Providing a free breakfast and lunch for Proviso Township High School District 209 students could actually cost the district less than keeping track of which students qualify for a free-or-reduced discount, Chief Financial Officer Todd Drafall told the school board June 9. The district voted to renew its contract with Aramark for food service.

A federal program through the USDA known as the Community Eligibility Provision program (CEP) allows districts with more than 40 percent of low-income students to provide free lunch and breakfast at a higher reimbursement rate than the district is now receiving. Only about 10 percent of lunches currently served are charged at full-price, Drafall’s report showed.

Drafall said under the CEP program, the district would receive a reimbursement rate of $3.06 per lunch meal, up from the $2.46 now reimbursed. Breakfast would be reimbursed at $1.93, up from $1.25. Students would still have to pay full price for ala carte items.

Drafall said the total revenue based on “traditional claiming” for around 33,000 lunches and 6,700 breakfasts served a month added up to $114,768. Under the more generous federal reimbursement, the district could expect revenue of $115,722.12, Drafall said.

Further savings would be created when the district stopped printing forms, and spending postage sending letters to parents, Drafall said. He also said the program would free up social worker time at the beginning of the year when the forms must be organized and tracked.

Law firm replacement RFP hits a roadblock

The Del Galdo Law Group will continue to represent the Proviso Township High Schools at least for another month after board members said they did not vote on whether to issue an RFP for a new law firm. 

“The Del Galdo law firm is one of the best law firms I’ve ever dealt with. They’re beyond reproach,” said board member Dan Adams. “They’ve never led us wrong; they’ve never led us astray.”

Berwyn-based attorney Michael Del Galdo has represented the district since 2007, first with the firm Giglio and Del Galdo, and then Del Galdo Law Group. Del Galdo said recently his firm represents about 40 municipalities, eight school districts, two community colleges and one private school.

Board member Brian Cross complained that the RFP for new lawyers prepared by Chief Financial Officer Todd Drafall was not rigorous enough and did not give enough time for proposals. He asked that any law firm applying should be required to show experience with at least three high school districts and that the time to submit a proposal be extended to 21 days.

Cross also insisted the board needed to vote on whether an RFP was even necessary.

The board agreed to take the matter up at the July 14 board meeting.  

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...