Garfield Re-2 schools adapt to cuts to provide students with opportunities

By: Taylor Temby Email
By: Taylor Temby Email

Breakfast is arguably the most important meal of the day, so one Western Slope school district is working to make sure its students aren't going hungry in the mornings.

The Garfield School District Re-2 has revamped its Federal School Breakfast Program by having students eat in the classrooms. Teachers say it makes a huge difference, and students are able to focus longer and better without those growling stomachs. It's just one of the many ways this school district is working to give its students the best education possible while also facing those budget cuts.

Before the students file in, it's a busy scene in the kitchen, but it slows down once the food arrives in the classrooms. Once the students start eating, it's quiet, almost too quiet for elementary school students.

"Some of these kids, we're not sure where their next meal might come from or what that meal might consist of," Highland Elementary School principal Alan Dillon said.

Like other school districts in the state, the Garfield School District Re-2 participates in the Federal School Breakfast Program.

"We're fortunate in that we're able to access some federal funding," Dillon added.

But starting in January, the school district started taking breakfast to the classrooms rather than having kids grabbing it on the go. Since implementing the meal into the classrooms, Highland Elementary increased the number of students eating breakfast through the program from around 70, to 330.

The school district is trying to reach as many students as possible at this elementary school. Around 70 percent of students are on the free and reduced lunch program. Because of this, the district gets fully reimbursed from students ordering breakfast when all is said and done.

"What an advantage that it gives those kids that might not have those resources at home," Garfield School District’s Theresa Hamilton said.

This school district has become very creative in how it provides its students the best learning opportunities in a tough economy, especially considering the budget cuts many districts are facing. Garfield Re-2 voted to change to a four-day school week to adapt to budget cuts earlier this year. It recently decided students will be given Friday off.

"Teachers here who are working really hard to do the best they can for kids and this is just one more step in that process," Dillon said of the breakfast program.

When KKCO 11 News visited Highland Elementary back in February, it was already taking advantage of grants by putting iPod touches in classrooms. The district wrote a new grant yesterday that would give a school $30,000 in technology lessons and peripheral devices.

Garfield Re-2 says it’s working to give its students the best education possible, and it all starts with the most important meal of the day.
Mesa County School District 51 also offers the Federal School Breakfast Program to its students, but students do not get it in their classrooms.

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