MARIETTA - The Washington County Career Center board unanimously approved a one-year contract with AVI Food Systems Thursday, with an option to continue for up to four more years.
Superintendent Dennis Blatt said the number of students buying food has been decreasing under the center's self-run program and it is hoped that offering more options will reverse that trend while providing quality food to students, he said.
Treasurer Joe Crone said the program has not lost money but revenue has been on a downward trend, finishing $6,000 in the black in 2010-11 and $3,000 in the black for 2011-12.
"It was just heading in the wrong direction and we knew we needed to make a change," he said.
For 2011-12, the program took in $159,000.
Under the contract, which goes into effect July 1, AVI will receive about 10 percent of the revenue food service generates, Crone said. The career center's head cook will remain an employee of the school so she can maintain her benefits, something Crone and Blatt said was her choice and would not make a significant impact on the program's bottom line. AVI plans to hire two of its own employees to work at the center as well.
* 4 p.m. April 11, annex board room.
* The annual open house, which is also serving as a 40th reunion for the center's inaugural graduating class and all alumni, will follow from 5 to 8 p.m.
AVI will offer a main course and a la carte items each day, Blatt said. The company also provides food for the Belpre and Marietta City school districts, and secondary director Mike Elliott said career center students from those schools have had good things to say about the company to their peers.
"I think our kids are excited. I think there's some buzz going," he said.
In other business, the board approved 7-0 the career center's new safety plan.
Blatt said the previous plan was good but had been built from a template, whereas the new one was designed specifically for the center, with input from staff and community first responders.
"We wanted to make it a practical, useful document," he said. "We wanted a plan that people could understand."
Details of the plan were discussed in a closed, executive session because it involved security. It will be submitted today to the Ohio Attorney General's office.
Blatt said the plan was being updated even before the Dec. 14 incident in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 Sandy Hook Elementary students and six staff members were shot and killed.
Blatt also told board members that Washington County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Mark Warden recently made a presentation to students based on the A.L.I.C.E. (alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate) program, which encourages students and staff to take an active role in surviving an emergency like a school shooting.