LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to continue its controversial "Breakfast in the Classroom" program despite critics who claimed about reduced instruction time and and unsanitary classroom conditions.
The Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) initiative, which serves breakfast to nearly 200,000 students a day at 279 schools district-wide and is the largest of its kind in the nation, came under fire recently after Superintendent John Deasy received complaints from teachers.
LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia has been among the most vocal supporters for the program since its start in March 2012 with help from the Los Angeles Fund for Public Education.
"We have seen the benefit of Breakfast in the Classroom and the positive impact it's had on our children and schools," said Board President Mónica García. "Today's continued support for Breakfast in the Classroom means students will get the nourishment they need to excel academically. This is the smart way of serving our students, increasing achievement and using our dollars effectively."
Critics claimed that serving breakfast in the classroom — rather than before school in the cafeteria — caused messes and sanitation issues and reduced instruction time, KNX 1070's Jon Baird reports.
"It takes 20 extra minutes to get things going and it's 100 minutes a week that you're losing over 40 weeks. That's a lot of time in the classroom," teacher Bill Gaffney said.
"State standards have risen, they are more challenging. We're expected to teach more, yet we have less time to do it," teacher Ayde Bravo added.
Parents and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) held rallies in recent weeks, including one on Tuesday, in support of the program.
Union officials claim that if the board fails to support the continuation of the program, 956 cafeteria workers will be laid off immediately.
"The way the hunger rate is here, you don't know which child is starving. We need Breakfast in the Classroom so each and every child can get a nutritious breakfast," cafeteria worker Crystal Jones said.
The current school year marks the first roll-out of "Breakfast In The Classroom" (BIC), which, according to LAUSD, was introduced to address the nearly 70 percent of students who are qualified for a free or reduced-price breakfast, but do not participate in the program.
District officials had hoped to eventually expand BIC to all LAUSD schools within three years before Deasy proposed ending the program.
A United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) survey released in April showed teachers would support breakfast at school if sanitation problems could be resolved and instructional time was not impacted.
"Not only are teachers being required to clean up after the kids, there have been so many custodial cuts that we can't keep up," UTLA President Warren Fletcher told KNX.
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