ANNE KLOCKENKEMPER ; Staff Writer
SARASOTA COUNTY — During a School Board meeting Tuesday, Beverly Girard, Sarasota County School District director of food and nutrition services, said once all the families who want to have registered for the program, more than 50 percent of district children will receive free or reduced-cost lunch.
By Thursday, that number already has passed 48 percent, with 20,056 of 41,301 students signed up for the program.
An estimated 41,985 students returned to Sarasota County schools Monday. However, according to Scott Ferguson, spokesman for the school district, all students who were approved for free or reduced-cost meals last year have been given a 30-day grace period from the preceding year.
Englewood Elementary School Principal Mark Grossenbacher said about 59 percent of students are expected to be on free or reduced lunches based on last year’s figures.
‘We’ll know when we tally up final numbers in three weeks,’ Grossenbacher said. ‘We had a total of 473 students and approximately 275 who qualified for free and reduced lunches last year.’
In North Port, all but one school reported more than 50 percent of students having registered. At Atwater Elementary, 62.15 percent of students were on free or reduced lunch; 63.55 percent at Cranberry Elementary; 74.21 percent at Glenallen Elementary; 71.46 percent at Heron Creek Middle School; 57.93 percent at Imagine Junior High School; 46.61 percent at Imagine Elementary School; 62.12 percent at Lamarque Elementary; 61.01 percent at North Port High School; 58.1 percent at Toledo Blade Elementary; and 66.32 percent at Woodland Middle School.
Alta Vista Elementary School in Sarasota has the highest percentage of students — 89.46 percent — receiving free or reduced lunch in the district. The Sarasota County school with the lowest percentage is Pine View School in Osprey, with 10.78 percent of students signed up for the program.
Staff writer Tom Chang contributed to this report.