Boyd ISD swears in 3 trustees; Food service costs a hot item

By Jimmy Alford | Published Wednesday, May 21, 2014
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Jana Tate, Jake Tackett and Rebecca Parr took their places on the Boyd ISD board of trustees Monday night.

Tackett and Parr are new to the board, while Tate begins a second term. The board also reorganized, appointing Parr as secretary to replace retiring member Pam Galloway. Ernest Partin and Tate were re-elected as board president and vice president, respectively.

Hands Up

HANDS UP – Jana Tate (left) Jake Tackett and Rebecca Parr are sworn in and take their places on the Boyd ISD board of trustees. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Board members were greeted with some stark numbers coming out of BISD’s food service program, showing a possible six-figure deficit at the end of the current school year.

“Most food service programs don’t make a whole lot of money. In most cases they are losing money these days,” Superintendent Ted West said. “It’s simple supply and demand factors that go into it. Half of our students don’t eat food in our cafeteria. They bring their own lunch or in the case of our high school they are allowed to leave for lunch. We need to analyze the downward trend we are seeing.”

West said many students at the high school level are simply not eating – period.

About 43 percent of Boyd’s high school students eat cafeteria food, while 30 percent either never do, or do so only about once a month. He said similar schools, like Paradise, are seeing the same trends. Over a five-year period, food service revenue has increased but so have costs including payroll and contract services.

“Some of our expenses have gone down, but the prices of groceries keep going up,” West said. “When you can’t buy in volume and have to buy less and less, the cost per unit goes up.

“If you look at total expense in 2009-10 we were at $504,770,” he added. “Go to 2013-14 and we are looking at $721,814. That is a rough estimate as we are having to forecast the last couple of months.”

If West’s forecast is accurate, the district will be out $181,814 for food service. He said looking at the food services side of the district, it’s a business – and if BISD wants its food services to survive, it has to listen to the customers – students.

West said students from the elementary, intermediate, middle and high school campuses were given surveys on what food they liked, disliked, and how often they eat in their cafeterias. The district tried to survey as close to 100 percent of the student population as possible.

Based on survey data presented by Assistant Superintendent Barbara Stice, 57 percent of BHS students don’t feel the school’s food looks appetizing and only 15 percent feel their menu choices are satisfying.

The majority of students surveyed also felt portion sizes were inadequate.

“There is no reason we can’t do a better job at this,” West said. “It’s just analyzing data and making changes based on that.”

West said BISD would be remiss if it didn’t explore outsourcing control of food services, as the district did with a few years ago with its transportation services.

“There are still buses that say Boyd on the side of them. A different company operates those buses, and we pay them a fee,” West said. “Food services are the same way. We would still have employees working in our cafeterias, we would still have cafeteria managers with our district, but a company would come in and oversee the operations.”

West said Boyd couldn’t go this route alone. To make the deal profitable for a large food service contractor, they would have to partner with another district like Paradise, which is also looking at food service providers.

“They are about a month ahead of us with this discussion,” West said. “They are putting out an RFP or requests for proposals. Paradise is sitting just down the road, and they are heading in this direction right now. We are not tied with anything they are doing, but I think we would be foolish to not look at it.”

West assured the board the 16 current employees would not be in danger of losing their jobs. Just like bus drivers, they would have a choice to stay with BISD or work for this private company.

“The bus drivers work for Goldstar,” he noted. “The advantage of working for the other company would be anytime they have more than a week off, like during the summer, they could draw unemployment. If they work for the school district, they don’t have that advantage.”

The board allowed West to put out requests for proposals and report back with options.

Also on the agenda:

  • The board heard a presentation by TASB Certified Texas School Business Official (CTSBO) Mike Brooks for long-range facilities planning but tabled any related action.
  • The board approved a more than $47,000 budget amendment related to the CNC program.
  • The district gained a couple of foreclosed properties, and the board authorized those properties to be sold via public auction.

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