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'I recognize this was hurting us'; Manitowoc Superintendent looks to rejoin free lunch program

Posted at 7:11 PM, Oct 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-26 18:36:01-04
  • Weeks after Superintendent Feil ended a free lunch program called C-E-P, the Board and Superintendent Feil have decided to rejoin.
  • Feil says he reached out to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and they are open to helping. He said all that is left is for the school to be cleared at the federal level.
  • Jenny Gleichner was a part of the group that pushed to reinstate C-E-P. She says she is proud that they were able to make a change.

After being the only school district in Wisconsin to opt out of the Community Eligibility Provision, or C-E-P, Manitowoc Schools may find themselves back in. The reversal may once again provide free lunches for all.

Superintendent Feil told me that this morning he has reached out to Wisconsin’s Department of Instruction to rejoin C-E-P after the public backlash against the decision.

"Clearly, you know, I recognize this was hurting us with this distraction," Feil said. "Any time not spent helping students achieve and succeed is a detriment to those kids."

Two weeks ago, a majority of the public voiced their disapproval of Feil’s decision at the board meeting. One of the speakers against opting out of CEP was Jenny Gleichner.

"Our public schools are for everyone and we have to serve everyone equitably," Gleichner said.

She says she would still like to see Superintendent Feil and the board held responsible for causing the distraction but is very proud that members of the public were able to get the decision reversed.

"When you don't like what is happening you need to speak up and if your voices are loud enough, they can be heard," said Gleichner.

Superintendent Feil says the school’s entrance into C-E-P will now be decided at the federal level, but the board put the decision back in his hands and if possible, Manitowoc schools will be back in C-E-P.

"I'm thinking could it be two weeks, is it a month, I don't know," Feil said. "I would say that minimally it would be a couple weeks but we'll be ready to ramp up right away."

Superintendent Feil says he thinks he made the right call but will approach a decision like this differently in the future.

"In hindsight would I have done it a bit differently? I still would've made the recommendation, because I felt that it was the principal thing to do," said Feil. "But, even though I had the authority to do this, I would've brought it to the Board."

Superintendent Feil says that now he will opt into C-E-P every year until the provision begins costing Manitowoc money.