Buildings, Grounds and Transportation

The Board of Education and administration have been researching the addition of a buildings, grounds and transportation supervisor for several years. They created the position of buildings, grounds and transportation supervisor in August, 2008 but have yet to fill the position.

When I arrived as superintendent here in December of 2008, it remained a priority for the district. In districts of our size, it is common to have mid level managers such as our cafeteria manager, Lori Benson, in the areas of buildings and grounds and also in transportation. We’ve not had that here and a need was identified so one position was created to manage those three areas.

Why do we need this? Just as a superintendent and administrative team are needed for a district perspective and expertise in things such as teaching and learning, personnel, contract negotiations, team building, long range planning, budget preparation and management, discipline, athletics, cafeteria management, and building level student management, administrative expertise is also needed in the areas of buildings and grounds and transportation.

Simply put, we are more efficient and effective if we have someone with a district perspective taking care of our facilities and the personnel employed to manage those facilities. While we have knowledgeable employees who work hard in these areas, they report to building principals who may or may not know the most effective and efficient ways to complete their tasks. And both buildings function separately while we would be better collectively, especially in the area of supplies and ordering plus sharing of staff.

Are we hiring someone? That’s a bit complicated. When I arrived, along with the BOE members, we decided to move forward with this position. Since it’s a civil service position, that means we have to follow the rules and procedures governing civil service and hire off of the certified list. Since no current list was available, we requested that the civil service exam be given. Well as you might imagine, that takes a while. The civil service exam was given on October 31, 2009.

Did we advertise the exam? No, it’s not our place to do so. Civil Service posts the exams on their website and advertises  in all of the local papers, according to Civil Service this includes the Olean, Salamanca, Randolph Register, and Pennysaver papers. It would not have indicated anything about Randolph Central–it only advertised the exam date for the position of superintendent of buildings, grounds, and transportation.

As it turns out, only one person took the test and therefore we’re not required to hire off this list. From my perspective, a candidate pool of one person is insufficient to hire from for any position. Civil Service then indicated that we may either hire the person on the list or we could advertise, interview and hire someone who meets the minimum qualifications and then that person would have to pass the test within a year.

To further complicate matters, all of the news about the state budget and cuts to our state aid are looming. So the BOE was faced with helping me make a difficult decision. Our options were as follows:

  1. Hire the one person on the list.
  2. Post, advertise and interview for the position, including the one person on the list.
  3. Change the position to consider a lower level employee, perhaps one head custodian for the district. We never replaced the elementary head custodian when he retired–we’ve always planned to redirect his salary to this new position.
  4. Wait to see what the budget looks like before filling this position in any manner.

It was important that the BOE consider this position as part of a larger picture. Right now our admin team is preparing the 2010-2011 budget and I have charged them with the onerous task of compiling a list of possible cuts should we need to make them. Once the state aid picture is more definite and we can more accurately estimate our revenues, we can know better what needs to be done. This position for buildings, grounds and transportation should be included in that broader discussion so it can be weighed against other possible cuts and prioritized appropriately.

This was the action we determined to take at this time–#4 waiting to fill the position until we can weigh it against any other cuts that need be taken.  After all, this Board of Education continues their commitment to keep taxes at bay and we are working to present a 0% increase to our taxpayers despite escalating costs for TRS/ERS and health insurance while balancing reported cuts to our revenues.  And it isn’t going to be easy.

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