KISD Board of Directors Votes to End Long Tradition of High Schoolers Going Out for Lunch

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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) — After much discussion at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, the KISD Board of Trustees has finally voted to close high school campuses during lunchtime, with the only exception for seniors. with a certain educational level and parental permission.

“Open lunches on campus are not a best practice. It just isn’t,” Superintendent John Craft said at the meeting.

“We are an anomaly. This is not common practice statewide.

He says he has been proposing to end free lunch periods for a decade, but the issue of space in secondary schools has always been an issue. Craft says with a new high school opening next year, the district has the best opportunity to close campuses.

“It’s really about safety, it’s about protecting students,” Craft told the council Tuesday night.

He says he is concerned about a number of safety issues, including traffic issues. Craft says students leaving school in droves have caused multiple accidents, including lost lives.

“For ten years I have been sending videos of students crossing 5-lane roads,” added board member JoAnn Purser. She ultimately voted in favor of the recommendation to close campuses during lunchtime.

“Fighting happens in food establishments, so our police department needs to respond with KPD and Harker Heights PD to handle those situations,” Craft said. “In other cases, students leave and come back under the influence.”

Although the recommendation was ultimately passed, board members expressed some concern about keeping all students on campus during lunch given the current cafeteria capacities and the size of the student body.

“It’s going to be tough for the numbers to work, especially at Shoemaker High School and Harker Heights,” Craft said.

He says they are implementing new practices that move students away from a traditional lunch schedule with food queues and cafeteria seating. He and other KISD employees explained new systems using kiosks and take-out meals for students to pick up their food and leave the traditional lunch setting to eat.

In some cases, Craft says teachers may have to open classrooms so students can eat. The board has also considered upgrading courtyards on some campuses to serve as outdoor dining venues for students.

“We had to really look at a unique schedule,” Craft said.

Other board members have raised concerns about the current meal options for students and the quality of food being offered. The district’s school nutrition officer says the district meets several criteria set by the state in terms of the food it offers.

Another suggestion to offer students the option of having food delivered or parking nearby food trucks was nipped in the bud when district officials said it would lose more than $17 million in state funding for its nutrition program.

While the logistics are still being worked out, Craft continued to express that student safety should be the priority.

“I think it’s time to make sure we’re doing everything we can to keep our kids safe by closing campus.”

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