For Immediate Release
July 2, 2015
Contact: Dionne Johnson Calhoun
Grosso Responds to Recent Developments on DCPS Food Service Contracts
Washington, D.C.--Today, Councilmember David Grosso issued the following statement on next steps for the food service contracts with D.C. Public Schools:
"Immediately following the announcement of the $19.4 million settlement between the District and one of the food service contractors for D.C. Public Schools (DCPS), Chartwells/Thompson Hospitality, I met with DCPS officials, the Attorney General, the Inspector General, and the D.C. Auditor to better understand the circumstances that led to the settlement with Chartwells and what action has been taken since the launch of the 2012 contract to ensure that this does not happen again.
DCPS assured me that they have implemented a much more rigorous contract and additional performance monitoring systems since 2012. Most notably, the revised contract with Chartwells was awarded on a firm fixed-price basis, as opposed to the cost-reimbursement contract that resulted in large cost overruns and the recent settlement. The Inspector General and the Auditor both indicated that their work was not complete in terms of looking into the food service program, and so I thought it would be best to wait to hold an oversight hearing on this matter until the fall when the Committee and the Council would have more complete information.
In the midst of these conversations, the renewals of the DCPS food service contracts were submitted to the Council for review. In addition to providing service for school year 2015-2016, the Chartwells contract also includes DCPS' summer food service program, which last year served about 192,000 meals to youth across the city. DCPS and the Executive expressed that without the prompt approval of option year three, they would not be able to serve students meals this summer. Chancellor Henderson assured me and Chairman Mendelson that DCPS would not seek to exercise option year four on this contract and instead begin the process to rebid the contract for school year 2016-2017.
As many of you know, yesterday, four of my colleagues filed a notice of disapproval for the proposed contract between DC Public Schools and Chartwells/Thompson Hospitality to exercise option year three for the food service program for 97 schools. I did not join my colleagues in that effort because I did not want to put our school system in the position of choosing between not serving students or violating our anti-deficiency laws in order to continue the summer food service program, which is currently ongoing. However, I recognize that my colleagues still have some serious concerns and questions about the future of the DCPS food service program. As chairperson of the Committee on Education, I will continue working with my colleagues and our government partners so that we can resolve this matter as soon as possible. I am committed to holding a hearing in the fall on the food service program, and will discuss the rebidding of the contract at that time as well."