In light of recent legal action regarding fee waivers, I urge Utah boards of education to consider the following proposals in filling their missions to empower students to become responsible citizens and to keep the public trust by ethically handling public monies:

1. Require verification of income and other variables on every free lunch application. One Utah County school district last year lost the equivalent of a well-paid administrator's salary to waived fees. This year, significantly higher losses are anticipated.The cost of even a full-time employee to review and process each application will assure that the truly needy benefit from school programs, will preserve the public trust and will protect the pocketbooks of citizens already supporting public education by paying taxes and appropriate school fees. Federal funding benefits to food services departments must be secondary to the public good.

2. Severely limit extracurricular program activities and expenses such as out-of-area trips and uniforms. Out-of-area travel is a cost item that districts and fee-paying parents and students cannot be expected to bear.

While identifiable uniforms are essential in competitive sports, school cheerleaders and music groups achieve recognition through excellent performance rather than a variety of dress routines.

Private donors may choose to cover these expenses for particular groups, or students and parents interested in these more elaborate programs can join and support existing community groups or originate such programs separate from school.

Suggestions for changes in the fee waiver law are appropriately directed to state legislators who need to know Utah citizens want to preserve the ethics of individual responsibility and work.

Assisting the truly needy does not mean usurping their responsibility and opportunity to contribute to their own well-being and that of their community.

Barbara Grover