Overtime spending soars, but work not getting done
STAMFORD — Soaring overtime spending for custodial services continues to plague the district’s public schools.
Although the school system spent $1.5 million of its $1.7 million custodial and tradesman overtime budget by December, less than half of the work orders put in over the last three months were completed, numbers recently presented to the Board of Education show. During this same time frame, the district spent about $692,000 on overtime.
Of note, only 36 percent of carpentry work orders were completed from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31. Out of the 146 plumbing requests entered, only 98 were completed. On the flip side, the district has spent $75,000 on overtime for carpenters and $67,283 on plumbing overtime this year.
In total, only 42 percent of work orders from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 were completed.
It’s the latest in a series of issues Board of Education members have raised with the district’s facility management firm, ABM, which has had a history of not supplying the necessary number of part-time staff, causing a spike in overtime expenses, according to reports. In the first three months of the fiscal year, the district spent $875,000 which amounted to over half their allotted budget.
“When I look at the overtime and then I look at the work orders filled, I have a lot of questions,” said board member Jackie Pioli. “I don’t feel comfortable with percentages being that low. I don’t feel it’s acceptable. We’re ensuring our buildings are physically sound and able to run and those numbers don’t represent that.”
At a recent Board of Education meeting, Rich Lyons, the district’s director of facilities, who is an employee of ABM, said the district now has more than 40 part-time custodians, but needs about 52. There’s also a shortage of three full-time custodians following the death of two full-timers and one being placed on administrative leave.
Lyons said many jobs, like plumbing, need parts ordered and other problems like roof leaks aren’t dealt with by ABM staff. While certain trade areas had low completion rates when it came to work orders, nearly all electrical and ground order issues were addressed with nearly 100 percent completion rates.
With a dwindling custodial overtime budget of $132,000 to last through the end of June, board members are suggesting adding in a mandatory work order completion rate into the custodial contract, which is currently under negotiation.
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