BSISD food service employees voice concerns

HERALD photo/Lyndel Moody
Staff Writer

It was standing room only at the Big Spring ISD board of trustees meeting Thursday night as a crowd showed up to voice their concerns on the possibility the district could outsource its food service program to a private contractor.
“Six years ago when I went to work for the food service, we had a staff of 70. In order to save money, the decision was made not to fill the vacancies that occurred. Now we have a staff of 49,” said Anna, a food service employee who addressed the board. “After learning of this cutback, we didn’t riot, strike, or threaten. We just took a deep breath, tightened our belt, and went back to work to produce a quality product in a safe, clean, sanitary, welcoming, friendly atmosphere because we love our jobs, need our paychecks, care about the kids, and care about the district.
“Our hours were cut to 5 ¼ less than a year later,” Anna continued. “Again we didn’t strike or threaten, we just tightened our belts another notch and went back to work to continue to produce a quality product...because we still love our jobs, still need our smaller paycheck than ever, and we still care about the children and the district.”
Anna said the food service department seems to bear the largest burden when it comes to cuts in the budget. Workers are worried about cuts in wages, loss of sick time, built up retirement funds, and hours.
“If you vote to bring in one of these companies to operate our food service, it will be at the food service workers’ expense. It’s wrong,” she said. “This company will not care about us the workers, the students, the district, or the city of Big Spring. They have nothing invested. The only thing that will concern them is the bottom line. They want it to be as profitable as they can make it without a care about the ones that are financially crippled to achieve it. There are so many ways to balance a budget with out one department carrying the largest budget.”
Following the public address by food service workers at the meeting, Superintendent Chris Wigington addressed the crowd.
“We are in the initial stage of looking at this. The questions that you are asking are questions that we have as well,” he said. “We do not by any means want you to lose hours. We don’t want you to lose pay. We don’t want you to lose your job. Those questions that you asked us tonight are questions that we are going to get answers to.”