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Back-to-school special



Gephart, Karolyn 2015             Karolyn Gephart

Does your child qualify for free school meals?

by guest writer Karolyn Gephart

THERE ARE new income-eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price meals for children attending public schools. Each school and site in Friendswood independent school district and the district’s central office has a copy of the policy, which may be reviewed by anyone on request.
On Monday, we began distributing letters to the households of the children in the district about eligibility benefits and any actions households need to take to apply for the benefits. Applications also are available at our food service office, at 402 Laurel Drive, Friendswood.
Four criteria will be used to determine a child’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meal benefits:
1. Household income that is at or below the income eligibility levels;
2. Household participation in the supplemental nutrition assistance program, temporary assistance for needy families or food distribution program on Indian reservations;
3. Child’s status as a foster child, homeless person, runaway, migrant, or someone displaced by a declared disaster; and
4. Child’s enrollment in Head Start or Even Start.
For households that qualify for free or reduced-price meals based on income, an adult in the household must fill out a free and reduced-price meal application and return it to the food service office or to their child’s school office.
The adult completing the form will need to provide the names of all household members, the amount, frequency and source of current income for each household member, the last four digits of his or her own social-security number and his or her signature attesting that the information provided is correct. (A box stating “I do not have a Social Security number” is included for an applying adult who does not have a social-security number to check.)
Friendswood ISD is working with local agencies to identify all children who are categorically and program eligible under criterion 2 above. Our food service office will notify the households of those children that they do not need to complete an application. Any household that does not receive a letter and feels it should have been sent one should call the food service office at 281-996-2596.
Any household that wishes to decline benefits should also call the food service office.
Families may submit applications for free and reduced-price meals at any time during the school year. The information households provide on the application will be used to determine eligibility.
School officials may verify applications at any time during the school year.
Under the provisions of Friendswood’s free and reduced-price meal policy, the district’s food service office will review applications and determine eligibility. Households or guardians dissatisfied with the reviewing official’s eligibility determination may wish to discuss the decision with the official on an informal basis. Households wishing to make a formal appeal for a hearing on the decision may make a request either orally or in writing to deputy superintendent Thad Roher at 302 Laurel Drive.
If unemployment strikes a member of a household whose children receive free or reduced-price school meals, or if the household’s size increases, the household should contact the schools providing the meals. Such changes might make the children eligible for benefits if the household’s income falls to or below the income-eligibility guidelines shown in the table below.

Free school meal eligibilty guidelines


Tortorici, Melissa            Melissa Tortorici

A last-minute checklist

by guest writer Melissa Tortorici

SCHOOL SUPPLIES are prominent in the stores so that means it’s time to gear up for back to school. Many students are already registered for the new school year. Some are already shopping for new clothes and backpacks. Others can’t wait to meet their teachers or get their schedule.
Here are a few details on back-to-school information that parents of Texas City independent school district’s students might not know about.
Most of our returning students took advantage of the easy online registration process during July and, at the time of writing, we were expecting more to follow them yesterday, Tuesday.
If you did not take advantage of either opportunity, there will be a final onsite centralized registration for the entire district today, Wednesday, from 8:00am to 4:00pm in the Texas City high-school cafeteria at 1431 Ninth Avenue North.
Current students who have not completed registration online should register as well as students new to TCISD and students who have withdrawn but are now returning.
Two current proofs of residency are required.
Any students not registered by August 21 will have to register at the district-wide centralized registration on August 24 or 25 before admission to a classroom. Such students must register at the former Blocker library, which now houses the district’s nutrition service’s offices at 1408 6th Street North.
Changes for 2015-16
Calvin Vincent early childhood center will be enforcing its tardy-arrival policy heavily this year. Student drop-off begins at 7:45am and school begins at 8:15am. Students will be considered tardy if they arrive after the 8:15 tardy bell rings. In the past, students were considered tardy if they arrived after 8:30.
Levi Fry intermediate school will no longer require clear or mesh backpacks. In addition, the school has changed a few of its discipline processes with a step system and attendance will be taken in every period.
Blocker middle school also has changes. For student safety, school hours have changed to run from 7:25am to 2:40pm.
The school’s dress code can be found online in the handbook. There are changes for jeans, pants, skirts, shorts and dresses. No garments should be tight fitting or cling to the body; all garments should be no higher than two inches above the knee and contain no holes, tears or frays.
Finally, Blocker will be on a 5×5 block schedule, with students having five classes per day and a total of 10 subjects. Each class is 70 minutes in length. All students will have math daily, English and reading, science and social studies. The remainder of their classes will be the elective subjects they selected this spring.
Students will beable to pick up their fall schedule during our the school’s student orientation on the evening of August 18.
We anticipate a great year! Check out for more information on orientations and our meet-the-teacher events.

Your first lesson – don’t pay tax

WITH the kids’ summer vacation about to end, it’s time for back-to-school shopping – and this weekend is the time to do it.
That’s because the annual Texas sales-tax holiday weekend begins on Friday, August 7, and runs until Sunday.
Continuing this statewide tradition since 1999, the holiday exempts sales tax on certain items costing less than $100.
Most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks are exempted by law, which could save shoppers around $8 on every $100 they spend.
That could prove to be a significant gift from the state as shoppers this year are predicted to save roughly $87 million in state and local sales taxes. If the prediction is correct, it’s the equivalent of charging no tax on some $1.1 billion of sales throughout the three-day period.
Announcing the holiday, Texas public-accounts comptroller Glenn Hegar said: “As the father of three young children, I know back-to-school expenses can really put a strain on family budgets this time of year. This is an opportunity for families to save some money and prepare for the start of the school year.”
Lists of apparel and school supplies that shoppers may purchase tax-free can be found on the comptroller’s website at


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