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Roanoke Education Association opposes school board's plan to privatize food services

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ROANOKE (WSLS10) - The Roanoke Education Association has come out against Roanoke City Schools' interest in hiring Sodexo for its food services.

The district has been in talks with the company to provide food and nutritional services for students.

The R.E.A. is speaking out against the idea, saying there is no reason for the school board to fire the current food service employees, and that the public service should not be privatized.

The R.E.A. also says the move would sever ties with local vendors, and decrease the quality of nutritional services for the children.

The full release is below:

ROANOKE, 12/8/16 – The Roanoke Education Association (REA) has learned that the RCPS administration is proposing that Sodexo, a company with one of the worst records in the world regarding employees and their communities, be allowed to privatize our PUBLIC food services.

The REA's Let's Put Kids Above Profits campaign Facebook page has a variety of information about the abysmal record of Sodexo which includes allegations of low food service quality and service and a variety of negative employee relations. This includes Sodexho agreeing in 2005 to pay $80 million to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of African American employees who charged that they were routinely barred from promotions and segregated within the company. https://www.facebook.com/roanokekidsaboveprofits/

The Roanoke Education Association opposes all privatization of our public services. At an REA sponsored December 7 public meeting and in many other events and meetings with community members, it's clear that there's a growing number of voices in Roanoke and across the state opposed to the privatization of food services. There is absolutely no reason why the School Board should fire current school food service employees, sever ties with local vendors and decrease the quality of nutritional services for our children, which will only serve to make Sodexo more profits at the expense of our community. We hope the school board listens to the community and makes the correct choice to not privatize food services.

Those opposed to privatization include Ms. Carrie Stewart Nelson, a 94-year-old retired food service director for RCPS speaking out against privatization December 7, 2015 at an REA public meeting said: "I hate to see that we would even talk about this (privatization)."

The REA is an affiliate of the Virginia Education Association and the National Education Association, both of which have policies against the privatization of public services. As stated in their own resolutions: "The VEA believes that subcontracting and privatization undermine and diminish the quality of public education and should be opposed.  The Association further believes that school districts should not enter into subcontracting agreements which transfer educational employees or which abrogate previously contracted benefits, reduce compensation, deny benefits, and/or reduce or eliminate accumulating retirement experience and benefits."

The REA and community supporters will bring their concerns to the Tuesday, January 12 RCPS School Board meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Patrick Henry High School.