District officials hope changes to the food service program at Boyd ISD will be more appealing for all involved – including the food served to students and the bottom line in the budget.
The school board Monday approved a bid from Aramark to provide food service for the district.
Since 2009, there has been a growing deficit in the district’s food service budget.
“We continue to lose money,” Superintedent Ted West said.
For this school year, district officials anticipated a deficit of $180,000, but a few modifications have lowered that number.
“Things have looked a little bit better the last couple of months due to the fact that we started to sell snacks,” West said. “It has helped out our bottom line a little bit.”
With the latest forecast, the district stands to lose about $160,000. If the district retained the food service program, it would be looking at a deficit of about $143,000 in the upcoming school year.
However, with Aramark taking over the program, the loss is expected to be cut nearly in half to $75,000. And in five years, the district is slated to profit.
“The savings will come with the way they (Aramark) purchase groceries in bulk,” West said. “They also plan to employ marketing strategies to increase participation.”
That includes revamping the cafeterias to look like “mall food courts” complete with displayed menus and pictures of the food.
“It looks like a place you would want to go,” West said.
To further capitalize on the benefits, the district will partner with Paradise ISD.
“The two of us could partner and share resources, and that’s what would help make it so cost effective for us,” West said.
Compared to Paradise ISD, the numbers for Boyd look a little more favorable. That is largely because Boyd ISD has a food service director, Angie King.
“Ms. King will still be our food service director, but there will probably be something like an executive director from Aramark, who will be in charge of the entire program,” West said. “Paradise is without a food service director. So this person from Aramark will spend, say, 80 percent of their time working more closely with Paradise, and Paradise will be paying more of that fee. Ms. King will work hand-in-hand with that director.”
The remaining food service staff will remain intact, and employees will have the opportunity to remain a district employee.
“They would keep making the same money they were with us and be on our benefits schedule and pay into TRS (Teacher Retirement System),” West said. “Or if it was a better situation for them personally then they could become an Aramark employee.”
As an Aramark employee, an individual could draw unemployment when school is out of session for more than one week.
Although there could be some changes in hours, all procedures would have to first be approved by the board.
“Whether they’re a district employee or Aramark employee, they would still be doing the same jobs,” West said. “There is no expectation; we’re not trying to push them off to Aramark; we’re not trying to keep them with us. We want it to be an individual decision for each employee. We’ve done this with our transportation folks, and it’s worked pretty well.”
The district opted a few years ago to outsource its transportation services to Goldstar Transit.
The buses the district uses say “Boyd ISD” but Goldstar operates them, and the district pays them a fee.
“We’ve had a great relationship with GoldStar Transit in doing this same thing with our transportation, so I’m comfortable,” West said. “I think it will be successful.”
District officials also received a bid from Southwest Foods. Although Southwest proposed a guarantee of about $50,000, $25,000 less than Aramark’s bid, Southwest’s plan would raise meal prices by 50 cents.
“If we wanted to increase participation, the last thing we want to do is raise the prices,” West said. “That $75,000 (proposed by Aramark) is indicative of not raising prices.”
The contract with Aramark is a year-to-year agreement.
“I say that it’s worth giving it a run,” West said. “Lets see where we are after a year. If it looks like they’re going to turn this thing around like we anticipate them to, then we can approve them again for the next year. If not, we’re not going to sell all of our pots and pans. If we need to take it back over, we’ll take it back over, and we’ll still have a staff in place …
“As long as we do what they ask us to do, there’s no reason why we can’t get that guarantee.”
After meeting in closed session for half an hour, trustees approved changes to staffing.
At the recommendation of West, the board accepted the following resignations: Shawn Bryans, Derek King, Hillary Terry, Meagan Wilson, Misty Shephard and Toni Jenkins.
Then trustees hired the following staff members: Kelsey Wilson at the elementary school; Eden Sultemeir at the intermediate school; Jolynn Tucker and Donna Bolejack at the middle school; Patricia Ruddock as nurse for the middle and intermediate schools; Anne Murray, Rayna Glasser, Susannah Keneda, Laura Napolitano, Erica Warner and Randy Brawner at the high school; and Angela Kilcrease for the technology department.