2012-13 Free and reduced lunch rate eligibility in Fond du Lac Schools
• Chegwin Elementary School, 356 enrolled, 251 eligible, 70.5 percent.
• Evans Elementary School, 371 enrolled, 172 eligible, 46.4 percent.
• Riverside Elementary School, 396 enrolled, 295 eligible, 74.5 percent.
• Fond du Lac High School, 2007 enrolled, 745 eligible, 37.1 percent.
• STEM Academy, 100 enrolled, 21 eligible, 21 percent.
• Lakeshore Elementary School, 455 enrolled, 57 eligible, 12.5 percent.
• Parkside Elementary School, 366 enrolled, 255 eligible, 75.9 percent.
• Pier Elementary School, 465 enrolled, 198 eligible, 42.6 percent.
• Robert Elementary School, 465 enrolled, 158 eligible, 34 percent.
• Rosenow Elementary School, 463 enrolled, 182 eligible, 39.3 percent.
• Sabish Middle School, 546 enrolled, 287 eligible, 52.6 percent.
• Theisen Middle School, 512 enrolled, 202 eligible, 39.5 percent.
• Waters Elementary School, 436 enrolled, 203 eligible, 46.6 percent.
• Woodworth Middle School, 511 enrolled, 221 eligible, 43.2 percent.
2012-13 free and reduced lunch rate eligibility for area school districts
• Campbellsport – 27.8 percent, down 0.2 percent.
• Fond du Lac – 42.4 percent, up 0.3 percent.
• Horicon – 35.1 percent, down 8.3 percent.
• Kewaskum – 23.2 percent, up 2 percent.
• Lomira – 22.8 percent, down 1.1 percent.
• Mayville – 29.5 percent, down 2.9 percent.
• New Holstein – 23 percent, down 1.9 percent.
• North Fond du Lac – 47.6 percent, up 0.5 percent.
• Oakfield – 18.8 percent, down 3 percent.
• Ripon – 35 percent, up 3.2 percent.
• Rosendale-Brandon, 25.7 percent, up one percent
• Waupun – 38.1 percent, down 0.3 percent.
Source: Department of Public Instruction
The number of children living in poverty in Wisconsin continues to rise as public schools work to help meet their needs.
The percentage of public school students eligible for free or reduced-price meals rose to 43.2 percent for the 2012-13 school year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Although the rise is less than 1 percent, it marks the ninth consecutive year of increased eligibility for subsidized school meals.
Fond du Lac
The rate of students eligible for free and reduced lunches has doubled in Fond du Lac since 2000-01 from 21.4 percent to 43.8 percent. That is a sign of the economy and the challenges that students and families face, Superintendent James Sebert said.
Poverty affects learning in many ways. Safe learning environments, a focus on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and time built into school days for intervention and enrichment is critical to meeting the needs of these children, according to Sebert.
“We focus on having time available for teachers to collaborate around student progress and find ways to help each child succeed,” he said. “We, as the adults in the system, assume the responsibility for each child to learn regardless of their socioeconomic, cultural, or English-proficiency or disability status.”
This year the district was awarded a grant to address the increased number of students who are homeless. The purpose of the grant is to address gaps and implement strategies to improve academic, behavior and medical outcome of homeless students, said Marian Sheridan coordinator of school health and safety.
“School counselors and school nurses are great resources to students and families once a need is identified,” she said.
The Fond du Lac County Public Health Department works with public schools to address needs such as dental care access for children who are on medical assistance and mental health access, said County Health Officer Kim Mueller.
“We see so many children with a wide variety of backgrounds and problems and of these individuals many could potentially be classified as poverty,” Mueller said. “We are looking to better families and children in any way we can help. This help may be a referral to a partnership that can actually take care of the problem, or this help may consist of teaching the parent how to find resources more effectively.”
NFdL and area
Numbers of qualifying students in North Fond du Lac are up to 47.6 percent and even higher in the elementary grades. Superintendent Aaron Sadoff said the number of homeless students is also on the rise.
“Families in poverty many times lack resources and have additional stress,” he said. “If a child lives in a household where there is financial difficulties, hunger, safety and emotional needs are more difficult to meet.”
In those situations, learning sometimes becomes secondary and achievement and growth suffers. School staff, Sadoff said, can provide a safe place and an “equalizer” for students and their families.
Gary Hansen, Superintendent of the Rosendale-Brandon School District, agreed. Children who are hungry or worried about not having a place to stay at night are not going to be able to concentrate on school responsibilities
“Homeless students or students living in poverty don’t wear a sign indicating this. You can’t walk into a school and pick them out by what they are wearing or who they are hanging out with,” Hansen said. “Today’s teens have so many factors that dictate how they are treated by other students. I don’t believe one can make any assertions based on poverty or homelessness.”
Although free/reduced meal levels decreased by a small percentage in Waupun, Superintendent Tonya Gubin believes many families are not seeking the help they need by taking advantage of that program. The district recently hired a family advocate with money from a Safe School/Healthy Student grant. Staff has donated money and clothing to be distributed to families struggling to make ends meet.
“Our advocate helps students get food from the food pantry, clothes from Clothes for Kids, helped with getting necessary medical assistance and provided transportation as many of these families did not have a vehicle,” she said. “Unfortunately, almost all of our grant monies are going away at the end of this year, but the needs are growing.”
By the numbers
Across Wisconsin, 36.9 percent of public school students are from families with income less than $30,000 per year, thus qualifying the students for free school meals.
For the 2012-13 school year, Wisconsin had 358,775 public school district students eligible for free and reduced-price school meals out of 829,631 enrolled students in 414 districts participating in the National School Lunch Program.
According to federal eligibility guidelines for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs, S
chool meals are free to children who live in households with annual incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty rate, or $29,965 for a family of four, according to federal eligibility guidelines for the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Students approved for reduced-price meals have an annual household income that is under 185 percent of the federal poverty rate. For a family of four, income would be between $29,965 and $42,643.