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School seeks beverage deal

The Mitchell School District is hoping that an exclusive 10-year beverage contract will pay for visitors' bleachers for the new stadium at Joe Quintal Field.

The $164,000 bleacher option previously was snipped from the stadium project to reduce costs.

"The whole purpose of the contract is to seek new revenues," said Superintendent of Schools Joe Graves in a recent phone interview.

Graves was uncertain how much the district will be able to raise with an exclusive deal, "but our hope is that with those revenues, we'll be able to make the final few steps we'll have to take on the stadium project," he said.

Contract bids must be submitted to the district by June 22. Bids will be opened at 2 p.m. the same day.

Graves said no commitments have been made at this time to build visitor bleachers, nor is it a given that the district will award an exclusive beverage contract. Proceeding with both options depends on what offers the district receives, he said.

Under the terms of bidding specifications, the school district is seeking an upfront payment for the exclusive rights to sell the bidders' products on school district property, plus an annual payment each of the successive nine years.

The winning bidder must also supply $1,000 in free products to the school district each year, according to bidding documents.

In return, the winning contractor will be able to distribute its products at all school events and venues, except those events which occur at the Corn Palace, since that is a city-owned property. The agreement also allows for exclusive placement of soft drink products in vending machines at district buildings. It does not include the purchase of milk for district food service programs.

Graves said that the sale of such exclusive rights has become a common fundraising strategy employed by other school districts.

The Winner School District board recently approved an exclusive contract with W. P. Beverages of Madison, Wis., which sells Pepsi products out of Huron.

The contract, said Winner's Business Manager Laura Root, earned the district $15,000 up front, plus $1,000 a year for the next 10 years. The money was used for a new wood gym floor at the National Guard Armory, which is attached to the high school.

Mitchell bid specifications require specific soft-drink products for the district's elementary schools, upper grades and for Mitchell Technical Institute. The specs would not apply for after-hours school events with adult participation.

If a contract is accepted, it would have no effect on the district's wellness policy, Graves said.

"We're changing nothing in the policy," Graves said, pointing out that student access to soft drinks will neither increase nor decrease should any contract be accepted.

One stipulation of that wellness policy requires soft-drink machines to be shut off during lunch periods.

Bid details also specify that available drinks must meet certain nutritional guidelines and that milk or milk products be included in vending options. Juice drinks must contain 100 percent juice, no added sweeteners and have no more than 120 calories.