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School Board Approves New Pizza Vendor After Canceling Contract with Papa John's

by on September 25, 2018 5:27 PM

Two weeks after canceling a contract with Papa John's, State College Area School Board on Monday unanimously approved a new vendor for pizza day in elementary and middle school cafeterias.

Domino's will be the delivered pizza vendor for the 2018-19 school year, effective Oct. 15. District Finance and Operations Officer Randy Brown said that 15 local pizza businesses were contacted with requests for quotes, but only the local Domino's franchise replied with a quote and delivery schedule.

On Sept. 13, the school board voted, 5-4, to cancel a contract with the local Papa John's franchise on a recommendation from Brown and Superintendent Bob O'Donnell, who cited comments by Papa John's founder and former chairman John Schnatter as "inconsistent with our district’s School Climate and Inclusive Excellence Policy."

Schnatter resigned from Papa John's in July after it was revealed he used a racial slur on a conference call in May.

Under the contract with Domino's, the cost per cheese pizza is $6, with an annual district expenditure estimated at $54,000 -- the same price as the previous contract with Papa John's. At the Sept. 13 meeting, Megan Schaper, SCASD director of food services, said that because of the popularity of pizza day, the district easily recoups that money.

Papa John's originally was selected, as it had been for at least 15 years, as the vendor for this school year at the board's Aug. 13 meeting. Several board members at the time, however, raised concerns about continuing the contract because Schnatter remains part owner of the corporation.

In bringing the recommendation to cancel the contract a month later, O'Donnell said he had been in touch with the Papa John's franchise owner, who is based in Ohio, and said that "based on Papa John’s corporation’s proposed restorative practices as well as the local franchisee’s commitment to inclusivity," the district plans to include the local franchise for bid consideration next year.

"We’ve been really trying to improve relationships with the community, and I really believe that if we do this for this time period only that would help," O'Donnell said. "My reason for bringing this forward is solely on families we’ve been working to improve relations with and we’ve struggled at times as a community."

Board members who voted against canceling the contract said they didn't want to punish the local franchise owner for a situation over which he had no control.

"It’s not a corporately owned store and I’m not comfortable if we go down the path of holding people accountable for something they really have no involvement in," board member Scott Fozard said.

Board member Lori Bedell said the franchise owner is not responsible for Schnatter's remarks, but that she was concerned about the message it would send to keep the contract for this year.

"Good intentions of the franchise owner aside, I don’t think we can avoid the message this sends to members of our community who are not represented here, who are in a limited way represented in our administration," Bedell said. "I think we have a responsibility to be a voice for those people whenever we possibly can."



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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