Lunch bill crackdown tough, but district can’t afford losses

Since the Switzerland of Ohio school district opted in January to begin prohibiting students with lunch bill balances of more than $50 from participating in extracurriculars some criticism of the policy has been harsh.

Many say they think it wrongfully punishes the students for the actions of their parents.

While that may be true, we’re not sure we disagree with the policy.

The district can’t afford to let unpaid bills go, and must do something to get the attention of those not paying their share.

Unfortunately, it’s often not until cuts or policy changes to athletics or other extracurriculars are bandied about that many parents seem to be spurred into action.

Those activities, rather than academics or any other issue, is sometimes what gets people to come to meetings, call officials and open their wallets to support a program or keep it going.

The Switzerland board and administration may have been smart to target this area and it may nip the problem right in the bud.

In the meantime, administrators have said all students will continue to be fed at school and that for families struggling financially allowances will be made to those who show they are making a good faith effort to pay their bills.

Children shouldn’t be the ones to be affected if their guardians don’t pay but in what reasonable way could the district offer a consequence that doesn’t impact the students?

The children are the clients, so to speak. It would be difficult for a school system to impose a realistic penalty on parents that doesn’t involve the students.

Residents should also remember that extracurriculars are a privilege, not a right, like receiving an education. It makes sense that only those in good standing within the district can participate in extra district activities.

Parents who have let their bills go unpaid can use this as an opportunity to teach their children about the importance of being responsible and that there are consequences for actions.

A plan like this should be a last resort but we don’t think it’s unfair.