Parents and students who have ever forgotten lunch money " can now forget it all year -- as long as they take advantage of a limited-time offer to charge it.
Just as Howard County schools have done for years, Carroll is giving parents the option of using a Visa or MasterCard to buy a whole school year's worth of lunches for their children.
When students finish their first day of school in Carroll County tomorrow, they'll bring home a flier informing parents they can "put some change in the morning routine."
"Kids won't have to worry about borrowing if they forget their lunch money," said Eulalia Muschik, Carroll's food services coordinator. "Parents don't have to feel guilty for forgetting to give it to them."
If parents buy the package by Sept. 3, the cost will be $206.25 for elementary students and $231 for high school students. That includes a 15-meal discount, to account for the likelihood that the child will be absent some days or once in a while will bring a lunch.
For parents who purchase the lunches after Sept. 3, the price will be adjusted to reflect the starting date, minus a five-meal discount.
In either case, if the child actually eats 180 lunches, the parents come out ahead. But once paid, the only way the money would be refunded is if the child transfers out of the school system, Muschik said. If a student transfers to another Carroll school, the meal payments would follow.
Parents also may pay for a year's lunches with a check, money order and cash. That always has been an option, Muschik said, but not a commonly used one.
"Sometimes a grandparent will come and say they'd like to pay for their grandchild's lunches for the whole year," Muschik said.
The change this year is that the schools, for September only, may take a Visa or MasterCard payment, too.
Muschik said there could be classroom benefits to prepaying lunches.
For instance, one of the first orders of the day in elementary classrooms is buying lunch tickets. If fewer children have to do this, teaching can begin sooner.
Elementary schools usually can lend money to children who forget their lunch money. Often, the PTA will have a $25 cash pool from which children can borrow. But getting repayments is a hassle, Muschik said, because children often forget to tell their parents they owe the money.
Parents also can charge a year's worth of breakfasts, Muschik said.
The breakfast cost, if purchased by Sept. 3, will be $120, which includes a 20-breakfast discount.
To begin either plan, parents may call (410) 751-3040 to charge the cost, or mail their child's name and school along with a check or money order to Carroll County Schools, Food Services Office, 55 N. Court St., Westminster 21157.
Pub Date: 8/25/96