John Connolly was right: BPS cafeteria program a mess

The Globe reports on a report that basically paints the BPS cafeteria program as a dysfunctional, pre-computer thing that manages to run increasingly large deficits.



    Free tagging: 


    Sounds like

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    Every other MA Governmental Agency.

    Here's a link to the full

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    Here's a link to the full report, including the letter Interim Superintendent McDonough sent to all staff this morning:

    And here's what he wrote:

    To BPS staff and the community,

    Among the first steps my leadership team and I took last fall was to request a review of our Food and Nutrition Services Department by the Council of the Great City Schools. These external reviews allow us access to expert opinions and recommendations so we can develop a road map to address challenging situations. They are also useful to learn about best practices in other large districts and how they could be implemented here.

    In the case of Food and Nutrition Services, we sought guidance in part because the Department’s annual operating deficit, which had been shrinking, is widening again.

    We asked the Council’s team for assistance in these primary areas:

    To explore existing and recommend new strategies to reduce the operating deficit;
    To review and evaluate the leadership and management, organization, and operations; and
    To develop recommendations that would help the district’s food service operations achieve greater operational efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability.
    The team from the Council of the Great City Schools visited us in November and met with my leadership team, the leadership of Food and Nutrition Services, as well as FNS staff at all levels and several principals. They analyzed financial statements, reviewed strategic plans as well as dozens of other documents, observed kitchen staff prepare meals, and sat with students in the cafeteria at lunchtime.

    What they found was, in their words, “troubling.” I agree.

    We have posted the full report to our website so you can read it for yourself. I welcome the findings and recommendations contained in the report even though they are both hard-hitting and disturbing. We take them seriously and have already begun to address some of the major findings.

    Just to be clear, I want to ensure that there is no lack of clarity regarding the following:

    Under no circumstances will BPS ever tolerate a hostile work environment.
    Systems and structures for internal control of both cost and quality that are lacking will be remedied. There is no place in our school district that can allow for practices that result in service that is contrary to what we know is in the best interest of students and their readiness to learn.
    In examining the role of district support for schools during the FY15 budget cycle, we have already moved the Food & Nutrition Services Department to report directly to the Chief Financial Officer. We will be working with all interested parties to develop and implement a specific plan of action.
    While this report makes it clear that there is plenty to be done, let us not forget what we have accomplished. This school year BPS became one of the first large districts in the nation to offer universal free meals to every child regardless of income status. This spring, we are in the midst a competitive selection process to choose our next food service provider so we can continue to improve the quality of meals we serve our students. I believe we have made significant progress in many areas – and this is the result of hard, continuous and often thankless work by a dedicated team of staff in the Food and Nutrition Services department. The report, rightly, commends this group of men and women for doing excellent work on behalf of our schools and our students despite a challenging environment.

    As you read the attached report, you will see examples of staff members who were afraid to speak to the CGCS team or who became emotional during their interviews. I know it wasn’t easy to do, but hearing your perspective will help us make things better. I would like to thank you for coming forward. The CGCS team went out of their way to express how impressed they were with the level of professionalism, dedication and care that they saw when speaking with the men and women who prepare and serve meals for our students. What you do is important, and you deserve to work in an environment that is rewarding, not uncomfortable.

    We will make it right, and with this report, we can do it together.


    John McDonough

    Interim Superintendent

    hostile for whom?

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    Our experience in BPS schools was that the lunch program was often "hostile" to students because the people "running" the cafeteria we not able to manage discipline without resorting to punishments like making all kids put their heads down on the desks and/or revoking recess "privileges" for all students. Throughout the school system there is a great need for many of the support roles to have some basic training in how to work with kids. Many teachers have these skills, but for the lunch room and afterschool programs, it really depends on the individual person's patience and empathy and the leadership of the managers. These people are hired at 1/2 to 1/3 the pay of teachers and expected to deal with the same challenging population. Working a school lunch room is a job that requires significantly more skill and experience than standing behind the counter at the Burger King.


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    I wonder if Menino will reflexively issue a statement that he's outraged by this lack of leadership at the BPS and that he's going to get to the bottom of it.

    The BPS is such a crap organization. District wide school funding is threatened but the Haley still gets $1.8m to expand to a k-8, in spite of there being empty seats at the Irving. Etc...

    Probably not,

    I wonder if Menino will reflexively issue a statement that he's outraged by this lack of leadership at the BPS and that he's going to get to the bottom of it.

    Probably not, given that he's not mayor any more.

    I know...

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    It was a joke making fun of Menino's constant outrage at his own administration's failures.

    Brought to you by the same

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    Brought to you by the same people who want to run your health care system.


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    You haven't been in MA for very long, have ya?

    Mitts implementation

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    Was flawless compared to Devals, im pretty sure the other anon was referring to the later of the two.

    Not really as flawless as you think

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    Under Mitt's implementation, people applying for any sort of subsidized care had to fill out an extensive application on paper and supply all relevant financial documents on paper, all of which was then sorted out and reviewed by hand in some state office in Charlestown.

    One of the problems with Obamacare here is the state seriously underestimated the difficulties of transitioning from a system that was basically still run by hand to one that was entirely online (for example, rather than you having to gather up tax records and photocopy them and mail them somewhere or bring them somewhere, just supply your SS number and the system would check the IRS database).

    Worthy of criticism, yes, but it's not that there's something inherently superior to Romney's overall vision of universal health care (and let's not forget, Romneycare didn't include more than rudimentary dental coverage).

    Sort of...

    Brought to you by the same people who want to run your health care system.

    Also the same people who created this here Internet thing you're using at the moment. You know, those bumbling fools who simultaneously defeated Hitler and Tojo. Yeah... them... the incompetents who got rid of smallpox and polio.

    Oh, yeah, and, by the way, if you ask seniors, they seem to be pretty damn happy with the way those doofuses are running Medicare, too.

    there are more problems at the admin level

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    I'm hoping as the ridiculous "get rid of bad teachers" thing starts to die down, that some serious attention can be given to the absurd level of dysfunction and inaction within the BPS administration. The way they treat people is abysmal - the fact that you need to go through several layers of bureaucracy in order to get an answer to a simple question is ridiculous (or even just finding someone remotely helpful) - the district should be working to ATTRACT parents (geesh - just look at the difference between BPS and websites of "desirable" school districts!) - not treat us like we are 3rd class citizens and we should be thankful that they're even giving us information (or - "your kid is in a 'good' school. Why are you complaining?").

    That new BPS HQ just makes me think there's some corruption going on - they get a fancy new building while there are schools without safe drinking water or working heating systems.


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    Is in the business of employing union members, not educating your kids. Until children are put first, BPS will be business as usual.