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Westchester County, NY May 17, 2011 Election
Smart Voter

With respect to school district finances, are there any specific initiatives you would pursue to save money or reduce expenses?

By Robert Andrew "Bob" Cox

Candidate for Member, Board of Education; New Rochelle City School District

This information is provided by the candidate
My ideas to reduce costs.
I have made specific recommendations to the board over the past several years; some of them include:

1. Improve Fleet Management - Install GPS locators on all district vehicles that link back to software which can provide alerts if a vehicle is leaving the boundaries of New Rochelle, is moving or out of position when it should be parked or that is parked in a location where it should not be located. Westchester County has installed such a system on its fleet and the results have been transformative.

2. Install Biometric Time Clocks - Currently staff are required, in various ways, to check-in and check-out, but there is no unified system and what little system exists is widely abused. Companies like ADP can install a district-wide system for as little as $10,000. The savings in reduced pay, especially for hourly workers and for overtime, would be immediate and save the district significant sums of money. In other environments such as hospitals and government agencies where these systems are in widespread use, the system improves morale among the best employees because the hardest workers feel more confident that "time cheats" are being held accountable and thus their efforts are more respected.

3. Terminate Contract with ServiceMaster - The district currently pays a company called ServiceMaster $850,000 a year for four people to "manage" the buildings and grounds department. This is a department where an HVAC engineer, Vito Costa, was arrested for working a no-show job in 2009. Despite investigators for the Westchester County District Attorney following him for a month in which he did not report to work at the school district and where he was found to have been routinely stealing supplies to use in his private HVAC business, no supervisor was held accountable for signing his time cards or supply orders. This is the department in which Frank DeMasi was found to be one of many employees converting district vehicles and equipment to personal use. And this is the same department that has hired Jimmy Bonano, Jr., Len Ricci and Rasool Hassan Williams, among others, despite extensive arrest records. ServiceMaster recently sold a contract to provide similar services to the Mount Vernon School District where the four employees are now splitting their time; despite this the district continues to pay the full $850,000 a year.

Other ideas include:

4. Bring pay for hourly workers in line with other school districts in Westchester, dropping it from $20 an hour to $10.

5. Conduct a residency audit to make sure we are not paying to educate students who are wrongly enrolled.

6. Explore the use of district-shared busing to save on costs and restore door-to-door small van service.

7. Consider options to reduce healthcare costs such as Health Savings Accounts, especially for younger employees.

I have offered specific ideas on better budget management to create a more readable budget document like they have in other districts such as Scarsdale and Mamaroneck.

1. Create a separate budget advisory committee, staffer by community volunteers with extensive financial background, to provide an independent analysis of the school budget.

2. Fund balance report card published each year as part of the appendix to the budget that would provide the board and the community a snapshot the reserve fund is being allocated against items such as employee sick day and workman's comp reserve, capital projects,

3. Charts and graphs providing 10 years of trend data based on past budgets and audited financials + budget-to-budget, actual to actual.

4. Including the two page executive summary from the audited financials in the appendix of the budget document.

5. Union contract report card providing key details in the contract and a comparative analysis based on regional and state data.

Generally, I would like to reconsider the way the district has build up its excessive reserve funds and discuss ways to invest these funds in our children or slow the growth of future tax increases or both.

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ny/wst Created from information supplied by the candidate: May 13, 2011 14:50
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