YONKERS, NY – May 8, 2012 – Mayor Mike (pictured left) Spano’s Education Redesign Team (ERT) released today its initial Phase I Report, recommending shared services and efficiency measures for the City of Yonkers (City) and Yonkers Board of Education (YBoE). In identifying functional areas where cost-efficiencies between the City and YBoE could be achieved, the ERT examined the operations of their Legal, Human Resources, Facilities Management, Purchasing and Information Technology (IT) departments.
Convened for the first time earlier this year by Mayor Spano, the ERT immediately embarked on its Phase I task of conducting a comprehensive assessment of the administrative functions of the BOE and the City, with the objective of developing specific cost-efficiency recommendations relating to their collective operations. Phase I also included the identification of grant and other funding opportunities to support the implementation of the Phase I recommendations.
Mayor Spano intends that Phase II of the ERT’s mission – to begin this summer with a newly reconstituted ERT – will focus on both the implementation of the Phase I recommendations, and the commencement of a broader scale examination of the complex consolidation, funding and educational issues facing the YBoE – with an overarching goal of maximizing resources and improving the educational experience of our children.
“I want to thank this blue ribbon panel for dedicating so much of their time and expertise to developing these Phase I recommendations,” said Mayor Spano. “This report demonstrates that regardless of how much the City and the Board of Education have done to improve their respective operations in the past, tremendous opportunities for improving service delivery remain if we work together. This Phase I report is the first step towards better enabling the YBoE to focus its energies and resources on the education of our children.”
Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio (pictured above right) added, “The Mayor's Education Redesign Team is making significant progress by identifying duplicated services that will translate into more education dollars being driven to our students. I note with particular pride areas where the District has implemented proven administrative efficiency models that the ERT suggests the City of Yonkers attempt to replicate.”
In Phase I, the ERT conducted a month-long assessment of the major administrative functions of the YBoE and the City including: Human Resources, Legal, Information Technology, Purchasing, Payroll, and Facilities Management/Utilities/Energy, including work sessions with departmental managers and the review of documents provided by those managers.
Based on these assessments, the ERT’s Phase I report recommends the following:
· Consider ways to reduce outside counsel fees for YBoE’s primary legal needs, including the hiring in-house counsel and/or conducting an RFP for new outside counsel. Potential Savings: in excess of $300,000
- Explore strategies for reducing the costs associated with the City and YBoE’s use of outside counsel through: (a) provision of litigation services by the City’s Corporation Counsel Office, (b) negotiating reductions in current contractual rates and (c) establishing pre-determined “government rates” for new engagements.
- Examine the Workers Compensation Function, which is already provided as a shared service, to reduce external legal costs and improve worker safety.
II. Human Resources
- Consider the consolidation of all City and BOE Human Resources staffing to eliminate redundancies and improve efficiency, recognizing the need to maintain HR staff dedicated solely to the hiring and administration of teaching staff.
- Explore efficiencies in benefits programming to ensure both City and YBoE are providing the best employee coverage at the best rates.
- Consider merging City and YBoE payroll systems.
- Conduct a consolidated review of Workers Compensation costs and liabilities to enhance administrative efficiencies and improve employee safety.
- City should consider tools used by YBoE to reduce job posting costs, where ever practicable.
III. Facilities Management/Public Works/Utilities
· The City should expand its ongoing assessment of facility utilization for City operations to include the YBoE’s facilities needs for its non-academic and/or administrative operations.
· The City and the YBoE should explore merging storage facilities for assets such as: records, food, and/or furniture.
· Consider merging the vehicle maintenance functions of the City and YBoE.
· The City and YBoE should collaborate on energy-savings initiatives.
· The City should consider merging solid waste disposal services.
· The City and YBoE should consider merging snow removal services.
- The City and YBoE should develop a mechanism to coordinate their purchasing practices to achieve cost-savings for common purchases.
- The YBoE and the City should look beyond the City’s boundaries for additional purchasing partners to include other municipalities and the existing intermunicipal consortium.
- The City should continue to seek ways to streamline the procurement process in order to reach greater efficiency, including consolidation opportunities.
V. Information Technology
- The City should hire a Chief Information Officer who will shape IT policy and manage technology in order to enhance efficiency, streamline business processes and improve customer service delivery.
- The City should consider merging the information technology and telecommunications functions which are currently provided by MIS and Office Services, respectively, to create internal synergies.
- The City and YBoE should inventory all MIS-related assets and determine if there are opportunities to maximize its collective technology capacities and save money.
- The City should explore the viability of utilizing the voice over internet protocol (VoIP), whenever practical, as well as evaluating provider options.
- The City should consider adopting the YBoE’s practice of moving its applications to the “cloud.”
The ERT also identified grant opportunities which may be available to help offset costs associated with further study and/or implementation of these Phase I recommendations:
· NYS Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund
· NYS Local Government Efficiency Grant Program
· NYS Local Government Performance and Efficiency Program
With Phase I complete, the ERT now will oversee the implementation of these recommendations and also serve as the vetting agent for upcoming Board of Education vacancies. As part of Phase II, Mayor Spano will also reconstruct the ERT to include of more students, teachers and administrators, and begin a more concentrated focus on education funding and academics. Phase II is scheduled to begin this summer. The full ERT report is available on www.yonkersny.gov.
SOURCE: Christina Gilmartin, Communications Director of the City of Yonkers