Meeting Minutes January 24, 2020

NYC School Support Services, Inc.
Meeting of the Corporation’s Board
January 24, 2020, 9:00 a.m.
321 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036



The meeting was called to order at 9:00 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 Chairperson
Nicolas Storellicastro, NYCSSS Treasurer
Jonathan Botwinick
Naila Rosario
Tom Shcherbenko

Also attending:

Stephen Brennan, NYCSSS Executive Director
Brooke Jenkins-Lewis, NYCSSS CFO
Nathalia Berger, NYCSSS HR Director
Anna Taruschio, NYCSSS Chief of Staff and Counsel
Joseph Iacono, NYCSSS Operations Analyst
John Shea, CEO, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Phil Napolitano, Division of School Facilities, DOE
John Cruz, Division of School Facilities, DOE

  1. Introduction

Ms. Siciliano opened the meeting by appointing Ms. Taruschio as Secretary for the meeting and proceeded to review the meeting agenda, which included: the approval of the September 13, 2019 meeting minutes; a management update and financial report from NYCSSS staff; a presentation by NYCSSS relating to a new payroll vendor; a resolution to re-elect Mr. Storellicastro as Board Treasurer; and the consideration of any new business.

  1. Approval of Meeting Minutes from September 13, 2019

Ms. Siciliano made a motion to review the minutes from the September 13, 2019 meeting, and the motion was seconded. Ms. Siciliano noted that no questions were raised with respect to the minutes and made a motion for approval, which was seconded. The Board unanimously approved the minutes.

  • Management Update and Financial Report

Mr. Brennan presented a management update to the Board. He began by stating that the Corporation is currently in the final option year of its previous contract with the Department of Education and that a new contract is in the approval process for a term of eight years, with 2 one-year extension options.

He then noted with respect to Human Resources, that the HR Director has been holding weekly team meetings and that a current central concern is staffing for snow removal and vacation replacements for the upcoming season. He stated that the Corporation had also been engaging other city agencies, community partners, and local homeless shelters in conversations with respect to recruiting.

He stated that Ms. Cristina Thomas had been promoted to HR manager, adding a welcome layer of management and to maintain consistency across all boroughs.

With respect to labor relations, Mr. Brennan noted that there were currently 20 – 25 grievances heard per week to handle discipline at schools. He noted that others, such as those relating to pay, etc., were communicated via work tickets and could usually be handled in advance of a grievance.

Next, Mr. Brennan noted that the Corporation is now in 100% compliance with the new anti-sexual harassment City and State legislation and training, and that there had previously been two remaining employees who had not completed their mandatory training. These employees – previously terminated for non-compliance and insubordination – had subsequently completed the training and thus had their terminations rescinded with a final warning.

He also noted that the Corporation was in the process of phasing in a new website that is more user friendly and would allow employees to send in work tickets directly. He stated that final review of the new webpage would take place early next month.

With respect to work tickets generally, Mr. Brennan noted that these had quickly become the Corporation’s backbone, especially during payroll weeks. He summarized that since inception of the work ticket system the Corporation has received approximately 72,000 work tickets and had closed out 99% of these. He noted that the system has the additional benefit of identifying many issues quickly and documenting everything by eliminating verbal communication.

III. Financial Update

Ms. Jenkins-Lewis then presented a brief financial update for the Corporation.

Drawing the Board’s attention to slide 2, she noted the seasonal fluctuation in costs in the winter months. She also noted that costs go up year-over-year in the Stationary Engineer title due to HR’s emphasizing licensing required in certain buildings – i.e., refrigeration – and ensuring that workers in buildings are getting paid in their correct titles based on licenses they hold.

With respect to slide 3 of the presentation, she noted that peaks and valleys in the graph represent fluctuations based on vacation replacements who cover for cleaners out on vacation. On slide 5 she pointed out the large difference attributable to lead paint inspections in August. Ms. Jenkins-Lewis noted on slide 6 that the headcount for the workforce has stayed consistent over the past year due to efforts to move employees into full time positions leading to a corresponding reduction in head count. She concluded that slide 7 showed gross payroll with the same peaks and valleys, and that the bump in August was again attributable to the lead paint inspections and that winter peaks and valleys were according to when snowstorms hit.

  1. New Payroll Vendor Presentation

Next, the Board heard a presentation by Joseph Iacono, Operations Analyst at NYCSSS, relating to its search and selection of candidates for a new payroll vendor.

Mr. Iacono began by noting the Corporation’s current payroll provider’s inability to interface with Cybershift, the DOE’s electronic timekeeping system. Cybershift timeclocks are scheduled to be installed in every DOE school building and there was general agreement, especially from DOE representatives, that integration with DOE timeclocks is a critical, fundamental component of any NYCSSS payroll provider.

Next, Mr. Iacono reviewed the Corporation’s selection criteria and process among various competitors, as well as the factors used to evaluate each proposed vendor, including: cost, flexibility, responsiveness, quality of work product, and each vendor’s relative size and experience in the market.

He reviewed the list of proposed vendors and the Corporation’s evaluation of their responses.

He noted that one vendor had been selected by the Corporation over the rest, namely, EPAY, Inc., a Chicago-based software company offering a full suite of integrated products. He noted that EPAY was currently a vendor for large entities like the United States Army and ABM Industries. He also stated that EPAY is also a vendor for companies having a distributed workforce similar to the Corporation’s and thus that it understands and has worked successfully with the Corporation’s business model. He listed out some other key considerations mitigating toward EPAY’s selection, such as the fact that it: (1) operates from a single platform; (2) has a 24/7 support line; (3) has substantial experience with large companies; and (4) came in as by far the least expensive, including as compared with the Corporation’s current HCM/payroll provider.

Ms. Jenkins-Lewis added two further benefits of EPAY, namely (1) its ability to adjust its software to suit the Corporation’s needs, whereas other vendors without similar software would use manpower to fix a problem; and (2) that the Corporation’s current payroll vendor is school-based, meaning that each employee is assigned one manager, whereas EPAY can show an employee as assigned to multiple schools.

The Board raised a question about implementation cost in the presentation budget related to switching over to EPAY from the current HCM vendor. Mr. Brennan responded that $200,000 had been added to the budget as a contingent, hypothetical cost across all possible vendor options in the event the Corporation needed to bring in additional personnel on an emergency basis during the changeover period. He noted that EPAY’s actual total implementation cost would only be $25,000. Ms. Jenkins-Lewis added that the current vendor’s early termination fee is approximately $433,00, but that this cost would be recouped within the first year, dependent on when the changeover to EPAY occurred.

A further question was raised about the timing of a transition over to the new provider by July 1. Mr. Brennan responded that for the first payroll with the new provider there would be duplicate payrolls to catch any errors made. He added that at that point there would be 4 years of data to be transferred such that he wanted to ensure adequate time to test and check the new provider’s processing capability.

A discussion with respect to timing of the transition to EPAY from the old payroll vendor then ensued, in which the Corporation stated that the more time it had to transfer over, and complete all testing, the better off the Corporation would be. Mr. Napolitano added that there are also 850 Custodian Engineers who would need to be trained on the new platform and that both employee Unions would also be eager to have any transition over to a new vendor run as smoothly as possible.

Mr. Storellicastro noted that the savings in switching over to a new vendor seem significant such that the Corporation might even be cost neutral in the first year of the changeover.

Mr. Napolitano asked whether a switchover in the middle of a fiscal year would have allow for tax and W2 information to be transmitted directly to EPAY, and Ms. Jenkins-Lewis responded that all back data would be transferred over such that this would not present an issue.

Chairperson Siciliano then asked the Corporation to discuss EPAY’s ability to customize its product. Ms. Jenkins-Lewis responded that one of EPAY’s benefits is it’s high level of customization capability insofar as it can accomplish in-house tasks for which the old vendor, by comparison, had to use third-party vendors. Moreover, she added that EPAY has agreed not to charge the Corporation for changes to its product so long as EPAY can use these changes with other clients. She stated her belief that a large number of employee tickets on the Corporation’s online service portal would be eliminated after EPAY came on board. Lastly, she also called attention to the high cost of custom changes to the previous vendor’s software ($50-$100,000) whereas EPAY promises to be much more flexible.

Mr. Napolitano also noted that all implementation needed seemed to be included in EPAY’s cost and Ms. Jenkins-Lewis added that this is because EPAY already has most of the necessary calculations worked out. She added that to date EPAY had been easy to work with in the sense of being responsive, having a short response time to address emergent issues, and that their 24/7 support is a tremendous asset.

Chairperson Siciliano asked for information about EPAYs security protocols and Mr. Iacono responded that EPAY’s inherent security is high. He also noted that the Corporation had vetted EPAY’s encryption (in the sense of where their data system is located) to make sure it is secure. He noted that EPAY’s protocols match the previous vendor’s, and that with its contracts for the Department of Defense, EPAY is as secure, if not more so.

A question from the Board was asked related to the additional staffing that a new payroll provider might require. Ms. Jenkins-Lewis responded that the Corporation’s current payroll provider uses its own manpower for payroll review. With EPAY, by contrast, the Corporation would be putting in the extra time, which might require additional staffing but would also benefit Custodian Engineers who would have more time to submit their payrolls.

The Board then turned to the question of what action or approval was necessary to allow for implementation and entry into a new contract. At the close of deliberations and after robust question and answer session, it was determined that the Board could vote to allow NYCSSS to pursue negotiations with EPAY Systems and to execute a letter of termination with ADP, LLC, at a cost of up to $433,000.

The Board thus voted to approve NYCSSS moving forward with the contract negotiation phase with EPAY as well as submitting a project and cost schedule prior to finalization of a contract with EPAY.

A resolution was thus put forward allowing NYCSSS to:

  • terminate the contract with its existing payroll vendor;
  • pursue contract negotiations with EPAY; and
  • execute a letter of intent with EPAY.

Ms. Siciliano made a motion to approve the resolution and the motion was seconded. Ms. Siciliano put forward the following resolution:

RESOLVED, that NYC School Support Services, Inc. is hereby authorized to terminate its contract for payroll services with ADP, LLC; pursue contract negotiations with EPAY, LLC; and execute a non-binding letter of intent with EPAY LLC, and be it further,

RESOLVED, that the Executive Director and the Chief Financial Officer of NYCSSS and their designee(s) be and each hereby is authorized and empowered to take all actions and execute such documents as he or she may deem necessary or appropriate to effectuate these resolutions, in accordance with the bylaws of NYCSSS.

  1. Re-election of Nicholas Storellicastro as Board Treasurer

Ms. Siciliano then made a motion to put forth the resolution to re-appoint Nicholas Storellicastro Treasurer of NYCSSS. The motion was approved and board members unanimously approved the resolution:

RESOLVED, that the following officer is elected to hold such office until the next annual meeting: 

Treasurer: Nicolas Storellicastro

RESOLVED, that the Chair be authorized and empowered to take all actions as she may deem necessary or appropriate to effectuate these resolutions.

  1. New Business

Chairperson Siciliano asked if there was any new business or comments from the public.


Hearing none, a motion was made and approved to adjourn the meeting at approximately 10:31 a.m.

Respectfully submitted by Anna Taruschio, Interim Meeting Secretary.