TNT Snacks caused more of a bang than expected at recent Cumberland County Board of Education meetings. Taken from the consent agenda at the June 7 meeting, the board voted to approve the contracts contingent upon BOE Attorney Earl Patton's approval of the changes made following the meeting.

Sixth District representative Victor Randolph moved at the June BOE meeting to take the vending contracts off of the consent agenda in effort to renegotiate the contracts where the schools would benefit more from the proceeds. The contracts gave the schools 20 percent of the wholesale price of each snack sold. Randolph requested that contracts be renegotiated to see if schools could receive 20 percent of the retail price.

TNT vending contracts were put on the main agenda for the July 9 meeting. One of the company's owners, Brandon Tompkins, appeared at the meeting to respond to any issues the board might have.

The contracts, set for five years, contain the following agreements:

• snacks will be sold for 75 cents

• the vendor will provide one to four machines per school, depending on the population of the school

• the vendor must comply to the same federal, state and local health regulations as the school

• if the wholesale price changes, items will still be sold at 75 cents

• the schools will receive 20 percent of the wholesale price instead of 10 percent of the retail price

• the agreed-upon list of items will be initially sold in the machines

• the vendor will be liable only in situations resulting from the vendor's negligence

• the school will be not be held liable in situations resulting from the vendor's negligence

• the vendor will be insured for its own activities and liability

Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, said he took issue with the contracts for being five-years long and for not containing cancellation clauses.

"I don't think [a five-year agreement] protects anyone except the company," said Schlafer. "I don't see any protection for the school system. I don't see any cancellation clause, if you're dissatisified or we're dissatisfied. That causes a problem. There's nothing in the contract that discusses the care of the machines, for the maintenance of the machine, for the servicing of the machine. There's nothing in the contract that discusses who's liable if you've got a spoiled product and the child consumes that and gets deathly ill. Are you going to hold the school harmless for that, are you going to take responsibility for that?"

Tompkins responded, saying the companies of the products would be liable for spoiled food since TNT does not handle the food itself as it comes pre-packaged. He explained the reason for a five-year contract was to prevent his machines from being pulled from the schools if the state were to change school food regulations with the contract still in place. Tompkins noted that his company does require a minimum of a three-year contract.

Director of Schools Aarona VanWinkle suggested putting a cancellation clause into the contract in case either party becomes dissatisfied. Schlafer said the contract should protect TNT in case someone from the schools were to vandalize one of the machines.

Robert Safdie, 2nd District representative, addressed the concern over the commission issue, whether the schools receive a portion of the retail or the wholesale price.

"I'm not criticizing making money, or you making money," said Safdie. "I'm criticizing the vulnerability of the board and the schools. If you purchase the item for 25 cents and then [have a] mark-up of 125 percent, it means it sells for 60 cents. That means if the school had 20 percent on wholesale and [the vendor] bought it for 25 cents, they only get five or six cents. But then you decide at some point that you want to raise product price, retail, in the machines, so that they no longer sell for 65 cents but for a dollar. At that point, the schools are very vulnerable because our contract is open to you. You can raise the prices as much, and we're still getting 20 percent of the wholesale... And that's hard to explain, I guess, because every product is a little different in your mark-up."

Schlafer moved to approve the item, pending the attorney's approval of the contract once modifications are made in light of the discussion at the meeting. Randolph seconded the motion to approve. It was passed unanimously, with the exception of the vote of Mary Smith, 7th District representative, who was absent.

TNT Snacks is contract with Brown Elementary, South Cumberland Elementary, Crab Orchard Elementary, and Martin Elementary.

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