Student Account Balances and Delinquency Practices

  • Federal mandates require the open disclosure of a school district’s practice of handing negative/delinquent student accounts as of 7/1/2017.

    Essex Westford School District will begin the 2018-2019 school year with the following practice based upon the age and grade level.

    Parents / guardians are provided management tools on www.myschoolaccount.com by the child nutrition program. For frequently asked questions about the lunch payment program, visit our FAQs page.

    Parents can manage student(s) debit accounts for:

    • Ease of payment with flexible payment methods
    • Debit/credit card payments. Fee from service provider is currently 4% of transaction.
    • ACH checking account transfers. Fee from service provider is $2.00 per transaction.
    • Cash sent in to building cafeteria coordinator or cashier at meal time.
    • Check (please write name of student(s) in memo space) no fee. If checks are returned for insufficient funds parent/guardian will be responsible for any bank fees.
    • Low Account E Mail notifications. Parent/guardian may set a customized level at which to receive an e mail low account notification.
    • Current account information to include student fund balance, series of transactions to include purchased item and time. Account works very much like a bank checking account with a running debit balance.
  • What happens if a debit account goes negative?

    Posted by:

    While there is currently no fee from the District CNP associated with a negative debit student child nutrition account, there is a series of steps to eliminate such deficits. Involvement of the student is structured based upon the grade level.

    It is the intent of the EWSD CNP to never deny a student access to a meal.

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Delinquent Account Procedures

  • Account Balance Notification (EHS, EMS, ADL, CTE)

    1. Alerts Student at Checkout: Student receives a courtesy update at the cash register when the account drops below $10.00.

      Any student at any grade level may request the account balance at any time but child nutrition will purposely not involve students below these grade levels in the management of their child nutrition account to avoid creating anxiety for students that may not understand. Managing a student(s) account is the responsibility of adult parents/guardians.

    2. Student Directed to Main Office: Students at grades 9 and up will be directed by the child nutrition staff to seek assistance at the respective main offices in the Educational Center. Child Nutrition will not say “no” to a hungry child and will follow the practice established by the main offices regarding meal passes and charging practices.


    Parent Notified of Balance (PreK-8)

    1. Call to Parent/Guardian: If a preK-8 account reaches a negative balance the building Cafeteria Coordinator will call to inform the parent/guardian. Resolution is not always successful if information is not current/accurate at the school level regarding contact information. Several attempts will be made. An e-mail may also be sent if that access to the parent/guardian is available. 

      Students at this level will not be denied access to meals and accounts will continue amassing negative balances. Child protection team meetings may be determined to be necessary, sending a child to school without food or the means to ascertain food could be a sign of neglect. Building administrators may intervene at any point during the delinquency process if they feel the wellbeing of the child is at risk. The District will cover all uncollected monies at the end of the school year and assume responsibility for any further debt collection.

    Steps to Remedy Negative Balances

    1. A La Carte Suspends: While a debit account is not in good standing, no a la carte purchases will be allowed at the Educational Center, furthermore a la carte purchases will not be allowed if the transaction results in a negative debit fund balance.

      A la carte purchases are considered “extra” and not nutritionally required. Examples: extra entrée, extra slice of pizza, milk or juice without complete meal, snack bar purchases.

    2. . 'First Warning' Letter Sent: When an account reaches a negative balance of $10.00 or more, a letter will be generated to the parent/guardian from the Child Nutrition Office.

      A list will be supplied to each building principal weekly with all students that have reached this level. The student(s) will continue to be served meals and the accounts will continue to accrue negative balances.

      This is considered the first warning flag that there may need to be an interaction with the family to make sure that there are no issues affecting the safety and well-being of the student(s). Principals are encouraged to make contact with the family at this point. We may be able to avoid further measures by informing the parent/guardian about their possible access to subsidized meals via the free and reduced application process, or use of the myschoolaccount.com as a payment tool. 

    3. 'Second Warning' Letter Sent: If the account situation is not cleared within 7 calendar days a second letter to the family will be generated by the Child Nutrition Office informing them of the continued delinquency. 

    4. 'Third Warning' Letter - Account Hold: If the account situation is not cleared within an additional 7 calendar days a 3rd letter to the family will be generated by the Child Nutrition Office informing the family that access to the student(s) Child Nutrition debit account may be put on a daily cash only basis within 5 calendar days from the date of the letter unless the account is brought into good standing.

      The Child Nutrition Management team will contact the parent/guardian to design a plan to assist with the elimination of the accumulated debt. It is believed that if a process reaches this point action should be taken by the building principal by making contact with the parent/guardian, convening a child protection group meeting and/or an interventional report to the Department of Children and Families.

      Children not being provided food from home or the ability to pay for CNP purchases may be in jeopardy of food insecurity during school breaks, vacations, holidays, weekends or evenings. A free and reduced application will be provided to the family.

    5. Seriously Delinquent - School Makes Contact, Resolution Plan: If the account remains delinquent for the additional 5 calendar days a notice will be sent to the family informing them the account is now “Seriously Delinquent”.

      Students in the preK-8 grades will continue being fed and accumulating debt. The Child Nutrition Management team will contact the parent/guardian to design a plan to assist with the elimination of the accumulated debt. A free and reduced application will be provided to the family.

    6. Ongoing Efforts to Collect: If the account remains delinquent additional letters will be generated each additional 5 calendar days.

      Students in the preK-8 grades will continue being fed and accumulating debt. The Child Nutrition Management team will contact the parent/guardian to design a plan to assist with the elimination of the accumulated debt. A free and reduced application will be provided to the family.

    7. Student Privileges Limited; Debt Balances: Balances will be carried forward from year to year, as long as the student remains at a school served by EWSD Child Nutrition Program, as will limitations on accounts that are not in good standing.

      Some student privileges may also be withheld including the access to parking permits as long as the account remains delinquent.