In the name of fiscal responsibility, the District 181 Board of Education last week discussed guidelines for food purchases by district employees who are attending special district meetings or traveling on district business.
According to a proposed district policy, which was presented last week at a business meeting at by assistant superintendent for business Gary Frisch, only coffee and water can be provided for most district breakfast meetings, and for midday meetings that require staff to work through lunch, purchased items cannot exceed $10 per person. Bulk snacks can be purchased for before- and after-school meetings.
Staff members who are making overnight trips on district business are now being asked to limit daily food expenditures to $45 per person, and $20 per meal including a 20 percent tip.
Staff must complete reporting forms for all food purchased through the district.
Frisch said that the food-purchase policy reflected the administration’s research of similar policies of other districts, but would be the first of its kind for District 181. He said it is a response to a request from the board and an effort to tighten the district’s belt, fiscally.
Board President Michael Nelson said the new policy is what the board was looking for, a set of guidelines that give staff members a way to know when they’re spending appropriately and when they’re not. But he said he doesn’t want the district to get too nit-picky.
“Certainly we don’t want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish and spend our time worrying about a $2 breakfast burrito when we certainly have bigger fiscal fish to fry,” Nelson said.
Board member Sarah Lewensohn said there are cities that staff might travel to where $45 per day is not a realistic limit.
“I think that it’s good that we have guidelines, but I think we should be thinking of them as guidelines, and consider how were’ going to deal with the fact that there will be times when there are outliers,” Lewensohn said.
She suggested the district update the board at the end of the 2012-13 school year on how the guidelines worked.
A vote on the policy will likely come at the board's next business meeting, set for Aug. 27.