The Fort Worth school board voted Tuesday in favor of a $26.1 million food service management contract with SodexoMAGIC that includes a last-minute amendment to allow about 800 campus cafeteria workers to remain district employees.
Trustees voted 8-0 in favor of approving the contract that is contingent upon review and final approval by the Texas Department of Agriculture.
The contract provides that all current cafeteria workers will remain district employees for as long as each individual chooses. Future job applicants to that pool of slots will have the opportunity to become district employees too.
Trustee Anael Luebanos said while issues such as food quality and cost savings are important, it was also important to support these workers.
“They are the ones feeding our students,” Luebanos said after the meeting. “These people are working day-in and day-out for our students.”
For months, the district has been exploring an outsourcing food services plan as a way to improve its focus on education while saving money. Those efforts were met with disapproval from labor advocates and several parents who urged the board to reconsider plans to outsource any workers who attended Tuesday’s meeting.
“Outsourcing these jobs not only does a disservice to them, but to our kids,” said Jason Smith, a parent and supporter of cafeteria workers.
After about a dozen people spoke against the effort Tuesday, Superintendent Kent Scribner said in English and Spanish that every cafeteria worker who is employed with the district will continue to be district employees next school year.
“We are not talking about outsourcing the cafeteria workers,” Scribner said. “We are talking about outsourcing leadership.”
The district plans to contract with SodexoMAGIC food services management company for the 2019-2020 school year.
Plans include approving a one-year contract that has the option of renewal. Under the contract, the district can’t exceed four one-year renewals.
There are 813 cafeteria workers in Fort Worth schools. There are 105 vacancies. Under the new plan, the vacant positions would be filled by SodexoMAGIC, but the 800-plus post held by the district can remain under the district, said Clint Bond, spokesman for Fort Worth schools.
Employees can choose to leave the district and work for SodexoMAGIC if they choose.
The district’s nutrition program is an estimated $50.7 million program. Of that, an estimated $26.1 million would pay for the contract, Bond said. Another estimated $10.3 million would be used to pay for employees who chose to transfer to SodexoMAGIC.
The contract has to be reviewed and approved by the Texas Department of Agriculture. The district has until April 30 to provide the contract to the state for approval.