Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holyoke Public School Superintendent Sergio Paez: De Guatemala A Guate-peor (From Bad To Worse) Part III

Last year my daughter hand-wrote a letter to Principal Breish expressing her complete dissatisfaction with the low quality of food she is served and requesting fresh greens with chicken or healthy protein side.

Rubric element 11-A-2 which, covers food services Erin Brunell had this to say: 

"students still don't like food."

More specifically, my child states the food has made her sick and she has had to visit the nurses office after having had some "bad lunch".  My child also consistently reports the only meal she can rely on (tossed green salad with an occassional meat product, egg or bologni in it) is typically not available by the time she makes it to the lunch counter. 

This means, my daughter has not been properly fed; none the less expected to stay awake, energetic and focused on all her subjects.  

On Dec. 22, 2014 my child came home and informed me 

"Mommy, my chicken patty had mold on it."  

Nani explained Principal Breish was on lunch duty so she and her friends flagged him down. 

Principal Breish asked Nani to pick up her tray and escorted her to the kitchen stating 

"We have another one."  

My daughter was simply given another patty from the same batch of moldy pattys.  I was horrified and felt incredibly powerless.  Our letters and pleas continue to go unheard.  

When is Paez going to demonstrate his highly compensated professional expertise in leading the district?

On Monday Dec. 15, 2014 Jobs For Justice held a press conference at Dean Technical High School.  I brought my daughter to the press conference. I spoke out against Paez' lack of responsiveness to an ongoing issue of racially-biased curriculum. Nani asked to speak about her concerns with school lunch.  

Nani Sullivan Elementary School fifth grader confesses "School lunch makes us sick."

Sourcing all our food from local farmers can be done and would provide a pyramid of benefits.  The HPS district could maximise a (farm) partnership yielding opportunities for STEM curriculum as well as an environmental justice curriculum concerning our natural resources and agricutlure.  

Implementing a farm to school food service partnership would stimulate our local economy today and prepare our children for green jobs tomorrow.    

Instead Paez chose to spend $96,000.00 of the Holyoke Public School budget to hire The Rochelle Group, a food service "consultant".  

Is Paez asleep on the wheel?    

On May 6, 2008 Jeanette Deforge reporter for the Republican exposed the district's mismanagement of the food service contract. 

Chartwells Educational Dining Services, Inc. mismanaged the program costing the district an $850,000.00 debt.  Chartwells then turned around and villainized families unable to afford the meal plans which cost less than $2.00 per meal.  

"The company this year has made a variety of changes, including monitoring ordering and cracking down on families who do not pay."

The School Committee agreed with the managers, and offered a lower-cost alternative meal if families were too far behind in their bills.  

Despite the SC's 7-0 vote in favor of researching the financial benefits of running the student breakfast and lunch programs 
through the School Department, instead of hiring a manager to oversee them...they still agreed to renew Chartwells' contract for another year.   

Additionally, the school committee agreed to use $650.00 of HPS dollars to pay off Chartwells' mismanagement.  

Given the Sc's vote and blatant doubt in chartwells' fiscal management savvy...I believe it is safe to ask:  

Who's side are HPS administrators and School Committee on?

March 24, 2009, Jeanette Deforge wrote another article published by the Republican which describes 

"[HPS]School officials have hired a consultant to advise them on how to best word a new contract bid. It will use those specifications to request bids from management companies, said Patricia A. Cavanaugh, executive director of finance and operations."

Still, the (school) committee debated if it should run the program through the city instead of hiring a firm.   

"I'm curious if we would do it better and more cheaply," said (former '09 school committee member) M. Boulais.

"The School Department could do that, but it is not recommended," said James A. Halstead, vice president of The Rochelle Group of Connecticut, hired to help write up bid specifications.

"The key is to find someone who could run it for you," he said.  

Clearly Halstead, VP of The Rochelle Group had much to gain from his "recommendation".  

Halstead went on to say "One of the problems with the [lunch] program is the way [HPS]officials handle students and their parents who owe money, Halstead said. 

Currently the schools allow students to continue to charge up to 20 meals, which cost $2 each at the high school level, without paying past debts. Most school systems allow children to charge just two or three, he said...."  

When will Superintendent Paez, his Director of Finance, Christine Regan, his Director of Dining Services, Richard Leso, his Director of State and Federal Programs Julieann Rapport and, his Executive Director of Finance & Operations Patricia A. Cavanaugh - demonstrate a sense of compassion for our children's health and well-being?  

One Superintendent and five (related) department directors should have been able to tailor the language of our food services contract bid or, better yet, figure out a way to run the food services program internally.  

The question remains: Paez gained $100,000.00 in income for SY13 - SY14.  What have the HPS families and educators gained?   

Stay tuned for part IV of HPS Superintendent Paez: De Guatemala A Guate-peor (from bad to worse)...

1 comment:

  1. I bet his kids are eating good though! Glad for you and Nani doing what you did. This is necessary work