CAPE ELIZABETH — The town and Scarborough plan to combine school food services and share a nutrition director.
Superintendent of Schools Meredith Nadeau told the School Board June 9 that Nutrition Director Paul Esposito will be working for both school departments this fall under a plan being finalized with Scarborough.
She said the collaboration is expected to soon become official.
Esposito will split his time between the two school districts, overseeing food operations in each town. A schedule of how he will do this has not yet been created.
The schools would continue to buy food through central purchasing from the state, but purchasing as one entity will save them money.
The towns would share the cost of Esposito’s salary and benefits, with Scarborough absorbing 60 percent. Esposito’s current salary is more than $52,000, and would increase to about $110,000 through the collaboration.
Scarborough’s current nutrition director, Judy Campbell, is retiring. Kate Bolton, the district’s director of business and finance, said Scarborough expects to save about $20,000 through the collaboration.
Bolton said this won’t have an effect on the recently rejected school budget.
“Saving money is always a helpful thing, but we were already counting on it,” she said.
Nadeau said the arrangement should save Cape Elizabeth $15,000-$20,000 a year.
“There are a number of benefits from our perspective,” she said, including being able to keep Esposito without having to pay him more.
“You know as a small district we can’t compete with some larger districts in terms of the salary and benefits, and when you have a strong person like that, the risk of losing them increases as opportunities present themselves,” Nadeau said. “To me that’s not the driving force, but it certainly adds an added benefit of this arrangement.”
Another advantage, she said, is that the two towns have similar philosophies about food service.
“Scarborough’s values for food service are pretty well aligned with ours and so that’s a good opportunity for us to increase our purchasing power… and being able to buy more fresh, non-processed, not pre-processed, ingredients,” Nadeau said.
Nadeau said she hopes the schools can also work more closely with local farms and use locally grown produce. She said Scarborough has more knowledge in this area.
She said she also hopes Cape Elizabeth can learn more from Scarborough about incorporating gardening into the classroom.
“They’re a little bit ahead of us in terms of gardening curriculum and connecting that with the science piece in their classrooms,” she said. “I think there are some things we can learn from them there.”
Nadeau said she thinks both school districts will benefit from having Esposito working for them.
“We have a very strong food service director who I think has done good work for us,” she said.