Meeting of the Board of Regents | September 2007
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Special edition update on the intensive efforts and accomplishments to prepare for the opening of the
2007-08 school year at the Roosevelt School District
September 5, 2007
Goals 1 and 2
Issue for Information
Each month, the Board of Regents receives a report on key issues, work underway, and progress made in the Roosevelt Union Free School District to support student success. This month’s report is a special edition item on the intensive efforts and accomplishments to prepare for the opening of the 2007-08 school year.
Reason(s) for Consideration
Requested by members of the Board of Regents.
Each month, the State Education Department provides a report to the Board of Regents on work underway in Roosevelt and on 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.
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. Throughout the spring and summer of 2007, members of the Board of Regents and State Education Department staff have worked closely with the leadership of the Roosevelt school district to prepare for the return of over 2,800 students in Pre-Kindergarten – grade 12 this September.
It is recommended that the Regents review the attached update on the operations and oversight of the Roosevelt Union Free School District. Staff are available to provide additional information as requested.
Timetable for Implementation
SPECIAL EDITION UPDATE ON intensive efforts and accomplishments to prepare for the opening of the 2007-08 school year
AT THE ROOSEVELT SCHOOL DISTRICT
Throughout the spring and summer of 2007, members of the Board of Regents and State Education Department staff worked closely with Interim Superintendent William Brosnan; Gayle Stevens-Haynes, Chair of the Roosevelt Board of Education and her colleagues on the Board; administrators; teachers; staff; parents; community representatives; Long Island Regional School Support Center staff; and other partners to prepare for the return of over 2,800 students in Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 this September.
To officially launch the 2007-08 academic year, Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier joined Dr. Brosnan and members of the Roosevelt community in the district on opening day. In her welcome address to the entire Roosevelt community, Senior Deputy Commissioner Duncan-Poitier highlighted the significant preparation that has taken place to provide for a successful start of the 2007-08 school year and reinforced the Regents and the Department’s continued commitment to working with the Roosevelt community to support student success and to help achieve fiscal stability in the district. County Executive Thomas Suozzi also participated in opening day activities highlighting the importance of agencies working together to serve all of the needs of the school children. Opening day activities for administrators, teachers, and staff ranged from an orientation to the district’s Power School technology; professional development; sessions on sexual harassment prevention and SAVE legal requirements; and also included focus groups made up of teachers, teacher assistants, aides, guidance counselors, psychologists, and speech and English as a Second Language (ESL) team members.
Highlights of the intensive efforts and accomplishments made to provide for a smooth opening of the new school year include:
- Students’ Schedules: Students received final course schedules in the mail by Thursday, August 27, 2007. This is the first time in recent years that all enrolled students received their class schedules before the start of school.
A team of experienced staff members in the Roosevelt school district worked in collaboration with a consultant provided by the Long Island Regional School Support Center throughout the summer to develop a 2007-08 master schedule for the district and to finalize individual student schedulesprior to the beginning of the 2007-08 school year. Throughout the development of the master schedule, special attention was focused on meeting the needs of students while ensuring that staffing levels were consistent with the district’s total staffing allocations.
The Roosevelt High School master schedule, which is the most complex of the school schedules in the district, was in place by the first week of August. Subsequently, high school counseling staff worked closely with individual students to modify and finalize schedules based on coursework completed during the summer, individual course requests, etc. In addition, Roosevelt guidance counselors checked students’ schedules carefully for accuracy and reliability. As a result, students were able to have their class schedules in hand this year before the start of school.
- Textbooks: Dr. Brosnan led a group of Roosevelt teachers and administrators to complete a comprehensive inventory of existing textbooks and to review new textbooks provided by publishers so that Roosevelt students have the books they need for the 2007-08 school year. Additional textbooks were ordered to fill shortages in the middle school and high school and new updated social studies textbooks were ordered for the elementary schools. The district is working to develop a systemic schedule for replacing textbooks and for ordering new textbooks and instructional materials.
- Expanded Pre-Kindergarten: Approximately 40 additional students have enrolled in Roosevelt’s pre-kindergarten program this year. In addition, the great majority of students will be attending full-day pre-kindergarten in 2007-08. The Roosevelt Board of Education approved a motion to maximize an increase in universal pre-kindergarten (UPK) grant funding and to apply for the full amount of UPK funds available to the district in 2007-08.
- Expanded Educational Opportunities for Students: Where possible, educational opportunities have been expanded to help meet students’ learning needs. For example, honors math and science classes are now available for students in the ninth grade.
- 2007-08 School District Calendar: The Roosevelt school district annual calendar has been approved by the Board of Education and is being mailed to parents and to members of the community. For the first time this year, thecalendar includes the names and telephone numbers of key district and school officials so that parents and community members can quickly identify who they should contact for key information.
- Students in the Ulysses Byas Elementary School: Dr. Brosnan met with a representative group of parents of students attending the Ulysses Byas School to discuss next steps in follow-up to the June decision on the §310 appeal ruling that busing provided by the district in 2006-07 was unlawful and would not be allowable in 2007-08. In addition, a follow-up letter was also sent to all parents of Ulysses Byas students in July. Regent Roger Tilles, Commissioner Richard Mills, and Dr. Brosnan were in regular communication with the Nassau County Executive and other partners to identify solutions for ensuring student safety as students travel to and from school. In response to these requests for assistance, the County Executive’s office advised the Commissioner that they would beproviding police officers to serve as crossing guards, making it safe for students to cross Nassau Road. This solution will be in place until the current cohort of Roosevelt crossing guards complete their training program.
Facilities and Operations
- Physical Plant Improvements: In preparation for the start of the 2007-08 school year, Department staff collaborated with district leadership, teachers, students, and community members, to carryout a number of significant improvements in the district’s physical plants. Examples include:
- Classroom furniture was cleaned.
- All classroom floors were stripped and waxed.
- Classrooms, corridors, and cafeterias were painted.
- Repairs were made to the parking lots at the Centennial Avenue Elementary School and the Roosevelt High School (e.g., pothole repairs).
- The roof was repaired at the Roosevelt High School.
- School lavatory supplies have been re-stocked.
- Boilers at the Roosevelt High School were replaced and work continues on steam traps and condensate pumps to provide for adequate heating in the winter months.
- Fire extinguishers were verified to be in proper place and working order.
- Students and teachers in the middle school and the high school volunteered to paint school colors on students’ lockers and also painted murals in hallways and corridors.
- Other improvements have also been planned in conjunction with the new construction projects that are currently underway.
- MiddleSchool Land Remediation: The land remediation project at the future site of the Roosevelt middle school is now 99 percent complete. Department staff met on-site with representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health who were extremely pleased with the clean-up efforts. Preliminary test data indicate that the site is no longer contaminated. As a result of the extensive cleanup efforts voluntarily undertaken by the Department, it is anticipated that deed restrictions limiting future use of the site, which were initially expected, will not be necessary.
Leadership in the Roosevelt School District
- Search for a new Superintendent of Schools: Five potential candidates were interviewed in August for the Superintendent position. The interview committee was made up of Regent Milton Cofield, Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Associate Commissioner Joseph Frey, Interim Superintendent William Brosnan, and the members of the Roosevelt Board of Education. The appointment process is now in the final stages. Dr. Brosnan has agreed to support the school district through the Long Island Regional School Support Center.
- Other Key Leadership Positions: Interviews are underway and appointments are being finalized for a number of other key positions in the district including Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operation, Director of Business and Finance, Director of Facilities, and Principal of Roosevelt High School.
Follow-up with the Office of the State Comptroller
Department staff have had significant follow-up with the Office of the State Comptroller regarding progress made to improve financial controls in the Roosevelt School District. Examples of work underway to strengthen financial practices and controls include:
- Strengthened management team in the Roosevelt School District: Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier was designated as the lead Department contact for the Roosevelt School District. William Brosnan, former Superintendent of Northport-East Northport Union Free School District and Interim Director of the Long Island Regional Schools Support Center, provided transitional leadership in the district beginning in May, and on July 1st was appointed to the role of Interim Superintendent. Senior Deputy Commissioner Duncan-Poitier and Dr. Brosnan have significantly strengthened the role of the Board of Education in the budget development process, planning and goal setting, contract negotiations, and other district policy setting responsibilities. In addition, the appointment process for a permanent Superintendent is now in its final stages. And interviews are underway and appointments are being finalized for other key positions in the district including the Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operation, and the Director of Business and Finance. In addition, the Department’s Deputy Commissioner for the Office of Management Services and Chief Financial Officer, Theresa Savo, and her colleagues will have joint accountability for fiscal matters regarding Roosevelt.
- Additional training and support: Additional training and support is being provided to district personnel and members of the Board of Education. For example, a session is being scheduled to provide members of the Board of Education with important training on their fiscal oversight responsibilities. Also, Roosevelt’s Fiscal Administrator arranged for the district treasurer, payroll clerk and internal claims auditor to attend training at the New York State Association of School Business Officials’ Summer Workshop.
- Engaging additional expertise: Consultants and financial experts are also being engaged as needed to provide recommendations to ensure the accuracy of the district’s cash flow projections and to ensure that borrowing is limited to that which is necessary for operations.
In addition, the Office of the State Comptroller continues to provide on-site real-time auditing of the District’s finances. The Department will continue to work closely with the Roosevelt School District throughout the 2007-08 school year to improve financial controls and to implement recommendations make by the State Comptroller.
Building upon accomplishments made to prepare for the opening of the new school year, in 2007-08, the Regents and the Department will continue to work with the leadership of the Roosevelt School District to support student success and to help the district achieve fiscal stability. Highlights of next steps include:
- Dr. Brosnan is working in collaboration with the Board of Education to continue to actively elicit the involvement of the Roosevelt community in the implementation of school district priorities in 2007-08. Regular conversations will continue to occur among district leadership, Department staff, parents, community representatives, and others.
- Planning is underway to involve teachers, administrators, and staff across all schools in Roosevelt to systemically strengthen academics for students across the Pre-K through Grade 12 continuum. Key priorities for the year ahead include developing a textbook replacement schedule, curriculum development and alignment, and expanding special education opportunities.
- Work continues with representatives of the Legislature and others to identify possible options for addressing Roosevelt’s deficit and achieving fiscal stability.
The 2007-08 academic year marks a time of new opportunity for the Roosevelt School District. Consistent with the State’s commitment to Roosevelt to date, the Board of Regents and the State Education Department look forward to working with the Roosevelt Board of Education, the new Superintendent, administrators, teachers, staff, parents, union leaders, community representatives, regional networks, area colleges and universities, and other partners to provide for a strong future for the students of the Roosevelt School District.