Despite an April 30 bid deadline three weeks ago, the Daniel Boone School District is still without a new cafeteria contract as well as a new food services manager.
The district’s 30 cafeteria workers may not know before June 9 if they will have jobs when the new school year starts in September.
Elizabeth McMullen, Birdsboro, said that June 9 is her last day of work this year, and she wants to know now if she must start looking for another job.
“What is the point of trying when you already have the best lunch ladies” asked student Alyssia Brandlen. “Why would you punish the lunch ladies just because you don’t have money? We’re doing everything we can to keep them -- doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
School Board President Richard Martino said at the board’s May 18 voting meeting that The Nutrition Group, Irwin, Westmoreland County, was the only food services company to submit a bid -- two bids -- for the Food Services Management Company contract.
Martino said the bids were with the current cafeteria workers included, and without the current workers.
If the district accepts the bid without the cafeteria workers, The Nutrition Group would hire their own employees to work in the district’s five cafeterias.
The current contract with Sodexo Operations, LLC, Gaithersburg, MD, expires June 30.
Cafeteria workers were not included in that contract that started July 1, 2010, nor are they included in the district’s general fund budget.
Business Manager Loren Small said they are district employees included in the Classified Support Staff Workers contract, which also expires June 30.
Martino said therein lies the district’s savings potential -- by furloughing the cafeteria workers, the district would save money on their pension costs.
The district’s current pension costs are $5 million and are calculated to be a little more than $6 million for 2015-16.
Martino said in a March 26 interview that the business office and district administration are evaluating and negotiating all of the options and the associated costs, including the best food quality “conducive to the kids,” food costs, and “researching what is the best option for us.”
He said the other issue is that the cafeteria workers are not currently managed by a Food Service Manager; the district never hired a food service manager and they can’t be managed by Sodexho.
“No one is really managing them [the cafeteria workers],” said Martino. “We want the company [that is selected by the school board] to have full responsibility for the employees.”
The district has posted a job opening for a Director of Food Services with a salary that will be regionally competitive and commensurate with experience.
Electronic and mailed applications are due by May 30.
The board approved with a 7-2 vote a preliminary general fund budget of $53 million with a furlough of eight elementary teachers but no tax increase
Taxes would remain at 28.9618 mills.
Property owners with a $100,000 assessed property, pay an annual tax bill of $2,896.
Board member Connor Kurtz said the Curriculum & Instruction Committee determined on May 18 that it would furlough five elementary teachers instead of eight.
Kurtz said the teacher furloughs would be discussed at the board’s June 8 Committee of the Whole meeting.
A final 2015-16 budget must be approved by June 30.