Bread prices have increased 20 percent. Potatoes are up 30 percent. Corn costs have more than doubled.
Total it up and the result is that the cost of school meals in Howard County public schools is increasing - again.
The county school board unanimously approved a 25-cent increase this month after being informed that the costs of fuel and labor have increased significantly in the past year.
The culprit? Fuel charges and the floods in the Midwest. In addition, salaries have increased 9 percent, health care benefits have increase 8 percent, transportation and fuel surcharges increased from $8 to $15 per stop this year, food and supply costs have increased from 10 percent to 20 percent during the school year, according to Mary Klatko, the system's administrator for food and nutrition services.
"If prices don't increase, then it will have to draw from the operating budget," said Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin.
As a result, the average price of lunch will be $3 in secondary schools and $2.50 at elementary schools.
This is the third year in a row that the school board has approved an increase. Last year, a 25-cent increase was attributed to an 8 percent jump in employee salaries, a 9 percent rise in employee benefits, and fuel and transportation surcharges.
Two years ago, the board approved a recommendation that increased school lunches by 50 cents for secondary school students and 25 cents for elementary pupils. Increases in salaries, health insurance, fuel and milk costs resulted in that increase, school system administrators said.
As the prices of meals have increased, the number of students purchasing meals has dropped, Klatko said.
For example, two years ago 300 students stopped buying meals after the increase. Another 300 students stopped purchasing meals after last year's increase.
"Price definitely is a driving factor," she said.
Amid the board's deliberation on the matter, member Diane Mikulis clarified that the school system only breaks even on its school lunch program. Sandra H. French challenged the public to beat the price - even with the latest increase.
"This is a balanced meal," French said. "This is the best bargain in the county. Where else can you afford a meal for $2.50, $3?"
History Day victors
Two students from Murray Hill Middle School were selected the Outstanding State Prize Winners in the Junior Division of the National History Day competition Thursday.
The winners, Ayushi Aggarwal and Laura Migasiuk, won the Junior Group Exhibit for their project "Conflict and Compromise Between Labor and Mine Operators." They are students of Pat Browne and Beth Singleton.
Aggarwal and Migasiuk were among a contingent of students from Howard County that attended the four-day competition at the University of Maryland. More than 2,400 students from across the nation participated.
The school board recently unanimously approved a number of administrative promotions for the coming academic year.
The promotions, which will become effective July 1, included:
Katherine Kreidler, an assistant principal at Worthington Elementary, to principal at Worthington;
Chanel Morris, assistant principal at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary, to principal at the school;
Cathy Nowack, an assistant principal at Thunder Hill Elementary, to principal at Longfellow Elementary;
Martha Bowen, an instructional team leader at Manor Woods Elementary, to an assistant principal at Thunder Hill Elementary;
Deborah Caldwell, instructional team leader at Hollifield Station Elementary, to an assistant principal at Triadelphia Ridge;
Kevin Mulroe, a gifted-and-talented resource teacher at Clemens Crossing Elementary, to an assistant principal at Running Brook Elementary;
Claire Hafets, an assistant principal at Bonnie Branch Middle, to principal at Burleigh Manor Middle;
Scott Ruehl, coordinator of Secondary Mathematics for the school system, to principal of Mount Hebron High;
Anne Brown, a teacher at Mount View Middle, to an assistant principal at Bonnie Branch Middle;
Audra Butler, a teacher at Mayfield Woods Middle, to an assistant principal at Cradlerock School;
Lisa Smithson, a teacher at Elkridge Landing Middle, to an assistant principal at Wilde Lake Middle;
Lori Gambino, a teacher at Mount Hebron High, to an assistant at Reservoir High;
Kedre' Fairly, a teacher at Howard High, to an assistant principal at the school.
The board also approved the several transfers:
David Brown, principal at Mount Hebron High, to principal of Glenwood Middle;
Carl Perkins, principal at Folly Quarter Middle, to principal at Centennial High;
Richard Wilson Jr., principal at Glenwood Middle, to principal at Folly Quarter Middle;
Gregory Lertora, assistant principal at Patapsco Middle, to assistant principal at Murray Hill Middle;
John DiPaula, assistant principal at Glenelg High, to assistant principal at River Hill High;
Nick Novak, assistant principal at River Hill, to assistant principal at Glenelg High;
John Cheek, assistant principal at Reservoir High, to assistant principal at Mount Hebron High;
Heidi Balter, principal at Rockburn Elementary, to principal at Atholton Elementary;
Lauren Bauer, principal at Atholton Elementary, to principal at Rockburn Elementary;
Susan Webster, principal at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary, to principal to Waterloo Elementary;
Troy Todd, assistant principal at Running Brook Elementary, to assistant principal at Waterloo Elementary;
Charles Keith West, assistant principal at Pointers Run Elementary, to assistant principal at Worthington Elementary.