NYC School Support Services, Inc.
Meeting of the Corporation’s Board
February 26, 2021, 9:00 a.m.
via Zoom Teleconference
The meeting was called to order at 9:05 a.m. by Chairperson Lauren Siciliano, who noted for the record that a quorum was present to conduct business.
In attendance were:
Lauren Siciliano, NYCSSS Board Chairperson
Stephen Brennan, NYCSSS Executive Director
Brooke Jenkins-Lewis, NYCSSS CFO
Douglas Shribman, NYCSSS In-House Counsel
Joseph Iacono, NYCSSS Operations Analyst
Dan Fisler, NYCSSS IT Manager
John Shea, CEO, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Phil Napolitano, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Russell Buckley, Department of Education, Finance
Mark David, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Chairperson Siciliano opened the meeting by noting that there was a quorum to conduct business and appointed Mr. Shribman as interim Secretary for the meeting. She proceeded to review the meeting agenda, which included: the approval of the September 17, 2020 meeting minutes; a management update and financial report from NYCSSS staff; consideration to commence new lease negotiations; and any new business.
Chairperson Siciliano requested a motion be made to review the minutes from the September 17, 2020 meeting. The motion was put forward and seconded. Chairperson Siciliano noted that no questions were raised with respect to the minutes and made a motion for their approval, which was seconded.
NYCSSS Executive Director Stephen Brennan gave the management update. He first stated that NYCSSS had their yearly review with the New York City Comptrollers office, which went very well. He additionally noted NYCSSS had their first day of contract negotiations with Local 32BJ, as the current one-year extension to the contract is set to expire on June 30, 2021. Further, the New York State Comptroller’s office had also reached out to NYCSSS and the Department of Education (“DOE”) to better learn who NYCSSS is, what NYCSSS provides to the DOE, and further understand the contract between NYCSSS and the DOE.
He stated that since the last meeting, the Corporation’s focus had been on the successful implementation and rollout of the EPAY Payroll system. EPAY’s Time and Labor, Employee Portal, Payroll, and HCM were implemented on December 18, 2020. The first payroll using EPAY systems occurred on January 8, 2021 by paying 7508 employees. As of the meeting date, 88% of all active employees had signed up for EPAY’s Employee Portal. Brooke Lewis-Jenkins and Joe Iacono have worked diligently to become experts in EPAY to ensure every facet of implementing these new systems is accomplished.
In preparation for go live, during the months of October, November, and December, 122 training sessions, spanning 168 total hours, were provided by NYCSSS staff to Custodian Engineers and Employees. NYCSSS staff will continue to offer these trainings to all that need it and will continue to field questions from Custodians as they arise.
Mr. Brennan noted the use of the new systems has substantially improved internal business processes and given the Custodians the ability to easily use EPAY’s Timekeeping capabilities. Further, he noted, part of the success of the implementation was the integration of EPAY with our Salesforce systems. The integration has allowed NYCSSS staff to utilize EPAY to track applicants through the background screening process and hire and onboard them seamlessly as the applicant’s information is uploaded into EPAY.
NYCSSS employees have continued to maintain a safe school environment throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to work closely with the DOE to ensure that schools are safe and clean allowing students and teachers to more seamlessly adjust to these difficult times. NYCSSS has adhered to all state guidelines surrounding Covid-19 protocols and continue to assist and monitor our employees who have either contracted Covid-19 or been in close contact with someone who has contracted Covid-19. Mr. Brennan stated NYCSSS has provided Covid Leave to those employees who have demonstrated their necessity to go into quarantine and that NYCSSS continues to provide training to new employees for the appropriate sanitizing of schools. NYCSSS and the DOE have worked well to manipulate staffing needs to ensure safety throughout the schools.
Turning to the Human Resources Department, Mr. Brennan stated that the HR Department’s daily operational procedures and workflows continue to function as normal. He noted that the Recruitment team has begun seasonal recruitment activities for vacation replacement staffing for the remainder of 2021 school year including conducting online interviews and recruitment events. As of August 2020, the DOE PETS System is open and processing candidates that NYCSSS nominates for hire. NYCSSS is targeting to hire about 750 new employees by the end of the summer.
All permanent school-based NYCSSS employees continued to work at their designated school sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. NYCSSS ended its redeployment of labor partnerships with NYPD Precincts and ACS properties as their personnel needs have adjusted back to pre-COVID-19 staffing structures. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges occurred when permanent NYCSSS employees were forced out of work and sent home by the situation room and/or tracers. However, Mr. Brennan noted NYCSSS was able to provide staff efficiently and quickly to those schools whose employees were mandated to quarantine to maintain the ongoing school operations. One key aspect as to how we were able to efficiently accomplish this feat was by leveraging staff from closed buildings for quarantine coverage.
Mr. Brennan further stated that the Human Resources staff has become proficient with the Epay Time & Labor and Employee Portal systems to ensure NYCSSS staff is able help employees and custodians alike. NYCSSS continues to support our employees and Custodians through our Salesforce work ticketing system, solving each problem contained in the tickets and decreasing each day’s ticket volume to as few tickets as possible.
With respect to labor relations, Mr. Brennan stated that, in August 2020, NYCSSS started conducting online grievance hearings utilizing a software platform called Discord. This online software has allowed grievances to be held while meeting guidelines and requirements set forth to conduct grievances with Local 94. As for Local 32BJ, as of the beginning of February 2021 ,NYCSSS has begun using the more familiar platform Zoom to conduct grievance hearings. Since August of 2020, we have conducted 270 grievance hearings to date (including training terminations).
As to legal proceedings, courts (both state and federal) are either still closed, hearing cases on an emergency basis, or conducting limited virtual proceedings. There have been some limited activity at the human rights agencies (City Commission on Human Rights and State Division of Human Rights). All arbitrations have been adjourned pending resolution of the COVID-19 pandemic with the possibility of virtual arbitration becoming an increasingly viable solution in the future.
Mr. Brennan stated, as of the meeting date, NYCSSS has successfully trained all of our full-time and part-time employees in COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection, Health & Safety, and Anti-Sexual Harassment, as required by New York State and City law.
Turning to the area of business technology, Mr. Brennan noted that since our last meeting NYCSSS continues to work on extending our Salesforce platform and other IT projects as follows:
With respects to our Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Mr. Brennan stated that since June 1, 2020, the NYCSSS team has received 66,374 work tickets in Salesforce and to date, 98.2% of those cases are closed. Delays have been experienced with DAF’s, due to the impact of the pandemic on grievances and arbitrations.
No further questions were asked of Mr. Brennan after presenting the management update.
The Corporation’s CFO, Brooke Jenkins-Lewis presented the financial update.
Directing the Board’s attention to Slide 2, Ms. Jenkins-Lewis stated that this slide would give an hours and compensation comparison. She noted that similar to the previous Board of Directors meeting in September, many of the same trends followed. We are down in hours by about nine (9) percent, primarily due to Covid-19. Engineering hours were up due to classifying employees based on the licenses they have attained and individual building needs.
On the next slide, total hours comparison, she noted that there were also similar peaks and valleys over the course of the year from the previous years, despite overall hours being lower due to Covid-19. The slide demonstrated that during the winter months snow causes employees to work more hours while in March there is a decline in hours worked due to the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Summer months have a spike in hours due to the use of vacation replacement workers and the upcoming start of the school year.
On the next slide, total regular hours, Ms. Jenkins-Lewis noted the same seasonality in the winter months, the drop in hours in March and April 2020, and an uptick in regular hours over the summer months from vacation replacements.
Moving to slide 5, overtime hours comparison, Ms. Jenkins-Lewis stated this is where you can see the peaks and valleys within the operations of the school. In March 2019, there was a snow related uptick in hours while March 2020 had an uptick in overtime hours to clean thoroughly before the Covid-19 shutdown. In 2019 there was a spike in overtime hours in the summer to prepare for the new school year where in 2020 the uptick was delayed slightly due to the delay of schools reopening after the Covid-19 pandemic.
She directed the Board’s attention to the average headcount by month comparison slide. Here Ms. Jenkins-Lewis stated that in July and August one can see the uptick due to vacation replacements, which requires extra staffing for school opening, and a subsequent drop-off in March and April due to Covid. NYCSSS retained our permanent full and part time staff, therefore, the decrease in headcount is due to fill in and temporary employees no longer being needed for such things as after school programs, not due to layoffs within the workforce.
On the final slide, gross payroll comparison year over year, she highlighted that there was a spike in January due to weather and that the decrease in March was due to Covid-19, which further continued into April and May. She pointed to an uptick in June and July 2020 due to school openings and in November and December due to schools being closed and an uptick from winter and Local 94 member holiday pay outs.
No further questions were asked of Ms. Lewis-Jenkins after presenting the financial update.
Chairperson Siciliano stated that the current NYCSSS lease ends in the summer of 2022. If approved, NYCSSS would attempt to negotiate a new lease that would run from 2022 through 2028, with a two-year option to run until 2030. A motion was made to put the consideration to commence and finalize lease negotiations on the table, which was seconded. After no questions were asked about the proposed lease negotiations the Board of Directors voted and approved the commencement of the negotiations.
There being no further new business, a motion was made and approved to adjourn the meeting at approximately 9:30 a.m.
Respectfully submitted by Doug Shribman, Interim Meeting Secretary.