GREEN BROOK, N.J. — Since joining Green Brook Township Public Schools in 2008, Transportation Supervisor Nancy Farinella has been able to achieve annual cost savings ranging from $50,000 to more than $150,000 by making the operation more efficient, while also bringing in revenue for the district.
These accomplishments stem from her 26 years in the industry and the experience she’s gained working at all levels of pupil transportation, from school bus driver to clerk to dispatcher to transportation supervisor, at several school districts.
Farinella told SBF that prior to her coming on board at the district, the bus drivers each had their own personal credit card for use at two local gas stations, but she soon learned after taking the position as transportation supervisor that they didn’t receive any discounts at the stations. So she formed an inter-local agreement with an adjacent municipality, sharing in fueling costs with the police department and the road department.
“We also had a mechanic’s helper at the time, and all of our repairs were done with outside vendors,” Farinella said. “That cost at least $150,000 a year. We stopped using the helper and we hired a certified mechanic, so there was a savings there.”
She also cut overtime hours for some drivers who were getting time-and-a-half for providing transportation to sports events and other activities.
“They probably didn’t like me at first, but I’m here to do a job,” Farinella said of cutting the overtime hours. “The first year when I came here, I saved $155,000 in running things my way. The second year was about a $50,000 savings. Now, I don’t think I can cut any more from my budget. I would rather see more go to my staff because I care about them.”
In addition to cost savings, Farinella said she has generated an average of about $125,000 in revenue annually by partnering with other local school districts for joint transportation agreements.
Green Brook Township Public Schools has also ranked No. 1 in efficiency among the 19 school districts in the county in the past several years. The efficiency rating is calculated by the state annually based on several figures, including how many students the operation transports and on how many routes, as well as the cost of the routes. (Farinella said that anything over 2.0 is good, and last year the district’s rating was 2.45.)
One of Farinella’s favorite aspects of her job is that it allows her to work with people, and she also enjoys serving the district’s students and making sure that they arrive at school and back home safely.
She also speaks very highly of her staff (which includes 20 bus drivers, the mechanic and six aides), saying that without them, she wouldn’t be able to do her job.
“It takes all of us to make operations work, and they all do an excellent job,” she said, noting that their safety is also of utmost concern to her, particularly when the bus drivers are out on the road during inclement weather.
She said that this year’s harsh winter has been a challenge for the team, but they didn’t have any accidents. (In addition to regular safety training sessions, she makes online courses available on such topics as winter driving and defensive driving.)
Farinella’s appreciation for her staff and her concern for their well-being is not lost on them.
Green Brook school bus driver David Alston worked in the computer field in the Washington, D.C., area for 18 years and held several other jobs before he began driving school buses. He started driving school buses with Durham School Services and then joined Green Brook Township Public Schools in 2010.
Alston told SBF that Farinella “has a great personality,” and “if we do a good job, she lets us know.”
“It’s a pleasure to work for her, and it makes coming to work fun,” he said.