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:

August 31, 2006

 

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goals 1 and 2

 

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

 

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Issue for Information

 

In May, the full Board received a comprehensive status report on the Roosevelt Union Free School, including data related to academic performance and school completion, a summary of technical assistance provided by SED and the Long Island technical assistance network, and a summary of activities in the district prepared by Superintendent Ronald Ross.  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 timely key issues for the district.

 

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 and supervisors, including tenure appointments.  Furthermore, the Commissioner exercises fiscal and 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 reports on timely issues related to the operations of the Roosevelt Union Free School District:

 

       Attachment A:  SED Status Report on Roosevelt Union Free School District

       Attachment B:  Superintendentís Report

 

Timetable for Implementation

 

          Not applicable.

 

 

Attachments

 

 

 

 

 


                                                                                                    ATTACHMENT A

 

 

SED STATUS REPORT ON ROOSEVELT UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT

 

The following provides information regarding five areas of continued Department focus during this reporting period.

 

I.                 State Education Department Oversight and Support

 

Following the May meeting of the Board of Regents, the Department implemented actions to provide appropriate support to the Superintendent and Roosevelt Board of Education (BOE) in implementing initiatives to markedly improve education performance and results.  The Department also increased oversight to ensure that both the District and the Department fulfill their respective responsibilities under Chapter 33, and other State statutes and regulations.

 

       A new SED single point of contact has been established for the Roosevelt School District.  A comprehensive listing of required District actions and products has been developed and conveyed to Superintendent Ross and members of his administrative cabinet.

       An additional SED monitor has been assigned to Long Island, and specifically to the Roosevelt School District, to provide technical assistance and to monitor the completion of required actions and products.

       Recruitment and hiring procedures have been completed for the appointment of a Fiscal Administrator to complete responsibilities specified in Chapter 33 and to address many of the findings/recommendations contained in the report issued by the SED Office of Audit Services.

 

The enhanced level of SED oversight and support resulted in the quick identification of one BOE action on July 10 that was inconsistent with personnel contract provisions, and two actions on July 28 that were inconsistent with personnel appointment provisions contained in Chapter 33.  On August 24, upon SED direction, the three BOE actions were rescinded.

 

It is the intent of SED to improve the capacity of the District to complete statutory and regulatory requirements in a more strategic and planned manner.  The additional personnel mentioned above will be helpful in this regard, but better planning tools are also necessary.  For this reason, SED has conferred with the Office of the State Comptroller to revise the Master Calendar to ensure that all Chapter 33 actions/products are addressed, as well as other statutory and regulatory requirements, along with interim timelines and final due dates.

 

II.               Academic

 

       Five-Year Education Plan

 

The District will provide a report on progress implementing the current five-year Education Plan to the State Education Department by August 31, 2006.  In addition, the District will provide its updated Education Plan on August 31, 2006 including, but not limited to:

 

n     Specific statements of education improvement targets to be attained in each of the five years covered by the plan;

n     A description of the changes in the curriculum and instructional methods that will be implemented;

n     Plans for assuring that instruction is provided by qualified staff;

n     A description of the staff development to be provided in support of the educational improvement plan;

n     Plans for use of technology to support educational improvement; and

n     A description of measures to be taken by the school district to involve and obtain input from parents and community members in the school districtís efforts to improve its schools.

 

Any revisions to the Education Plan are subject to the approval of the Commissioner.  When the Commissioner approves a revised Plan, the revised Plan is then presented and explained to the community, in a public meeting, by the Board and the Commissioner or his designee.

 

        Annual revisions to the Restructuring Plan, required pursuant to the No Child Left Behind Act, may be incorporated into the five-year Education Plan as long as all requirements for a Restructuring Plan are included.

 

       Plans for Middle School Reform

 

The District intends to focus significant attention on the middle school during the 2006-2007 school year.  Partnerships have been established with both Adelphi University and Hofstra University.  The Adelphi partnership will support a team of eight University content area experts who will be in the District three times per week to provide in-class coaching and to mentor both high school and middle school teachers.  The Hofstra partnership will focus on working with math and science teachers.  The middle school will also institute a mentoring program to provide support to students.

 

III.       Finance

 

The Roosevelt Board of Education (BOE) held an emergency meeting on July 28 to set the tax rate, discuss the school districtís response to the audit and begin a discussion of the financial status of the district.  The BOE President is still planning to hold a financial summit to review the financial outlook for the District over the next several years.  It is requested that SED participate in this summit.  The financial plan for the District is overdue and needs to be updated.

 

On August 18, 2006, Regent Roger Tilles convened a meeting at the Hofstra University Club in order to seek solutions for the restoration of Rooseveltís pre-kindergarten program, which had been cancelled under the Districtís austerity budget.  Invitations to the meeting were extended to members of the State Legislature, universities, social service agencies, foundations and members of the business community.  The BOE restored seven teacher positions to serve 144 children in the pre-kindergarten program.

 

Both the Superintendent and the BOE President feel that the community is galvanizing in a way not seen before in reaction to the contingency budget.  Community members are working hard to restore the sports program, and have been advised that any restoration must be for all varsity sports. 

 

IV.      Audit

 

 

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 outstanding audit recommendations is being tracked during scheduled monthly meetings of SED senior managers with Superintendent Ross and members of his administrative cabinet.  At the July 28, 2006 meeting, District officials indicated they will submit responses to all of the remaining unimplemented recommendations after presentation to the Board of Education.

 

OAS normally follows up on all recommendations contained in final audit reports 90 days after issuance of the report. OAS will analyze the information provided by the District and prepare a status report for the Board of Regents.

 

 

The Office of Audit Services is continuing an audit of the reliability of the Districtís high school completion data. Preliminary results of the audit of the 2001 cohort data were issued to the District in early August 2006. The District was asked to respond to the preliminary audit results within 30 days. The last phase of the audit will involve an assessment of the reliability of the 2002 cohort data.  Office of Audit Services staff plan to visit the District during the week of September 11, 2006 for this purpose.  At the conclusion of the audit, a report will be provided to the Board of Regents.

 

V.              Construction

 

       Washington Rose

 

          The construction project at Washington Rose is ahead of schedule. The masonry is almost complete, and the roof and windows are being installed.  Completion of the masonry and roof are critical to allowing completion of interior systems and finishes.

 

      ē    Middle School 

 

          The construction project at the middle school is behind schedule.  The original acquisition from the county was delayed for almost one year.  Additional contamination was discovered once excavation began which to date has caused approximately an additional five-month delay.

 

The major portions of the foundations have been poured, and the under slab plumbing and electrical conduits have been installed.  Although all of the contaminated soil is being removed from the site, it was determined that a ventilation system should be installed below the ground floor concrete slabs to ensure that there is no possibility of future pollutants migrating up into the occupied areas. The District has requested prices from the various contractors for the completion of the under slab Vapor Extraction System (ventilation system).  This work is estimated to take three weeks to complete and then the masonry work can commence.  As a result of a meeting on July 28, 2006, the insurance company is reevaluating its initial rejection of the Districtís environmental remediation claim.  The schedule for the completion of the middle school is being discussed, as there are serious financial issues involved.

 

          ē High School

 

          The boiler installation at Roosevelt High School is nearing completion.  The drawings for the renovation work are progressing. It is anticipated that it will be bid in spring 2007.

 

          ē Ulysses Byas

 

          The drawings for Ulysses Byas are scheduled for submission to the Department for review the week of August 21, 2006.  It is anticipated that the project will be bid in fall 2006. 

 


 

                                                                                                    ATTACHMENT B

 

 

REPORT FROM THE ROOSEVELT SUPERINTENDENT (provided by Ronald Ross)

 

          Although the District is now operating on a contingency budget for the 2006‑2007 school year, many exciting things are happening in Roosevelt.   Summer school for high school students enrolled 134 students.  It is expected that fifteen seniors will graduate in August adding to the 143 seniors who graduated in June. This constitutes an 85% graduation rate.  [SED note: This graduation rate was calculated by school district personnel.  The 2002 student cohort and completion rate will be checked and verified by the Department prior to official posting.]  This was also the largest graduation in recent memory.

 

          Adelphi University has begun professional development on teaming in the content areas with 50 Roosevelt teachers.  Devin Thornburg is leading the Adelphi group with concentration on middle school teachers. They will also provide mentoring for the middle and high school principals.

 

          The Math, Science, Technology (MST) project with Hofstra University is on‑going with middle school math and science teachers. These teachers have been meeting at Hofstra during the summer to plan lessons/projects for the coming school year.

 

          The District will expand Chinese instruction into the 2nd grade in 2006-2007 for those 1st graders who participated in Chinese instruction. The algebra project for 5th graders will continue with this year's 6th graders.  High school algebra has been divided into a three‑year parcel with the goal of preparing future 8th graders to take the Mathematics A Regents.

 

          The District has hired an outstanding physics teacher and will offer Advanced Placement Physics this fall.  Roosevelt will offer a total of eleven Advanced Placement courses in 2006-2007. Two years ago there were no Advanced Placement courses offered to Roosevelt students.

 

          The cosmic ray detection project with the Brookhaven National Lab will continue in fall 2006.  Students working with a scientist at Brookhaven on the Mariachi Project built a cosmic ray detector and will analyze data throughout the year from several NASA satellites.  The robotics team will also compete this year with some middle school students added to the high school team.

 

          The Washington Rose Elementary School construction project is progressing ahead of schedule, and students will enter the new building after the December vacation.

 

          We are looking forward to an exciting start to the new school year. The contingency budget is just another opportunity for us to become even more efficient and innovative in finding ways to offer the children and the community a first‑class education.