Meeting of the Board of Regents | July 2007
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Report on Roosevelt Union Free School District
July 19, 2007
Goals 1 and 2
Issue for Information
Monthly report on key issues, work underway, and progress made in the Roosevelt Union Free School District to support student success.
Reason(s) for Consideration
Requested by members of the Board of Regents.
In response to the request of the Regents, the State Education Department provides monthly reports on the Roosevelt Union Free School District.
The Commissioner of Education exercises fiscal and educational program oversight in the Roosevelt Union Free School District, consistent with Chapter 33 of the Laws of 2002. Each month, the State Education Department provides a report to the Board of Regents on work underway in Roosevelt and on and progress made in the district to strengthen student achievement, achieve fiscal stability, and to provide for a clean, safe, and productive learning environment where all students can succeed. A report on this month’s activities and accomplishments is attached. The most intensive focus continues to be on fiscal issues and on activities necessary to prepare for the 2007-2008 school year. In addition, the Roosevelt Board of Education 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.
Staff recommends that the Regents review Attachment A which provides an update on the operations and oversight of the Roosevelt Union Free School District. Staff can also provide additional information on specific issues if requested.
Timetable for Implementation
UPDATE ON ACTIVITIES TO STRENGTHEN SUPPORT AND
OVERSIGHT AT THE ROOSEVELT UNION FREE SCHOOL DISTRICT
The State Education Department has significantly increased support and oversight at the Roosevelt Union Free School District to help minimize the impact of the budget deficit on students, staff and the Roosevelt community and to provide continuity throughout the transition of leadership at Roosevelt. Detailed information is provided below regarding several areas of continued Department focus during this reporting period.
1. District Leadership and Operations
On June 28, 2007, Dr. William Brosnan was appointed to serve as Interim Superintendent of the Roosevelt Union Free School District beginning on July 1, 2007. Since former Superintendent Ronald Ross submitted his resignation on May 21, 2007 (effective June 30, 2007), Dr. Brosnan provided transitional leadership services to the Roosevelt School District in his role as Interim Executive Director of the LIRSSC. Dr. Brosnan has served as Interim Executive Director of the Long Island Regional School Support Center (LIRSSC) since 2006. The RSSCs across the State provide professional development and technical assistance to high-need school districts. To continue to provide continuity in leadership at Roosevelt, the Board of Education authorized Dr. Brosnan to serve as Interim Superintendent of the district.
Dr. Brosnan is a recognized leader within the education community. Dr. Brosnan served as Superintendent of the Northport — East Northport Union Free School District from 1984-2006 where he was named New York State Superintendent of the Year in 2003. He has also served as former President of the New York State Council of School Superintendents and the Suffolk County Superintendents Association. Dr. Brosnan’s leadership as Interim Superintendent will help to ensure that teachers, school leaders, and students are prepared for the 2007-08 school year.
Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education Johanna Duncan-Poitier continues to serve as the lead State Education Department contact for the Roosevelt UFSD. The Senior Deputy Commissioner and Dr. Brosnan maintain daily contact to ensure that there is a consistent approach to addressing priorities. The Senior Deputy Commissioner also continues to have regular conversations with the Gale StevensHaynes, Chair of the Roosevelt Board of Education, as well as other Board members and community advocates, for the same purposes.
The State Education Departments Roosevelt Cabinet has been established by the Senior Deputy Commissioner to identify new and innovative opportunities that may be available through the University of the State of New York (USNY) network to support student learning and achievement in Roosevelt.
Ensuring Transportation Decisions are Approved by Voters Consistent with the Law
During the 2006-2007 school year, the Roosevelt School District provided busing to students while two elementary schools were under construction without first seeking voter approval. In a June 27, 2007 Commissioner’s decision on a §310 appeal submitted by a Roosevelt resident, the State Education Department ruled that the busing provided by the district in 2006-07 was unlawful because the busing was never approved by voters and is therefore not allowable in 2007-08. The Roosevelt School District is approximately one square mile and according to the district transportation policy, the small area of the school district precludes the need for transportation of resident students to the schools in the district except for those with disabilities.
Title I Coordinated Monitoring
The State Education Department’s Title I Office has received additional details and documentation to support the Roosevelt corrective action plan. The Department is reviewing the submitted documents and will notify the district regarding any additional documentation that may be needed.
’s Universal Pre-kindergarten Program
State Education Department staff met last month with Dr. Brosnan and leadership at Roosevelt to pursue options to maximize an increase in universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) grant funding available to the district in 2007-08. At their July 2007 meeting, the Roosevelt Board of Education approved a motion to apply for the full amount of UPK funds available to the district and the district subsequently submitted an application for full funding. The district is now pursuing collaborative relationships with community-based organizations and area colleges to serve as many as 40 additional students in Roosevelt’s UPK program in 2007-08.
Additionally, the Board authorized the administration to request a variance to operate some of the classrooms in the 2007-2008 UPK programs according to Targeted Pre-kindergarten (TPK) guidelines, as recommended by the Director of Funded Programs.
Several teachers in the Roosevelt School District attended a three-day literacy conference at the end of June sponsored by Eastern Suffolk BOCES through scholarship grants offered by the Teacher Center on Long Island.
Cabinet Exploring Opportunities for Instructional Resources and Supports in Mathematics
The SED Roosevelt Cabinet, which was established to provide supports to the Roosevelt School District, is exploring an innovative opportunity to provide instructional mathematics resources and supports to the district. We will provide the Regents with regular updates on this initiative and other potential opportunities.
Services for Students with Disabilities
The Special Education Quality Assurance IDEA Effective Instructional Practice Focused Review was completed. The final report is being developed. The Quality Improvement Process (QlP) calls for the district to undertake specific initiatives to make improvements in the following areas: Eighth (8th) grade English Language Arts and math; reduce the number of students placed in separate settings; and reduce the number of African American students that are disproportionately classified as emotionally disturbed or other health impaired.
Preparation for the 200 7-08 School Year
Significant work continues to prepare for the 2007-08 school year. Dr. Brosnan has put in place a transition team made up of teachers, administrators, and others to help to provide stability and continuity throughout the transition of leadership at Roosevelt and to facilitate a smooth opening of school in September. At the July 9, 2007 meeting of the Board of Education, Dr. Brosnan recommended that the Board reach out to the community to discuss priority-setting for the 2007-2008 school year. Examples of priorities under consideration include policy development, transportation, meeting agendas, and development of master annual calendar.
Work is underway to ensure that students are provided with reliable class schedules. Through an arrangement with the LIRSSC, retired assistant principal, Roy Pam, continues to assist Roosevelt staff in the development of a master schedule for September. The district attendance administrator also continues to assist with the development of the master schedule. This schedule, which is anticipated to be completed by the end of July 2007, is being developed to meet the needs of students while maintaining staffing within the total district allocation.
Five-Year Education Plan
The district continues its work on the development of a new Five-Year Education Plan that is consistent with the district’s fiscal plan. The Plan will be presented to the Board of Education and submitted to the Commissioner prior to adoption. The Commissioner, or his designee, will present the Five-Year Education Plan to the public.
Leadership at Roosevelt High School
The Roosevelt High School Principal has resigned effective August 31, 2007. The Roosevelt Board of Education is discussing interim plans for leadership in the High School.
3. Strengthening the Role of the Roosevelt Board of Education
At the July meeting of the Roosevelt Board of Education, the Board Chairperson, Gale Stevens-Haynes, and officers were appointed for the 2007-2008 school year. The officers appointed include district clerk of the Board, treasurer, internal claims auditor, and Board member Carl Dehaney, who will sign checks when the treasurer is not available.
Dr. Brosnan continues to work closely with members of the Board to strengthen their role in the budget development process, planning and goal setting, contract negotiations, and other district policy setting responsibilities. Preliminary feedback from Board members has been positive and the results of the Board’s efforts are increasingly visible.
SED continues to work with the Interim Superintendent and the Board of Education to plan professional development and orientation for Roosevelt Board of Education members. The Board training is being scheduled and a Board of Education retreat will also be scheduled to provide further training on fiscal oversight and the requirements of Chapter 33. In addition, Dr. Brosnan is now working with the Board to establish an audit committee, as required by State law.
As reported last month, the Roosevelt community approved a $63.7 million budget that was re-submitted by the Board of Education on June 19th by a margin of 427-274. In addition, the Board approved a five-year financial stabilization plan in June that is based on the 2007-08 budget. Future expenditure growth is projected based on the anticipated consumer price index. The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) continues to provide on-site real-time auditing of the District’s finances.
The Department continues to seek legislative assistance to address the deficit, environmental remediation costs and the loss of the special legislative grant.
Dr. Brosnan is working with the Board to ensure there is adequate cash flow to maintain district operations. The district has paid off a $21 million revenue anticipation note that was due at the end of June. The district has also made plans to borrow additional funding to remain operational past July 2007. Outside financial expertise has been engaged to ensure the districts cash flow projections are accurate and that borrowing is limited to only that which is necessary for operations. An $11 million revenue anticipation note has been issued to maintain cash flow in the district.
The district’s bond rating has been given “Watchlist’ placement on March 28, 2007 indicating that Moody’s Investors Services is concerned about the financial condition of the district. The School District carries a Baa2 underlying rating and an A3 Stateenhanced rating from Moody’s. On July 13, 2007 representatives of the State Education Department and Roosevelt School District met with analysts from the Moody’s Investors Service. At the meeting, the Senior Deputy Commissioner, Interim Superintendent and the Department-appointed Fiscal Administrator presented information describing why two debt service payments were untimely, and explained the current and planned controls and procedures that will be used to improve the fiscal operations and performance of the school district. It is anticipated that a determination regarding the school district’s rating will be issued on or about July 20, 2007.
• Final Audit Report (SD-0205-5)
The State Education Department’s Office of Audit Services (OAS) continues to follow up on outstanding audit recommendations.
• Data Audit
The Office of Audit Services (OAS) completed field work on the audit of the reliability of the District’s data. A draft report is in process. The District is given 30 days to respond to the draft. A final report is then issued, which includes the District’s response as an appendix. At the conclusion of the audit, the report will be presented to the Regents Subcommittee on Audits.
The middle school remediation continues and is currently approximately 85 percent complete.
The Department is working with the district to find a replacement for the Director of Facilities and Operations II, who resigned on July 2, 2007, and accepted a position with another school district. The district administration is working with the Nassau County Department of Civil Service to identify possible candidates for the Director of Facilities position. In the interim, the district is looking to appoint an Interim Director of Facilities who will serve as the Asbestos Designee, and the Exposure Control Officer. The position of Exposure Control Officer is required under Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. The Department will work with the district to ensure all facilities are cleaned over the summer so that the buildings are ready for the start of school in September.