FRONT ROYAL – The Warren County School Board voted Wednesday to approve a decrease in employee health insurance rates and an increase in school lunch prices.

George Smith, director of personnel for the division, presented the health, vision, and dental insurance rates for the 2019-2020 year.

Smith said that the insurance rates will see a 1-3% decrease compared to the 2018-2019 rates.

“In the insurance world, it’s difficult to find an insurance decrease,” Smith said. “Traditionally, it’s a 5% increase annually for most things with insurance, but we’re seeing a slight 1% to 3% decrease.”

The division offers its employees three insurance options through Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. Smith said that eligible employees, who enroll or re-enroll in the high deductible health plan, will be eligible for an employer’s paid contribution of $500 to their health savings account. There will be no changes to the health coverage offered.

Smith said that around 523 of the district’s employees use the health insurance Anthem provides.

The board also approved the prices for paid school meals in the 2019-2020 school year.

The new school lunch prices for elementary schools will be $2.10, while middle and high school students will pay $2.20 for lunches. This is a 10-cent increase over the 2018-19 school year, and it is the first increase since the 2016-2017 school year. Melody Sheppard, the assistant superintendent for Warren County Public Schools, said the price changes are due to the increased cost of food and the food services’ fund balance.

The price changes will also meet the requirements of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires school divisions participating in the National School Lunch Program to ensure sufficient funds are provided to account for meals served to students not eligible for free or reduced-price meals. Sheppard said the prices for reduced lunch and breakfast are 40 cents and 30 cents respectively.

The division charges $1.25 for breakfast, and there will be no increase in the breakfast prices this fall. The last time breakfast prices were increased was the 2014-2015 school year.

Sheppard said that school lunch prices for middle and high schools are among the lowest in the area, second only to Page County.

“Page County is 10 cents lower than we are,” she said. “Otherwise, we have the second lowest lunch prices, and our breakfast prices are the lowest in the area, along with Page County and Shenandoah County.”

E. Wilson Morrison Elementary School will be the only school in the district that will not see a lunch price increase due to the school being a part of the Community Eligibility Program, which is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas.

Contact Donald Lambert at dlambert@nvdaily.com