PIEDMONT — Public school students here will have to pay a quarter more for lunch when classes resume in August.

The Piedmont Board of Education voted Monday to increase the rate to $2.50 per lunch from $2.25. The change comes at the recommendation of schools Superintendent Matt Akin, who said the increase is needed to keep up with rising food and production costs.

"As prices have risen for consumers, prices have risen for the school," Akin said. "Typically parents understand just from going to the grocery store and seeing food costs."

The school used a formula provided by the state department of education to determine the amount of the increase, he said.

"We try not to raise them every year," Akin said of the rate.

About 10 percent of Piedmont students qualify for the reduced-price lunch program and will pay 40 cents for lunch during the next school year. Another 55 percent of Piedmont students receive lunch at no charge.

The federal government reimburses the schools for the portion of the meals students on reduced lunch can't afford. It reimburses schools for the entire cost of those students who are on the free lunch program.

Akin said the formula used to calculate lunch rates for students helps schools ensure they are charging all students a fair rate.

Parents will also have a new school lunch payment option in the starting in August, Akin said. Beginning in the fall, they will be able to use debit cards to pay for the meals online.

At the Monday meeting the board also accepted a resignation from the system's child nutrition director and discussed the qualifications for the new opening. Akin said a qualified candidate should have a bachelor’s degree in nutrition or a related field and prefers that they have experience in food management.  

In other business the board:

- Approved bank statements and paid bills for the months of May and June. Akin noted that the board holds $250,000 in a savings account used to pay debts and said that is $100,000 more than the account held last year at the same time.

- Hired a special education teacher and extended Piedmont High School principal Adam Clemons’ contract for three years. The principal will be paid $95,000 this year and will receive a $2,500 annual raise according to the terms of the contract, Akin said.

- Agreed to renew a contract with the auditing firm Richard, Harris, Ingram and Bozeman, P.C. The firm will be paid $22,600 in 2014, $23,500 in 2015 and $24,325 in 2016.

Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LGaddy_Star.