CARLISLE — Cafeterias throughout the Carlisle Area School District will be under different management for at least one year effective July 1.
The school board on Thursday voted unanimously to outsource the management of the district food service operation to Chartwells under a contract that would also allow for up to four one-year renewals.
Chartwells, a division of the Compass Group that is based in Charlotte, N.C., provides dining services for more than 550 public school districts and private schools nationwide, according to the company’s website.
“We feel we went through a lot of work in this process to get to where we are,” board member Anne Lauritzen said before making the motion to approve Chartwells.
She was one of three members of an evaluation committee who reviewed and scored six proposals submitted in late March by food service management companies.
Board member Gerald Eby and Carlisle High School principal Jay Rauscher also served on the committee which narrowed the three proposals down to the three that had the highest average scores.
Representatives from Chartwells, Metz Culinary Management and The Nutrition Group were invited to make a presentation before the committee on April 1. Of the three, Chartwells received the highest score in a selection process that is mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
“We felt that Chartwells would be the best all-around to serve our students and current employees,” Lauritzen said Thursday. She added the decision to recommend the firm was unanimous among the three committee members.
As part of the process, committee members visited Big Spring High School where Chartwells is completing the second year of its contract with Big Spring School District. There they had the opportunity to talk with current Chartwells employees who used to be employed by Big Spring School District.
The committee also interviewed district administrators who gave frank answers to tough questions on how the transition worked in Big Spring, Lauritzen said.
“It is a one-year contract with four one-year renewals,” said Shawn Farr, director of finance for Carlisle school district. He added that after the fifth year the district would need to reevaluate the quality of the service and go through the process all over again.
Carlisle Superintendent John Friend said he received nothing but positive feedback on Chartwells when he contacted four school districts serving as references and talked with fellow superintendents during a recent statewide meeting.
One of the districts polled has been with Chartwells for 15 years while another has been with the service since 1974, Friend said.
Eby was absent from Thursday’s meeting. Last week, he said that while the benefit package under Chartwells may be less than what the workers currently receive as Carlisle school district employees, the hourly wage would be about the same and the food service workers would be able to file claims for unemployment benefits during the summer and over the holidays.
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