COAL TOWNSHIP - A 5-4 vote of the Shamokin Area School Board Tuesday renewed for next school year a contract with The Nutrition Group to manage district cafeterias.

Voting in favor were directors Robert Getchey, Edward Griffiths, board Vice President Jeffrey Kashner, Matthew Losiewicz and board President Ron McElwee. Opposed were Directors Richard Kashnoski, Charles Shuey, Rosalie Smoogen and Bernard M. Sosnoskie.

Kashner made the deciding vote. He said after the meeting that he believes with the next school year nearly two months away, it is too late to potentially change how food service is managed for 2014-15. However, he said the matter should be explored in September ahead of the 2015-16 school year.

The company will be paid approximately $57,000, and guarantees a return of more than $87,000 to the district. Those figures didn't compute for Shuey and Kashnoski as both were critical of The Nutrition Group's budget.

"The numbers presented by Nutrition Inc. from a common sense standpoint don't add up," Shuey said of the differential between the management fee and guaranteed return.

He said he believed the district could operate the cafeterias on its own at a lesser cost.

Kashnoski agreed with Shuey's statement on the budget figures, saying it failed to include expenses the district incurs such as electricity for refrigeration. They affect the bottom line, he said.

"When you leave those items out, that makes me think, 'What else is being left out?'" he said.

Nancy Kohl, regional vice president for The Nutrition Group, said Kashnoski makes a good point. If a more detailed budget is preferred, though, it's up to the district to request it when the request for proposals is completed, she said.

A similar 5-4 split vote privatized the district's food service beginning in 2012-13. Griffiths said when Shamokin Area operated it on its own, it consistently ran a deficit.

"We were taking out a lot more than we were putting into the cafeteria," Griffiths said. "To me, this is the way to go because we haven't taken any money from the general fund to support the cafeteria in the two years (The Nutrition Group) has been here."

Losiewicz sided with Griffiths, saying he was elected to work to restore funding to arts and music programs that were cut. Should the district resume directing food service on its own and end up in another deficit, it would be of no help to the aforementioned programs.

In expressing his support for The Nutrition Group, Getchey noted that related labor costs were eliminated when the school district contracted with the management company.

Other business

The school board also voted to:

- Reschedule next month's meeting from June 17 to June 19.

- Approve the monthly lease agreement with Northwestern Academy for May at a cost of $109,202.91. The two parties continue on a month-to-month basis.

- Renew employee dental insurance with Delta Dental through June 30, 2016.

- Acknowledge receipt of the district's audit for 2012-13.

- Accept the retirement of Judy Marose, middle/high school secretary, and the resignations of Danielle Minnig, Amanda Dreher and Kayla Jilinski.

- Appoint Amanda Houck and Jenessa Zack as elementary tutors for one hour each week per grade level at an $18.50 hourly rate.

- Appoint Diana Cheunes, Patrick McDevitt, Darren Dusick, Sandra Rossnock, Robert Hartman, Michael Keefer, Shawn Zalinski and Robert Eby II (a substitute) as instructors for summer school at a $18.50 hourly rate.

- Advertise for a clerk/secretary for the middle/high school office and a personal care assistant.

Getchey added during the public comment period that he did not leave a policy committee meeting on April 4 because he was upset with the discussion; rather, he had to attend a basketball practice for the Shamokin Youth Girls Basketball League which he manages.

As previously reported, he had become upset and shouted at other directors that he would not be part of a "hanging party" of the Bucket Club led by former school board director Brian Persing, which he said was unfairly targeted by proposed policy revisions. He left the meeting early despite the pleas of several directors to sit and discuss the issue, and made no mention of having another obligation to attend.