Blount Co. Schools try new program to improve performance

Blount County Schools try new program to improve student performance

Some students also think breakfast will help their grades. Some students also think breakfast will help their grades.

6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - Blount County Schools are trying new methods to improve student performance. In two schools, they've implemented a new universal breakfast program.

Almost every student at Lanier Elementary School now eats breakfast, but that wasn't the case before the breakfast program.

Sometimes students had to skip what's known as the most important meal of the day.

"When I was late for school, I usually wasn't able to go to breakfast and I'd usually be tired if I didn't have breakfast," Ashley Sayne said.

In the pilot universal breakfast program, every student in the two selected schools, Lanier and Rockford Elementary, is given breakfast to eat at the beginning of class.

The students have a choice between a hot breakfast like a bacon egg biscuit or a cold breakfast like cereal and yogurt and it's all for free.

Blount County Schools Food Service Coordinator Karen Helton heard about the program at the state level and wanted to try it in Blount County. It's being implemented in the two schools for two months.

Helton hopes it has long term results. "We are taking data on absentees, a.m. nurse visits and tardiness. If we continue next year, we will take data on test scores as well," she said.

Kindergarten teacher Beth Dirmeyer says even though the program has only been in place for a couple weeks, she's seen a difference.

"I can tell a huge difference since we started the breakfast program in just their attentiveness, their focus. It has been huge," Dirmeyer said.

Some students also think breakfast will help their grades. "It will also help us in our TCAP testing to feel awesome," Ashley Sayne said.

The Blount County Schools nutrition department pays for the program with money made from cafeteria sales. The system is also given a reimbursement by the federal government for students on free or reduced meals.

The food service coordinator hopes they will have enough funds to continue the program next year.

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