The Wrangell Public School Board approved its budget for Fiscal Year 2016 Monday and narrowly avoided eliminating the district’s school lunch program.

When the school board’s regular meeting started, the Alaska Legislature was still working on the state operating budget. The education budget was still up in the air, so the school board based its budget on an expected 3.5 percent reduction in state funding.

“We had looked at a revision for our budget earlier in the week that had eliminated the food service program in Wrangell Public Schools,” said Wrangell Public Schools Superintendent Patrick Mayer.

Eliminating food service would save $113,000, which was more than half of the legislature’s proposed cut to the Wrangell school district. Dozens of Wrangell residents attended the board meeting, and several people spoke against eliminating school meals.

Beth Comstock is the lead cook for the district, and she acknowledged the schools have to be fiscally responsible.

“But the food program serves some things that are way more important than money,” Comstock said. “I’ve got kids that I feed at the high school, that the two meals that I give them are the only two meals they’re getting.”

After a long discussion of alternative money-saving options, a community member said the legislature had adjourned during the school board meeting. The legislature’s operating budget called for a much smaller cut to education funding than what the school board expected.

District Business Manager Pam Roope estimated the board could restore more than 90 percent of the school food budget and keep the food service program in place.

But Mayer said the state’s budget and the Wrangell school district’s budget could still change.

“The governor has called a special session and is requiring a ‘take two’ budget that addresses a number of things, one of which, at the top of the list, is restoring funding for the education K-12 formula to the level originally proposed in the governor’s budget,” Mayer said.

The board also accepted the resignation of secondary school principal Colter Barnes. This was his first year working in the district.

The school board adopted a strategic plan for the district. It includes different goals for academic achievement, career and technical education, safety and technology to be completed in the next three years.