Food services will not be privatized in Negaunee

Twenty food service workers in the Negaunee School District will be keeping their jobs this coming school year.

The Negaunee School Board decided to not privatize their food service program with the company Chartwells for the 2013–14 school year.  The district is facing a deficit of almost $300,000 dollars, with $77,000 coming from food services.

The board decided that they did not know enough about Chartwells, but said if there is not budget reductions done in a few years, privatizing could be the only option.

“Nobody is taking a look at how they can make the food service fund more efficient,” Marquette and Alger County UniServ Director Stu Skauge said.  “Most food service funds around the state are self supporting.  Maybe Negaunee’s could be too.”

“I think once we tell them (food services) what the goals are and what the numbers are, I’d like to see us give them a chance to see if they can make a difference,” Negaunee Board of Education Vice-President Susan Wideman-Schaible said.  Knowing that if we can’t many any significant improvements, that this is the direction (privatization) we may have to head down eventually.”

“We together (the school board and food services) need to work as a team, the union and management together,” Negaunee Board of Education Trustee Martin Saari said.  “I support what Sue (Wideman -Schaible) says.  If we don’t show significant progress of cutting into this deficit, then we’re going to have to take a look at the measures.  It’s not a threat, but we have to work together.”

The board did not name any specific ways food services could reduce costs, but they said one option might be raising meal prices.

Superintendent James Derocher said they will also be posting a job opening for a Food Services Manager.  The current manager is retiring.