Box Elder School District Appealing $20,000 Fine

BRIGHAM CITY– After being fined for violations of the Child Nutrition Program at Box Elder High School, the school district is fighting back with an attempt to appeal the $20,167 dollar fine issued for four items found in vending machines at the school.

“We had four things that weren’t of nutritional value,” said Superintendent Ron Wolff. “Since Box Elder has a 45 minute lunch and students can go anywhere in the building, anything that was out of compliance made the building out of compliance.”

The items in question consisted of cough drops, chewing gum, licorice and soda water, and the fine came as a result of a visit from members of the state office witnessing students obtain access to these items during the lunch period.

Food and Nutrition Service 210.12 Appendix B in the state and federal regulations prohibits foods of minimal nutritional value including soda water, water ices, chewing gum, certain candies, hard candies, jellies and gums, marshmallow candies, fondant, licorice, and candy-coated popcorn.

Cough drops fall under hard candies, and are mentioned specifically in the regulations.

Each of these items is only prohibited from being in vending machines if students have access to the machines during lunch.

Wolff said that in order to successfully repeal the fine, the district is responsible to train its administration to understand the requirements of the Child Nutrition Program, and send the signatures of all principals in the district to the State Office of Education.

That training will be held Thursday, after which Wolff said he expects to hear back from the state office within a week of sending in the signatures.  

“If we’re successful, they’ll reduce our fine to a one day fine instead of the audited period of time,” Wolff said. “Instead of over $20,000 it would be just less than $600.”

Prior to repealing the fine, the State Office of Education had to request permission to allow Box Elder’s repeal through the national western region because of a timeline that was unknown to Wolff.

The region allowed it, and a couple of individuals from the State Office Food Nutrition Program visited Box Elder High May 30 to verify that the school was within regulation.

The fine is the second for Wolff, as Morgan High School was also issued a one day fine while he was superintendent there.

“They have to fine us, there’s no option there,” Wolff said. “It used to be the old standby – you were fined the day they were here, but that’s changed. We’re glad that they’re willing to give us an opportunity to appeal and we hope that we’re successful.”

The $20,000 fine equates to about one-third of a teacher’s salary per year, as well as the revenue for three and a half students per year.

<em>-curtislundstrom@gmail.com</em>

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