IM schools to look at free lunch program

IRON MOUNTAIN — The Iron Mountain School District may qualify for a federal program that would provide free lunches for all students from kindergarten through sixth grade.

Escanaba schools already participate in the program offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service, said Amanda Gibbons, the district’s 21st-century learning coordinator.

An initial assessment of Iron Mountain’s 383 students in kindergarten through sixth grade indicated the district has 4 to 8 percent more than the federal requirement for the program whose families meet the income levels to qualify, Gibbons told the Iron Mountain School Board on Monday.

The program would mean more paperwork for meal program staff, but it also would eliminate the need to pursue unpaid lunch bills, she said.

The board authorized further pursuing the program. If the district is approved, the free lunches would not begin until November or December.

The board also:

— Heard Gibbons report the district’s Core Virtual program has 74 students enrolled, including from other districts, and they may pick up a few more. Fifty-five of the students also take Homeschool Partnership elective courses.

— Learned the district has selected Choice Transportation LLC of Kingsford for its busing. Superintendent Raphael Rittenhouse praised them for taking over to provide transportation for unscheduled events, in addition to the regular routes, after the district’s first busing contractor withdrew just a day into the school year.

— Hired Gloria Koerschner to help with families assimilating into the district and replaced three instructional aides with new hires Dawn Farragh, Dawn Hazelwood and Jessica Doers.

— Approved a list of online learning venders for the current school year, including Time4learning Art,, Abcmouse, Tynker, Edgenuity, Music FIRST, IXL, Khan, Odysseyware, Apex, MobyMax, Art in Action, and Pearson software.

— Approved additional online elective courses such as Lifetime Sports, Music FIRST, Getting Crafty, Intro to Computers, Computers 500 and Robotics 200.

— Approved a music department trip to Disney World and Orlando, Fla., for March 30 to April 1, during the district’s spring break.