Mt. Pleasant district renews food contract
By Rachel Basinger
Published: Saturday, May 18, 2013, 1:46 a.m.
Mt. Pleasant Area School Board members disagree with Nutrition Inc.'s recommendation to lay off three breakfast cafeteria workers at the elementary level to help offset a deficit of more than $42,000 in the food-services budget.
Members renewed the contract with Nutrition Inc. for the 2013-14 school year, despite some financial issues.
Kelly Patterson, regional manager for Nutrition Inc., told the board last week that based on a 5 percent expected increase in food costs, the district would face about a $43,000 deficit if it keeps the same number of employees for the 2013-14 year and doesn't increase the cost of school meals.
Patterson said that over the last three years, the district has had an overall decrease in meals — breakfast, lunch and a la carte — of 6 percent. She said the decline shows the need for fewer cafeteria workers.
If the district were to cut three breakfast positions at the elementary level, the district would face a deficit in the food program of just over $14,000, she said. If the district were to cut those same three positions and increase meal prices by 5 cents, the district would face a deficit in the food program of just over $7,000.
Patterson said that if the district were to cut the three breakfast positions and increase meals by 10 cents, the district would break even.
Several food-service workers and union representatives showed up at the meeting to ask the board not to eliminate any jobs.
Union representative Cindy Folsom told the board that the workers oppose any cuts.
“There has to be some other way to do it (cut the deficit) without any cuts in positions,” she said.
Later during the meeting, board President Robert Gumbita said he believes Nutrition Inc. does a fine job providing services for the district. He spoke when board members were to decide on a contract renewal.
“I have a concern with laying off anyone,” he said. “I wish you would go back and hash out a different solution for this problem without laying anyone off.”
Director David Brooks said he agreed with Gumbita, but added that it's “vitally important that we bridge that $42,000 deficit in the budget — we've got to manage that somehow.”
Directors George Hare and Jim McElfresh said they would rather have Nutrition Inc.'s CEO and administrators cut their salaries before trying to eliminate workers.
Patterson said Nutrition Inc. doesn't intend to take away jobs. “We will go back and see what other solutions we can come up with, and we'll present to you creative, alternative budgets beyond the three that were already presented,” she said.
Rachel Basinger is a freelance writer.
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