Will County ROE Superintendent Caparelli-Ruff's first 120 days: A strong beginning

It has only been four months since Dr. Lisa Caparelli-Ruff was sworn in as Superintendent of the Will County Regional Office of Education on July 3, 2023. When looking at some of her early accomplishments in office, one truly stands out above the rest:

On Friday, Sept. 8, Dr. Caparelli-Ruff was touring Lincoln School, Will County's Regional Safe School Program (RSSP). She asked Principal Scott Pritchard: "Where do the students eat? I don't see a cafeteria." Principal Pritchard responded, "We don't have a meal program here, although I've asked for 12 years!"

Upon hearing such an incredulous statement, Dr. Caparelli-Ruff immediately proclaimed: "I don't care what it takes, I will see that the students eat immediately! This is a priority."

Principal Pritchard recalls the conversation vividly. "I was told: 'This is Friday! On Monday, we need to be serving lunch to our kids!' And we did. On Monday, Sept. 11, we served the first lunch to Lincoln students in 12 years."

Prichard continued: "By the following Friday (Sept. 15), we had made arrangements for Niko's, a local catering company, to provide lunches for the kids, at a cost of $5 per student. The kids are now eating every day and the Will County ROE has picked up the tab for the catering!'

Dr. Caparelli-Ruff stated that "97% of our students receive free or reduced-priced lunches. We realize it is a process to work with ISBE to begin getting licenses for food, but there is no valid reason that this was not done previously."

When Dr. Caparelli-Ruff mentioned the situation at the Joliet school to Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow, he was furious.

Glascow asked what he could do to help. Within days, his office donated and delivered a large commercial refrigerator unit to the school, something that they did not have and desperately needed.

Lincoln School is now able store juices and leftover food from lunch - such as sandwich wraps - in the refrigerator. After school, the students are allowed to take whatever food that is left over home to their families. And as some of the emotional thank you cards received by the ROE Superintendent state, many of these families are truly grateful.

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