Jan 25, 2011 3:25 PM by Andy Koen

Schools likely to eat funding cut to breakfast program

Many schools districts in Southern Colorado are expecting to simply absorb the loss in state funding that they would normally be reimbursed for through the Smart Start free breakfast subsidy program.

State lawmakers recently blocked a request to spend the remaining $124,229 of $750,000 appropriated to the program. Smart Start pays for a free breakfast for children from families with incomes high enough that they qualify for the reduced lunch rate of $0.30 a meal, but not free lunch.

Many school districts we spoke with say they expect to continue serving the free breakfasts through the end of the school year even without the state reimbursement.

Harrison School District Two has been able to offset the reduction through other federal funds and money their cafeteria program earn in from its catering business.

District spokesperson Jennifer Sprague explains that the loss in funding this school year amounts to about $1,500 a month for the entire district.

"It becomes a wash with our department because our nutrition services department is fully funded and self-funded and they have their own budget," Sprague said.

But other districts, such as Colorado Springs School District 11, are waiting to see whether the state will reverse course. Democrats at state capitol have submitted legislation to continue the funding through the end of the year.

Lawmakers need to cut $300 million from this year's budget to meet constitutional requirements and are also facing a $1.1 billion shortfall for next year.

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