Meeting Minutes September 17th, 2020

NYC School Support Services, Inc.
Meeting of the Corporation’s Board
September 17, 2020, 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
Nicolas Storellicastro, NYCSSS Board 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
Dan Fisler, NYCSSS IT Manager
John Shea, CEO, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Phil Napolitano, Division of School Facilities, DOE
John Cruz, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Mark David, Division of School Facilities, DOE
Warren Ruppel, Marks Paneth
Philip Marciano, Marks Paneth

  1. Introduction

Chairperson Siciliano opened the meeting by noting that there was a quorum to conduct business and appointed Ms. Taruschio as interim Secretary for the meeting. She proceeded to review the meeting agenda, which included: the approval of the July 17, 2020 meeting minutes; a management update and financial report from NYCSSS staff; a meeting of the audit subcommittee of the Board; a resolution to adopt audited financials for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020; and the consideration of any new business.

  1. Approval of Meeting Minutes from July 17, 2020

Chairperson Siciliano made a motion to review the minutes from the July 17, 2020 meeting, and the motion was seconded. Chairperson Siciliano noted that no questions were raised with respect to the minutes and made a motion for their approval, which was seconded. 

  • Management Update

NYCSSS Executive Director Stephen Brennan gave the management update. He stated that since the last meeting, the Corporation’s focus had been on school reopening and supporting the DOE through this hectic time, as well as working steadily toward the goal of transitioning to its new payroll provider.

He acknowledged the Training Fund of Local 32BJ in developing a training video for NYCSSS employees on cleaning and sanitizing schools during the Covid-19 pandemic. He stated that Local 94 had also recently procured the use of this training video so that all employees could be properly trained. He noted that representatives of both Unions were instrumental in ensuring that all their members understood the importance of completing the training.

He noted in general that NYCSSS employees have been busy preparing for school reopening and that NYCSSS continues to work closely with DOE to ensure that schools are safe, clean, and ready for students and teachers upon their return. NYCSSS has also ensured that all employees complete nearly 1.5 hours of training on COVID-19 cleaning before schools reopen. Throughout the summer, some NYCSSS workers were also busy being redeployed to other City agencies (such as NYPD and ACS) wherever need was greatest.

Mr. Brennan proceeded to update the Board with respect to the Corporation’s new payroll provider, by noting that, upon Board approval, NYCSSS executed its contract with EPAY Systems and has been working to implement the functions and business processes provided in its software. In consultation with the Department of Education, NYCSSS determined that December 18, 2020 is the optimal time to implement EPAY. He stated in conclusion that, together with the DOE, NYCSSS set this schedule to minimize the impact on custodians while maximizing opportunities for the NYCSSS administrative team to improve business processes.

He set forth the schedule break down as follows:

  • EPAY Hire for Applicant Tracking is already live but will be integrated with the Salesforce system on September 28, 2020;
  • EPAY ONBOARDING and HCM will go live on September 28, 2020;
  • Custodians will be trained on EPAY’s Blueforce Timekeeping System in October 2020;
  • Payroll will complete final testing and include Custodians in November 2020; and
  • EPAY Blueforce and Payroll will go live on December 18, 2020 for the first paycheck of 2021.

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 started its seasonal recruitment activities for temporary staffing needs during the 2020-2021 school year in July 2020 and was conducting online interviews and recruitment events. He stated that as of August, 2020, the DOE PETS System was re-opened and processing candidates who NYCSSS nominates for hire. He added that NYCSSS has currently hired over 400 applicants and continues to use its job board, EPAY Hire, to direct candidates to NYCSSS’s open positions. In addition, he noted that NYCSSS’s job board has generated over 2,800 applicants for open vacancies and that NYCSSS’ community partner, Work Force One, has been forwarding over 60 pre-screened applicants per week.


Mr. Brennan next noted that all permanent, school-based NYCSSS employees have continued to work at their designated school sites during the COVID-19 pandemic, given that they are deemed to be “essential workers.” He stated that NYCSSS ended its redeployment of labor partnerships with NYPD Precincts and ACS sites as personnel needs have reverted back to pre-COVID-19 staffing structures. 


With respect to labor relations, Mr. Brennan stated that, in August 2020, the Corporation had begun conducting online grievance hearings utilizing a software application called Discord, which allows grievances to be held and meets all 32BJ and Local 94 grievance requirements and guidelines. Turning to court cases and other legal activities, he noted that essentially all courts (state and federal) are either closed or only hear cases on an emergency basis but that there has been some limited activity at the human rights agencies (City Commission on Human Rights and State Division of Human Rights). Lastly, he stated that all arbitrations have been adjourned pending resolution of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mr. Brennan reiterated with respect to employee training that the Corporation is in the process of training all current full-time and part-time employees in COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection by the first day of school. He noted that once this critical training is completed, employees would also be trained in more general Health & Safety as well as Anti-Sexual Harassment, as required by New York State and City law.  

Turning to the area of business technology, Mr. Brennan noted that the Corporation’s use of cloud-based technologies continues to be a key component of its business operations. He stated that since the last Board meeting, NYCSSS had continued to make progress in multiple IT projects, including extending the Salesforce platform for multiple other uses as a recruiting application, a training application and a CRM application, and that the applications had been built out in the areas of training, tracking health/safety, tracking anti-sexual harassment training, tracking Covid-19 training, recruitment, candidate tracking through PETS screening, and using technology to integrate/share data between Salesforce and EPAY HCM.


In the area of customer relationship management (CRM), Mr. Brennan stated that since June 1, 2020, the NYCSSS team had received 17,523 cases in Salesforce and that to date 93% of those cases had been closed/resolved. He explained that delays were experienced with DAF’s and audits

  1. Financial Update

The Corporation’s CFO, Brooke Jenkins-Lewis presented the financial update and began by noting that NYCSSS’ numbers are relatively the same as at the last update in July, but that she would point out some differences.

Directing the Board’s attention to Slide 1, Ms. Jenkins-Lewis stated that hours and cost variances have gone down, which is attributable to Covid, with a notable hours reduction beginning in March, 2020.

On the next slide, total hours comparison, she noted that there were also similar peaks and valleys over the course of the year, and that in August there was an uptick in hours due to school opening, and there are also upticks due to snow storms. She stated that March and April hours dropped due to Covid-19.

On the next slide, total regular hours, Ms. Jenkins-Lewis noted the same seasonality in the winter months and the drop in hours in March and April 2020.

Moving to slide 5, overtime hours comparison, she stated that the profile was the same, only more dramatic, with upticks due to school opening, seasonality in the winter, and then a March and April drop-off in hours.

She directed the Board’s attention to the average headcount by month comparison slide. Here Ms. Jenkins-Lewis stated that in August one can see vacation replacements – extra staffing needed for school opening – and a subsequent drop-off in March and April due to Covid.

On the final slide, gross payroll comparison year over year, she highlighted that there was a big spike in January due to winter storms and that there were some late storms in March. She pointed to an uptick in July 2020 due to one-time retro payments to Local 32BJ going back to January.

  1. Meeting of Audit Subcommittee

Chairperson Siciliano then made a motion to convene the Audit Subcommittee of the Board, and the motion was approved. The Audit Subcommittee members include Chairperson 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 2020.

Mr. Ruppel began by introducing himself as the Engagement Partner for Marks Paneth, and his colleague, Philip Marciano as Senior Manager. Mr. Ruppel drew the Board’s attention to the Post-Audit Presentation that had previously been distributed to the Board. He noted that he would be referring to page numbers as he took the Board through highlights of this document.

On Tab 1 he noted that there was contact information for himself and the members of his team.

On page 9 at Tab 2 he stated that the audit had been performed in according with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards as well as Government Auditing Standards and that the audit is essentially complete and that they are prepared to issue an unmodified or clean opinion on the Corporations financial statements subject to the few open items listed on page 9. He stated that the audit was performed remotely this year due to Covid and that they had had few difficulties obtaining any information and had had good cooperation from Mr. Brennan, Ms. Jenkins-Lewis and their staff and that, despite the situation, the audit had gone smoothly.

Mr. Ruppel stated that page 10 presented a recap of the timing for the audit and that the goal was to issue it by the end of the month to allow the Corporation to meet its City Comptroller and PAAA reporting requirements. He also noted that the Corporation files a Form 990 as a not-for profit and that that document would be prepared by the beginning of the year.

With respect to Tab 4, Mr. Ruppel noted that significant judgments on page 11 only relate to pension benefits through the Local 32BJ Fund and that amounts were based on actuarial estimates and that he reviewed these and found them to be reasonable and that there was thus nothing to report there.

Turning to Tab 6, consisting of entries relating to pensions and processing of entries, Mr. Ruppel noted that the third bullet on page 11 presented a true-up of costs from estimate to actual. He noted in general that the number of entries from year to year were consistent and that there were very few issues, considering the size of the operation.

He stated that Tab 7 showed there were no difficulties in performing the audit or disagreements with management. He stated that the audit had not detected any fraud or illegal activities, including additional procedures they had performed, including looking at one month’s bank statement as well as understanding vendors which goes a bit beyond what is required under the auditing standards. He noted also that they had used data analytics to go through certain comparisons, like employee and vendor addresses and that no issues had arisen from there. He also stated (at Tab 10) that he had not detected any material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in internal controls and that there were no best practice recommendations this year either, and concluded that this had been a pretty clean audit.

He continued that he could confirm that they’re independent and had sent out a pre-audit presentation to the Board via email setting forth some new GASB standards. He noted for the Board that the SHIELD act is a new New York State law that requires organizations to do certain things in the event of a data breach to make sure NYCSSS is aware of this and in compliance. This section also contains a Management Representation letter which he would ask Mr. Brennan and Ms. Jenkins-Lewis to sign, attesting that all meeting minutes were present and all the conflict of interest forms had been signed off on by members of the organization.

Turning to page 23, Mr. Ruppel noted that there was a draft one-page letter stating there were no internal weaknesses in internal controls, which is essentially the management letter.

On Tab 4 at page 27 were the financial statements and the Independent Auditors Report on the financial statements. Mr. Ruppel stated that the opinion were clean and unmodified. On page 29 was a management discussion and analysis, describing fluctuations that occur, going back with 3 years of information for comparison that is helpful in understanding changes and fluctuations in the financials.

He stated that the actual financial statements themselves start on page 34 of the pdf and are consistent with the prior year. He noted that there were two sets of financials: government-wide which are on an accrual basis and show long-term liabilities (on page 35) and general fund financial statements (on page 36) which reflect short-term financial resources without long term liabilities like pension benefits and accrued vacation.

In closing, he stated that the last tab was a different auditors report (on page 57) following Government Auditing Standards; he also referred to another report in the last paragraph on compliance and internal controls at the financial statement level (on page 59). He noted again that there were no findings on internal controls and financial reporting or relating to compliance or other matters, and concluded again that this was a clean report.

He concluded by asking if there were any questions from the Board.

Mr. Storellicastro stated that he had no questions and asked the Audit Subcommittee if they had any comments or questions for Marks Paneth. Hearing none, Mr. Storellicastro thanked Marks Paneth as well as Ms. Jenkins-Lewis and her team for another clean audit.

Mr. Storellicastro then adjourned the Audit Subcommittee of the Board. Chairperson Siciliano reconvened the full Board and asked the Audit Committee for a recommendation for approval of the Corporation’s annual audited financials. Mr. Storellicastro made a recommendation of approval and Chairperson Siciliano made a motion to approve the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. 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, 2020; 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 NYCSSS.

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 Anna Taruschio, Interim Meeting Secretary.