West Jeff Schools contracts with outside company to run cafeteria

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(Posted June 1, 2021)

By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer

Changes in food service could bring relief to the Jefferson Local Schools’ budget and provide a difference in feeding students at the middle, school, high school, and elementary buildings.

On May 27, school board members approved a one-year contract with Chartwells to take over the district’s food service program.

“For several years in a row, we’ve experienced a deficit in food service spending,” said Superintendent William Mullett. “The basic reason for doing this is financial.

“We did our due diligence and heard many good things about Chartwells. London Schools also went with Chartwells this year. I think it will be a much better experience for our kids.”

Chartwells, a 20-year-old company, partners with 665 school districts across the nation, serves more than 2 million meals on a daily basis, and employs 16,000 people.

The budget deficit for the district’s food service program is projected to be $200,000 this fiscal year. Chartwells projects a $60,000 budget surplus at the end of its first year with the district due to the company’s buying power and business model.

“If it goes as planned, the district will save money,” said Mullett, adding that this is the first time he can recall the district working with an outside food service company.

Also at the May 27 meeting, school board members approved a reduction in force termination for the district’s food service supervisor and food service classified staff. Mullett emphasized that all of the former district employees will have the opportunity to return, albeit under the Chartwells umbrella.

“The hourly rate is still the same and their benefits will still be the same,” he said. “The difference is they’ll no longer be union employees.”

The board also approved an agreement with OAPSE Chapter 684, the union for the district’s classified staff. The original contract expired a year ago. While insurance plans jumped from $140 to $210 per month for a family and $70 to $100 for a single individual, Mullett said everything else remained the same and there were no language changes.

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