroom," he said. "We're really looking to become more efficient."

The system could also be used to monitor students' Internet use, he said.

Mansfield said the system would streamline taking inventory and other aspects of food service.

"It controls inventories and everything else," she said. "All these state reports that are now done manually can be done at the push of a button."

Installing the technology in the proposed plan offered many future opportunities, Hairston said.

"Once we get it in place, we're going to find a ton of things we can do with it," he said.

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