This week, the Ellwood City Area Schools were notified by Michael Hull, General Manager of the Baierl Toyota that they were going to pay off all of the student debt to the cafeteria.
Joe Mancini, Superintendent of the Ellwood City Schools stated, “this will have a positive impact on the community, we are noticing more and more parents struggling financially in our district and this act of generosity will alleviate the concern that many of our families have about the current balance they have.”
The check will be given to Joe Mancini and John Dzurina, Food Service Coordinator for the District, on Friday, August 30 at Baierl Toyota in Mars, PA. Michael Hull, General Manager of the dealership, stated on KDKA that “we have a lot of customers that come in from Ellwood City and we wanted to help people close to home and to see that every student starts off with a clean slate this year.”
“The recent lunch shaming law allowed for students to get a meal no matter what their debt was so this has put Districts into situations where students racked up a lot of debt. In the past we could stop serving a reimbursable meal and serve an alternative meal, but a more recent change to that allows Districts to serve an alternative meal after a student reaches $50 in debt during the year,” Mancini stated. “I know that many districts have gone to collection agencies to get the debt paid off. We have held off on that step but it may be something that we will have to do in order to make sure students don’t get so far behind in paying.”
Mancini also said, “on average, over 50% of the students in the Ellwood City Schools are on free or reduced meal programs and now we are starting to see other students who cannot afford to pay. We encourage all parents to go online and fill out the free and reduced application because they may qualify even if they don’t think they will.”
“All in all, we are very appreciative of Baierl Toyota and their generosity to the students and families of Ellwood City. I asked the principals to have students write letters of thanks to the dealership and we already started to get some that we will send to Mr. Hull and the employees of Baierl.” Parents will notice the change in their balances next week as the District will have to go into each account individually to credit the accounts.