One year ago, News 13 was the first to tell you that Bay District School officials were tossing around the idea of privatizing school services. And Tuesday afternoon, the board gave the green light to contract out food services, approving a contract with Chartwells School Dining.
The tension inside the board room Tuesday afternoon could be cut with a knife when time came to take a vote on contracting out school services. And when School Board Chairman Ryan Neves gave the third "yes", employees felt that same knife just stabbed them in the back.
"I think they hurt a lot of good people in our district," said food service employee, Mac Chapman.
"There are a lot of people losing their jobs .This company is for them, they are not for us," added employee Barbara Hill.
"I thought if there is a way to privatize and it would be a win-win deal for both the employees and the district, I thought this was the one," Neves said, backing his vote.
"I think it's a sad day for Bay County and our school system. It is the first time that any service in our county had been privatized and I feel sad about that. I wish I could have convinced the other board members to not do that," said disappointed School Board Member, Joe Wayne Walker. He voted down the contract along with School Board Member, Jerry Register.
In order to cut down its $10 million dollar deficit, the district looked to Chartwells School Dining, which guaranteed to bring back a $750,000 dollar profit. Officials say right now, district food services are operating in the black, averaging about $200,000 in profit each year. Employees don't understand why the district would part ways with a department that's making money and they feel like now; they will lose everything they've worked for.
"We've made money why change it? Because they are going to lose, they are going to lose," Hill said.
Chartwells has promised employees the same job at the same or higher pay and benefits will be similar, but Chairman Ryan Neves says the details of everything will come out when negotiations with the company begins.
"You can't always answer every question without certain negotiations going on, certain talks going on," Neves added.
The company will immediately begin contacting employees and within the next few weeks they will hold an informational meeting answering any questions.
Also discussed at the school board meeting Tuesday were proposed changes to charter school policy, but the charter schools felt they were not involved in the discussion beforehand, the item was tabled until the July 24th meeting.