Holden responds to board criticism
I can't speak about the deep roots Gloria Timko has in Shelton. I only know her as the Chief Steward for the Unite Here union, which is the bargaining unit for the cafeteria workers. As such she represents the cafeteria workers.
Calling Whitsons an "unknown company" is inaccurate. They have several contracts for school lunch programs in area towns.
Near as I can tell, the problem is medical insurance costs in Connecticut have gone up tremendously since the last time the Union negotiated a contract.
The Board encouraged Whitsons to hire the existing Sodexo cafeteria workers because we felt they were good people who do a good job. We also encouraged Whitsons to make sure a medical insurance program was available to them. They did as we asked.
To make any changes to the existing contract between Whitsons and the Board would require the State to agree to the change since the contract concerns the Federal school lunch program. Even if we could get such a change to be made, it would greatly increase the costs of the contract.
Medical insurance costs have been going up for our own employees too.
Our primary reason for changing our School Lunch provider was to reduce our costs. Our former provider was running a deficit every year and continuing with them would have required us to make additional reductions to classroom staff.
Shelton's cost per student is lower than 98% of the districts in Connecticut. We have to be very careful to make sure every dollar we spend gets the best outcome for our students. We must live within the allocation provided by the city.