The food won’t be changing at Riverside-Brookfield High School but the architect may be. That’s the end result of two votes taken Nov. 13 at the meeting of the District 208 Board of Education.
The school board voted unanimously renew the contract of the school’s food service provider, Quest, for three more years, but voted to not award a contract for a life-safety architectural survey at the school to Wight & Company, the firm that handled the recent renovation and expansion of the school.
The board approved a new three-year contract with Quest after the company agreed to rebate another 1 percent of sales back to the school in the second year of the contract. In the new contract which will commence on July 1, 2013, RBHS will receive 7 percent of sales in the 2013-14 school year and 8 percent of sales in the final two years of the contract.
“I would just like to thank Kevin for stepping up and getting us a better deal,” said District 208 school board member Tim Walsh.
Quest has been feeding students and staff at the high school since the 2009-10 school year, and most seem to think the food is better and the operation smoother than under the previous food service provider.
“These guys seem to be doing pretty well,” said board member Dan Moon.
John Keen and Laura Hruska expressed interest in taking bids from other food service providers, but ultimately went along with their colleagues in voting to approve the new contract with Quest.
But there was less unity on the vote to put the life-safety architectural survey out to bid. The board voted 5 to 2 to reject Skinkis’ recommendation that the district hire Wight to do the survey at a cost of $35,000, a 10-percent discount from Wight’s typical fee.
Only Hruska and Walsh voted to accept Skinkis’ recommendation to hire Wight. Keen, Moon, Mike Welch, Garry Gryczan and school board President Matt Sinde voted against awarding the contract Wight, preferring to give other companies an opportunity to submit bids for the work.
“I was very disappointed in their bid, and when we asked them to lower their price a little they didn’t,” said Sinde. “The majority of the board felt that given all the files they have they should have been able to give it for a lesser price.”
Before the vote Skinkis acknowledged that some board members have issues with Wight about their previous work, but said that hiring Wight to do the state-mandated survey would save time. He also noted that Wight was familiar with the school, because it had designed the renovation and expansion.
“Using Wight as the architect [for the survey] in no way requires us to use them for any projects going forward,” Skinkis said.
Hruska said that board members were acting inconsistently approving a new contract with Quest without soliciting competitive bids and then demanding bids for the architectural survey.
“I think we have a double standard here,” Hruska said. “I feel that there’s personal agendas. Wight & Co. is a leading company, recognized number one in the state of Illinois for educational architectural work. They did wonderful work for this school, schools all around. We’re not asking them to do the work. We’re getting a significant savings to put us in a position to make a decision or not make a decision to help us as we move forward.”
Keen however challenged Hruska’s claim that hiring Wight would save money.
“We don’t know if we’re saving money on this,” Keen said. “That’s the problem.”
The school board is considering doing life-safety work in the near future a couple of years before being required to do so by state law, which requires such work to be done every 10 years.
The board is considering work on the football stadium which is suffering from cracks in the concrete, especially above the stadium locker room, the outdoor track, the tennis courts and the bleachers in both the football stadium and the main gym, which do not meet current standards because they lack hand rails.
The district would likely issue bonds, perhaps as much as $5 million, to finance the life-safety work.