Of course, in all of its infinite wisdom (I jest, of course), the Bridgeport Board of Education is considering discontinuing joint facilities and building operations management with the city. Tax savings and improved buildings be damned!
I was just forwarded this letter submitted to the Board of Education by Jorge Garcia, the Director of Public Facilities for the City of Bridgeport, and I wanted my readers to see what exactly the board may be ending:
Dear Members of the Board of Education,
Merging of the City’s Public Facilities Department with the Board of Education’s Building Operations Department has resulted in savings for City taxpayers, significant improvements in our school buildings, and enhancing the educational environment for our students. Parents, administrators, and teachers have overwhelmingly supported the consolidation through communications with the Director of Public Facilities. Terminating this merger will put an end to the positive progress and momentum achieved in a short period of time.
In the past, taxpayers have supported two separate departments that serve similar functions. Through unprecedented collaboration between the City administration and the Board of Education, the Departments were merged to create a more transparent and efficient service delivery system.
By consolidating, the Departments were able to eliminate 33 Building Operations positions, including a reduction of management staff from nine to three. This has resulted in a management savings of approximately $280,000.
Further cost saving initiatives implemented since the merger include:
City landscaping resources resulted in a savings of approximately $40,000 in operating costs as of December 2013, with an additional $40,000 in savings for the remainder of the fiscal year.
- Consolidation of waste removal resulted in a first year savings of $265,000 and will save $160,000 each year.
- Consolidated Trades resource savings of approximately $50,000
- Consolidation of snow removal resources resulted in saving over $135,000 during Storm Nemo.
- Use of Roadway resources resulted in
- $13,000 for hot and cold patch
- $12,000 for sweepers
- $35,000 for striping for parking lots and sign repair and replacement
These initiatives have attracted interest from other municipalities throughout the State.
In total, the merger of the two departments has resulted in approximately $1 million in operating savings for the Board of Education. Since the consolidation, the City administration has allocated $1.8 million for Capital improvements in school buildings.
In addition to tangible savings, the merger has resulted in significant improvements to the conditions of the schools and their grounds involving the entire community while utilizing the schools as hubs. Examples are:
- A multi-year project was initiated to improve the playgrounds and playscapes at schools. New playscapes have already been installed at Curiale and Dunbar Schools.
- Park City Schools and Community Alliance, a collaborative effort between the Building Operations and Parks Departments in partnership with non-profit community organizations such as Green Village Initiative, Groundwork Bridgeport, BuildOn and others, 22 school gardens growing fresh produce for students and the community have been built. In conjunction with the Park City Schools and Community Alliance, several neighborhood cleanups have been held on weekends in the spring and fall to improve the condition of the neighborhoods surrounding our schools. Additional projects are scheduled for the Spring.
Board of Education Building Operation staff members have assisted City Public Works crews with snow removal and pothole filling operations, improving the quality of our school grounds.
The merger has successfully improved the conditions of the buildings our children use daily, while reducing Board of Education allocations for facilities. In considering maintaining this merger, I urge you to evaluate the needs of students, staff, and parents, as well as the holistic effect it has had and will continue to have on the City of Bridgeport.
Director of Public Facilities
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