Watchdog 10 has learned that the Columbus City School District has quite an appetite for pizza.
Last school year, the district allocated $73,000 for pizza purchases that went to feed students, parents and staff members.
Watchdog 10 uncovered the spending pattern by looking at contractor data.
The pizzas are coming from pizzerias all over central Ohio.
Recent purchase orders showed that $1,000 was spent on pizza for a student award luncheon, and $500 was spent for a parent meeting.
The principal at Sherwood Middle School recently allocated $500 for pizza for a staff retreat.
At the Northgate Center, a training center for district employees, $5,000 was approved for pizza.
“It certainly seems like it is a lot,” said Greg Lawson, an analyst for the financially conservative think tank, the Buckeye Institute.
Lawson said that the pizza cost seems hard to justify since the district plans to ask taxpayers for a new levy soon.
“I think taxpayers will have some concern at best, if not heartburn,” Lawson said. “It may not be breaking anybody’s actual bank account, but it seems a bit over the top.”
Columbus City Schools spokesman Jeff Warner said the district actually spent less than it approved for pizza.
“In reality, they purchased about $72,000, about $1.46 per student,” Warner said.
Warner said that using tax dollars for pizza pays dividends by encouraging students to perform and to get their parents involved.
“We’re trying to do things that keep our students motivated and reward them for their accomplishments and to engage our parents,” Warner said. “The research says that when parents are engaged, your child is going to be more successful.”
Warner said that the same goes for staff undergoing professional development.
“We believe that we are making a good investment,” Warner said.
Tuggle Lindsey, of Tuggle’s Pizza on Maize Road, said that he was happy to get the small piece of the pie that his business receives from the Columbus City School District.
“I would like to be getting a little bit more of it, but I’m happy with what I’m getting,” Tuggle said
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