Refugio ISD votes to end off-campus lunch time
By BY J.R. ORTEGA
July 20, 2010 at 2:20 a.m.
REFUGIO - A change has been made to the Refugio School District's 2010-11 lunch menu - and it's already leaving a bad taste in some mouths.
The school board unanimously voted in early July to close the high school's off-campus lunch policy, citing heavy traffic concerns on U.S. Highway 77, which runs alongside the high school.
Donna Davis, a parent of an upcoming sophomore, spoke out against the change at the board's meeting.
"I think with my son being a third-generation Bobcat, it's kind of upsetting," said Davis, who graduated from Refugio High School in 1987. "It seems that freedom is being taken away from the kids."
Davis' son, Brett Davis, does not qualify for a free or reduced lunch and would use his lunch break to eat at a local restaurant with friends or to go to a friend's house to eat for free.
Davis agrees that traffic on U.S. Highway 77 is heavy, but she has never known of a student being hit during the lunch hour.
Most students don't even have to cross the highway to get to restaurants, such as Whataburger and Dairy Queen, Davis said.
"I couldn't imagine it," said Davis, putting herself in her son's shoes. "We were in school for eight hours and during that time off, we got to leave campus and just go have lunch and relax with friends."
The reason to close the campus is because of just that - there have been no accidents involving off-campus eating, said Superintendent Jack Gaskins.
The board wanted to be proactive, he added.
"We don't believe we need to sit around and wait for an incident," Gaskins said. "We did it for student safety."
The board considered the idea to close the campus for the past year, he said.
In the end, the board concluded the highway was too dangerous.
Only some seniors will be grandfathered under the old policy because of previous commitments with off-campus programs like elementary school peer mentoring.
Gaskins already anticipates the resistance some students will have to the change in policy, he said.
"Anything new is hard to take at first," Gaskins said.
The district is already thinking ahead.
It will be changing up the lunch selection to make the transition easier.
On top of adding several microwaves for students who choose to bring their own meals, Gaskins wants to add three more entree selections to the already existing two.
The school also has an ice cream and slush bar and an a la carte line that sells cheeseburgers and pan pizza.
Eventual plans are to also lower the price of the regular entrees, which are $2.25.
That idea is still being played around with, Gaskins said.
"They're going to realize this was done in their best interest," Gaskins said. "This is one avenue, we think, that can protect them."