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Friday, October 31, 2014
Amsterdam, NY ,
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St. Mary's Institute seeks GASD's assistance in school lunch crunch

Thursday, August 21, 2014 - Updated: 10:17 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

Recorder News Staff

During a Greater Amsterdam School District Board of Education meeting Wednesday, board members discussed whether it would be feasible to include the Saint Mary's Institute into the district's meal plan.

"[The Saint Mary's Institute] wants us to take them under our wing for breakfast and lunch," GASD Business Manager Kim Brumley said.

Brumley said SMI principal Giovanni Virgiglio Jr. contacted her a few weeks ago requesting his school be included in the delivery and disbursement of food.

According to Brumley, the former SMI food service manager quit and SMI is stuck in a bad situation.

"Virgiglio is pretty much between a rock and a hard place," she said. "He needs to serve and he has nothing."

Brumley said Virgiglio told her he'd agree to any sort of negotiation, but she told him originally that she'd need him to agree in writing and she'd need the consent of the board before any decisions were made.

Upon hearing the news Wednesday night, it prompted an array of questions from board members.

"Well, how would they do that?" board member Nellie Bush said. "Who's going to cook the food and bring it over to the school?"

Brumley told Bush SMI has a kitchen with a freezer, and enough room to house food and cooking items.

"As far as deliveries of stock and the food go, [Marie Curie Institute of Engineering and Communications] is not that far away, so it probably wouldn't cost us any more to have it delivered there," she said.

However, she said there would be a "struggle in labor" in SMI's kitchen, and a manager and food service person would be necessary.

"I guess I'm here telling you if we do anything the board will have all the information if a decision is made to go ahead with this," Brumley said. "I'm just concerned with losing money, and I don't know if we can get this done in only a couple of weeks."

Board president the Rev. Kent McHeard, however, was concerned with the outcome if the district doesn't respond to SMI's request.

"If we do, I don't want to say nothing, but if we do not respond by the beginning of their school year, what would that do to children being fed there?" he asked Brumley.

"I don't know if [Virgiglio] has an alternative," she said. "I know he's reached out to other food service managers, but no one is willing to take SMI on because of their size."

Superintendent Thomas Perillo said he wants to look at the effect taking on SMI could potentially have on the school district, because he doesn't want GASD to lose any money.

Brumley said GASD would get all of the revenue and SMI wouldn't get anything if a deal was made.

She also said reduced or free meals for lower income students would not be offered to the SMI students because it would interfere with GASD's demographics and skew the numbers for state funding.

"I have to say I appreciate the district wanting to be careful legally, but I think we also have a moral issue as well with these children," McHeard said. "If there's something we can do on a temporary basis without being bound in a contract to assure that children will be fed, fully realizing that not every child that attends Saint Mary's eats from the cafeteria, some of them bring food from home, but many of them cannot and do not."

Brumley said Virgiglio wants to start the deal as soon as school starts, but she doesn't know if that would even be possible because the state's Education Department would have to approve the switch before it happened, and she doesn't know if the switch would be approved in time.

Brumley said she would look more into the details on the situation and report back to the board as soon as possible.

"The reason we're even contemplating this negotiation is because of the students," she said.

Contact Casey Croucher at

casey.croucher@recordernews.com.

     

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