Action tabled on future of NCCS store
CHAMPLAIN - The student-run store at Northeastern Clinton Central High School will continue selling snacks and other disputed items - for now.
A Jan. 13 meeting of the NCCS board of education was expected to further discuss the matter, but resulted in no action, said district superintendent Peter J. Turner.
"Nothing's changed at this point," said Turner. "No further decision was made."
The issue of students selling items such as specialty drinks, chips, pretzels and Slim Jims came into discussion at the board of education's Jan. 6 meeting. There, the board expressed the concerns of Chartwells, the district's Charlotte, N.C.-based food service provider, with a loss in revenue following the opening of the school store in September.
At the Jan. 6 meeting, two students spoke in favor of allowing the store to continue selling items considered in competition with those offered by Chartwells. After hearing concerns, the board decided to table discussion for the Jan. 13 meeting.
With no official decision made on the matter, Turner said the board of education's next opportunity to discuss limiting the store's sales would be at its next regularly scheduled meeting, Tuesday, Feb. 3.
The meeting, which will begin at 6:30 p.m., will be held in the middle school-high school library.
Action tabled on future of NCCS store
CHAMPLAIN - Northeastern Clinton Central School students have banded together in support of keeping their high school store as is.
Students voiced their concerns at a meeting of the NCCS board of education meeting Jan. 6, pleading with the board not to restrict what items the school store can sell. The store, which began operation in September, currently sells items including snack items, hot chocolate, coffee, school supplies and NCCS merchandise.
According to Superintendent Peter J. Turner, representatives from Chartwells - the Charlotte, N.C.-based food service provider contracted by the district for school breakfasts and lunches - expressed concern over the drop in projected profits seen at the high school from September to December. The actual revenue collected, which included vending machine sales, totaled $12,508.80 during the three-month period - a sharp contrast from the $21,968.45 seen last year by Advanced Meals, the Syracuse-based company which held the contract for food service with NCCS until the end of the 2007-08 school year.
The dates correlate with the opening of the high school store, said Turner, which has seen approximately $6,755.35 in gross sales. That amount in sales in comparison to the amount being lost by Chartwells led to the five-year contract between the food service company and the school district being reexamined by Chartwells, Turner added.
"That amount might seem a lot at first, however, this is merely gross sales and out of that $6,755.35, only $695 of that was actually from food sales," said high school senior Gerald Marks, who spoke during the meeting's public forum. "A majority of the sales - nearly 70 percent - came from drinks including coffees, hot chocolates or specialty drinks. None of those items are sold by Chartwells."
While Marks stated he did not have an affiliation with the school's marketing club, he said he began researching the issue after listening to several complaints from other students regarding potential restrictions being placed on the school store. Marks said he does understand the concern Chartwells has with losing such a substantial amount of money over such a short period of time. However, he believes there are other reasons why the food service provider is seeing such a loss this school year.
"Two years ago, our enrollment was 605 students. Last year, it was 581 students. This year, it's only 530 students," said Marks. "This decline in enrollment can cause a sure drop in [Chartwells'] profits."
When multiplied by 51 students, the cost of a student lunch at the high school - which is $2 - for a period of 100 days equals more than $10,000, said Marks.
"That's not even taking into account students such as myself who are no longer buying a lunch simply because of the economy," said Marks. "Many students would rather bring their own lunch."
"The money the school store has made cannot be viewed as directly proportional to the money lost by [Chartwells]," he added.
Senior Jacob Gillette, who serves as president of the marketing club, said managing the store has been a real learning experience for him and his fellow students.
"In calculus we get math problems, in English we get essays, and in physics, we get labs. But, with the store, we get first-hand experience of the techniques we discuss in class," said Gillette. "If we are forced to stop selling coffee and hot chocolate, other drinks and food, the number of our consumers will drastically decrease, reducing our experience of running a store."
"Watching an empty store for an entire class period contributes nothing to experience," Gillette added.
In addition, the revenue currently being generated at the school store is being used to offset operating and startup costs, said Gillette. The remaining money is used to support school activities and to give back to the community.
The board assured students they did not want to limit their learning experience but stated they must stay within the legal limits of their contract with Chartwells. Though a clause in the contract states "the school reserves the right at its sole discretion, to sell or dispense any food or beverage before or after the [school's] regularly scheduled lunch or breakfast periods," it states such use will not "interfere with the operation of the school lunch and/or breakfast and/or special milk programs." As food and drinks are available from Chartwells vending machines through the school day, there is potential room for competition from the school store during all school hours, said Turner.
In conversations with Chartwells representatives, Turner said it was communicated that the sale of hot chocolate and coffee was not considered to be competitive, but that other food and drink items offered by the school store were.
"We're trying to come to a compromise," said Turner. "We still want to give [the students] an opportunity to make money in other ways."
The board decided to further discuss the matter at its Jan. 13 budget committee meeting before making a final decision.
A call to Chartwells corporate office seeking comment was not immediately returned.