TISD Overcrowding Affecting School Lunch Schedules - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/17/04-Tyler

TISD Overcrowding Affecting School Lunch Schedules

School in the Tyler Independent School District are starting lunch early and running until late to accommodate overcrowding problems. One of the schools facing this problem is Rice Elementary.
"The first child in the cafeteria for lunch is in there at 10:20 a.m., the last group leaves at 1:20 p.m.," said Rice Elementary Principal Vicki Neil.
"When I first got here there were only 727 children, so we didn't go as long," said Neil. "We were finished by 1 o'clock."
Last year Rice Elementary had an enrollment of 878 students. This year that number is 940, a number Principal Neil said she expects to grow.
"We can't put out a no vacancy sign, so we have to continue to let all the children come in and get them placed but we are definitely maxed out."
The school's building capacity is for 761 students.
Diana Koop coordinates the lunchroom at Rice. Each school day she witnesses the impact of the growing student body.
"If they have the earlier lunches then that cuts down on the teaching time in the classroom before they go to lunch," said Koop. "Most of the time, the best teaching time is in the morning. That's when they are the most attentive and they get the most out of the student."
When the students make it to the lunchroom, some are met with big crowds.
"There are days that we will get backed up to this door and we will have to back off the lunch schedule by 5 or 10 minutes," said Koop. She said the problem of fitting all the students in the lunchroom will only get worse. The school will add 3 to 4 new classes this year.

Maya Golden reporting, mgolden@kltv.com

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