The Maries R-2 Board of Education decided April 23 that they would renew the Opaa! food contract for the district meals through the 2021 school year, but look into alternative providers for next …
The Maries R-2 Board of Education decided April 23 that they would renew the Opaa! food contract for the district meals through the 2021 school year, but look into alternative providers for next year.
Superintendent Dr. Lenice Basham told the board that Opaa! Sent them the contract late.
“We are required to approve an extension by April 1, but they didn’t mail it to us until March 25 to extend the contract,” Basham said. “They are mending the contract with an increase of 10 cents per and seven cents per breakfast for next year.”
Basham said she didn’t feel like they had a choice but to go ahead and extend the contract for this year, but to look for an alternative option for the following year.
Board President Joey Butler II said they have been looking for an alternative provider for years. Vice President Dawn Hicks agreed.
“Every time we’ve asked them, they told me they would come if they were invited,” Hicks said.
Butler said that wasn’t true.
“Go ahead, invite them,” Butler said. “When it comes time to do it, they will say, ‘oh, no we can’t come there.’”
Director Tom Kinsey agreed, saying if the district tells Opaa! where they are located and how far off of Interstate 44, they won’t come. Basham said Steelville has gone to another program.
“I don’t know if you guys would be interested later on in opening our own kitchen,” Basham said.
Kinsey said they have to become stricter on collecting funds, which is what they had issues with previously.
“We may not be able to (have our own kitchen),” Basham said. “But I do need you to approve the one-year extension.”
Kinsey and Hicks made the motion and seconded. Butler asked about the price increase.
“So they are going to raise their prices — aren’t we supposed to increase our meal prices every year by a nickel to play a bunch of catchup? That’s going to be like 15 cents a meal price increase,” Butler said.
Basham said it felt like a huge increase that they are expecting high schoolers to pay per meal.
“So our contract was just for years and didn’t have a price?” Director Kenda Sanders asked.
Basham said the contract was for one year and the district has the right to extend it for every year after, but Opaa! wants confirmation that the contract is going to be extended by April 1 every year.
“This is the first of four extension renewal requests,” Basham said. “It says that this would fulfill the terms of agreement dated July 1, 2019. I think we are going to have to at least investigate something (an alternative provider).”
Kinsey said their initial contract came in at a lower price and Basham said their quantity and quality of product was good.
“I just don’t want to be taken advantage of by somebody who believes we don’t have any other option,” Basham said.
Kinsey said the à la carte has also been a problem because Opaa! has pushed it on them.
“That’s costing us and we made a board decision that if the students didn’t have the money to buy the extra à la carte they wouldn’t be able to get it in the food line. But that has been happening because Opaa! is running the food line,” Kinsey said.
The board approved the contract with a 6-0-1 vote, Sanders abstained.