The Superior School Board will consider a pilot program aimed at fighting truancy and period poverty during its Monday, Aug. 12, regular board meeting. It involves installing a dispenser for free menstrual products in bathrooms at Superior High School and Middle School.
“When you start doing the research on this it’s really kind of disturbing,” Vice President Christina Kintop told the board at its July 15 meeting. “One in five girls will stay home from school because they don’t have the money or the means to get their hands on sanitary items.”
A number of school districts have already taken up the march to menstrual equity. A push for free tampons and sanitary pads at Boston public schools was highlighted in the USA Today June 19.
Kintop said that a number of Wisconsin school districts are in the process of implementing a policy to provide free menstrual products. Rep. Melissa Sargent, D-Madison, has been fighting for menstrual equity for years. In July, she again introduced a bill that would provide free menstrual products in state and local buildings as well as school buildings in Wisconsin.
Kintop said in a district like Superior, where 50% of students receive free or reduced lunch, it’s probably a real problem that hasn’t been talked about.
“I did reach out to some counselors in school and they said that this is absolutely an issue,” Kintop told the board.
The cost to put dispensers in all the bathrooms at the schools would be $16,000 in addition to recurring costs for product, Starzecki told the board Aug. 5. She suggested outfitting a single bathroom at both the high school and middle school to begin with and monitor usage. The cost per dispenser was about $560 apiece.
Board member Steve Stupak said he reached out to a dispenser manufacturer to check if students could just go into the bathroom and pocket a large amount of product. He was told that the machines, similar to coin operated machines but without the need for money, work on a timer so only one item can be dispensed at a time.