Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Privatizing in the Schools, is it good for students? Teachers? Tax Payers?

26. April 2007 • Chuck Warpehoski
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From the Ann Arbor News

[Ann Arbor Superintendent] Roberts also wants to privatize the district’s food service, a move that would cost 73 workers their jobs with the district. Privatizing food service operations would bring $400,000 in new revenue into the district, according to Roberts’ proposal.

In addition, the district hopes to save $200,000 as part of a proposed countywide plan to privatize substitute teacher services.

I’m ambivalent about privatization. On the one hand, it can help an organization focus on its core mission. On the other hand, it can be a way to short-change workers. What do you think this proposal will mean for the district’s students, employees, and tax payers?



  1. It is a sign of the times. Question is, if privatization is particularly cost-effective, will it become the tool to get rid of the high cost of benefits and pensions, and will it eventually extend to other staff in the schools?
    I personally do not like it, not because workers are short changed, but it adds an extra layer of people to be accountable, and that can be where people hide their performance issues.
    Looks like tough times for the school systems in Michigan.


       —Emilia    Apr. 26 '07 - 09:18PM    #
  2. I don’t know if it necessarily adds an extra layer, rather that it substitutes one for another. Whether there is extra would depend on what there was before compared to what there was after.

    The dilemma that I see with privatization in a public service for the pursuit of efficiency is that at some point, questions about equity will arise, as the two seem exclusive by definition. Of course, that is presuming that equity in education (and government in general) is still something that is valued by American society.


       —jcp2    Apr. 27 '07 - 01:17AM    #
  3. Since when is the goal of public schools to help workers? I thought it was to educate students.

    If privatization frees up more money for teaching and learning, then it’s long overdue.


       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 27 '07 - 11:50AM    #
  4. My point was that there may be a limit to the amount of privatization that can take place before the goal of public schools to educate ALL students can no longer be met. From an outcomes standpoint, it is much more efficient to educate the compliant students (well behaved, gifted, stable family background, etc.), rather than all students. That’s what private schools do now.

    An as for privatization of government services to free up more money for core missions, it may work, or it may be Halliburton.


       —jcp2    Apr. 27 '07 - 12:14PM    #
  5. I wonder what happened to the contract language governing the rights of substitute teachers. Is the School Board sending taxpayers back into a long and costly court fight?
    A word on privitization: Companies generally want to earn a profit and they can most easily find that profit in eliminating benefits for their workers. Is that the kind of society we want — shifting the burden of paying for education to the low end of the labor force?


       —Molly    Apr. 27 '07 - 12:56PM    #
  6. Molly, I am failing to follow your logic. There are lousy and great benefit packages at both for-profits and non-profits.

    Companies must earn a profit, or they are unsustainable. Non-profits also must earn a profit, i.e., spend less than what they make so that they can keep investing in the organization; they just don’t call it ‘profit’. Neither is immune from the pressure of budgeting, except that non-profits are immune from paying taxes.

    Cutting costs is just one way of making an organization — profit or non-profit — more efficient (i.e., able to operate with fewer resources). I just don’t see how your argument fits together at all.


       —Anna    Apr. 27 '07 - 02:01PM    #
  7. From what I can see, the substitute move is good for the subs. Right now, the work of getting subs is nuts, kind of a last-minute calling around. Having a larger talent pool means better subs for teachers, and more reliability. Plus, it means subs might be able to become a group to buy healthcare etc. which is not available to them.

    It’s like working as a temp.


       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 27 '07 - 02:56PM    #
  8. It is not clear it is a better move for the subs. It might be, but given the reason for privatizing is to save money, I doubt it. Whoever subs will now make less money for doing it, and if there is a bigger pool then a particular sub will have less work. Certainly, the axe falling on food service and subs speaks to their lack of clout in the system. The main function of the school is to educate children to become contributing citizens as adults. If there is only so much money in the pot, it shoud be doled out fairly. But define fairly. This portends very unpleasant turf fights to come.


       —Emilia    Apr. 27 '07 - 03:58PM    #
  9. Subs make $80/day. I doubt they are looking at a paycut. AA will just pay less to get them hired, like not having dedicated staff members who call and deploy subs.

    But I think the idea that the tight school budgets should protect workers is insane. If my kid has to use outdated textbooks so some food service worker can stay employed by the school district, rather than working for a private company, then I want my tax dollars back. That is a sham.


       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 27 '07 - 04:38PM    #
  10. The whole idea behind privatizing is paying people less. So it is always bad for workers. Plus, in the public sector, privatizing brings with it union-busting.


       —David Cahill    Apr. 28 '07 - 12:19PM    #
  11. First; The main issue here should be concern over the quality of the food. There has been a ton of research and work with schools and nutrition over the past few years. My big fear with privatizing food service is that it becomes a place where students can get a burger and fries, rather then a healthy meal.

    Third; Now, I’m not sure why exactly, but may non-profit/government entities do awful jobs of running effeciently. That why they out source to private sector. Even private businesses use private sector outsourcing (examples, tax time they use an accountant, or they may hire a cleaning services rather then employing a part time cleaner, etc). That is the whole idea of capitalizm, free enterprize with the cheapest service/goods that meet the quality level of the client win.
    Second; David; “the whole idea behind privatizing is paying people less”. That seems very narrow minded. There could be other ways to save money, like cutting on food costs.


       —just a voice    Apr. 28 '07 - 08:33PM    #
  12. Hmmm, yup. I think it would be better to cafeteria workers more, and then have no books in my kids classroom. That’s really smart budgeting sense. And it really serves the purpose of taxpayer funded public education.

    Yup. Let’s save those jobs, because hey, the students are just kids. They have no political clout.


       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 29 '07 - 12:07AM    #
  13. The real money to be saved will be in paying the employees of a school system less. And that will be difficult. Food and textbooks will be chump change as compared to payroll expenses. I agree with David Cahill, that privatization brings union busting, but does that have to happen to continue to give the children a solid education, which of course includes smaller classrooms, more teachers and support staff, etc?


       —Emilia    Apr. 29 '07 - 01:09AM    #
  14. PS. No evidence that “smaller” class sizes actually works. Look at the literature.

    Class sizes of less than 16 kids can be effective in grades 1-3, but only if teachers change the way they teach. And no evidence that gains last. Also, the effects are largest for the least affluent students. For rich kids, no difference between a class of 20, and 25 kids.


       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 29 '07 - 02:37AM    #
  15. David, The idea behind privatizing isn’t “paying people less,” it’s better efficiency. There are lots of ways to be more efficient. One is to have lots of experience and be very good at what you (as an organization) do. School systems are supposed to teach kids. They aren’t restaurants. They historically aren’t really very good at running cafeterias. The food quality is poor, the service is usually bad, and the costs are usually high.

    And JAV, school food services have had horrible nutrition for many years now. Most cafeterias haven’t been privatized until recently. There is absolutely no evidence that cafeterias run by schools deliver better food — in fact, quite the contrary.


       —Anna    Apr. 29 '07 - 02:50AM    #
  16. Smaller classrooms are essential for many special needs kids who also need extra support staff, TC, OT ,Speech Therapy, aides, and many kids in the school system are special needs. Even if a child is in private school, they are entitled to recieve services from the district for their special needs. AAPS is not good about delivering those services, basically being a day late and dollar short with an attitude to boot.


       —Emilia    Apr. 29 '07 - 11:54AM    #
  17. re #11. As Anna notes, it would be difficult for school lunches to have any worse nutrition than they do now. Michael Pollan (_Omnivore’s Dilemma_) has written a lot about this, as have Eric Schlosser (_Fast Food Nation_) and others – just as a brief summary of the problem, see Pollan’s article from NYTimes Magazine last week .

    re #15: No, school systems are not restaurants. But nor are the problems with school food services a result of inexperience; the number of federal mandates involved limit local control pretty severely, and will continue to do so in a privatized/regionalized system. What I do worry about is that priv/reg’izing the food system will squelch the outliers – currently, getting any kind of healthy/fresh food into schools happens because one single person at one school is on-board with the cause, and puts a lot of extra time and energy into figuring out how to trick the system into letting them serve fresh food. With a priv/reg’ized system, I anticipate having one more layer of standardization involved, preventing this kind of individual initiative.


       —Murph.    Apr. 29 '07 - 11:55AM    #
  18. Murph, I agree. But I don’t think there’s anything special about private versus school run food service. What drives the offerings are federal food policy and to some extent demand.


       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 29 '07 - 04:13PM    #
  19. Murph, even if we took for granted that problems with food service aren’t a result of inexperience (although I disagree, and I should probably have said, “expertise.” I think it’s pretty easy to argue that school systems aren’t “expert” at delivering food, whereas many food service companies are. Creating recipies that scale well with lower-cost ingredients, cutting down on the amount of labor that goes into certain recipies, how to substitute healthier ingredients that kids will still eat, how to store and transport food with less wasteage — those are all things you learn by doing food as your core business), and even if I granted you that pockets of improved nutrition happen because of a single concerned school board member or a small group within a community, or a single employee, where does that leave kids who don’t have that concerned or informed school board member or cafeteria employee? Personally, I’d rather see some uniformity in nutritional standards across the board that would greatly benefit kids with very substandard food than incremental benefits (organic versus nonorganic produce) in an affluent school district like AA.

    Standardization isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when it allows you to buy big quantities in bulk and/or gives you better bargaining power with suppliers. That’s why the co-ops and the frats band together to negotiate food prices.


       —Anna    Apr. 29 '07 - 07:30PM    #
  20. People in the UK are starting to take a hard look at all aspects of school food. The chef Jamie Oliver has been instrumental in publicizing the need to make changes in school food (not always successfully) and he has some of the information on his "web site":http://www.jamieoliver.com/schooldinners. The School Food Trust, also in the UK, has some really great information on their "site":http://www.schoolfoodtrust.org.uk/index.asp.

    If you are looking for something closer to home, the Agrarian Adventure program is a local nonprofit running out of Tappan middle school in Ann Arbor. Their mission is to “Partner with K-12 schools to enrich students’ connections between the foods they eat, their personal health, and the health of their communities and the environment. Through experiential education in sustainable food and agriculture, local food, and healthy learning in the cafeteria, we seek to connect students to the source of their food and empower them to transform their lives and the food culture in positive ways.” For more information on the Agrarian Adventure and how to support them (they are currently holding a raffle with really cool prizes), see their "web site":http://www.agrarianadventure.org/.

    If only the attempt to privatize was a bit more about these sorts of programs and less about the "Syscofication":http://www.sysco.com of the food supply.


       —Juliew    Apr. 29 '07 - 10:33PM    #
  21. Sorry for the messed-up links in the previous comment. Here it is in a clickable format.

    People in the UK are starting to take a hard look at all aspects of school food. The chef Jamie Oliver has been instrumental in publicizing the need to make changes in school food (not always successfully) and he has some of the information on his web site. The School Food Trust, also in the UK, has some really great information on their site.

    If you are looking for something closer to home, the Agrarian Adventure program is a local nonprofit running out of Tappan middle school in Ann Arbor. Their mission is to “Partner with K-12 schools to enrich students’ connections between the foods they eat, their personal health, and the health of their communities and the environment. Through experiential education in sustainable food and agriculture, local food, and healthy learning in the cafeteria, we seek to connect students to the source of their food and empower them to transform their lives and the food culture in positive ways.” For more information on the Agrarian Adventure and how to support them (they are currently holding a raffle with really cool prizes), see their web site.

    If only the attempt to privatize was a bit more about these sorts of programs and less about the Syscofication of the food supply.


       —Juliew    Apr. 29 '07 - 11:04PM    #
  22. Their mission is to “Partner with K-12 schools to enrich students’ connections between the foods they eat, their personal health, and the health of their communities and the environment. Through experimential education in sustainable food and agriculture, local food, and healthy learning in the cafeteria, we seek to connect students to the source of their food and empower them to transform their lives and the food culture in positive ways.

    With all due respect, is this not this the job / responsibility of the parent? Or if looked at the other way, if the family / parent reinforces the consumption of McDonalds or Burger Whatever as a quality choice then isn’t this organization pushing the rock uphill?


       —abc    Apr. 30 '07 - 11:57AM    #
  23. I read a great article in the NYT Magazine about the “farm bill” that dictates to some extent what kids eat in school. It subsidizes corn (and corn oils, etc) that go into fatty, sugary foods, but doesn’t subsidize other vegetables and fruits.

    So, I applaud efforts to change the farm bill that will trickle down into better school lunches.

    If people want to grow food at Tappan, terrific. Have at it.

    But how to pay for these lunches? How about the most efficient way possible? Which means what we need for less?

    I’m with abc, though. Schools are about academic learning. Please let’s not burden them with being responsible for children’s diet too. I mean, what are parents doing anyway?


       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 30 '07 - 01:10PM    #
  24. Well sure, all education/nutrition is ultimately the responsibility of the parent. But many parents don’t know about good nutrition or how food gets to the table (just as they don’t know math or civics or english or anything else kids learn in school). As a society we have promoted unhealthy eating to such an extent that it is now everyone’s responsibility. It has become such a problem that we are all paying and will continue to pay for long-term medical care and other problems related to obesity and, ironically, malnutrition in children. The daycare my niece and nephew go to started providing food for the kids because the lunches the parents sent consisted of things like a Snickers bar and a Coke (that was the lunch a 3 year old brought one day).

    There are many kids whose meals come only from school. Years ago, our society decided that it was better for kids to have the opportunity to have lunch at school and most areas added in optional breakfasts because it was clear that the kids weren’t getting fed before school for a variety of reasons. I think it is imperative that we provide nutritious meals while at school and then the parents can make their own choices if they want to do something else.

    Knowing where your food comes from is such an important part of life and in the last fifty years we have almost entirely divorced our society from that. These types of programs teach kids about math and biology and nutrition and climatology and health and cooking and art and statistics and business and they have fun doing it, so I think that is great.


       —Juliew    Apr. 30 '07 - 01:35PM    #
  25. The discussion of food in schools is such an opportunity lost. Food is obviously a global common denominator, while being amazingly diverse. Think of the educational possibilities if food preparation was done in the classroom. It is an opportunity to tie the math, civics, and English together (of which I do know about and could teach to children if I didn’t have … well another a job). But food in the schools is relegated to some thoughtless morons who care not a wit about food, culture, flavor, texture, or nutrition, etc.

    So the parents, yes I realize that some parents do not know about food but I am around a lot of educated people every day and many don’t care about food, and because of this we have become completely dominated by big sugar and fast food crap. Every day well meaning parents feed their kids canned baby food, and for a very important 12 to 18 months they teach their kids that this is what food tastes like. Then they give the kids soda and sugary things to placate them, and so on. It is no wonder that the kids won’t eat real food when it is put in the cafeteria. So the cafeteria relies on the argument that they give the kids what they want.

    Ask your self why more that 40% of all of the meals served in the AA school system are supplied (with advertisement) by a local fast food chain interested in selling cheap, low quality food and establishing their name with young consumers. The food in the schools is quite bad and my kids will not eat it, even if given the chance.

    Please, though, do not interpret my previous post as being against Tappan’s adventure; I am all for spreading the word about food, I just think it should not be a model for solving the problem. I think that parents should want to learn about nutrition, just like they have to learn how to nurse, bathe, and hold their baby.

    ‘Knowing where your food comes from is such an important part of life, etc. …’ Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. Americans in general are ignorant and not curious about food. It is so very sad. I remember once offering a real bagel to a neighbor after a trip to NYC and his wife spun around and said, “Oh, we don’t eat that.” I couldn’t believe it; she had no idea what it was.


       —abc    Apr. 30 '07 - 02:32PM    #
  26. You know, the AA schools could stop serving pizza anytime they wanted to. Why don’t they? I’ll bet that is the most popular lunch of the week.

    ACtually, the AA school food is much better than the school food where we used to live in suburban NYC. Much healthier overall.

    But, I have to choose, I would rather have my kid know how to do mathematics than have memorized daily recommended dietary requirements.


       —Cooler Heads    Apr. 30 '07 - 10:32PM    #
  27. Since it seems that we can’t have it both ways (good food and good teaching) in AAPS, and since we agree that having more say in our education tax dollars is good, I’d like my dollars back in the form of a voucher please.


       —jcp2    May. 1 '07 - 12:36AM    #
  28. Does everyone who pays get a voucher? Or just those people with school-aged kids?


       —John Q.    May. 1 '07 - 03:10PM    #
  29. Everybody gets one, but it’s only good for school. If you don’t or can’t use it, make a deal with someone who can.


       —jcp2    May. 1 '07 - 11:14PM    #
  30. You know, I can see how that bartering with vouchers thing will really help improve what is a public good, intended to help ALL kids. Not just those with parents who would thrive on Wall Street.

    Also, I see how this will really improve teaching and learning in a systemic way


       —Cooler Heads    May. 1 '07 - 11:46PM    #
  31. So glad John Q. made the point, if overly subtly. Many of us without children pay into the school system for the good of all society. I get really tired of parents whining about “their” money. As with many other programs, the plan is that we all pay in whether we benefit personally or not. Trying to game the system just harms the original goal and makes the contribution of those who don’t benefit directly look foolish.


       —anonymous too    May. 2 '07 - 12:57AM    #
  32. John Q and anon2, I was very taken with Cooler Head’s persuasive argument in favor of privatization of government services so I took it to the next level. I forgot about the society bit. Mea culpa.


       —jcp2    May. 2 '07 - 08:54AM    #
  33. There’s a difference between being willing to pay for education because it benefits society, and wanting to pay overly-high costs for bad or inefficient services that exist to benefit a small number of government employees at the expense of the rest of society.


       —Anna    May. 2 '07 - 10:08PM    #
  34. I couldn’t have said it better, Anna.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 2 '07 - 10:12PM    #
  35. Important Update from the:
    WATCH the FOOD Coalition

    Washtenaw Administrators, Teachers, Children with allergies and special needs, Health Care Professionals, and Families in Opposition to Outsourcing and Demanding that our kids remain healthy, safe and secure in school

    We are a coalition of citizens who are concerned about a proposal currently being considered by the Ann Arbor School Board to fire and outsource 73 food service workers.

    We encourage community members to attend this Wednesday’s School Board meeting at the District Library (4th Floor Board Room) at 343 South Fifth Avenue in Ann Arbor . Some citizens will be arriving between 6:15 to 6:30 to exchange information. The Board may vote to outsource the unit this Wednesday.

    There will be High-Turnover – losing our qualified food services workers is bad for the children

    There is a long history of high-turnover with privatization. Some supporters of the proposal to outsource have made statements that this is merely reorganization and the current employees will stay. This has already been proven incorrect. About 15 of the employees are being forced into early retirement. These employees have already begun the process of getting retirement paperwork together. It appears replacement workers, people we don’t know, might be needed for the final weeks of school.

    Many of the food services employees only make about $12,000 annually. Although they are the lowest paid employees in the district, they take pride in serving the children and they know they make a difference. If the school board approves the Outsourcing proposal, the wages and benefits of the new workers will probably be reduced by over 25%. Their small pensions will be eliminated. With these reductions, many of the employees will be forced to leave the Ann Arbor Schools as they try to provide for their own families. It is incorrect to argue that there will not be high turnover.

    The Board should consider the impact on employee wages and benefits. We should ask school board member if they know exactly the impact this would have on the wages, benefits, and retirement security of each employee, some who have served our schools for 5, 10, 25 plus years.

    Health and Safety put at risk, and sense of Security lost – Outsourcing is not in the best interest of the Kids

    With high turnover, the faces of who will be interacting with our children will change from day to day. There are times when food service workers are in one on one situations with children. The current workers live in and are part of the Ann Arbor community. We know and trust them. With privatization, we will lose many of our caring food service employees and the familiar faces who have an excellent track record of keeping our children safe and secure. The School board should give us information about who will be serving food to our children. If we lose public accountability, who is going to do background checks?

    Health care professionals warn that there may be serious public health consequences from contracting out the food services department. Many students have dietary restrictions due to health problems and significant food allergies, many of them are life threatening. Our current work-force is well trained and qualified to address these special needs.

    Hepatitis A is a virus people get by eating contaminated food or water, or through close contact with an infected person. Why should we be concerned about Hepatitis A? A food service worker with hepatitis A can transmit the virus to students by contaminating surfaces, utensils, or food. Our current workers are well-trained in safety procedures to prevent transmission of viruses like Hepatitis A. The School Board should present an impact study to parents and teachers on how the proposed outsourcing plan will impact safety, student health and school security.

    Cost Savings Don’t Appear to add up – Sounds to good to be true . . .
    Supporters of outsourcing food services department allege it will save the school district between $400,000.00 and $500,000.00 each year. Some supporters have also claimed the new employees will make similar wages and benefits. This does not make sense and seems to be misleading. How can the new workers make similar wages and benefits, and the school system save half a million? The superintendent and the School Board members should breakdown in detail to the school board members and the public where the cost savings would come from. Would corners be cut on food quality or safety? Is the board forcing long-time employees to retire or seek alternative employment? Other school systems have privatized workers, and it has not served the population well or saved money. One lawsuit due to a mistake or tortuous act by a replacement worker could prove costly to the district. There are numerous examples of privatization costing more than advocates claim.

    To Join WATCH the FOOD Coalition or to get updates e-mail – please e-mail watchthefood@yahoo.com

    Please urge each Ann Arbor School Board member to strongly oppose outsourcing our experienced food service employees. Let them know that it does not serve our children well to lose people we know and trust with our children. They have kept our kids healthy and safe.

    Please e-mail, call or write each of them (7 members):
    ________________________________________________
    Trustee
    Susan E. Baskett
    3 Trowbridge Ct.
    Ann Arbor, MI 48108
    734-216-9653
    baskett@aaps.k12.mi.us
    2006-2010
    Represents the following schools: Allen Dicken Eberwhite King Pioneer
    Serves on the following Committees:
    Performance
    District School Improvement Team
    City/Schools
    —————————————————————————————
    President
    Karen D. Cross
    1803 High Pointe Lane
    Ann Arbor, MI 48108
    734-741-4480
    crossk@aaps.k12.mi.us
    2005-2009
    Represents the following schools: Burns Park Community Lakewood Lawton Mitchell Pioneer
    Serves on the following Committees:
    Executive Committee
    Student Discipline Hearing Panel
    City/Schools
    —————————————————————————————

    Treasurer
    Randy Friedman
    1010 Berkshire Road
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-332-6031
    friedman@aaps.k12.mi.us
    2006-2007
    Represents the following schools: Angell Bach Tappan Wines
    Serves on the following Committees:
    Planning
    Ann Arbor Educational Foundation

    —————————————————————————————

    Trustee
    Helen Gates-Bryant
    1424 Astor Avenue
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-665-4303
    gatesh@aaps.k12.mi.us
    2004-2008
    Represents the following schools:
    Bryant
    Huron
    Logan
    Northside

    Serves on the following Committees:
    Executive Committee
    Performance, Chair
    Student Discipline Hearing Panel
    Celebration of Excellence
    Transportation Safety Committee
    Youth Senate

    —————————————————————————————

    Vice President
    Deb Mexicotte
    2660 Yost Blvd
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-677-1587
    mexicott@aaps.k12.mi.us
    2006-2010
    Represents the following schools:
    Preschool
    Clague
    Huron
    Pittsfield
    Thurston

    Serves on the following Committees:
    Performance
    Health Place 101
    WASB Rep
    LRN Rep

    —————————————————————————————

    Trustee
    Glenn Nelson
    1323 S. Forest Ave.
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-663-4849
    nelsong@aaps.k12.mi.us
    2005-2009
    Represents the following schools:
    Abbot
    Carpenter
    Haisley
    Clemente
    Scarlett
    Stone
    Serves on the following Committees:
    Executive Committee
    Planning, Chair
    Equity Audit
    Recreation Advisory Committe
    Ann Arbor Educational Foundation
    WASB Board of Directors

    —————————————————————————————

    Secretary, Parliamentarian
    Irene Patalan
    5175 W. Liberty
    Ann Arbor, MI 48103
    734-668-6246
    patalan@aaps.k12.mi.us
    2005-2009
    Represents the following schools: Ann Arbor Open Community Forsythe Pattengill Slauson

    Serves on on the following Committees:
    Planning
    District School Improvement Team
    Equity Audit


       —Isaac Robinson    May. 14 '07 - 06:43AM    #
  36. Here is some information on this controversy from Jeffrey Souza, Chair of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party.

    On May 16th, 2007, the Ann Arbor Board of Education
    will vote to cut and privatize 73 food services
    workers, members of the Michigan AFL-CIO and Teamsters
    Local 214. We have only a short time to
    persuade them to consider alternatives. They should
    negotiate with Teamsters 214. They should also
    consider doing a study on how privatization will
    impact the children.

    Rev. Charles Williams talked with President Karen
    Cross and Trustee Glenn Nelson. Cross currently is
    supporting Superintendent Todd Roberts’ recommendation
    to privatize. Glenn Nelson says it tough but he is
    leaning toward privatization.

    Cross, Nelson, Baskett, and Gates-Bryant are
    Democrats. We need four votes to stop this effort to
    bust the union.

    Some Community members have expressed that they do not
    want the workers outsourced. They want people they
    know and trust serving food to their children.
    Stability and consistency of service will be lost.
    Our members are well qualified to address allergies
    and dietary concerns, particularly for very young at
    risk children. They also have an excellent safety
    record. What price is the school board putting on
    student health and safety?

    The superintendent appears to be misleading the
    public. He’s looking for a half million in cost
    savings but says the replacement workers will make
    similar wages and benefits. He also implies the
    workers will stay. The new company may not hire them.

    We need your advice and support to stop this effort.

    Current stance of board members:
    Cross (Dem) – supporting privatization
    Nelson (Dem) – leaning towards privatization
    Position of other five – unknown

    Attached are some talking points. –

    STOP THE PRIVATIZATION OF THE FOOD SERVICES WORKERS IN ANN ARBOR

    The workers recognize there is a real budget crisis. The union is willing to negotiate and consider major concessions. However, Superintendent Todd Roberts’ proposal is to eliminate 73 food services workers and privatize them. He wants to completely wipe out long-time members of the community.

    The superintendent is misleading the public. The superintendent is telling the board this will save $400,000 to $500,000. The replacement workers would have to take approx. 25% cuts to wages, health care and pension. Instead of being straightforward about the cuts and the impact, the superintendent says wages and benefits will remain the same. He also downplays the impact of high turnover that results from privatization. He says the workers will stay the same. This is not true.

    Privatizing the food service workers is not in the best interest of our children. Security, safety and the health of children should be put first. What cost should we put on the safety and well-being of our children? Everyday the face of workers in the school cafeteria may change.

    Privatizing would put the health and safety of the children at risk. We should do everything we can to retain employees we know and trust. With privatization, there is high turnover. Food service will lose stability and consistency. Some students have allergies and special dietary needs.

    When you privatize you lose public accountability. Who will do the background checks? Who will make sure the new workers have a health card? Who will we make complaints to?

    Food services workers should not make substandard wages and inadequate health care. We don’t need workers coughing in our children’s food because they cannot afford to take a sick day.

    Privatization of food service can be a nightmare. In Grosse Pointe Park, MI, privatization has not served the public well. In Fairhaven, MA, students boycotted Wood Elementary because of cold food, sour milk, and often uncooked items.

    Privatizing costs more than advocates claim. Contracting out costs more than advocates claim because indirect and hidden costs of service delivery are often ignored. Such costs include expenditures for contract monitoring and administration, conversion costs, charges for “extra work”, and the contractor’s use. Background checks and training new, unfamiliar workers will also cost. Lawsuits resulting from unqualified new workers could be costly.

    Some members see this as a gender issue. In an effort to balance the budget, instead of asking the workers to take their fair share of cuts, Roberts’ proposal is to completely wipe-out the women workers in food services, the most vulnerable workers in the school system. They may be targeting food service workers because they perceive them as having the least amount of political clout.


       —David Cahill    May. 14 '07 - 01:30PM    #
  37. Wow, that’s quite an impressive list from the fear-mongering handbook! I think we all know that privatization has been proven to save $, plus increase efficiency, quality, and accountability. As for those who lose their job through this effort? That’s what you get for joining a union.


       —imjustsayin    May. 14 '07 - 05:19PM    #
  38. Ok, Privatization is about saving money,no more, no less. It is not necessarily about improving efficiency, quality or accountability. That’s the sales pitch by the contractors. In reality, improvements are possible, but not probable.


       —Emilia    May. 14 '07 - 07:42PM    #
  39. Ok, Privatization is about saving money, no more, no less. It is not necessarily about improving efficiency, quality or accountability. That’s the sales pitch by the contractors. In reality, improvements are possible, but not probable.
    If the district does not have the money to cover their costs, what is the answer?
    The Detroit News (www.detnews.com) had a interesting series of articles on the pension funding difficulties that occur in Michigan. The school district has their hands tied on some significant costs.


       —Emilia    May. 14 '07 - 08:08PM    #
  40. Your arguments against privatizing are not logical or rational, merely emotional. The question in the face of school funding difficulties is whether schools should focus on educating or feeding our children. Why shouldn’t the schools focus on curriculum, and leave lunches to be provided by those who are expert in the food industry, taking advantage of economies of scale that transverse school districts? What benefits us all is to provide nourishing lunches at the lowest cost, not paying high wages for union workers who get high benefit packages for what should be a low wage job, based on the skill level necessary to re-heat casseroles. If your kid has allergies, pack a lunch for him/her. Don’t expect others to be paid a premium to assume your responsibilities.


       —please use reason    May. 15 '07 - 12:21PM    #
  41. It’s refreshing to see someone admit that union-busting is the real agenda here.


       —David Cahill    May. 15 '07 - 03:28PM    #
  42. There isn’t enough money to pay for academic needs in schools. But hey, let’s save the jobs of the food service workers. That’s good for kids.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 15 '07 - 05:27PM    #
  43. Once you eliminate pensions and health benefits, you could do a whole lot of educating. Once Social Security is gone, even more money will open up, to educate the kids. About that education: it could be contracted out to “those who are expert in the education industry”, to take advantage of economies of scale. The cost savings simply boggle the mind. Remember, it’s all about the kids. And the kids want you to save!


       —Cost control    May. 15 '07 - 06:45PM    #
  44. If the food service workers get privatized, why shouldn’t any other group of employees be privatized? I hardly think the teachers and administrators care that much about the food service people and care a lot more that they could be next. Who gets the final word on this? Most of the funding increases to schools have gone to health care increases and pensions and not to curriculum. Should this be allowed to continue? I doubt it will be. Then this would become a corrupt system, where the beneficiaries are truly the employees, not the students.


       —Emilia    May. 15 '07 - 07:00PM    #
  45. Despite the lush pay and benefits packages that teachers get, you won’t see me lining up to take those jobs. How about you?


       —John Q.    May. 15 '07 - 08:30PM    #
  46. Emilia, the beneficiaries are the adults. In this case, the school system exists to employ food service workers.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 15 '07 - 08:33PM    #
  47. John Q:
    People are lining up for teaching jobs. But there are no openings. The president of MSU Anne Simon said in the Lansing State Journal: “I can’t place a teacher in Michigan; there are no jobs,” Simon noted in response to questions about a Michigan brain drain.

    So there are actually lots of people trying to get teaching jobs in michigan and are forced to look elsewhere. Ann Arbor is a particularly tough place to get a job, a desirable place to work.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 15 '07 - 08:39PM    #
  48. It’s a low-skilled, part-time job for only a portion of the year, but some think it should come with health benefits and a pension???


       —Get a clue    May. 16 '07 - 03:20PM    #
  49. Question:

    Could the “Free Market” Sycophants please explain to the rest of us how lower pay and benefits across the board lead to higher standards of living for all (not)? Personally, I love it when middle class types who work for a check and are about three pay periods away from being put out on the street try to argue that people who actually do the shit nobody else wants to do should expect less because that will make us all better off. These morons don’t seem to realize that when the lowest paid workers get fucked, the rest of us are next in line for the same fate.
       —Chuck L.    May. 17 '07 - 02:56AM    #
  50. I thought the purpose of public schools was to educate children. I didn’t realize that its real goal was to provide pensions and benefits for as many adults as possible.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 17 '07 - 12:04PM    #
  51. I don’t feel privatization serves the children well, having lived through that at my job and having seen what happened at my husband job when they outsourced. Accountability is a big problem, as well as efficiency. However, the union model does not work that well, if the employees take the money for themselves and does not go back to the kids. The unions seem to work well in times of prosperity. There really is less money to go around, – in the next few years, when the fallout from the lower property values really sets in, the amount schools get will be truly challenged. You’d be hard pressed to find a union that will give significant concessions willingly. So, management start looking at privatization. Somebody who is three paychecks away and house value is declining will scrutinize very closely where the money is going, and demand that people act responsibly.


       —Emilia    May. 17 '07 - 12:59PM    #
  52. The School Board did not act at last night’s meeting. The next date for a vote is May 30.


       —David Cahill    May. 17 '07 - 07:30PM    #
  53. Not “Cooler Heads”,

    Since your one of the free market sycophants I was referring to (and instead of changing the subject—what are you afraid of?) could you answer my question: How does robbing Peter,Jane, Fred and all the low wage workers to pay Paul (the rich business owner reaping a windfall on the private contract) improve living standards for the 90% of the population who work for a paycheck? Furthermore, privatizing lunches means the public loses the right to make basic decisions concerning the types of foods offered and the quality of the food offered. Your question is specious and shows there is no substance to your position.
       —Chuck L.    May. 17 '07 - 10:09PM    #
  54. What is ridiculous here is that regardless of whether the food service becomes private or not, the food will not be better. In the end, from the child’s point of view, the difference will be comparable to comparing Burger King to Wendy’s. Not quite a noble culinary distinction. So when you are all done arguing about unions etc. the children will still be receiving a shitty meal. Reach higher please.

    Or give up and turn the cafeteria into a classroom and tell the parents to pack a lunch.


       —abc    May. 18 '07 - 02:31AM    #
  55. What is ridiculous is although there would be no difference in the quality of food served to students, we would elect to keep adults employed and cut spending in the classroom, rather than outsource food service.

    Could someone provide a week’s worth lunch menus so we could see just how horrible the school food is? And then provide a comparison menu of what slop would be provided by the evil private company?


       —Cooler Heads    May. 19 '07 - 08:59PM    #
  56. What’s more ridiculous is the amount of time and energy going into a debate about a topic that at the end of the day won’t make a significant difference in the school budget one way or another. This isn’t where the real money is in school district budgets. It’s just an easier target for the school board to carve out a few bucks and put off the inevitable choice about tackling the big dollar items that no one wants to take on.


       —John Q.    May. 19 '07 - 11:31PM    #
  57. FYI, the school lunches are already provided by a private company (Chartwells); lunch menus are posted on the district site.
    Currently the food service workers are employed by the district, and work under the direction of the Chartwells-provided director; I believe the proposal is that the food service workers would no longer be employed by the district (thus the district would no longer be paying their health and pension costs) but would instead be Chartwells employees. The major negative change for the food service employees is that they would no longer be participating in the State’s employee retirement system (though anyone with 10+ years would not lose that earned time — they’d just not be earning additional credit in the system).


       —Lane Maiden    May. 21 '07 - 07:46PM    #
  58. RE: Washtenaw County Health Report on Chartwell Food Services and questions about alleged costs savings. Please attend board meeting on May 30th

    FOOD QUALITY, STUDENT HEALTH AND SAFETY
    The Ann Arbor School Board is considering firing 73
    long-time food services workers and privatizing 100%
    of the unit to a company called Chartwell. We don’t
    have to go far to find reason to pause and express
    concern about Chartwell. See info from the Ann Arbor
    news about problems with Chartwell when food services went 100% private in Ypsilanti.

    The current workers have an excellent safety and
    health record. Before tinkering with something that
    is not broken, the school board has an obligation to
    research how this proposed change will impact the
    kids.

    COST SAVINGS DON’T ADD UP.
    Chartwell claims they will save the district
    $400,000.00 a year. During the first year of the
    Richmond, Virginia School System contract with
    Chartwells to provide food services, the company lost
    the school district more than $900.000.00. According
    to a Richmond school board member, “Chartwells was
    supposed to be the panacea to all our food services
    issus. We’ve been duped, we’ve been had, we’ve been
    hoodwinked, we’ve been suckered. Where will this
    $400,000.00 come from? I’m not sure we should be
    cutting corners in food services.

    INFO FROM THE ANN ARBOR NEWS:
    School lunchroom gets poor report;
    students boycotting lunch program

    “(A student) said she stopped eating lunch served at
    Cheney Academy of Math and Science about two weeks ago
    after she found something in her bread that looked
    like black and brown mold.

    “‘I’m paying $2 to get a lunch,’ said the 13-year-old
    (student), who is among dozens students who began
    boycotting the lunch program at the Willow Run school
    because of concerns about food quality. ‘I should be
    able to eat the food that I pay for.’

    “A report obtained by The Ann Arbor News on Tuesday
    through a Freedom of Information Act request
    indicates…students may have had reason for concern.
    Earlier this month, a county inspection of food
    service at Cheney, which is provided by Chartwells, an
    outside vender, found food kept at improper
    temperatures and food packages that lacked expiration
    dates.

    “ThOct. 8 visit to Cheney, an inspector with the
    Washtenaw County Department of Environmental Health
    wrote: ‘A large quantity of turkey and ham sandwiches
    were being served without cold holding capabilities.
    Sandwiches were at 68 to 90 degrees, Fahrenheit. Some
    sandwiches were under a heat light. Also, cold tuna
    and potato salad served without cold holding
    capabilities (was found). These items can cause death
    by listeria contamination and must be held at less
    than 41 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe.’...

    “In addition, the report noted: ‘Lunch meats, potato
    salads (and) salad meats not supplied with seven-day
    maximum use-by dates.’

    “In conclusion, the inspector wrote: ‘I am very
    concerned about food safety…We need to have more
    accountability of food safety procedures in the
    elementary schools.’...

    “Middle school students at Cheney complained to
    teachers this month that their cafeteria food tasted
    bad…The students began researching school food
    services and writing letters to district and food
    service officials requesting better food.

    “They also instituted the boycott. ‘There are only a
    few people left who are eating the lunch,’ said (one)
    student…She said some of them may be doing so
    because they participate in the federal free and
    reduced-price lunch program. ‘I think it’s a shame
    that someone has to eat something they don’t like
    because they’re hungry,’ she said.” (Ann Arbor News,
    10/30/2002)

    More woe for school cafeteria workers;
    Contractor, fired by Wayne, ends benefit

    “‘Employee treatment’ was among the reasons the school
    board ended its working relationship with Chartwells
    Educational Food Service Inc., a North Carolina-based
    company that employs the district’s 57 cafeteria
    workers.

    “Employees complained that their paychecks often fell
    short or were lost by the company, and their employer
    would take months to correct the mistake. Over holiday
    breaks, employees had to submit self-addressed
    envelopes to the company to receive their paycheck.

    “And when employees requested kitchen supplies from
    the company — such as bleach, oven trays, and pot
    holders — they received lame excuses instead.

    “‘They were a nasty, rotten company,’ said (the)
    president of the Wayne Cafeteria Association. ‘I think
    they took advantage of these women because most of
    them are foreign and don’t speak English well.’

    “Now that the school board declined to renew its
    three-year contract with Chartwells, the food service
    employer has terminated the cafeteria workers’ health
    benefits. Based on a contract with the Wayne Cafeteria
    Association — one that is separate from the contract
    with the school board — the food service company is
    under obligation to provide its employees with health
    coverage through Aug. 31.

    “Last week, however, employees received notification
    from Aetna, their health insurance provider, that
    benefits had been terminated June 21, and anyone who
    required continued coverage should file COBRA
    paperwork…

    “(The Superintendent) said the school board is
    optimistic that the district’s new food service
    company — Fine Host Corp. — will do a better job
    than its predecessor. ‘They seem nice,’ (the president
    of Wayne Cafeteria Association) said. ‘But Chartwells
    was nice in the beginning too.’” (The Record [Bergen
    County, NJ], 07/26/2002)

    Please call and e-mail the following board members and
    urge not to outsource the food services workers.
    Urge them not cut corners on health and safety.

    —————————————————————————————
    President
    Karen D. Cross
    1803 High Pointe Lane
    Ann Arbor, MI 48108
    734-741-4480
    crossk@aaps.k12.mi.us

    —————————————————————————————

    Treasurer
    Randy Friedman
    1010 Berkshire Road
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-332-6031
    friedman@aaps.k12.mi.us

    —————————————————————————————

    Trustee
    Helen Gates-Bryant
    14—————————————————————————————

    Vice President
    Deb Mexicotte
    2660 Yost Blvd
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-677-1587
    mexicott@aaps.k12.mi.us

    —————————————————————————————

    Trustee
    Glenn Nelson
    1323 S. Forest Ave.
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-663-4849
    nelsong@aaps.k12.mi.us

    —————————————————————————————
    Secretary, Parliamentarian
    Irene Patalan
    5175 W. Liberty
    Ann Arbor, MI 48103
    734-668-6246
    patalan@aaps.k12.mi.us


       —Isaac Robinson    May. 21 '07 - 10:34PM    #
  59. Here is a letter on why outsourcing could be bad for the children. It was sent to Board member Patalan by a community member from an Ann Arbor middle school. It’s not just about money, but also about student health and safety.

    Ms. Patalan:

    I appreciate and understand the dire financial
    straits the AA public schools are in. I believe that
    cost-cutting measures should be applied wherever they
    do not compromise the health and safety of the
    children.

    I strongly oppose letting go the food service
    workers because this IS a health and safety issue.

    A significant number of students have medical
    conditions that require strict dietary adherence.
    Colitis, Crohn’s disease, asthma, helicobacter pylori
    stomach infections, migraines, hypoglycemia, Type 1
    diabetes, psoriasis, eczema, diverticulitis, celiac
    disease, etc. have a dietary component. In addition,
    as you may be aware, some food allergies are
    life-threatening, including peanut allergies, fish and
    shellfish, and others.

    Bringing in a proprietary private food service —
    whose primary goal is to make money rather than to
    serve the needs of children — puts our children at
    risk. There’s good reason why historically we have had
    no deaths at school from food allergies among our
    student population: the careful awareness and
    knowledge of the food service workers and their
    diligence in looking out for the particular and
    specific needs of each individual student with a
    medical condition or food issue.

    We need school employees to be accountable to the
    families, the principals, and the school board.
    Hiring personnel who are accountable to faceless
    business owners out to make a profit off of our
    children runs counter to good management.

    Ms. Patalan, we’re not talking about cleaning,
    repairs, supplies, or equipment. These are areas
    where careful shopping might result in cost savings.
    We are talking about children’s lives here. Let’s not
    sacrifice their health because you need some extra
    $$$. Let’s not discriminate against the most
    vulnerable and at-risk students to save a buck or two.
    Let’s put our children’s health and safety first —
    their lives depend on it.


       —Isaac Robinson    May. 21 '07 - 10:46PM    #
  60. That’s crazy. The school district is not required to tailor individual meals to every dietary restriction of every kid. The schools are already peanut free, and nut free, and berry free.

    If the district chooses not to privatize food service for a savings of $400K, and instead cuts the book-buying budget for the school libraries, I will be disgusted. That would mean the district values the adults more than the children it is supposed to serve.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 21 '07 - 11:22PM    #
  61. Actually, the Ann Arbor public schools are not peanut free or nut free. Some may have peanut free tables or classrooms, but there is no unified district policy regarding peanut (or other anaphylactic) food allergies. Depending on the severity of the adverse event and frequency of exposure to the inciting agent, it could be classified as a disability, and the school may need a plan to mitigate this risk as stipulated under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, as they would for any other disability. This determination would be required for each affected student regardless of whether the food service is privatized or not.


       —jcp2    May. 22 '07 - 12:42AM    #
  62. My kid had her lunch taken away last year because her school was peanut free and it was discovered that the granola bar she had had been prcoessed on machines that also processed peanut products.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 22 '07 - 01:25AM    #
  63. Failed unhealthy Ypsi Poverty food worker Program should be rejected by AA School Board!!!

    Superintendent Todd Roberts – Enlightened and Innovative or Close-Minded,Short-sighted and Insensitive?

    Does he see that health, safety and security are factors?

    Does he have respect for the senior women who given over two decades of service?

    First year Ann Arbor Schools Superintendent Todd Roberts is recommending a proposal that is anti-woman, anti-worker, anti-senior citizen, anti-retirement security and compromises the health and safety of Ann Arbor Public School students, all with the hope of possibly saving a few dollars. He wants the school board to fire and outsource 73 food service workers, members of Teamsters 214.

    At first look, his outsourcing proposal may seem attractive cost-wise. Roberts made early claims it would bring $400,000.00 to the school district. Chartwell and the superintendent were telling folks that workers would make similar wages and benefits after privatization. (However, at wednesday’s school board meeting it was revealed the outside vendor plans to cut wages, benefits and retirement security by $400,000 to $500,000)

    Initially, one can’t blame Roberts too much for wanting the school board to consider this proposal in economic terms. Especially, if the change would be safe and the move would not destabilize the workforce.

    But now the school board and superintendendent has more info to consider. Chartwell plans to reduce worker wages, benefits, and pensions by over 25%, not similar wages and benefits as promised early on.(will remove pensions all together) There are reports that Chartwell has lost school districts money in other cities and in nearby Ypsilanti, Chartwell was reported for life-threatening health and safety violations when they used inexperienced workers with substandard wages and benefits. Senior lunch ladies who have worked for the Ann Arbor schools for over 20 and 25 years will have their pension benefits cut or eliminated. With severe cuts, there will be high turnover.

    Also, an Ann Arbor News Report says the district has come up with additional revenue to cover most of the $1.9 million cuts that may be coming from the state. The article shows the budget problems are not as bad as anticipated.

    “We’re in fairly good condition,” Robert Allen, deputy superintendent of operations told the Ann Arbor News. “All things considered, we’ve been able to weather the storm.”

    Board members agreed, “If it’s a $122 cut, we’ve come through it OK, VP Deb Mexicotte said, “I don’t think we could have hoped for better than this.”

    http://www.mlive.com…

    With the additional revenue . . . do they still need to consider firing the food service workers? Will they continue with the plan to pound the lowest-paid employees?

    Will Roberts do what is right? Or will he stubbornly press forward? Is he bringing a anti-worker anti-working family ideology to Ann Arbor?

    Experts in the health field and school administration have presented data, news reports, reports from the health inspectors and they have pointed out to the School Board that 1) the proposal would put replacement workers below a living wage, 2) outsourcing would have a devastating economic impact on long-time employees, almost all who are women and many who are seniors, 3) the cost savings don’t add up 4) there are serious health and safety concerns for the students.

    Trustee Nelson acknowledged at the May 16th board meeting that community members ARE STRONGLY OPPOSED to OUTSOURCING the food workers. He says he gets e-mails, phone calls and gets stopped by constituents at the grocery store. Nelson described the proposal as “inhumane.” The Community wants the Superintendent Roberts and School Board President Karen Cross to be more creative and innovative and avoid firing 73 long-time food workers. There are other ways to balance the budget than outsourcing the lunch ladies.

    This is an early test, but an important test for the new Ann Arbor Schools Superintendent Todd Roberts. The School Board will evaluate him at an upcoming board meeting. Maybe it’s becoming more clear that Roberts does not fit with Ann Arbor values.

    Is Roberts a right-wing wacko from North Carolina? Will he move forward with his outsourcing plan, even though it not good for student health and safety? Does he care tat Washtenaw county residents believe workers should at least make a living wage?

    We encourage citizens to contact the Ann Arbor News Editorial Board and express your thoughts about his handling of the food services workers, the lowest paid employees in one of the richest school districts in Michigan.

    ROBERTS TO REJECT LIVING WAGE PRINCIPLES DEMANDED BY LOCAL COMMUNITY

    Taxpayers in Washtenaw and Ann Arbor support a living wage for workers.
    Will Roberts reject the values of this local community and let Chartwell, a foreign company with a subgroup based in North Carolina, reduce wages and benefits by over 25%.

    Taxpayers passed a 240 million bond for the Ann Arbor school. Robert’s proposal would use these dollars to put workers below the poverty level. Maybe we should reconsider passing taxpayer funding proposals for Ann Arbor schools if Roberts is going to be this short-sighted and limited. We need more enlightened leadership.

    The Ann Arbor News reported that the School board awarded costly contracts to consultants that were not necessary. What’s going on here? Who is benefiting here?

    ROBERTS PROPOSALBALANCING THE BUDGET BY BREAKING BACK OF THE WOMEN IN FOOD SERVICES, THE LOWEST PAID WORKERS

    The National Organization of Women supports economic justice for women through labor organizing. They oppose acts that attack the most vulnerable women in society.

    While AA school board officials may deny this privatization proposal has a disproportionate impact on the lunch ladies, the numbers are clear.

    While the labor costs for the food services workers only account for about 1.1% of the total school budget (175 million), this proposal would force the women in dietary to absorb 6.7% of the budget shortfall. The current annual labor cost to the school system is 1.9 million. (about 1.4 million for wages, $300,000.00 for health care and $200,000 for retirement). The Lunch Ladies understand the economic problems and are stepping up. They have offered to take a 10% reduction in wages and benefits. This would reduce the 1.9 million to about 1.7 million for labor costs. But Roberts is looking for a half a million from the lunch ladies to put towards the $7.5 million shortfall.

    While school officials may say the pain is being spread around, it’s the women of the food services department who are being hit the hardest. Other workers and departments have received raises. The women in food services are being fired and decimated.

    Creating anxiety for these senior women in food services, cutting their pensions, and firing them is going too far.

    Find out more about NOW’s work fighting for Women in the Workplace
    http://www.now.org/i…

    OUTSOURCING WILL NOT SAVE MONEY . . . IN 2005, CHARTWELL LOST THE SCHOOL DISTRICT $900,000.00 IN RICHMOND – Wal-Mart of Food Services

    Contracting out costs more than advocates claim because of indirect and hidden costs of services delivery are often ignored. Such costs include contract monitoring and administration. During the first year of the Richmond (Virginia) School System’s contract with Chartwell, the company lost the school district $900,000.

    Chartwell, is a North Carolina subgroup of Campass group a British company, the largest food services company in the world. The British giant, the wal-mart of food services, wants the Ann Arbor schools to be the jewel in their crown as they look to spread to school districts across the United States. Do school officials have any special affiliations with North Carolina? At Duke, Campass group has a contract with Duke University.

    www.campass-group.com (annual revenue of 11 billion pounds according to their site)

    They are low-balling their bid to win the contract. As dependence on the contractor increases, in-house capacity is reduced or eliminated. The loss of leverage can lead to price gouging by contractors in future negotiations.

    Why is Roberts so quick to hand over 100% control of food service to this North Carolinian Company with a shaky record in Ypsilant, MI and in Richmond, a large school district?

    Also, who is going to pay for the extra child supervisors? The current workers, we know and trust, often are in supervisory situations with children. One on ones are commonplace. With high turnover, the schools will need to hire additional supervisors.

    The School won’t save $400,000.00.

    With the workers willing to take reductions of 10%, why is Roberts pushing forward?

    When another unit went private in the ann arbor schools, there was a sexual incident . . .this was pointed out by former school board member Griswald at last week’s meeting.

    Robert’s proposal is too risky, puts children at risk…and with litigation will not save money.

    DOES ROBERTS ONLY SEE DOLLAR SIGNS? WHAT ABOUT HEALTH AND SAFETY? WHY WOULD ROBERTS BRING CHARTWELL’S FAILED YPSILANTI POVERTY WAGE WORKER PROGRAM TO ANN ARBOR? MOLDY FOOD, LISTERIA CONTAMINATION?OUTSOURCING CHILD SUPERVISORS ODD!

    With high turnover, the faces of who will be interacting with our children will change from day to day. Food quality and student safety is being taken for granted.

    The Ann Arbor News article about what happened in Ypsilanti details what can happen when Chartwell goes 100% private. Chartwell currently manages the 73 qualified, experienced workers who are members of Teamsters 214. Below is a clear example of what happens when you privatize and bring in workers you don’t know with substandard wages and I’ve repasted the info from the Ann Arbor news posted preveiously.

    INFO FROM THE ANN ARBOR NEWS:
    School lunchroom gets poor report; students boycotting lunch program

    (A student) said she stopped eating lunch served at Cheney Academy of Math and Science about two weeks ago after she found something in her bread that looked
    like black and brown mold.

    “‘I’m paying $2 to get a lunch,’ said the 13-year-old (student), who is among dozens students who began boycotting the lunch program at the Willow Run school
    because of concerns about food quality. ‘I should be able to eat the food that I pay for.’

    A report obtained by The Ann Arbor News on Tuesday through a Freedom of Information Act request indicates…students may have had reason for concern.
    Earlier this month, a county inspection of food service at Cheney, which is provided by Chartwells, an outside vender, found food kept at improper
    temperatures and food packages that lacked expiration dates.

    The problems were corrected by the time the county made a follow-up visit 10 days later. Following an Oct. 8 visit to Cheney, an inspector with the
    Washtenaw County Department of Environmental Health wrote: A large quantity of turkey and ham sandwiches were being served without cold holding capabilities.
    Sandwiches were at 68 to 90 degrees, Fahrenheit. Some sandwiches were under a heat light. Also, cold tuna and potato salad served without cold holding
    capabilities (was found). These items can cause death by listeria contamination and must be held at less than 41 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe….

    In addition, the report noted: ‘Lunch meats, potato salads (and) salad meats not supplied with seven-day maximum use-by dates.

    In conclusion, the inspector wrote: ‘I am very concerned about food safety…We need to have more accountability of food safety procedures in the
    elementary schools.’...

    Middle school students at Cheney complained to teachers this month that their cafeteria food tasted bad…The students began researching school food
    services and writing letters to district and food service officials requesting better food.

    They also instituted the boycott. ‘There are only a few people left who are eating the lunch,’ said (one) student…She said some of them may be doing so
    because they participate in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program. ‘I think it’s a shame that someone has to eat something they don’t like
    because they’re hungry,’ she said.” (Ann Arbor News, 10/30/2002)

    IMPORTANT: CONTACT SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT CROSS

    Contact School Board President Karen Cross and Superintendent Todd Roberts. Write an editorial to the Ann Arbor News.

    Urge her to stand up for student health and safety. Ask President Cross to instruct Roberts to balance the budget without the extreme cuts to the women in food service. Urge her to stop the outsourcing of the food service workers. She has the power to stop it.

    Karen Cross
    School Board President
    734-741-4480
    crossk@aaps.k12.mi.us
    1803 High Pointe Lane
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104

    Todd Roberts
    robertst@aaps.k12.mi.us
    734-994-2200 (number at work)

    Roberts or some board members may tell you they must do it because of the budget problems. He might also say there will not be high-turnover. He might also mislead and say this will not negatively impact the workers. Please let him know you know the facts. Tell them outsourcing will lead to cuts that are too severe. Tell them corners should be not be cut in the area of food services – health and safety should not be compromised.

    Here are the other board members if you have time. Baskett is on record opposing this proposal. Gates-Bryant asked for the community to present other options to outsourcing.

    You can e-mail the entire board:

    boe@aaps.k12.mi.us

    If you have time after contacting Cross here are the other board members contact info.

    —————————————————————————————

    Treasurer
    Randy Friedman
    1010 Berkshire Road
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-332-6031
    friedman@aaps.k12.mi.us

    —————————————————————————————

    Trustee
    Helen Gates-Bryant
    1424 Astor Avenue
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-665-4303
    gatesh@aaps.k12.mi.us

    —————————————————————————————

    Vice President
    Deb Mexicotte
    2660 Yost Blvd
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-677-1587
    mexicott@aaps.k12.mi.us

    —————————————————————————————

    Trustee
    Glenn Nelson
    1323 S. Forest Ave.
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104
    734-663-4849
    nelsong@aaps.k12.mi.us

    —————————————————————————————
    Secretary, Parliamentarian
    Irene Patalan
    5175 W. Liberty
    Ann Arbor, MI 48103
    734-668-6246
    patalan@aaps.k12.mi.us

    RALLY FOR RETIREMENT SECURITY AND STUDENT SAFETY

    Wednesday, May 30th
    Arrive at 6:15 PM
    Board begin meeting starts at 7:30 pm
    District Library (4th Floor Board Room) at 343 South Fifth Avenue in Ann Arbor


       —Social Justice    May. 22 '07 - 06:23AM    #
  64. The real talk needs to be what kind of concession is the unions willing to make? Are they ready to forsake pay increases, and are they ready to go to 401K’s, you know, for the safety and well being of the children? If not, the district will continue in the spiral they are currently in, loosing students due to less than optimal performance because they are paying people staff what they think they are due. The district has opened its doors to children of staff, whether they lived in Ann Arbor or not, to try to increase enrollment,(because every child brings money into the district) and Ann Arbor still lost 199 students this year. If Ann Arbor raises city taxes to keep up with the needs of staffs payments, it may drive away more people with children. Twenty percent of Ann Arbor children do not go to the public schools, some say because of the diversity of private schools available, but others do not want to send their children there because they feel the schools are overrated and unresponsive currently. If you just rely on layoffs, and not make considerable adjustments to payments to staff, this problem will only exacerbate. Think DPS.


       —Emilia    May. 22 '07 - 11:54AM    #
  65. The old rules are gone. Unions, strikes, negotiations, forget it. Just think of the welfare of the children, and bring in Manpower Educational Services: teachers, cooks, and administrators, too! One easy check to pay each year, and no backtalk from the temps, either.


       —Manpower    May. 22 '07 - 04:00PM    #
  66. Is Blaine back to posting mile-long posts again?


       —John Q.    May. 22 '07 - 04:52PM    #
  67. in response to Emilia – the Teamsters 214 Lunch Ladies are being very reasonable. They are willing to take cuts of 10%. The total labor costs are about 1.9 million dollars. They have already informed the district they can come up with about 180 thousand dollars in concessions. Right now wages – are about 1.4 million, annual health care costs are 300,000 and annual pension costs to the district are about 200,000

    The district wants a half a million – this would take out health care and pension…workers who handle children’s food should have adequate health care…. I am optimistic the board won’t try to balance the budget disproportionately on the backs of the women in food services, the lowest paid employees in the district


       —social justice    May. 23 '07 - 12:52AM    #
  68. Ultimately, they should not balance the budget on the lowest paid worker, but fairly, across the board. I do find it remarkable that Lunch Ladies get a pension. Is that after 10 years like the teachers, and after how many hours?


       —Emilia    May. 23 '07 - 12:05PM    #
  69. I do believe the food service workers vest after 10 years.
    They are not balancing the budget fairly across the board. While i do not know their intent, but asking the food services workers to give up 400,000 to 500,000 would be clearly have a disproportionate impact on the senior women of the food services department.

    Some of these women have given 25 years of service. I hope the School Board has a heart and decides to work with the lunch ladies.

    The School board should delay the vote to see what comes out of the budget compromise in lansing on June 1. Also, a recent article in the Ann Arbor News with quotes from VP Mexicotte and Robert Allen says the schools have had some postive economic developments. Maybe they don’t need to consider the deep, severe cuts on the food service workers.


       —Social Justice    May. 23 '07 - 08:14PM    #
  70. Ummm, they should balance the budget based on what puts the most money into teaching and learning. That would be for the kids.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 23 '07 - 09:03PM    #
  71. While Mr. or Ms. Cool i don’t know if this would matter much to you but some children are poor and the breakfast or lunch they recieve at school is often the only meal/s they get.

    Even you had a lunch lady too? Lunch ladies are not slaves or robots or microwaves, they are human beings, people from our community, we know and trust with our kids. They are a very important part of our school system. They are mothers, grandmas, sisters,...they are coaches…they are familiar faces. . .they provide consistency…they are positive influences on our kids….

    Proper nutrition and quality food service helps make a learning environment better for the kids.


       —Social Justice    May. 23 '07 - 09:44PM    #
  72. and one more thing-coolio- privatizing the lunch ladies will not save money.

    When ypsi went 100% private in ypsi, they had life-threatening health violations. In Richmond, Virgina, Chartwells lost the school system 900,000 during the first year of their contract.

    There are
    hidden costs and indirect costs. Contractors often
    price-gouge in future contract negotiations. Food
    workers supervisor children in one on one situations. The Schools will have to hire additional supervisors. We don’t want folks we don’t in one on one situations with young children.

    Food services is not broken. Plus, the lunch ladies are offering up 180,000 in concessions.

    Mr. Coolio – you are a penny wise, and a pound foolish.

    but i appreciate the debate.


       —Social Justice    May. 23 '07 - 09:49PM    #
  73. Me too. And its Ms. Coolio.

    I am actually an educator who works with poor kids. I get it. But I’ve seen lots of adults get money from schools and kids get lousy education. I feel compelled to always argue for the kids in an either-or situation.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 23 '07 - 11:16PM    #
  74. Jack Lessenberry had some comments that seem to apply to this situation this week:

    “What was most disturbing, however, was the subtext of mean-spiritedness: How dare some poor old bus driver think she should be entitled to health care! Years ago, when America and Michigan were more confident about the future, we might have cheered her on. We might have been happy that she won’t have to worry about medical bills in her old age.”

    http://metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=10539

    It is a pretty sad situation in this state where we have to sacrifice the bottom rung of the wage ladder to “save the kids”.


       —John Q.    May. 24 '07 - 02:08AM    #
  75. As a mom of kids who did not recieve adequate or timely evaluations or services for my children with special needs, it is not mean spiritedness at all that makes me think that the pay structure as a whole needs to be changed, so that delivery of services can to be improved. It is the unpleasant discovery that the school system has proven inadequate to its task in its delivery of education.
    Now that’s really a pretty sad situation.


       —Emilia    May. 24 '07 - 03:10AM    #
  76. Emilia- parents of children with allergies and nurses who work closely with the lunch ladies to design diet for kids with special needs are frightened by this proposal. The current food service workers are praised by adminitrators and parents and teachers. One parent explained to the board how critical food services workers to student safety and particular to the safety of her son.

    Quality of service will suffer when you cut folks by 30%. In ypsi, the health report, showed that food was delivered in an unsafe way when you bring inexperienced employees.


       —Social Justice    May. 24 '07 - 04:17AM    #
  77. But the lunch ladies have NO input on the menus. Chartwells supplies the food. The lunch ladies just serve it.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 24 '07 - 05:43AM    #
  78. Emilia,

    Is good pay and benefits incompatible with improved “delivery of services”? Sounds like you’re saying we have to cut pay and benefits to improve services.


       —John Q.    May. 24 '07 - 01:17PM    #
  79. I do not like privatization. I agree, it brings in inexperienced, not as accountable folks whose managers are under pressure to keep things under budget so they maintain the contract. Lots of deception occurs, and you are stuck with people if they do not work out until you get out of the contract. You absolutely need reliable, nice people dealing with the children on any level -custodians, food service, bus drivers,aides, teachers, principals, and they should be treated fairly, and as best as possible. The reality is that everyone is going to need to take a pay hit, and it’s the benefits costs are the costs that are increasing steadily. More onerously, the rate of the benefits expenses are increasing. If you had to pick one, health care trumps pensions. So, is privatization a tool to get rid of unions, and control costs that way, or will the unions give the concessions they need to keep their jobs? 10% pay concession is a big one, but calculated, because they want to keep their benefits, and health care costs alone can increase that rate in a year. But, again, if less money is coming in and a particular part of your pay package is increasing steadily, you will not be able to raise taxes enough to keep up with the demands of the rates in increases in benefits. It is an unfortunate reality.


       —Emilia    May. 24 '07 - 01:43PM    #
  80. Cooler head – you are underestimating the role of the lunch ladies – school nurses have made statements against this proposal noting how they work directly with food service workers to make sure children are safe and special needs are addressed. They do provide input.

    But you are correct – the food is delivered by the food service workers – this takes into the realm of safety and health.

    when willow runs schools privatized 100% – the inexperienced workers put children’s lives on the line according to the washtenaw county inspector – expired food was being serviced, certain food was not kept at proper temperatures ..

    to say the lunch ladies are mere robots is part of the problem— there is not a clear understanding of what roles they fill – they supervise young children at breakfast, they know the kids and know which kids have allergies – would you like to talk with some of the parents and food service workers to get a more practical idea of how it works in food service— it’s not the jetsons— where food pops out of a machine.

    in some schools there is only one food service worker for the whole building-

    there will be increased costs when the outside vendor claims certain jobs are outside of the contract specifications …


       —social justice    May. 24 '07 - 11:20PM    #
  81. This discussion is also about how women are valued. This is about equality for women in the workplace.

    The district is asking the women in food services to take 30% cuts across the board. Other departments get raises, Superintendent Roberts with little experience gets over $170,000.00, these women are getting terminated.

    The district is allowing a foreign company, campass group, profit off our taxes, and interfere with the standard of living of hard-working women who live in Ann Arbor. Our taxes should not pay poverty wages and help foreign companys profit.

    Please urge Board Presiden Karen Cross that 30% cuts to these women is not spreading the budget cuts around in a fair and even way. Initially, the board was told wages and benefits would be similar. That is not correct. Now it is clear the budget is being balanced disproportionately on the low-wage women workers.


       —social justice    May. 24 '07 - 11:32PM    #
  82. right now, school districts spend 17% of budgets on pensions, for an average of $1015 per employee. That’s up from $485 ten years ago. It is projected that pensions will eat up 30% of budgets by 2020.

    Also, most Michigan education employees are covered by MESSA for healthcare, a plan run by the Michigan Education Association. It is an extremely generous healthcare package, and is specified by unions in many contracts. It costs districts about $16,000 per family, as opposed to the national average for health insurance which is $11,000.

    Also, do teachers, or lunch ladies, have copays or do they have to pay any premiums? I don’t think so.

    If kids’ education in classrooms suffers because we need to feed an overly generous pension and health insurance plan for adults, that is disgraceful. It undermines the goals and intent of public education.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 25 '07 - 01:55AM    #
  83. I’m not sure you’re numbers are correct. The following numbers are definitely on point. The TOTAL cost for the lunch ladies is only 1% of the total budget but the district’s proposal is asking the low-wage women to absorb almost 7% of the total budget shortfall. The proposal looks to balance the budget on the backs of the lowest paid employees.

    The lunch ladies annual pension cost the district $200,000. Divide 200 hundred thousand by 180 million dollar. Maybe the lunch ladies’ pension accounts for .2 of one percentage of the total budget.

    Asking for 30% cut on the lowest wage workers is too extreme and after careful consideration of all the negatives of this proposal – the board will do the right thing for the kids- keep their loving lunch ladies, we know and trust, who are from ann arbor and live in ann arbor!

    Economic Justice for Women! We can’t allow a foreign company to profit off of our taxes and devalue women in ann arbor.


       —Social Justice    May. 25 '07 - 05:54AM    #
  84. Cooler Heads has this one right.


       —Emilia    May. 25 '07 - 12:27PM    #
  85. Like Mr. Lessenberry said, statements like “overly generous pension and health insurance plan” just show how far down the road to our own ruin we’re heading.

    Are those plans “overly generous”? Perhaps in comparison to what some have been forced to accept in the private sector. Instead of looking at those plans in the public sectors as something to aspire to, we’ve been cowed into accepting that that they they are the cause of our troubles and that if we can just knock them down to the level of those in the private sector, all of our troubles will be solved. Over time, this vicious cycle will be repeated as wages and benefits are cut and cut again. Where does it stop? We call this progress?

    If you listen to conservatives, employees in the “free-market” are free to negotiate wages and benefits free of the stranglehold of unions. Yet look where it has gotten us. The private sector worker is getting the shaft and yet we’re told that it’s the union environment where the workers aren’t “free” to maximize their wages and benefits. Since it’s all for “the kids”, it’s all OK.


       —John Q.    May. 25 '07 - 06:07PM    #
  86. Whose going to pay for these overly generous plans? I am paying cash for specialists to come in and help with my child so he does not feel “so lost and stupid” at school while the public school specialist are not responsive or even properly educated with his problems. They are not able to handle the children they have now, so please do not carry on about the toll this takes on the workers. There is nothing but downward pressure on wages right now, and people have to deal with it.


       —Emilia    May. 25 '07 - 11:37PM    #
  87. How about in the hierarachy of people affected we put the folks dealing with special ed kids at some benefit level about lunch ladies? I know that sounds cruel and unfair, but how about it?


       —Cooler Heads    May. 25 '07 - 11:46PM    #
  88. I believe you meant above lunch ladies.


       —Emilia    May. 26 '07 - 12:33AM    #
  89. The food service workers are the lowest paid employees. Asking them to take a 30% reduction is not asking all members of the Ann Arbor school team to take their fair share of cuts. The women in food service all provide love and care and a familiar face. They also provide consistency to students in special ed. We are risking losing that comforting face.

    The food service workers make up about 1% of the total budget. Quit picking on these women!


       —Social Justice    May. 26 '07 - 04:52AM    #
  90. “Well me and Sloppy Joe got married
    We got six kids and we’re doing’ just fine
    Down in Lunch Lady Land”
    __________________________ Lunch Lady Land , Adam Sandler, 1994


       —Michael    May. 26 '07 - 07:03AM    #
  91. With regard to Cooler Head’s post:
    I am an Ann Arbor teacher. We have both co-pays and premiums. Those of us who have MESSA insurance (I am one of them) pay the entire difference between the cost of MESSA and that of an HMO (Care Choices).


       —SayHey    May. 26 '07 - 10:39PM    #
  92. With regard to Cooler Head’s post:
    I am an Ann Arbor teacher. We have both co-pays and premiums. Those of us who have MESSA insurance (I am one of them) pay the entire difference between the cost of MESSA and that of an HMO (Care Choices).


       —SayHey    May. 26 '07 - 10:39PM    #
  93. I am anti-privatization on most things…undecided on the present topic because I want to see more money go to food.
    I am a special ed teacher in Detroit. Almost every day, I bring in sandwiches and other (reasonably healthy) things for some of my kids to take home. I do this because they are not being fed at home and they come to school, quite literally, starving.
    Personally, I’d like to see money go towards healthy foods in school, more food at school and edible schoolyards, etc. It is very hard to teach kids who are so hungry that they are literally crying. While I hate to see people take cuts in pay, I would gladly take a cut if I could see that my kids are actually fed (and that their clothes are washed, but that’s another issue).


       —TeacherPatti    May. 26 '07 - 11:04PM    #
  94. if you privatize less money goes to food, as profit becomes the main motivation for a corporate giant like chartwell, a subgroup of Compass group, a British company. With privatization you lose public accountability as the private vendor will cut corners on food quality, who they hire, etc. profit is main objective not the children.


       —social justice    May. 27 '07 - 06:56PM    #
  95. if you have concerns about food quality sticking with the current group is probably the best bet …this is what was reported in the Ann Arbor News when Chartwell brought in workers at minimum wages with little or no benefits in Ypsilanti…

    FROM ANN ARBOR NEWS – Following an Oct. 8 visit to Cheney, an inspector with the
    Washtenaw County Department of Environmental Health wrote: A large quantity of turkey and ham sandwiches were being served without cold holding capabilities.
    Sandwiches were at 68 to 90 degrees, Fahrenheit. Some sandwiches were under a heat light. Also, cold tuna and potato salad served without cold holding
    capabilities (was found). These items can cause death by listeria contamination and must be held at less than 41 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe….


       —eastsidegirl    May. 27 '07 - 07:01PM    #
  96. Doesn’t School board president Karen Cross work for WORK KEYS, a state funded employment skills center at Washtenaw county?

    It would hard to believe she would support the outsourcing of our tax dollars to a foreign food services company . . Doesn’t the state of Michigan have a policy that looks to spend our tax dollars in America to support our local tax base?


       —eastsidegirl    May. 27 '07 - 07:45PM    #
  97. Just want to say again, if the money for schools is not unlimited, then I want to put more into teaching and learning than into lunch.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 28 '07 - 12:58AM    #
  98. If you outsource, then we may have less money for other programs. The outside vendors are looking for profit. Our schools should not be for sale. The Richmond Times Dispatch reports that the school system’s food costs increased by 1 million dollars under the contract with Chartwell. Contracting out costs more than advocates claim because indirect and hidden costs of service delivery are often ignored. As in house capacity is reduced or eliminated, Ann Arbor schools will lose leverage. This loss of leverage can lead to price gouging by contractors in future contract negotiations. This is made worse by contractors that low-ball their bids initially- and then raise prices in the renewals.

    So we can agree on one thing that if outsourcing does not save money than maybe we should not do it. This is not a place we should be looking to cut corners. There is no compelling evidence this a good move.


       —Social Justice    May. 28 '07 - 03:42AM    #
  99. But the board has an estimate that it will save $400K by doing this. How do we know that is incorrect?


       —Cooler Heads    May. 28 '07 - 12:27PM    #
  100. Chartwell has promised to cut workers wages by $400,000.00 to $500,000- the lowest paid workers are being asked to take 30% reduction in wages and benefits.

    Promises made by outside vendors are not always kept. they want more money – they are in business to make money. They are NOT public servants. Chartwells cost Richmond Schools a million dollars more in the first year of the contract as reported in the Richmond Schools. Contracting costs more than advocates claim because of indirect and hidden costs of service delivery are often ignored. What price do you attach to the workers supervising children in one on one situations during breakfast? The Schools will have to hire additions staff to fill this void when we lose the workers to privatization. There was sexual assault incident in the Ann Arbor schools when another unit was privatized. Ann Arbor Schools has already had it’s fill of litigation and related costs. With high turnover, there will be additional costs for doing background checks and training new employees. The Food service workers do tasks not included in contract specifications, and school officials will no longer have the flexibility to get them accomplished.

    Chartwell may do what it did in Richmond, overcharge the schools for food items. This British corporate giant is about making money.

    How much profit is chartwell making? Maybe that money should go to the kids?

    Oh- they are not about profit – the purpose of chartwell is to give charity to ann arbor schools…this is not adding up… has anyone ever been investigate for kick-backs in the Ann Arbor Schools? Does anyone have connections with North Carolina -where Chartwell has its American Headquarters.


       —Social Justice    May. 29 '07 - 12:39AM    #
  101. Fine. Lots of speculation. If the board doesn’t privatize food service, where does it cut $400,00?


       —Cooler Heads    May. 29 '07 - 12:50AM    #
  102. One more thing, the last time I was in school lunchroom, which was last week, there were maybe two lunch ladies for about 300 kids. Not exactly one-on-one supervision.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 29 '07 - 12:53AM    #
  103. There are certain schools where food service workers run a solo operation. are you the superintendent or one of the school board members?


       —Social Justice    May. 29 '07 - 01:04AM    #
  104. I am a parent. Not an official school anyone. That’s a creepy thing to assume, SJ. Lots of parents volunteer at their kids’ schools.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 29 '07 - 07:17AM    #
  105. it seems like your so over committed to this proposal even though there are so many warning signs— but anyway – the district tells folks they need to make these drastic cuts because of budget problems…but now with added revenue- i’m curious to see if they are still anxious to send the women of food services below a living wage.

    STATE SPARES SCHOOLS FROM CUTS, DISTRICT SHOULD NOW SPARE FOOD SERVICE WORKERS FROM EXTREME 30% REDUCTIONS

    On May 16th, the Ann Arbor News Reported, “The district has an increase in revenue of $770,000 from better-than-expected interest earnings and also $1 million in increased reimbursements from the Washtenaw County Intermediate School District, along with some cost savings, District Spokersperson Robert Allen told the school board’s performance committee Tuesday night in a preview of the presentation.” This report came before the district even knew schools would be spared in the state budget compromise.

    Referring to possible state cuts on May 16th: “If it’s a $122 cut, we’ve come through it OK,’‘ Deb Mexicotte, the board’s vice-president, said. “I don’t think we could have hoped for better than this.’‘ But now there will not be cuts per pupil. With the added revenue to the budget, the board should take the outsourcing proposal off the table.

    http://www.mlive.com/news/annarbornews/index.ssf?/base/news-22/1179326434221670.xml&coll=2


       —Social Justice    May. 29 '07 - 08:19AM    #
  106. Our own Ann Arbor School Board President Karen Cross once portrayed Harriet Tubmam.

    I still do not believe Cross, would allow a foreign company to come into Ann Arbor, a bastion of liberal thought and progressive ideas, and exploit women. You hear the stories of poverty wages in Honduras and 3rd world nations. Now that it is clear the proposal would harm the food service workers severely – there is no way Cross would cut them that deep. Nelson calls the proposal “inhumane”.


       —eastside girl    May. 29 '07 - 08:27AM    #
  107. SJ: The middle schools have just eliminated one hour of classes, bringing the number down from 8 class periods a day to 7, thus reducing the number of academic opporunities. So your kid can’d take jazz band the way kids last year could, and if you take a language and music you can’t take anything else. And so on.

    The HS Humanities class has more than 100 kids in it.

    And so on.

    So what I see is that academic opportunities are being skimped on already. That’s why I’m overinvested in this.


       —Cooler Heads    May. 29 '07 - 02:23PM    #
  108. Famous quotes by Karen Cross

    To the lunch ladies – “at least you’ll be able to collect unemployment this summer.”

    Even though they had added revenue from the state, and severe cuts were not required Cross, stated at the meeting, “ I could not sleep at night if I would vote against the privatization proposal.”

    Her spin on the $400,000 cuts to the lowest paid employees. “We should commend Chartwell for their investment in Ann Arbor Schools.

    The Phoney Five- Helen Gates-Bryant, Karen Cross, Glenn Nelson,Irene Patalan and Friedman-
    It’s time we rid Ann Arbor of fake liberals. These officials outsourced the lowest paid employees to a foreign company and allowed this foreign company to decrease the standard of living for local people. This is about local people, local jobs! The legacy of these five officials is now set, a sad legacy.


       —eastside girl    Jun. 1 '07 - 08:08PM    #
  109. just for the record, Randy Friedman doesn’t call himself a liberal, and he doesn’t act like one. He is a fiscal conservative, and voted as one.


       —Cooler Heads    Jun. 1 '07 - 10:31PM    #
  110. “Just want to say again, if the money for schools is not unlimited, then I want to put more into teaching and learning than into lunch.” This was obviously said by someone who knows where their next meal is coming from. School lunches began because hungry children cannot learn. Penny wise and pound foolish.


       —maryd    Jun. 2 '07 - 02:13AM    #
  111. It’s good to get that out about Friedman – one of Friedman’s comments overheard during a break – - why are these women complaining about the pension loss and reductions, at least the outside vendor is going to give them a job.
    I think your right about him being more of a right winger…but he is still a member of the phoney five that is leaving a sad legacy for how the women in food services are valued. 27 years of service – things like that have no value.


       —eastsidegirl    Jun. 2 '07 - 04:51AM    #
  112. It’s clear Karen Cross is a heartless, right winger . . but what’s worse then that is those who try to fake being liberal…i can’t decide if Helen Gates-Bryant is faker or Glenn Nelson. Glenn Nelson whined and whined about how tough this decision was, but with a smile he enthusiatically waved his hand to be the one to make the motion to bust the union.

    Gates-Bryant told the ladies -I’ve lost a job before – I can relate. Gates-Bryant pimped the black vote and union vote to get elected. She cast a vote the fired a woman in her church and she actually resents the lunch ladies – she echoed Friedman-hey- at least they will still have a job. She resents them because she is still unemployed. She was pro-union when she was a candidate. We need to take a closer look to find out why these pro-labor progressive are voting in these odd ways… usually you just have to follow the money! Something’s rotten in Denmark!

    Nelson got votes from the Grey Panthers, a senior social justice group. As a public servant, he did not stand up for seniors. In an Enron move, he took pension rights away fron senior lunch ladeis. At least Friedman doesn’t fake it. Good point Cooled head!!


       —social justice    Jun. 2 '07 - 05:02AM    #
  113. I hope Karen Cross will never portray Harriet Tubman again.

    She is no Harriet Tubman.

    Tubman is a great woman. Cross does not believe in a living wage for women.


       —eastsidegirl    Jun. 2 '07 - 05:08AM    #
  114. What the supposed liberals did here is typical of what I call “management Democrats.” Once many local liberals gain power, they vote like Republicans. They forget their roots.


       —David Cahill    Jun. 2 '07 - 01:25PM    #
  115. Just for the record…the federal government subsidizes the cost of school lunches for children from families with low incomes. The privatization of the lunch service will not impact the federal subisidy. Nor will it impact the type or quality of food served because Chartwells has been supplying food to AA schools for years. (With the exception of Dominos Pizza, which is served at many schools one or two pays per week.)

    What will change, though, are the people who serve the food, and the organization that issues their paychecks and benefits.

    So…no child is suddenly going to be starving at lunchtime because of this change.

    The issue is about labor, about benefits, about the ethics of privatization.


       —Cooler Heads    Jun. 2 '07 - 04:58PM    #
  116. Even Jennifer Granholm is now supporting 401K’s and teachers picking up more of their health care benefits. It is just going to happen eventually across the board in the school system.


       —Emilia    Jun. 2 '07 - 05:32PM    #
  117. it’s interesting the school board picked the women to chop while others get raises. Roberts will not last long in ann arbor.

    in response to coolio, food quality may suffer because chartwell is in it to make profit, so with profit as the main motivation corners may be cut on food quality, etc.


       —eastside girl    Jun. 4 '07 - 03:41PM    #
  118. What’s interesting to me, eastide girl, is that since I moved here in 2000, Ann Arbor has had something like 3 or 4 school supers. And now you’re talking about Roberts not lasting long. One wishes that the people in this self-important town would look at themselves in their gilded mirrors and do a bit of soul searching. What is it about Ann Arbor that drives away the people we ask to head our schools? Why do we seem to have groups of people who too quickly race for the torches and pitchforks? What does it say when we harp on the school superintendent and school board for making tough decisions but yet just had an uncontested school board election?

    Is it terrible that people will lose benefits? Absolutely. But look around. This state is in the crapper. Things are bad every which way you look in Michigan. Tough decisions have to be made. And I think the decision makers in our school system have been making some necessary decisions to save money.


       —OWSider    Jun. 4 '07 - 04:43PM    #
  119. Well said, OWSider.


       —Cooler Heads    Jun. 4 '07 - 08:29PM    #
  120. Speaking of the school system, Ann Arbor Public Schools will no longer provide same sex domestic partner benefits to employees.

    Yes, it’s morning in Michigan. Isn’t it great to live here?


       —OWSider    Jun. 5 '07 - 08:37PM    #
  121. The article also said they were required to do so following the Court of Appeals upholding the voter approved Michigan Marriage Amendment. I don’t think they want to do this. Hopefully the Supreme Court, who has agreed to hear the case brought against this Amendment, will overturn the Court of Appeals. City of AA and other public entities will have to follow if it is not overturned. Also the benefits don’t end until contracts end which include the teacher’s contract with is settled through 09.


       —Liza    Jun. 6 '07 - 05:51PM    #
  122. Liza,

    Yes, I know. I realize they have to because Michigan voters overwhelmingly supported that hateful Proposal 2. Somehow the fact that the State Supreme Court might overturn it doesn’t make me feel better about the climate in this state.

    If I were a glbt teacher in Michigan, with the state of the economy the way it is in addition to the fact that most Michigan voters don’t want us here, I’d be looking to leave. As it is, my partner and I will most likely be out of here by May if everything goes well.


       —OWSider    Jun. 6 '07 - 08:49PM    #
  123. The mayor was at the Sparling Dance Studio for the big photo and we asked him about what the city was going to do. He said he would push for the city to maintain benefits until all avenues had been exhausted and the city was forced to comply. Seems like the schools may have caved in a little early.

    It may not matter in the end.


       —LauraB    Jun. 8 '07 - 04:37AM    #
  124. it was not necessary to chop the lowest paid employees. Good point about unconcested elections. We need to run some folks against the current board members -particularly Cross, Nelson and Gates-Bryant ——The reign of wasteful spending and mismanagement must end—- they have principal getting paid over $100,000 for a school that has not even opened yet…Nelson and Gates-Bryants are Cross puppets

    Cross gives other deparmtents raises, gives a young superintendent over $170,000.00 and cuts the lowest paid employees by 30%......

    Women devalued.


       —eastside girl    Jun. 8 '07 - 10:13PM    #
  125. But isn’t that $100K principal-without-a-school a woman?


       —Cooler Heads    Jun. 9 '07 - 06:10PM    #
  126. Yes and she is writing curriclum and programming, hiring staff and preparing for the opening. She isn’t sitting around doing nothing….


       —Liza    Jun. 11 '07 - 02:58PM    #