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Low-income Newport Elementary students will get free dental services

Newport Elementary School students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches will get dental screening and teeth cleaning this coming school year, at no cost to their families, through Children's Dental Services.

If a child's family has dental insurance, Children's Dental Services will bill the insurance company for services if the families them.

If a family does not qualify for free and reduced-price lunches, a standard used by the Minnesota Department of Education to determine needy children, charges will be on a sliding scale. The cost will be approximately $10 to $15 for teeth cleaning, according to information presented to the School District 833 School Board, Aug. 21, by Mike Moore, Newport Elementary School principal, and Linda Rull, assistant superintendent for elementary education.

The cost of services for students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches will be billed to Medical Assistance, Rull said.

The screening will include X-rays, cleaning and further dental care, including filling cavities. It will be done at the school.

Services will be offered at the school with portable equipment from Children's Dental Services, a nonprofit organization that also serves students in Minneapolis, St. Paul and North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school districts, Rull said.

"We are very excited about this opportunity, and believe the program will provide many student benefits," Rull said. "Currently, we have a growing population, 39 percent, who participate in the free and reduced lunch program. Providing for basic dental needs will result in greater attendance and academic benefits."

Screenings will begin when 30 families give their consent for screening.

The pilot program will be evaluated at the end of the year to determine if the program will continue and whether dental services will be offered at other district schools.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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