MINOT, N.D. — “There’s been a few headlines lately criticizing the Legislature for bills related to school lunch and school choice,” grouses Sen. Don Schaible, a Republican from Mott, in a letter to the editor. “I want to set the record straight on those issues and the work the Legislature has done to ensure the best possible education for all children in North Dakota.”
I’m not sure which specific headlines Schaible is objecting to — at least some of the critical ones have been mine — but if he intended to set the record straight, then it must be said that he did a second-rate job of it.
Schaible claims that the school lunch bill, House Bill 1491, introduced Rep. LaurieBeth Hager, a Fargo Democrat, “provided free meals only to those students whose families are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.”
“For a family of four, that is $60,000. Many at this level and below are already able to get significantly reduced lunches. Further, this does not take care of students who may be above this level, but whose families may be suffering financially for other reasons, such as a job loss or unexpected medical bills,” Schaible continues, arguing that the Legislature instead decided to pass House Bill 1494, which, in his words, “ensures all students at schools participating in the federal school lunch program receive a meal when its requested, regardless of their ability to pay or status of their meal account.”
Except, the original version of HB 1491, the version that Hager introduced before the House Education Committee amended it, would have made an appropriation to cover the cost of school lunches for all families.