The fate of the policy allowing Manhattan High students to leave school for lunch will be decided during Wednesday’s USD 383 school board meeting, which starts at 5:45 p.m. at Robinson Education Center. The lunch discussion is expected to start at 7:15 p.m.
MHS students have open lunch at west campus, meaning they can leave during the lunch period. The board is considering closing the lunch period after renovations increased the eating spaces there to accommodate the entire student population.
If the board decides to close lunch at the west campus, it will be doing so against the wishes of the MHS administration, staff and students who supported keeping the school’s open lunch policy during the Oct. 3 hearing.
MHS Principal Terry McCarty said the policy helps teenagers develop fiscal and time management skills. “It took me all of two days to figure out that this is probably one of the best things going on at Manhattan High School,” he said at a recent hearing on the question.
In an MHS student survey, 1,157 students agreed that the school should continue to have an open lunch hour while only 14 disagreed.
In a MHS parent survey, 331 parents said 10th through 12th grade students should have open lunch and 236 parents said there should be closed lunch.
In a MHS faculty survey, 84 agreed that west campus should continue to have open lunch and 21 disagreed.
Comments from those who disagreed with continuing open lunch focused on safety issues, truancy and bad decisions made during lunch.
Transportation director Doug Messer, a former county emergency preparedness official, said he had to respond to incidents involving MHS students away from school during their lunch period in his former career.