Cafeteria workers in the Brentwood School District (Allegheny County, Pennsylvania) fear for their jobs after the Brentwood school board voted to look for outsourced cafeteria services.
The Brentwood school board voted recently to seek proposals for outsourced cafeteria services, a move that would most likely cost 13 people–mostly part-time cafeteria union positions and a non-union manager–their jobs.
The vote at the board’s agenda planning and general purpose meeting to advertise to subcontract cafeteria services was 8-0. One board member, Dale Johnson, was absent.
Superintendent Amy Burch said the Brentwood School District loses money with the cafeteria, with salaries and benefits accounting for 56% of the budget. Benefits account for approximately $150,000. Even though the Brentwood School District receives funding from the state and federal government, the amounts fluctuate.
Burch noted that the district’s cafeteria fund is not part of the general fund. As a result, the district has to cover all losses.
Under the current system, food services are done in-house at Brentwood. Meals are prepared at Brentwood Middle/High School, then sent to the two elementary schools. Should the cafeteria services be subcontracted, the food service company would hire staff, though Brentwood’s business manager would still be in charge of some of the related paperwork.
Burch also said another reason for looking at outsourcing food services is because the food service manager is retiring.
If that was the case, April Piccolo, president of the Brentwood Education Support Professionals Association, suggested the district could just outsource the food service management.
Before the district can send out proposals, it needs to complete and send an estimated 200-page packet to the state Department of Education.
Once approved, district leaders will seek proposals for three weeks. Burch said that at least five contractors would need to submit proposals to the school district. It is expected that by August, potential vendors will be able to walk through district cafeterias.
The proposals will determine whether or not the school district can save money with the food service.
If the proposals look encouraging, the formal bidding process begins and the district will conduct interviews in September. In October, the school board would receive a vendor recommendation.
If the board decides to outsource cafeteria food services, Burch said the administration will negotiate with the vendor to give Brentwood workers (who are predominately Brentwood residents) a chance to be hired.
January is the earliest that an outsourced food service contractor could begin in Brentwood.
Despite getting the go-ahead to advertise subcontracting cafeteria services, the board said it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be any change. The Brentwood School District is currently negotiating a new contract with the union.
Besides the cafeteria workers, the union membership includes maintenance workers, secretaries, custodians, and library aides.
The previous contract expired on June 30.
“Brentwood Borough School District,” Brentwood School District, July 11, 2017.
“Brentwood considering eliminating district’s cafeteria workers,” Trib, July 11, 2017.