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Lack of Bid Competition For Food-Nonfood Contract Concerns QPS Committee

QUINCY — The lack of competition on food and nonfood bids continues to concern a Quincy Public Schools committee.

The Finance Committee on Monday recommended that the School Board approve the $430,841.39 bid from Kohl Wholesale — the sole bidder — for items to finish out the 2017-18 school year.

The bid increased 1.56 percent over the spring 2017 bid of $424,212.81.

“Anytime we only get one bidder, it’s a lack of competition, which isn’t good,” Superintendent Roy Webb said.

“The good thing is, we have a great relationship with Kohl Foods. They’re very service-oriented. They’re a local business, and I think they are giving us a good bid. We’ll continue to try to reach out to other vendors and try to get that second or third bid to come in.”

Committee member Nick Smith asked Food Service Director Jean Kinder why nobody else bids on the items.

Kinder said bid packages were sent to eight vendors, including Kohl Wholesale, but other vendors did not submit a bid.

Sysco visited the district in the past, driving to all the schools to see the different drop sites and did submit a bid, but “they were awarded so few items it wasn’t worth their time,” Kinder said.

Other vendors wanted “all or nothing” options, so the district structures bids both as line items for individual items and to provide all items, but the vendors still haven’t chosen to bid.

“We may get more interest when all of our new elementary schools are built,” Kinder said. “One thing Sysco looked at was, it was difficult to deliver and time-consuming. Once we have really easy drop sites and fewer of them, it might be more advantageous.”

Kinder said one option for the district would be joining a co-op for food items. Administration looked at the possibility in the past but decided against it because “we couldn’t show the buying power would be greater than just QPS alone,” she said.

Kohl provides food and nonfood items for many area school districts.

“Kohl is carving out their niche to specialize in the schools,” said School Board member Richard McNay, who is chairman of the Finance Committee. “If you ask other companies, out-of-town companies to bid, this is Kohl’s home. They’re going to have an advantage.”

Also Monday, committee members reviewed updated cash-flow reports for the midpoint of the fiscal year.

“We’re still projecting a slight deficit in the education fund,” Chief of Business Operations Ryan Whicker said.

The report to the committee projects a $112,089 shortfall in the fund by June.

“Our budget is still on track,” Webb said. “Depending on where the state comes in with our additional dollars, we could be in a little better shape than where we thought at the beginning of the year, but it’s tough to be optimistic in Illinois.”

Committee members also learned that the federal government shutdown, which ended late Monday afternoon, should have no effect on the district’s title funding.

“All federal funding already has been allocated to the state of Illinois. We’re waiting on approval on the grant from the state,” Webb said. “It’s sitting in Illinois coffers.”

Ref: http://www.whig.com/20180123/lack-of-bid-competition-for-food-nonfood-contract-concerns-qps-committee#

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