District survey puts option of open-campus lunch in jeopardy
Even if they have the option of leaving, many students and staff still prefer to stay at school for lunch. Photo by Paige Kiehl
Senior Gus Eggener collects school lunch on Friday. Staying at school for lunch may be mandatory starting next school year. Photo by Paige Kiehl
Senior Todd Hague works through a bread bowl at Panera during lunch on Friday. Photo by Elizabeth Upton
While RBHS has never experienced a problem with having open campus lunch shifts, parents raised a concern regarding the new influx of incoming freshman in 2013. Taking into account these new bodies will be between the ages of 13 and 15 and probably not possessing licenses, the district posted a survey on the RBHS webpage this afternoon to receive feedback from students and their parents about a new proposition.
The comments and answers received will ultimately determine if the high schools next year will have open or closed campus lunches.
“We’re talking as a district and probably the biggest thing we are talking about right now is that there seems to be some parent feedback about whether or not they feel that their younger students should have open lunch,” principal Mark Maus said. “As soon as there was the, ‘Hey, we are opening Battle High School, all the high schools are going to change to ninth [through] 12 [grades],’ parents began saying, ‘Oh, I don’t know if my freshman’s ready. I’m concerned about them having open lunch.’”
As well as an issue of time management and responsibility with freshmen, concerns are also raised regarding a safety issue with freshmen having to walk to restaurants off campus or catching rides with upperclassmen. Especially with the opening of BHS, students will have to venture a ways away from the campus to locate lunch, CPS community relations coordinator, Michelle Baumstark, said.
“As we move to open a third comprehensive high school here in Columbia with Battle, [the existence of open lunches is] a discussion we need to have because there’s an equity issue too,” Baumstark said. “It’s going to be a challenge, especially at Battle, if we decide to have open lunches because there’s not a whole lot of options around that high school right now. That was the same situation at Rock Bridge many, many years ago, and as that area built up, there were more options to have lunch off campus.”
However, if the high schools lock their doors at lunch time, improvements need to be made to the current lunch policies and options, Maus said. Previously, he worked at a school with closed-campus lunch, and the cafeteria offered 12 different meal options each day.
“There were so many different options compared to what students have here,” Maus said. “So I know that’s something food service is looking at as well, asking, ‘Do we contact with a vendor to bring items in? Do we offer more items? And where would we offer them, and how do we ensure that students get through lines and do everything that they need to get done in the time that’s allotted?’”
Although the mantra RBHS tries to live out is ‘freedom with responsibility,’ there might be less freedom based on the amount of responsibility parents and students believe freshmen can handle. And for junior Chelsea Russell, students deserve these amenities because of the responsibility they have displayed.
“I would be very frustrated [if RBHS was closed-campus lunch] because that time away from school is good; it helps you recuperate for your next classes. It lets you get away from school for a little bit, chill out and prepare yourself for the rest of the day,” Russell said. “Rock Bridge is a school based off of freedom with responsibility and if you take away the freedom that we have handled responsibly, that’s going against everything Rock Bridge is about.”
By Kaitlyn Marsh
Additional reporting by Daphne Yu, Raj Satpathy and George Sarafianos
How do you think the district should deal with lunches next year?