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Shop local? Officials debate choices

September 6, 2018

Kankakee School District officials say they want to support local businesses — to a point.

At a meeting last week, officials told school board members they are often charged more in town than if they go to businesses elsewhere.

“We try to give priority to Kankakee and Aroma Park,” Superintendent Genevra Walters said. “But they’re sometimes charging twice as much than if we go with Bradley or Bourbonnais. It’s happened more than a few times.”

She and Rob Grossi, assistant superintendent of business services, asked board members how they should handle such situations.

Board member Karen Johnston said the district should look at pricing on a case-by-case basis.

“It has to be talked about. A lot of people say, ‘Why don’t you go with Kankakee people?’ That’s a hard question to answer, other than to say we’re being fiscally responsible,” she said.

Board President Barbara Wells advised telling vendors “we want to shop local and we want competitive pricing.”

“We have done that,” Grossi told Wells. “Sometimes it works.”

Board member Chris Bohlen said the district must go with the “lowest responsible bidder,” but could enact a rule allowing the schools to choose prices that are 3 percent higher than the lowest if the businesses are inside the district.

Member Jess Gathing said when people refer to local, “we’re speaking about our whole area — Kankakee, Bradley and Bourbonnais.”

Walters added, “As much as we can shop in Kankakee, we should.”

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