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Tuscarora Schools plan to furlough food service workers

New contract provider guarantees $15,000 in profits in a year

New contract provider guarantees $15,000 in profits in a year

November 20, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, PA. -- The Tuscarora School Board will be asked Monday to formally accept furloughs of food service employees and other changes already made in that department.

Twenty-three names are on the list of affected employees attached to the school board's agenda for its Monday meeting. Their classifications are food service worker, student worker, food service kitchen manager, long-term substitute and food service warehouse/distribution.

The majority of employees in the food service department accepted jobs with the new, contracted provider, the district's business manager said Friday.

Metz & Associates started its contract with the district Oct. 15, Business Manager Eric R. Holtzman said. Food service operations previously had been conducted in-house.

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"There's been a trend with school districts outsourcing for food service," Holtzman said, estimating half of the state's school districts now do so.

Holtzman said state guidelines require the cafeteria fund to be a stand-alone fund in which any profits must be put back into the program. If expenditures exceed revenues, the district must pump extra money into the fund to balance it.

Metz & Associates guaranteed $15,000 in profits a year, along with an additional $45,000 in 2009-10, Holtzman said.

"We actually pay for their expenses, and they have administrative and management fees beyond that," he said.

The initial profits will be used to "pay back" the district for money it put into the cafeteria fund in the past few years, Holtzman said. Someday, breakfast and lunch prices could be lowered if there continues to be profits, he said.

The school board will continue to be responsible for setting meal prices, which currently are 80 cents for breakfast and $1.80 for lunch for elementary school students. Secondary students pay 90 cents for breakfast and $1.95 for lunch.

The school board solicited proposals from food service providers and received three bids. It also chose to pay out $55,000 worth of accrued sick time to the food service employees, Holtzman said.

"Essentially, they're treating this like a severance package," he said.

A private company offers improved dietary planning, consolidated billing and consortium pricing. Also, the board had concerns that statewide changes to retirees' pensions could greatly escalate costs in coming years, Holtzman said.

"Really, at the end of the day, we can get better cost effectiveness for the district," he said.

Metz & Associates is honoring existing contracts for supplies and worked with the already planned menu for its first month.

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