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Nome Students to Eat Lunch and Now Breakfast–Free!

At the Nome Public Schools board of education meeting last night there was no shortage of new faces.

The district has ten new teachers (including a Nome-Beltz graduate), new principals in both the elementary and high schools, and they were all introduced at the meeting by the district’s new human resource director, Shawn Arnold.

But parents and students are likely to notice another big change this year: the addition of breakfast and lunch for every Nome public schools student—free of charge. That’s because of the CEP program NPS just qualified for.

“CEP is an acronym for Community Eligibility Provision,” said district Business Manager Paula Coffman, “and what it means is that all of our students will be able to eat free breakfast and lunch, based on the demographics.”

Nome Public Schools only recently qualified for CEP, in part because of provisions in a deal signed this summer to contract out school meals to NANA Management Services.

“It won’t cost families anything to eat now, for either meal,” Coffman continued. “It won’t cost the district any more than it would have otherwise cost.”

Bruce Turner directs operations for NMS as they are preparing to take over the district’s two kitchens. He answered board members’ questions about the decision to add additional employees in order to help handle the uptick in meals that’ll be served. Three of those employees—all of them NANA shareholders residing in Nome–are officially employed by NMS, not the school district.

School resumes for students next Tuesday, August 18th, and will last ten minutes later into the afternoon to accommodate the extra meal, without affecting class time. However, it will be a week into classes—on Monday August 25th—when the breakfast program kicks off.

And later this week there is a public meeting to review details of a climate and connectedness survey designed to improve school environment.

“There’s so many things that we as a community, staff, school board members could do to make simple changes that don’t cost any money to help kids feel welcome in school, and help parents feel welcome in school,” said School Board President Betsy Brennan on the survey’s importance, urging members of the community to come.

The meeting is Thursday at 6:30pm in the elementary school, and there is also a board work session to review the data more closely on Friday at 12pm in the district office’s conference room.