David Westberg of Local 609 wrote this to Harium on this subject:
In an earlier time of accountability and eyes on the bottom line, the Chief Finance Officer wrote the following to the Senior Leadership Team on March 9, 2004;
“As we continue to look for ways to save on costs, expenses on food, muffins, coffee, lunches, and snacks should be curtailed. In tight budget times, we need to save our limited resources to protect services to students, not expend them on meals and food for staff. Therefore, buying food for staff with district funds (grant or non-grant) should be stopped”
This was sent out to augment the “Guidelines for Catering Services” which had been negotiated with District Food Services (Catering Department) employees giving “Nutrition Services priority for providing all catering services both in the JSCEE building and in school sites for non-district and District sponsored business activities, during all operation hours including weekends…………..Catering requests for all District sponsored business activities must have the approval from the accounting manager to use grant or district funds, including self help funds before Nutrition Service will accept orders.”
The policy goes on to say;
“All bills received from outside food vendors will be double checked for proof of approval from Nutrition Services. If bills cannot be reconciled to pre-approved documentation, the bills will not be paid. Un-approved food orders will become the responsibility of the individual ordering the food.”
KING 5 is correct that these functions are held yearly but are normally paid for by the Seattle Schools Veterans Association. Last years was held at the Lake City Elks and was paid for by the Association.
According to KING-5, the party hosted 70 people. So doing the math, $3800 divided by 70 people and that's $54 a person. Most catering, unless it is for a very fancy wedding or event, does not cost $54 a person. It's certainly would not seem the norm for a school district retirement party. And, we have a policy in place about using outside vendors which does not seem to have been followed.
In the overall scheme of things is the $3800 a big deal? No. But what is a big deal is that there are people in our district who tell us all schools must tighten their belts and we seem to have money for whatever they deem important. As Meg Diaz' points out, there are many schools for whom $3800 would be a lot of money to put towards a good use.
There are people in this district who are not following policies and regulations almost to the point of disregard. If we cannot trust that the management and oversight are happening in this district, then I am prepared to say that this is likely the tip of an iceberg.
Thank you to Dave and Meg for their work on this story and the alert from Parent of Three.
Oh and this was the last line of the KING-5 TV story: The district declined comment today.