November 15, 2012

Brunswick schools lose $5,640 when IT contractor shutters

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The Brunswick School Department lost $5,640 this year when the New York-based company that managed substitute teachers' assignments closed without warning.

Now the department is planning to spend nearly twice what it paid the defunct company to do the same job.

Central Xchange Inc. of Syracuse, N.Y., provided a telephone- and Web-based service for teachers and administrators that tracked and streamlined the daily assignment of substitute teachers, said Brunswick Superintendent Paul Perzanoski. In October, its service, called Sub-IT, stopped functioning and nobody could reach the company, he said.

The district, which paid upfront for the service, has little chance of recovering its investment.

"They're out of state," Perzanoski said. "You'd spend more (money) than that trying to track them down."

After signing on with a new contractor, Brunswick schools will spend more than $15,000 this year to assign substitute teachers.

Although Perzanoski said Central Xchange provided competent services during the last school year, records filed with the New York State Division of Corporations show that Central Xchange ceased operations much earlier, in January 2010, when its chairman and CEO, Michael Doyle, dissolved the company.

Perzanoski was surprised to be told that Central Xchange had dissolved.

A call to Central Xchange's office in Syracuse was directed to a car wash supply company based in Acton, Mass. Doyle did not return a call for comment at a Syracuse address listed for him.

It was not clear whether any other Maine school districts hired the company. David Connerty-Marin, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Education, said substitute assignment procedures are largely left up to individual schools and districts.

Without the automated substitute system, a popular management tool for schools, Brunswick has leaned harder on its administrative staff in recent weeks to do the job of a computerized database.

"Our administrative secretaries and department heads and principals have done work above and beyond the call of duty," Perzanoski said.

SubFinder, a Web-based service whose parent company is based in Pennsylvania, will charge Brunswick about $9,600 a year. That will bring the total cost for substitute management to $15,240 for this school year.

But with the added cost came extra assurance.

"They actually came out in person," Perzanoski said. "We had a little bit more confidence, being able to shake someone's hand."

Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@mainetoday.com

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