Meeting Minutes Sept 13th 2019

NYC School Support Services, Inc.
Meeting of the Corporation’s Board
September 13, 2019, 9:00 a.m.
321 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036


Meeting Minutes


The meeting was called to order at 9:02 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
John Shea, CEO, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Phil Napolitano, Division of School Facilities, DOE
David Maro, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Russell Buckley, DOE
Warren Ruppel, Marks Paneth LLP
Vanessa McGovern, Marks Paneth LLP

  1. Introduction

Ms. Siciliano opened the meeting by welcoming Naila Rosario as the newest member of the NYCSSS Board and thanking her for her service to the City and the Board.

Next, Ms. Siciliano appointed Ms. Taruschio as Secretary for the meeting and proceeded to review the meeting agenda, which included: the approval of the May 15, 2019 meeting minutes; a management update and financial report from NYCSSS staff; a meeting of the Audit Subcommittee to hear a presentation by Marks Paneth of the Corporation’s annual audit; the consideration of a resolution to approve the Corporation’s annual audited financial statements; and the consideration of any new business.

  1. Approval of Meeting Minutes from May 15, 2019

Ms. Siciliano made a motion to review the minutes from the May 15, 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

NYCSSS Executive Director Stephen Brennan gave the management update. He began by noting that August 2019 marked the third anniversary of NYCSSS going live. He also introduced and welcomed Ms. Nathalia Berger to NYCSSS, as the Corporation’s new Director of Human Resources. Mr. Brennan stated that the Corporation is exiting its summer seasonal hiring period and highlighted numerous recruitment activities the Corporation is currently undertaking, including the implementation of a new job board platform which enables it to, among other things, streamline activities, manage job applications, allow outside applicants to apply more easily, as well as to allow current employees to view available jobs and apply to transfer if they’re qualified. He noted that currently 40% of new candidates learn of the Corporation through positive word-of-mouth. 

In the area of labor relations Mr. Brennan noted that the Corporation continues to hear about 10-15 grievances per week and 4-6 arbitrations per month.

Mr. Brennan also described a new investigative team created to implement the State and City’s new anti-sexual harassment laws, which initiates and carries forward all investigations and discipline, where warranted. 


It was also noted that the new roving cleaning program, which had originally been created to deep clean and sanitize school bathrooms, had been repurposed during the summer period to clean school windows that could not be cleaned during the school year. Mr. Brennan stated that the cleaning crew had focused its efforts on 53 schools in underserved communities that composed the Chancellor’s and UFT’s joint “Bronx Plan.”


Mr. Brennan also stated that the Corporation had expanded Daniel Fisler’s role to broaden its IT footprint and thus use technology to expand efficiencies.


With respect to internal processes, it was noted that incoming calls were no longer accepted at the Corporation, but rather that all communications with the Corporation by employees must now be through email. The benefits of this are in helping to document employee questions and issues as well as to reduce the number of issues by clarifying the questions at the outset. The Corporation has also implemented a computerized work order system to aid in documenting employee concerns, including the amount of time needed for an issue to be resolved. Referring to the chart in the management report, Mr. Brennan noted a dramatic drop in calls in August as the Corporation moved over to the CRM system.


He noted in addition that the number of payroll issues had stayed the same, but that representatives were more efficient at getting them completed and turned around. Ms. Jenkins-Lewis noted that 65% of the contacts are not actual payroll issues, but rather issues around the inflexibility of ADP.  Mr. Brennan noted that approximately 20 hours of the Corporation’s overtime are spent handling payroll issues during every month.


Mr. Storellicastro asked what outreach to staff had taken place around the changeover to an email system and the phone bank ending. Mr. Brennan replied that before any implementation, the Corporation had first reached out to its 2 Unions, and had subsequently followed up with emails and letters. No negative comments were received from either Union and he noted that, especially with respect to complex questions or issues, this method gives the Corporation the opportunity to answer questions correctly the first time around with complete information.


Mr. Storellicastro asked whether the Corporation accepts email from the Union in the event employees are not tech savvy. Mr. Brennan answered in the affirmative and also noted that the Corporation was exploring texting options. Mr. Napolitano added that often an employee’s first line is the DOE through the CE such that often it is the CE who communicates to NYCSSS and that NYCSSS has and would maintain a dedicated phoneline for CEs.


Ms. Siciliano asked whether there is similar data for call volume year over year to see whether the numbers are comparable. Mr. Brennan responded that it is still early but would report back on this at the next meeting. 

III. Financial Update (by Brooke Jenkins-Lewis)

Ms. Jenkins-Lewis noted that for the first time in the Corporation’s history, there are two full fiscal years to review. She stated that the first slide in the presentation represents overtime reduction in which there are many efficiencies rolled out to reduce overtime and that these are significant year over year as far as total financial spending largely attributable to overtime.


Mr. Botwinick asked why there was a big spike in overtime in May/June. Mr. Napolitano noted that in FY18, budget modifications had been implemented that affected the last quarter and that custodian engineers had not had some required resources, which caused a corresponding spike in overtime hours.


Ms. Jenkins-Lewis turned to the issue of headcount and noted that while it might seem that there had been layoffs or reductions in force, this actually represented a repurposing of temporary or fill-in employees who had been converted to full-time and permanent to create efficiencies. Mr. Brennan added that it had been one of the Union’s goals to get full benefits coverage for employees who didn’t have it previously.

  1. Meeting of Audit Subcommittee

Ms. Siciliano made a motion to convene the Audit Subcommittee of the Board, and the motion was approved. The Audit Subcommittee members include Ms. Siciliano, Mr. Storellicastro, Mr. Shcherbenko, and Mr. Botwinick. Mr. Storellicastro led the Audit Subcommittee proceedings as Chair of that Subcommittee.

Mr. Storellicastro first reviewed the agenda and then turned the floor over to Warren Ruppel of Marks Paneth, LLP to present the Corporation’s audited financial report for FY 2019.

Mr. Ruppel began by summarizing that all internal controls and recommendations have been addressed and that there were no new comments for this year such that there was not a lot to report.


Mr. Ruppel then went through the audit presentation he had prepared. He noted that Tab 1 contains contact information for the audit team and stated that the audit is substantially complete but that there are a few open items, which is typical. He drew the Subcommittee’s attention to the representation letter and stated that Marks Paneth would be issuing final numbers shortly, and that the 990 tax form would also be completed. He then turned to significant estimates such as for pensions and noted that the Local 32BJ plan is a private sector plan. He stated that there had been attempts to have GASB numbers reflected in financials and that this has been accomplished.


He went on to note that a number of closing type/adjusting entries had been recorded and that some were a little higher than last year, but that this was also routine. He noted no issues with performing the audit and no evidence of fraud or illegal activities to call attention to. He described certain data analytics aimed at looking for duplicate employees and that in the first audit certain data anomalies had been detected. These had been re-run with no significant anomalies being found, meaning that the database of employees has been cleaned up substantially.


He noted there were no material weaknesses or inefficiencies and stated that some had been found operationally in the past but that they’d all been addressed.


Mr. Ruppel stated that Form 990T tax issue for the Corporation’s own employees had been completed. He called the Board’s attention to the draft representation letter the auditors ask management to sign and then moved on highlight the subsequent tab containing a letter stating that there are no material weaknesses, that all comments have been resolved, and that there are no new ones. At Tab 4 he indicated there were draft financial statements and the Auditor’s report. He added that because the pension accounting has been taken care of, the report is clean. With respect to the management overview, he stated that the Corporation’s profile looks more complicated than it is due to government and fund statements, but noted that the only difference is in the recoding of long-term liabilities. He stated that the numbers themselves are straightforward. He noted one slight change in the amount due to the NYC DOE in accounts payable, but concluded that that would be placed in a separate line. He stated that the notes to the financial statements are consistent with prior years. With respect to the final tab of his presentation, he noted that there are no material weaknesses or deficiencies. He concluded by asking if there were any questions from the Board.


Hearing none, Chairperson Siciliano reconvened the full Board and asked the Audit Committee for a recommendation for approval of the Corporation’s annual financials.


The motion was approved and seconded, and the financials were adopted by the Board.



BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board Members hereby accept the Audited Financial Statements for the Fiscal Year ended June 30, 2019; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Members authorize the filing of the Audited Financial Statements in the form presented to this meeting with the required governmental entities; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the Chair, the Executive Director and the Chief Financial Officer are hereby authorized and empowered to take any such actions and execute such documents as they may deem necessary or appropriate to effectuate these resolutions, in accordance with the bylaws of NYC SSS.

  1. New Business

Chair Siciliano made a motion to discuss any new business of the Corporation, and the motion was approved. 

Ms. Jenkins-Lewis raised the issue of the Corporation’s current payroll provider and software and her desire to have a more effective and efficient system. She noted that the Corporation had been reviewing different payroll providers to provide greater efficiencies. Mr. Brennan noted that this harkens back to the inflexibility of ADP and its cost factor, and stated his desire to become even more efficient and save money in the process.


Ms. Jenkins-Lewis noted that the Corporation’s contract with ADP is for a 5-year term but that a departure from this contract, which would trigger a buyout option, could actually present a net savings within the same fiscal year, if timed correctly. She stated that as of next July, the Corporation’s buyout from the ADP contract would be approximately $433,000; a new provider could carry an implementation cost of $40,000-$50,000 and going forward there could be substantial savings in the annual cost of services, from approximately $1 million to $1.5 million.


She noted that another key factor is the implementation of new time clocks in schools to track employee attendance. A new payroll provider would allow the Corporation to use school time clocks whereas ADP is currently contractually prohibited from syncing with the school timeclock system. 


She also stated that an important functionality for any new provider would include recruitment and job placement, such as a “reverse Uber” which would allow a message about a job vacancy to be texted out to eligible employees within the job’s specific geographic area. She noted that this could create efficiency as it would cut down on time at the Corporation spent on calling people and trying to manually fill a given job. Mr. Brennan added that he would prefer employees who are familiar with a given school to go there and noted that CEs often complain about the amount of training required to get new employees up to speed, and that such a new system would give employees with familiarity a chance to bid competitively for a job opportunity.


Ms. Jenkins-Lewis stated that at the next Board meeting she would be in a position to present more concrete numbers and pros and cons for the Board’s consideration.   


Mr. Brennan added that conversations are also ongoing with the Corporation’s current payroll provider but that they thought it would be opportune at this juncture to highlight these issues for the Board.


As no further new business was raised, a motion was made and approved to adjourn the meeting at approximately 9:52 a.m.

Respectfully submitted by Anna Taruschio, Interim Meeting Secretary