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Eagle Point OKs new contractor for school food service

EAGLE POINT — In a close vote, the Eagle Point School District approved having contractor Sodexo take over all food-service jobs in district schools.

Three board members — Mary Ann Olsen, Scott Grissom and Ted Dole — voted yes on the plan at Thursday night's meeting at Eagle Point High School, while two — Jim Mannenbach and Mark Bateman — voted against the new contract. Attempts to reach them Friday to discuss the vote were unsuccessful.

The decision drew a crowd of school employees who opposed the plan, which officials said would save about $87,000 in the next school year.

The Eagle Point Education Association, which represents about 380 employees of the district, including teachers, educational assistants, secretaries, bus drivers and custodians, feared that the plan would set a dangerous precedent for other classified workers in the district.

Under the approved plan, nine full-time food-service management jobs will be cut Dec. 31, and those workers will be offered jobs with Sodexo at their current rate of pay and number of hours through the end of the school year.

Part-time workers in the district's school cafeterias already are Sodexo employees. The company won a five-year contract to provide food services at the schools based on bids provided in February.

Sodexo's bid included options for providing a meals program that district employees would prepare, food service with part-time employees provided by the company and managers from the district, or the company providing all services and employees. The district initially didn't consider contracting out the entire program because it hadn't broached the topic with the union while contract negotiations were under way in the spring, district human resources director Michael Remick said in a memo to the board.

In mid-September, officials decided to seek additional savings and avoid potential communication and management difficulties resulting from mixing district and outside employees, his memo said.

In negotiations that wrapped up last week, the union had sought limits on outsourcing jobs and increased severance packages for the employees that would shift to Sodexo. Under the plan the board approved, employees will qualify for Sodexo's health insurance plan immediately; will be reimbursed for personal leave, but not sick days; will receive the district's standard severance package; and can retain seniority if they return to the district.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.