Summer hours approved for board office

| 05 Jul 2012 | 12:12

WEST MILFORD — With a 7-1 vote, the West Milford Board of Education approved reduced summer hours for the central office employees,

The board office, located in the Administration Building at 46 Highlander Drive, is open during the school year between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Last month, the board voted to approve reduced summer hours for the board office employees as per recommendation of the superintendent.

Trustee Jim Foody questioned the summer hours last year and he questioned them again this year before voting no.

The reduced hours result in what Foody said is a 30-hour work week for the staff as opposed to the regular 35 hours, at the same contracted rate of pay.

“Are we gonna be paying these people for a 30-hour week or are we gonna be paying them for a 35-hour week as we did last year where they were paid for time that they did not work?” asked Foody.

Not a new practice Reducing the hours of the board office employees in the summer is not a new concept in the district, but rather a practice that has reportedly been in effect for many years. According to former Interim Superintendent John Petrelli, the board central office staff works longer hours during the school year than the contracted 35 hours and they do not receive overtime. Petrelli said the staff would work the reduced hours with one-half hour lunch and no breaks, which he said was the same as last year, up until July.

Petrelli reminded Foody this discussion took place last year as well.

“So this is the same thing going around and around again,” said Petrelli.

Petrelli compared this practice to that of the custodians, who take two 15-minute breaks that are not in their contract. He said if Foody wishes to make an issue of the summer hours for the office staff, he would have to make an issue of the custodians' breaks that aren't in their contract. But Foody said the breaks were approved by a previous superintendent in a memo and have been common practice for years.

Foody said there is no contract language for the summer hours and in his training he's learned that contract language trumps past practice. He recommended that salaries be pro-rated instead. Another suggested by Foody was that this savings could be used to eliminate the student activity fee for families.

Trustee Wayne Gottlieb said he occasionally has to communicate with central office staff as chair of the Negotiations Committee and has noticed that the staff often appears to be working overtime with no formal accommodation for that.

“If we’re going to be precise and tight then we have to be precise and tight on both of them, which would involve some expenditure on our part” he said.

In the end, the board approved the summer hours. Trustee Matt Conlon abstained from voting since he has a family member employed in the central office.

Summer board office hours July 2 through Aug. 24, 2012

Monday – Thursday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Friday 8 a.m. to 12 noon