As you may be witnessing the Republican members of the Bristol Board of Education have been taking a beating publically for your recent vote on the contract for the Cafeteria workers. It is my understanding that the whole board voted months ago to look into the privatization of your cafeteria program, including your current Chairman.
It is also my understanding that there was information regarding this contract withheld from you prior to the vote that you received while in Executive Session. I also understand were unaware of this information prior to the vote.
I have just been informed of the details regarding the contract negotiated between the cafeteria workers union and the BOE. Under the agreement the workers have made some serious concessions, such as doubling their co-pays for cost sharing premiums that could help benefit your overall budget and reduce the annual deficit regarding food service.
The questions that need to be asked by the members of the Board of Education regarding the food service program are simple. Is it the cafeteria worker who has mismanaged this program or is it the administrators? Have you folks as Commissioners been regularly notified about the deficits or are they news flashes when issues like the contract arise?
The other questions that you seriously need to consider are: Can you win the arbitration? How much is the arbitration going to cost you? Does it outweigh the benefits of passing the union contract, and finally, are you as a Board able to privatize at the end of the day?
My humble suggestion to you as a Commissioner is to find out the answers to these questions before your next Board meeting in October. If you cannot get concrete answers before then, I would make a motion to reconsider the contract and pass it. This will afford you the opportunity to find the answers that you need and make an informed decision.
It is my opinion that this issue has arisen to this level due to a colossal lack of leadership with within the Board of Education Commissioners. You are being hung out to dry due to this vacuum in leadership, and it is my belief that you and your fellow Commissioners need to take charge of this situation and put the issue to bed.
We are all fully aware that your Chairman supported privatizing prior to his party affiliation changing and becoming my opponent. However, you should use this issue to demand future accountability by your board leadership and nothing less than full transparency regarding any issue that involves the Board for which you were duly elected to serve.
As for this issue should the cafeteria workers, food service program, and the Board of Education as a whole suffer for another year while in arbitration, due to this questionable display of leadership?
I think not, and I would hope not.
As you well know, the Mayor, City Council and Board of Finance have absolutely no jurisdiction over the Board of Education as design by state statute. This letter only serves as my suggestions to resolving the matter without incurring thousands of dollars in legal fees only to have the contract as written implemented.
Again, the solution would be find out the answers quickly, and if they are not available to you, than I would reconsider your decision and pass the contract as it stands.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
City Council – 2nd District