There has been much talk in recent years, especially with respect to municipal services like fire departments and emergency dispatch centers, of the concept of “shared services.” When it comes to schools, the watchword is more often “consolidation” in order to cut down on administrative costs, etc.

While it’s not exactly consolidation, two local school districts have decided on a shared services agreement when it comes to providing hot lunches to students. And while it may not exactly save money, the food being provided to elementary school students in Brookfield and LaGrange Park will certainly be superior to what they’ve been getting for many years.

Beginning this fall, Riverside-Brookfield High School will provide hot lunches to students in Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 through RBHS’ foodservice provider, Quest.

In the past, District 95’s food service provider would truck in reheated frozen meals that had to be ordered a month in advance. Sure, the meals met state requirements, but they weren’t fresh and there wasn’t a whole lot of variety on a day-to-day basis.

Under the new deal approved by the District 95 and District 208 school boards this summer, Quest employees will prepare lunches daily and transport them to Brook Park and S.E. Gross schools. In addition to several entrée choices each day, students will be able to avail themselves of fresh deli and salad bars.

The food is made fresh every day and students can choose, daily, whether they would like to purchase a lunch. It’s easier and more convenient for students and parents, and students can get freshly prepared meals every day.

The cost on annual basis is about a wash, and District 95 did have to shell out about $30,000 for equipment to make this new system a reality for its students. But this is a real improvement for District 95 students, and the cooperation shown between the two school districts is encouraging.

We have no illusions about this cracking open the door to consolidation or the creation of a unit district, nor do we believe this sets an example for other governmental bodies to aspire to the shared-services model. Old habits — especially when it comes to dividing up tax revenue — die hard.

But a spirit of cooperation between taxing districts is a positive sign. Getting in the habit can effect change in other ways, such as joining forces to lobby for a walking/bike path along First Avenue.

Who knows what’s possible once taxing bodies get into the habit of cooperating and partnering with one another?