Rebecca Witham serves kindergartners at Soda Creek Elementary School during lunch Monday. The Steamboat Springs School Board will take two more weeks to mull the district’s bid to become Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus’ food service provider after board members couldn’t reach a consensus on the proposal Monday night.

Photo by John F. Russell

Rebecca Witham serves kindergartners at Soda Creek Elementary School during lunch Monday. The Steamboat Springs School Board will take two more weeks to mull the district’s bid to become Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus’ food service provider after board members couldn’t reach a consensus on the proposal Monday night.

Steamboat School Board unable to reach consensus on food service to CMC

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— The Steamboat Springs School Board will take two more weeks to mull the district’s bid to become Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus’ food service provider after board members couldn’t reach a consensus on the proposal Monday night.

School Board President Brian Kelly said Sunday that the board would vote whether to endorse the bid Monday night, but the vote was postponed to Jan. 23 because it was not included as an action item on the board’s agenda.

The school district last week submitted a proposal to the Alpine Campus to offer food service at the college for the next five years. The proposal indicates the service could provide additional revenues for the school district. Steamboat’s Nutritional Services Department, led by Max Huppert, serves 800 to 1,000 meals each school day to Steamboat’s K-12 students and sustains itself financially with the exception of $15,000 the district supplies to the program annually from its capital reserve fund.

At the meeting Monday night, Kelly and board member Robin Crossan praised the proposal as a potential win-win for the school district, while members Denise Connelly, Wayne Lemley and Rebecca Williams questioned whether it was a sustainable plan and if it was in the district’s best interest to expand food service to the college.

“My concern is our mission is to really do the best we can for our 2,300 kids, and we know we have 800 to 1,000 meals to serve a day in our schools,” Connelly said. “I just have concerns that this is the best move for our school district.”

If approved, the bid to CMC would increase Huppert’s food service staff from 10 employees to 25 employees. CMC’s Alpine Campus houses as many as 226 students per semester. Most of the district’s cooking operations would move into the Alpine Campus’ new 60,000-square-foot academic facility scheduled to be completed in July.

Huppert said lunch prices in Steamboat schools would remain the same under the proposal, while prices at the college would decrease to $18 a day for a student meal plan.

“I have shown I’m able to make the money needed to provide good service and good food, and this (proposal) is going to expand on that,” Huppert told the School Board on Monday.

The district estimates the proposal in its first year could net $140,000 in revenue that would be distributed equally between the college and the school district.

“I think this proposal provides several things for us,” Superintendent Brad Meeks said. “Based on the numbers we’re proposing, it provides us with financial benefits and it provides some of our students an opportunity to access a culinary arts program. Assuming this goes well, I think this partnership (with the college) could also lead to other opportunities.”

The Alpine Campus has contracted its food services to Sodexo for the last decade. Sodexo is bidding to continue providing food service, according to CMC officials.

CMC Alpine Campus Chief Executive Officer Peter Perhac and Dean of Student Affairs Brian Hoza were present at Monday’s School Board meeting.

Perhac said the college would select a vendor that will support his campus’ forthcoming culinary arts program while also managing a restaurant/cafe inside the new academic facility.

The college is expected to narrow its list of food service bidders this week.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the School Board discussed two potential calendars for the 2012-13 school year. Meeks said the only difference between the two is the scheduling of parent-teacher conference days in the month of November. He said parents and teachers are encouraged to view the calendars at http://sssd.k12.co.us/ and send comments to bmeeks@steamboatschools.net before Jan. 19. The School Board will adopt one of the calendars at a meeting in February.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

John St Pierre 2 years, 6 months ago

with all respect... when did become Ok for government to compete with private enterprise????? Whats to happen to the people already employed at CMC>>>> and while the projections are all rosey..who would cover any $ shortfalls if it does break even.

If CMCis building this "commercial kitchen" and have a culinary program... why is it not doing what other cullinary programs do thru out the country.... the students in the program work and service the food service requirements of the institution>>?? Or even better CMC doing this in reverse with the School district.....

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Kristopher Hammond 2 years, 6 months ago

...what private enterprise? Isn't this a bizarre case of the government (SSSD) competing with the government (CMC)?

It looks like Huppert, a government employee, is running a tight ship that provides an excellent product at a reasonable cost. This socialism has gotta be stopped.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 6 months ago

Sure, he might be doing a fine job, but this would be expanding from 10 to 25 employees that now serves dinner and operates 7 days a week.

And then who is responsible for dealing with issues at CMC? If CMC has issues then they appeal to the school board?

This should be structured as food service contract for CMC and a food service contract for the school district. And so Max Huppert should be forming his own private business for both bids.

Government can so easily fall in love with their ability to compete with the private sector and just like a company, it can do well if it has the right people. But the great difference is that government does not have the profit motive to constantly improve operations and government can always dip into taxpayer funds if things go wrong. And private sector finds it much easier to fire people if that is what they think is needed to fix things.

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Kristopher Hammond 2 years, 6 months ago

...And Huppert has had that ability for years but somehow succeeded without falling to the temptations you cite. Could it be that his motivation was not a personal profit motive but merely the desire to do a good job? Why should he take your advice and "form his own private business"? Seems like he is doing fine right where he is with none of the hassles of being a business owner. We are lucky to have him. Maybe Rex will hire him away.

CMC is free to outsource food service to a private company, but apparently is choosing its best option.

Huppert is already doing 800-1,000 meals a day for a student body of >2,300, and doing it very well. Only Ski Corp. slings more hash than that. Think they could compete?

I don't think adding another 226 students (10%) is going to drastically change anything.

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cheesehead 2 years, 6 months ago

226 students @ three meals a day seven days a week = 4,746 meals a week. 800-1,000 meals a day five days a week =4,000 to 5,000 meals a week.

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cheesehead 2 years, 6 months ago

oh, and a 150% staff increase. Doubling meals/week and a 2.5 increase in staff could be seen as drastic by some.

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bandmama 2 years, 6 months ago

And ahhh Max...remember the CHICKEN PATTY nights??? Cheaper almost than hot dogs huh?

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Sailors6 2 years, 6 months ago

Why is a change needed I hear Sodexo does a good job.

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spidermite 2 years, 6 months ago

Sailors6, Why settle for a good job when you can have a great job?l

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James Earley, MCSE 2 years, 6 months ago

As traditional public school funding sources dribble away I look for districts to leverage existing assets to provide their own sources of revenue. As local businesses realize they are in competition for customers with a tax free entity, legislators will be forced to revoke tax exempt status on the portion of revenue that is self-generated. So what’s wrong with that? People don’t want to fully fund school districts needs via tax dollars, and complain at the same time public school does an inadequate job of educating their children. It’s time to change the business model of public education, and leverage assets to generate new profit centers.

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Sailors6 2 years, 6 months ago

spidermite, What can the school district do differently than what Sodexo can do? What does the school district do great. I guess I need to be better informed. Because my students attending the High School, Middle School and Elementary tell me a different story.

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bandmama 2 years, 6 months ago

Sodexho did provide great service the first 8-9 years. Dont know exactly why but new faces and new upper management. Then it sort of went downhill. Used to be the BEST all you can eat lunch deal in town for under 6 bucks. Last time I ate there the chicken was raw near the bone and the place wasn't all that clean.Heard rumours also that they failed inspections for the first time within the last year. Easy to check with the health dept I guess. One piece of raw chicken was enough for me. Not going back.

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spidermite 2 years, 6 months ago

Bandmama, I have to agree with you on this one. I told my friends ( all three of them) what a great deal it was and how good the food was. Then there was a change in personel and management. It's never been the same. I don't get asked for dinning advice anymore. Sailors6, You should do your own evaluation. You could have lunch at both places. Let us know what you think.

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greenwash 2 years, 6 months ago

Hopefully Max gets the gig.....Topless thursdays ?

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bandmama 2 years, 6 months ago

Well, that would depend. Does Max's wife still work at CMC/Sodexho on Thusday nites? Since HE left the company recently, not sure of the schedule..... Max,you old dog you!!! All I know is that I really miss the all you can eat for $5-ish bucks that was prepared so well, I USED to enjoy the welcome at lunch time. I would think that CMC would welcome local bucks and customers(local support) at the lunch hour instead of discouraging them. Oh well..Freshies??? While ya cost more? Local clubs JUST might be crossing your doorstep now.

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