Snow Removal New Rochelle School District , do we really need to spend $100.000 on outside contractor?

These are my comments at the Board Meeting on February 25th, 2014.

Dear Board,

I wanted to ask you about the snow removal and how it works. I know we have custodians in each school that are responsible for snow removal on sidewalks and such. And then we have Buildings and Ground crews that are coming with pick up trucks with plows in front of them.

What happens on days when schools are closed?

On Wednesday evening, Feb 5th, I saw district vehicles together with Mario Bulfamente trucks plowing and piling up at Ward. Wednesday was a school closing day. Did we give the day off to the B&G employees, just to hire them back on overtime?

I know, we have contracts with two outside contractors Zonzini and Bulfamente for ”Snow Removal Equipment Rental with Operators” for “not to exceed $100,000.” These contractors are supposed to be used “during severe snowstorms when normal standard School district snow removal procedures may be insufficient.”

What are normal standard School district snow removal procedures?

I am asking you, what are the deciding factors as to when our guys with plows in front of their trucks are not sufficient to plow, even if they have, due to school closings, nothing else to do?

How are Zonzini and Bulfamente paid? Do they have to submit invoices per occurrence? How is an occurrence determined? By time spent? By inches of snow? By building? Are their services billed as emergencies, in spite of the advance notice of school closing?

How come our B&G guys are working TOGETHER with the outside contractor?

Who checks they actually worked as long as they said they did? Who signs off on these invoices?

The City of New Rochelle has changed the way they deal with snow removal. They moved away from time and material contracts. They are now having a set formula for actual snow tonnage removed. The districts areas are very easy to survey and set. With actual figures per formula, possibilities to milk the system would be reduced.

Government money is often seen as easy money, because oversight is often lax. Insiders actually call government contracts “Tit Jobs”, because you just have to suck on them. Putting checks and balances in place is necessary to curb corruption.

You, as our elected officials, are the ones that should be putting checks and balances in place. However, the suggestion to observe contract negotiations was voted down. Checking up on our employees was considered “micro-managing”.

We have now GPS on garbage trucks, who reads that data?

We have $305,000 of supplies coming in, who controls inventory?

Robert Cox has uncovered many incidences of where either employees or contractors took advantage of the lack of over sight. These examples, as well as the garbage truck incident of last summer, were dismissed as “isolated incidents”

The district is spending millions of tax payer dollars and even so called “isolated incidences” are corruption and theft of public money that needs to be dealt with and not dismissed.

Maybe it is time to look at them rather as the “tip of the ice berg”

Let’s change that. Let’s put checks and balances into the system. Let’s make sure purchase orders are reasonable and corresponding invoices are of matching amounts. Do not leave approval of all transaction in just one hand, that just lends itself to abuse.

It is in our best interest that the money we spent is going into the education of our kids and NOT anywhere else.


Goodbye Styrofoam. City Schools to Serve Lunch on ‘Green’ Trays

Here is a great article by Topher Forhecz about New York City’s decision to eliminate Styrofoam trays and switch to round plates made of sugar cane byproduct, starting this fall.  This initiative is “the first result of the Urban School Food Alliance –- comprised of Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Orlando, Chicago and New York City — which formed in 2012 to boost the schools’ purchasing power in the private sector.”  Read the full article here.

NYC, Miami, Chicago and many more School Districts are ditching Styrofoam trays

The largest School districts in the country have finally woken up to the fact that schools, and the kids that are in those schools are the biggest players in environmental and sustainable planning.

Doing an Earthday project and then calling it done as far as it goes for instruction around sustainability is NOT ENOUGH.

Fortunately, the largest school districts are starting to wake up, that life is not disposable around us and that it is not cheaper and better to serve children on disposable Styrofoam trays. BTW, these trays are made of Polystyrene which has been classified as “reasonably anticipated human carcinogen” by the US Dept of Health in 2011.

Here is an excellent read on that topic. Some Westchester school districts are already following suit, but some is not enough. Westchester incinerates its garbage and guess who is breathing the air after burning 100.000 Styrofoam trays per day.

Tax Breaks for Big Oil?

Source via EcoWatch: Company profit reports,, “Lobbying Spending Database Oil & Gas 2013.” available at

In its article “Despite $93 Billion in Profits, Big Oil Demands Continued Tax Breaks,” EcoWatch describes “why, despite their outsized earnings, the oil companies are not only fighting to keep their tax breaks but also lobbying to lift the crude oil export ban.” Instead of investing in tax breaks, the American people would benefit more from investing in clean transportation alternatives.

Education Is The Key to Recycling and Recycling Saves Money

A very simple equation: what goes in, must come out.

This is valid for how New Rochelle’s schools are dealing with their garbage.

Here is a interesting article on how nationwide schools are the key to recycling and environmental awareness, but not all schools are equal in that regard.…

New Rochelle’s schools were until 2011 doing absolutely nothing in ways of recycling.
I started pushing the issue and with great pride I can say that we now have 5 schools actively source separating in the lunchrooms as well as more or less streaming the building waste. There are still many ways on how that can be improved and the students are the key to it all.

Education and hands on involvement is what is needed to -literally- bring the message home.

But nothing is more detrimental to a child than to see that no matter his effort to recycle, the custodian will just throw it all back together.

Education is the key, but the adult support is the lock. We cannot open the door to a more sustainable future with all its benefits without adult commitment.

I am calling for New Rochelle’s schools to increase its environmental education and I am calling for Buildings and Grounds to actually live up to Mr Quinn’s recycling mandate.

New Rochelle Schools Need A Driver to make Environmental Change happen

These are my remarks at last nights BOE meeting. I want to thank President Lacher for welcoming me so warmly to the microphone.

Dear Board,

My name is Anna Giordano. I want to start out by congratulating you to the appointment of John Barnes and Melissa Passarelli as principals. Those are great people and I am sure ALMS and Webster are thriving with them.

Last week I got from you a call on my home phone, a call on my cell phone, a text on my cell phone and an email to inform me that school is about to start again. I think it is wonderful that you have embraced the technology to that extend.

I was actually blown away to hear today to what extend you are embracing new technologies and you seem to have a fabulous driver for this in this teacher who just got tenure.

Way to go!

So, how about we embrace environmental sustainability with the same vigor.

Last week, I got these two mailings. One was from Webster school. It contained 4 full sheets of single page printed documents, plus two half. It all came in a 6×9 envelope, costing 66 cents to mail.

Mr Quinn said during the budget discussions that he found a way to save $200,000 for printing. It looks like we overlooked this opportunity here. Here we could be saving 85% of the cost associated with this mailing by embracing double page printing, using normal envelopes and normal 46c letter stamps. Continue reading New Rochelle Schools Need A Driver to make Environmental Change happen

Some Schools are Ditching Milk Cartons for Milk Dispenser

New Rochelle’s schools are producing a large amount of Garbage every day, this is not new to readers of my blog. That this garbage costs us tax payers dearly is also not new.

I proposed to the schools in order to curb waste of milk and to reduce garbage that we should institute dispensers and re-usable cups. The Foodservice Consultant told me that it could not be done easily but that she is looking into the feasibility.

That would be a wonderful step in the right direction. Right now, New Rochelle generates around 6000 cartons per day, and especially the elementary schools have a milk waste of close to 50%.… Continue reading Some Schools are Ditching Milk Cartons for Milk Dispenser