The Yonkers Inspector General’s (IG) report concerning overtime at the Board of Education (BOE) detailed no findings of substance, but, rather, tended to confuse the overtime policy with contractually mandated extra pay and summer pay. This confusion persisted even after the BOE held several meetings with him and his staff to explain the distinctions between these policies, as well as the BOE’s legal and contractual obligations, which were glossed over or misinterpreted in the report.
First, the data used by the IG as a benchmark (data reported in LoHud.com) was not directly comparable to the data the IG requested. BOE overtime figures are based on a July through June calendar. Yet, the figures used in LoHud.com, and adopted by the IG for his report, were based on a January through December fiscal year and, in fact, spanned two years of data.
Second, the Board Resolution stating the terms of overtime for 10-month employees is quite clear and was developed with the legal advice of the BOE’s attorneys. Ten-month employees cannot make overtime for a time period they are not assigned to work (July and August). Summer work is, therefore, straight salary, not overtime, and does not come under the cap.
Third, the IG was given numerous invitations to visit the BOE and directly discuss the overtime policy with staff. He declined stating that he did not have the staff or manpower to make these visitations. When the BOE sought similar relief because of a short-staffed Finance Department, the IG criticized the BOE for not providing timely information. Although he was made aware of the Department’s limitations, he chose to use subpoena power as a show of force.
Fourth, the BOE is contractually bound to pay members of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers 1/200th of their salary for work on a non-school day if union members work over six hours in a similar assignment. All of our summer school teachers are paid at the hourly rate and have been for years. The anomaly is with teachers who work in the special education department and continuously work beyond the six-hour day. The BOE has attempted to keep all non-school day assignments under six hours to remain at hourly pay, except in the case of social workers and psychologists. This has been challenged and lost in an arbitration decision.
Finally, the IG inexplicably chose to omit from his report the single most significant piece of information about BOE overtime during the period he investigated: BOE overtime dropped from $4.5 million to $3 million, a $1.5 million savings generated because of diligent enforcement of the overtime policy governing nearly 4000 employees. He did not have to investigate to find this out; the BOE made him aware of this achievement early in his inquiry.
Although the IG’s report calls for some clarification, the BOE is delighted that the ultimate findings reveal a BOE that adheres to an overtime policy that continues to reap impressive results for the citizens of Yonkers.