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  • The News Herald: New food contractor hired by schools

    ​Burke County Board of Education voted unanimously at Monday night’s meeting to accept the five-year contract for Chartwells, an independent school dining service, to manage BCPS food service operations in the 2015-16 school year.

    Chartwells will be adding 18 more cafeteria workers to the current BCPS staff before the first day of the upcoming school year. No current BCPS employee in the Child Nutrition Department will be at risk of losing their job due to the change of food service contractors.

    “Every single one of your Burke County Public School employees who is currently working in the child nutrition program can elect to remain in the Child Nutrition Program and they are grandfathered in and can stay Burke County employees for as long as they want,” said Chris Campbell, BCPS school board attorney.

    According to Campbell, if a BCPS child nutrition worker was to leave in the next school year they would temporarily fill the vacancy. If Chartwells is satisfied with the temporary person’s performance, they could become a full-time employee of Chartwells.

    “We agree to maintain our staffing levels during year one of the contract,” Campbell said. “If one of our employees does leave, we will temporarily fill that position because, again, the agreement is that future hires will become the employees of Chartwells.”

    BOE chair Randy Burns said current BCPS employees will keep the benefit structure they already have.

    Employees in the BCPS Child Nutrition Program have the choice of staying in the county’s employment or they can become Chartwells employees if they desire, according to a release from the school system.

    BCPS has agreed on a contract for five years, with the first year being on trial basis. If Chartwells does not meet BCPS standards in the first year, or vice versa, then the school system can terminate the contract.

    Chartwells believes they will generate a profit of $500,000 per year for the nutrition program. If not, they will pay the school system the difference.

    The profits will later be used to improve the program, according to the release.

    Once Chartwells begins its services, students will see a different look and more variety when going through the lunch lines.

    “Students can expect more selections and more made-from-scratch cooking, which is the reason for the additional personnel that Chartwells will hire,” BCPS Superintendent Larry Putnam said in the release.

    For the 2015-16 school year, the price for elementary school breakfast will be $1.25, with middle and high school prices remaining at $1.50. Lunch prices for elementary students will be $2.35, which is a 10 cent increase from 2013-14 prices. Middle and high schools will stay at the same price of $2.55 for lunch. Children receiving reduced prices will pay 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. Adult cost will be $2 — a 10 cent increase — for breakfast, and $3.65 for lunch, the same as last school year.

    Last year, BCPS received a one-year grant through the Community Eligibility Program that provided free breakfast and lunch for elementary students.

    Over a five-year period of alignment, BCPS will be purchasing $400,000 worth of new equipment for school cafeterias with recommendation and a needs assessment by Chartwells.

    “We are very excited to embark on this new venture with Chartwells,” Putnam said in the release. “The partnership will enhance our school cafeterias, and our students will notice right away a different look and more variety when they go through the lunch line on the first day of school in August.”

    For more information on Chartwells visit www.chartwellsschools.com.

    From The News Herald

    June 16, 2015