THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

TO:

Full Board

FROM:

Jean C. Stevens

SUBJECT:

Status Report on Roosevelt Union Free School District

 

DATE:

June 12, 2006

 

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 and 2

 

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Issue for Information

 

In May, the full Board received a report on the Roosevelt Union Free School District prepared by Department staff and Superintendent Ronald Ross that included data on academic performance and school completion and a summary of technical assistance provided to the district by SED and the Long Island technical assistance network.  In addition, the full Board heard a brief report from Superintendent Ronald Ross and Board President Edward McCormick. Staff was asked to provide additional information on a monthly basis on the status of key issues for the district. The attached report responds to that request.

 

Reason(s) for Consideration

 

Response to request for additional information on a monthly basis.


Proposed Handling 

 

For information.

 

Procedural History

 

Not applicable,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Background Information

 

          Roosevelt Union Free School District is the only New York State take-over school district.  On April 12, 2002, Chapter 33 of the Laws of 2002 was enacted into law authorizing the removal of the Board of Education (BOE) of the Roosevelt Union Free School District and the appointment of an interim board by the Commissioner of Education.

 

          Section 1 of the statute authorizes the Commissioner of Education to appoint and supervise the superintendent of schools; he may disapprove the appointments of assistant or associate superintendents, building principals and other school administrators in accordance with contractual agreements, while ensuring stability in governance and administration of the school district.  Furthermore, the Commissioner exercises fiscal control as well as educational program oversight.  The interim BOE must provide a five-year education plan with annual updates and a five-year financial stabilization plan for the district, which shall ensure that revenues and expenditures are in balance.  The interim BOE must also provide the Board of Regents with periodic updates of the educational progress of the school district.

 

Recommendation

 

Staff recommends that the Regents review the attached status report on three timely issues related to the operation of the Roosevelt Union Free School District.

 

Timetable for Implementation

 

Not applicable.

 

 

 

 

Attachment


         

Status Report on Roosevelt Union Free School District

 

The following provides a status report on three areas of the Departmentís focus during this reporting period:  finance, audit and construction.

 

    I.     Finance

 

       Fiscal Administrator

 

The Department has started the process of identifying and recruiting a fiscal administrator to monitor the budgetary and financial operations of the Roosevelt Union Free School District. The fiscal administrator will be appointed by the Commissioner pursuant to Chapters 33 and 72 of the Laws of 2002.  Department staff has identified two potential candidates, thus far. Staff is working with the New York State Association of School Business Officials to identify a pool of qualified candidates. The search to identify qualified candidates will be completed by June 23, 2006. The fiscal administrator will be responsible for reviewing the operations, expenditures, management and efficiency of the district, and will make recommendations to the Commissioner, the Roosevelt Superintendent and the Roosevelt Board of Education.

 

       District Business Official

 

The district has been recruiting and interviewing candidates for the full-time position of school business official.  To date, this is still a work in progress.  The district has hired a retired school business official to assist in the interim.

 

       Budget Vote Status

 

The district will submit its budget for a second vote on June 20, 2006.  At this point, district staff is optimistic about the result.  In the event of a budget defeat, a contingency budget must be adopted.  As a result, expenditures would be reduced by approximately $3.6 million or 5.5%.

 

   II.     Audit

 

       Final Audit Report (SD-0205-5)

 

The final audit report was issued by the Office of Audit Services (OAS) on May 18, 2005. The President of the Board of Education indicated in the districtís response that all appropriate recommendations will be implemented and pledged a cooperative relationship.

 

Progress in implementing any outstanding audit recommendations will be tracked during scheduled monthly meetings of SED Senior Managers with Superintendent Ross and members of his administrative cabinet.  The next scheduled meeting is June 30, 2006.

 

OAS routinely follows up on all recommendations contained in final audit reports. The process involves a request from OAS for a formal description of actions taken to implement the recommendations. The request also asks for timeframes and the designation of officials responsible for implementation. The follow up takes place 90 days after the issuance of the final report and allows 30 days for response.  On or about September 15, 2006, OAS will analyze the information provided by the district and prepare a status report on audit recommendations.

 

       Data Audit

 

Staff from the Office of Audit Services (OAS), as well as the Office of Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education, visited Roosevelt to examine 2001 student cohort data to assess its reliability. The 2001 data was examined, and it was determined that the district over-reported the 2001 accountability cohort. The original number reported was 187. The review found that some students should have been included in the cohort but were not.  Some students were included twice and others should not have been in the cohort because they had appropriately documented reasons for leaving the district. After adjusting the cohort count, it was determined that the cohort should have been 174.

 

OAS staff will be returning to the district to examine the reliability of the reported number of 2001 graduates, and the 2002 cohort data.

 

 III.     Construction

 

Staff from the Office of Facilities Planning regularly visits Roosevelt for the purpose of inspecting building construction, reviewing facilities operations, and meeting with all consultants to assess the current state of completion with respect to available finances. 

 

Thus far, the team has adjusted the program scope as necessary to remain on budget despite huge unanticipated material cost spikes of approximately 2% per month for the last 2 years for a total increase of approximately 24%.  These spikes are the result of certain material shortages such as steel, concrete, and masonry products, resulting from diverse issues such as war reconstruction in Iraq and hurricane damage in New Orleans.  With approximately 45% of the $205 million under contract, the project is on budget despite the unusual cost increases.  One problem area is additional debris unearthed at the new middle school site.

 

       Centennial Elementary

 

Phase I of this project consists of the new classroom and administrative spaces and is complete and operational.  Minor punch list items remain and are being corrected.  The building was completed on time and under budget.  Phase II will be the last Roosevelt project consisting of the gymnasium and cafeteria, which cannot be built until the other elementary schools are completed, and the existing Centennial elementary building demolished.

 

 

       Washington Rose Elementary

 

The building masonry foundations and block walls for the classroom wing are complete through the third floor with temporary roofing scheduled within the next 2 weeks.  Structural steel for the cafeteria, gym, and library are currently underway.     This project is on schedule for December 2006 occupancy and currently expected to be slightly below budget upon completion.

 

       Ulysses Byas Elementary

 

Preliminary programming and design work is underway for Ulysses Byas.  This project is not subject to the delays at the middle school and will be bid and awarded on schedule in January 2007 with occupancy scheduled for September 2008. 

 

       Middle School

 

The middle school bids were awarded and initial work has begun.    The discoveries of substantial amounts of debris buried on-site by past Nassau County operations are expected to significantly increase the cost of remediation of this site. When additional contaminants were discovered, Department staff met with the NYS Department of Health (DOH) and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  It was determined that a corrective action plan would be required before any additional construction work was performed. Preliminary estimates for the corrective action plan, including overtime to finish the school by September 2007, are approximately $13.5 million. Previous estimates for environmental remediation were approximately $3 million. At this point $2 million has been spent on environmental remediation. The district and SED are working closely with DOH and DEC to remediate the site in a manner that ensures the site will be safe for students and staff.   The district purchased an insurance policy for undetected environmental contamination on the property and negotiations with the company will proceed for coverage of the additional costs.  Initial discussions with Nassau County indicate that it will accept some level of responsibility for additional remediation costs due to previous operations. Final costs that are not covered by other entities are not known at the current time. 

 

Because of the delays in original land acquisition, and because of the delays due to debris remediation, it is very unlikely, even with overtime, that the facility could be completed on schedule by September 2007.  If issues are resolved in a timely manner, it may be possible to occupy the classroom portions of this facility in December 2007. Gymnasium and auditorium work could be completed later, or the entire occupancy could be delayed until September 2008.  The work of the project is being scheduled with a concentration on the classroom portions of the school scheduled for earlier completion. 

 

       High School

 

Several early construction projects for boilers and elevators have been bid.  Both projects are below budget estimates.  This will ensure the facility remains code compliant and will also cause future reconstruction scheduling to be less complicated.  The current boilers are leaking badly and extensive repairs are needed to last the heating season; the elevator is inoperable.  The remainder of the high school design is currently underway with Cannon Design.  

 

Due to the delays on the middle school project, the high school work will also be delayed.  Work cannot begin in earnest until the middle school wing is vacated into the new middle school.  Increased costs of construction due to delays in the high school bids will require appropriate adjustments to the program scope as the design moves forward to keep the project on budget.