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On July 22, the School Board held the first of two required public hearings on implement- ing the Universal Free Breakfast Program in eight district schools for the 2014-15 school year. After the second hearing at the board's regu- lar meeting on Aug. 5, the program is expected to be adopted. To qualify, a school has to show that 80 percent or more of its students are receiv- ing free or reduced-price meals, Girard said. After the program begins, Girard explained, any child attending one of the participating schools who wishes to eat breakfast for free will be allowed to do so. "It removes a stigma from those children who are attending those schools already," Girard added. "We know that children who participate in the [free and reduced-price] breakfast program have higher levels of attention at school [and] there's less tardiness," she noted. Research has proven improved aca- demic performance by those students and the need for them to make fewer trips to the school clinics. Most of the funding will be coming from the federal government, she pointed out, with the state picking up a small portion of the expense. (From left) Superintendent Lori White, School Board Vice Chairman Frank Kovach and School Board member Caroline Zucker listen to a speaker during the July 22 meeting. Sarasota News Leader July 25, 2014 Page 38

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