The Duluth School Board voted Tuesday to combine polling places in the event of an unplanned election.

The resolution was approved by a 5-0 vote to combine polling places in the event of a district election that is not held on the same day as a statewide election. Board member Alanna Oswald was absent due to health issues suffered in the past week. This resolution is revisited on a yearly basis and does not affect the already scheduled special election in November 2020 to fill out the term of the seat formerly held by Josh Gorham, or the upcoming general election next month.

In the event of an unplanned election next year for the district, polling places will be combined by School Board districts. Those in District 1 would vote at Lakeview Covenant Church, District 2 voters’ polling place would be Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth, District 3 voters’ polling place would be at Duluth Heights Community Club and District 4 would vote at Asbury United Methodist Church.

Polling places would be combined for cost-saving purposes, because in a special election the district must pay the entire cost, which is typically shared with other entities.

Food service providers

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The district has begun the process of switching food service providers. The Duluth district, as well as other districts around the state, were sent a notice by Indianhead Foodservice Distributor out of Eau Claire, Wis., saying that the company may not be able to fulfill its contract with the district due to a driver shortage. The School Board voted to hire Indianhead for the amount of $810,432.25 in May.

After receiving notice, district CFO Cathy Erickson reached out to Upper Lakes Foods, of Cloquet, to see if they would be willing to provide food service to the district. Upper Lakes Foods has provided food service to the district in the past and submitted a bid in May, but because Indianhead was the lowest responsible bidder at the time, the district was required to hire Indianhead.

Erickson said last week she had hoped to have a contract for the board to approve Tuesday but instead was able to provide a letter of intent in the meantime while the district and food service providers begin the transition. The board unanimously approved the letter of intent as part of its business committee report.

Also at the meeting Tuesday night, the School Board removed a five-year contract with Essentia Health for provide sports medicine services from the agenda due to changes to the contract that still need to be finalized before it will be ready for a vote. Under the contract agreement, Essentia would provide $335,000 in financial compensation the district over the course of five years.