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Roanoke City Superintendent discusses outsourcing

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Who would best handle food services for Roanoke City Schools is up for discussion as school leaders consider outsourcing food services.

Roanoke City Superintendent Dr. Rita Bishop said the move could affect 59 current employees of the school system. According to Dr. Bishop, 82 food service positions are already outsourced.

Members of the Virginia Education Association have voiced concerns about the proposed plan. They said outsourcing food services could negatively impact local families. But school officials said they've seen positive results in the past. Dr. Bishop said the driving force behind the idea is to improve the quality of fruits, vegetables and services students receive.

"I believe the biggest benefit to the community would be consistency of food and improvement of food quality and working with people who are experts in the nutrition business" said Dr. Bishop. "I also think there is a possibility of some economy of scale where taxpayers could see there are savings to be had."

Dr. Bishop said, current food service employees and vendors would be protected if the school board decides to outsource. She points to bus services which where first outsourced in 2009. Administrators said, at the time, there were 213 transportation employees. Of the 213, 150 went on to work for the outsourced company, said Dr. Bishop.

School board members continue to examine factors such as food quality costs and potential impact on employees. In the end, school leaders said the hope to make an informed decision that best fits the needs of students. A decision about outsourcing food services in Roanoke City School is expected to be made in January.