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Focus and Rationale
Adequate nutrition of school students is one of the most critical matters of concern for both local and state policymakers. The primary problem is the dominance of high-calorie and junk food as well as semi-processed products in the menus offered at schools instead of fresh and nourishing products and beverages (Kensler & Uline, 2016). This choice can be easily explained by lower expenses connected to financing such menus and the longevity of shelf life of frozen half-prepared food.
Moreover, even if school-age kids have an option of choosing between healthy food, milk, and plain water, they tend to give preference to junk food and soda due to massive marketing campaigns and their overall popularity. As for now, nationwide grants allowing the introduction of fresh fruits and vegetables into school menus are populated to improve the overall condition of health among students. Janesville School District is not an exception, as it has got around $85,000 for differentiating menus and including fresh fruits and vegetables (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2016). Still, there is a significant challenge of proper allocation of resources and budgets for financing school food services. It is connected to the heavy reliance on the state budget.
Therefore, the problem under research is the financing of food services in Janesville School District, Wisconsin. First of all, it is essential to realize that this problem is determined by the existence of specialties between school districts and local and state governments. As for now, there are four nutritional programs, which are developed by the United States Department of Agriculture. According to them, most schools get financial support from the state in the form of cash reimbursement for each served meal.
However, to win funding, school leaders should guarantee that menus meet federal nutritional requirements such as courage of food and ration of fresh and processed food in proposed diets. Moreover, free or subsidized lunches are expected (Meal prices and payment options, 2016). That said, the focus will be made on investigating available resources and the ways of making up budgets. Moreover, specific attention will be paid to monitoring instruments, audit techniques, and opportunities for carrying available budget to the next years. Finally, the budget will be evaluated and an attempt to draw recommendations for making allocations more cost-efficient will be made.
The rationale for choosing this research problem is the fact that most schools ignore the significance of offering healthy food to students. Giving preference to junk food is related to health deterioration. I believe that for me as a leader, the investigation of this problem is crucial because of a positive correlation between healthy food (e.g., the prevalence of fresh products in diet) and academic performance. More than that, all school leaders bear personal responsibility for the healthy future of the nation, as reviewing food policies and maintaining viable food service programs, which satisfy nutritional needs of children, would lead to addressing the challenge of epidemics such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, and diseases related to being overweight (Kensler & Uline, 2016). That said, this paper is an attempt to identify connections between all levels of government and their impact on the financing of food services in the Janesville School District.
Data Collection Procedures
A thorough search using Internet tools was selected as a foundation of the data collection procedure. The rationale behind this decision is the desire to locate and analyze only the latest data available and avoid mistakes connected to copying data from print sources. Most data was retrieved from two websites. Some statistics were as well obtained from governmental reports and websites. Still, some additional sources of information such as scholarly papers were necessary for accurate budget analysis and drawing precise recommendations for making allocation strategies more cost-efficient. At the same time, scholarly sources were used for identifying the type of audit procedures and monitoring techniques. That said, I relied on external sources of information to find answers to research questions.
Janesville School District runs 22 schools. Among them, five schools obtained governmental financial aid under the grant, which aims at including more fresh fruit and vegetables into school menus (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, 2016). Some schools offer the option of breakfasts in classrooms. The schools and food service programs are financed from the budget. It is determined every year by the Janesville School District Board of Education.
The same body is responsible for monitoring fund allocation and guaranteeing that proposed food complies with governmental nourishment requirements. As for now, the district supports the implementation of the Smart Snacks system, which focuses on the promotion of healthy food with a reduced amount of fat and calories per served snack. The emphasis is put on fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, juice, nuts, etc. (United States Department of Agriculture, 2016).
It is essential to note that there are two primary determinants of the annual budget – meal prices and general figures including revenues and expenses. The located data will be provided in Tables 1 and 2 below. Table 1 provides information about already approved prices, which will be operational during the 2016/2017 budget year. As for Table 2, it incorporates data related to the 2015/2016 budget. This decision is explained by the duration of the budget year. Even though it lasts from July 1 to June 30, in most cases, accurate budget information is not available until the beginning of November. For this reason, only approved data was included and the possibility of analyzing planned data was ignored to draw accurate conclusions and identify challenges, which should be addressed.
Table 1. 2016/2017 meal prices.
|Type of meal||Price, $|
|Second lunch for students||3.50|
|Reduced price for students||.40|
|Second breakfast for students||1.65|
|Breakfast for adults||1.65|
Note. This table is developed based on the data published at the governmental website (Meal prices and payment options, 2016).
Table 2. 2015/2016 Budget.
|Budget, $||111,3 million|
|Expenses per student, $||10,692|
|Reimbursement from state sources, $||119,287|
|Reimbursement from federal sources, $||3,544,028|
|The fund balance, $||1,291,249|
Note. This table is developed based on the data published as the 2015-2016 Budget of Janesville School District (Business services, 2016).
As seen in Table 2 above, the primary source of budget revenues is the federal budget. As mentioned above, reimbursement is the allocation of funds in case of following minimal nourishment requirements. So, schools operating in this district are forced to comply with them to obtain necessary financing. Still, it is critical to mention that local schools miss opportunities for receiving federal funds because sometimes they fail to meet the determined requirements.
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For instance, Janesville School District loses at least $140,000 every year due to failing to organize the system of time and service of breakfasts. That said, because of missing an opportunity to serve free and reduced-price meals, the schools miss financing. Moreover, based on the data provided in Table 2, there is a surplus of revenues and expenditures. At the same time, the fund balance is positive. It means that the budget was not entirely spent.
That is why it can be carried over into the 2016/2017 budget year. To sum up, the budget reflects an increase in both revenues and expenditures. It should be noted that this trend has been observed since 2012. During this period, federal reimbursements and fund balance were also increasing. It means that the general approach to running schools is cost-efficient.
As it was mentioned above, the Board of Education is the body responsible for monitoring budget throughout the year. This function is carried out in two ways – constant control of nutrition values and auditing the budget. The first one is necessary to guarantee federal and state reimbursements, which are necessary for assuring a positive balance of the budget. As for the audit, the guideline is one, which is commonly accepted for all schools. It means that heads of departments and business managers review the structure of expenditures and seek to reorganize it to meet the school’s needs and projected budget figures (Sorenson & Goldsmith, 2013).
This process is monitored by the District Board of Education. At the same time, it reviews the operations and quality of products of the chosen food suppliers to fall within the identified cost frames. Reports are prepared and presented every month to guarantee the flawlessness of operations. Moreover, independent auditors are invited every August so that all monthly reports are analyzed and accurate recommendations are drawn. At the same time, this step is compulsory and demanded by the state. Their objective is to assure that the district’s fiscal practices and operations comply with laws and regulations.
Recommendations and Evaluation
Even though the general approach to running schools is efficient and fund balance is positive, some crucial challenges should not be ignored. For instance, the district misses thousands of dollars of federal reimbursements. This problem is critical, especially in the light of constantly rising food prices. In case of failing to reorganize the system of breakfast serving (i.e. serving all free and reduced-price breakfast), the schools will have to raise meal prices. However, it is unacceptable due to the recent meal prices increase and the dominance of people living beyond the poverty threshold (Hunger Taskforce, 2015).
That is why the recommendation for the district is to increase participation in breakfasts and promote the Smart Snack system because it meets federal nourishment requirements. At the same time, it is essential to develop strategies for reducing the criticality of federal financial allocations and make the schools less dependent upon the state (BTG Research, 2011).
To sum up, the budget of the Janesville School District is developed in a thorough and detailed manner. It incorporates all the necessary data such as the volume of revenues and expenditures, fund balance, and reimbursements. Moreover, data from previous years included so that it is possible to estimate the dynamics of budget development. However, there are some significant drawbacks. For instance, the published document does not mention the size of the budget itself or adopted initiatives. So, additional research was required to find this information.
BTG Research. (2011). Improving school foods through the team nutrition Program. Web.
Business services. (2016). Web.
Hunger Taskforce. (2015). School breakfast report card: Janesville School District. Web.
Kensler, L. A., & Uline, C. L. (2016). Leadership for green schools: Sustainability for our children, our communities, and our planet. New York, NY: Routledge.
Meal prices and payment options. (2016). Web.
Sorenson, R. D., & Goldsmith, L. M. (2013). The principal’s guide to school budgeting. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
United States Department of Agriculture. (2016). Smart snacks in school. Web.
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. (2016). Kids encourage their peers to try new fruits and vegetables. Web.