Meeting of the Board of Regents | June 2007
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Report on Roosevelt Union Free School District
June 19, 2007
Goals 1 and 2
Issue for Information
Report on key issues for the Roosevelt Union Free School District.
Reason(s) for Consideration
Requested by members of the Board of Regents.
In response to the request of the Regents, SED staff provides monthly reports on the Roosevelt Union Free 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 periodic updates of the educational progress of the school district.
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 conclude the 2006-2007 school year and prepare for the 2007-2008 school year.
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
SED has significantly increased support and oversight at the Roosevelt Union Free School District to help minimize the impact of the budget deficit students, staff and the Roosevelt community and to provide continuity throughout the transition of leadership at Roosevelt. Detailed information is provided below regarding seven areas of continued Department focus during this reporting period.
- District Operations
The Commissioner has appointed Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education - P-16, as the lead contact for the Roosevelt UFSD. The Commissioner also appointed William Brosnan, former Superintendent of Northport-East Northport Union Free School District and Interim Director of the Long Island Regional Schools Support Center (LIRSSC), to lead the Roosevelt UFSD as the district transitions from the outgoing Superintendent to a new Superintendent. The Senior Deputy Commissioner and Dr. Brosnan maintain daily contact to ensure that there is a consistent approach to addressing priorities and to next steps. The Senior Deputy Commissioner also has regular conversations with Gale Stevens-Haynes, Chair of the Roosevelt Board of Education, for the same purposes. James Viola has completed his on-site assignment at Roosevelt and has returned to his role as the Executive Director in the Office of School Improvement.
Update on the Search for New Superintendent of Schools
A search committee made up of Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier (Chair), Regent Milton Cofield, Roosevelt board chair Gale Stevens-Haynes, Superintendents Ronald Friedman and John Bierwirth, and Roosevelt board member Mai Cortes, was appointed to conduct interviews for a new Superintendent. The search for the new Superintendent is entering the final stages and it is expected that a new Superintendent will be in place prior to the start of the next school year (2007-2008).
Update on the Transition Process in Roosevelt
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. Among the transition’s team’s highest priorities is to ensure a smooth opening of school in September. Members of the transition team are working now, for example, with Superintendent Ross, Dr. Brosnan, and others to complete an 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.
The Board of Education voted to submit a revised 2007-08 budget to voters on June 19. The proposed budget restores 13.5 teaching positions that were cut in the previous budget submitted to the voters. Several public budget information sessions were held as part of the budget revision process in order to provide information and give members of the community an opportunity to provide input.
The Board approved a five-year financial stabilization plan. The District’s five-year financial stabilization plan is based on the 2007-08 budget developed with the assistance of the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel. Future expenditure growth is projected based on the anticipated consumer price index. The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC)continues on-site real-time auditing of the District’s finances.
Key stress points identified in the stabilization plan are the current projected $7.9 million accumulated deficit, pay back of the State Aid advance, additional environmental remediation costs at the new middle school and potential expiration of the $6 million special legislative grant in 2011-12. The Department is seeking legislative assistance to address the deficit, environmental remediation costs and the loss of the special legislative grant. In addition, the District has filed a claim with its insurance company regarding the additional remediation costs.
Dr. Brosnan is working with the Board to ensure there is adequate cash flow to maintain district operations. The district has a $21 million revenue anticipation note (RAN) due at the end of the month. Outside financial expertise has been brought in to ensure the districts cash flow projections are accurate and that no more than necessary is borrowed.
The district submitted its quarterly fiscal report to OSC on June 12, 2007. An initial draft of the Corrective Action Plan for the OSC audit was prepared on June 11, 2007 and will be presented to the Roosevelt Board of Education for review at their June meeting.
To help ensure timely submissions of all future plans and reports, the State Education Department is working closely with Dr. Brosnan to develop a comprehensive listing of all reporting requirements and due dates. The list will serve as an important management tool for ensuring that necessary time and resources are dedicated to the completion of these reports and for improving the timeliness of submissions. In addition, every effort is being made to identify opportunities for streamlining and consolidating data submission and reporting requirements where possible.
The district’s bond rating has been given “Watchlist” placement, indicating that Moody’s Investors Services is concerned about the financial condition of the district. SED is working with Capital Markets Advisors, LLC and the district to prepare for a meeting in the summer in order to update Moody’s on district actions to date and address the concerns expressed by the analysts at Moody’s. In preparation for the meeting the Department sought outside expertise to confirm the districts cash flow projections.
3. Strengthening the Role of the Interim Board of Education
Since accepting the role of transition leader, Dr. Brosnan has worked extensively with the Board of Education to strengthen the role of the Board 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. To develop the revised budget to send to the voters on June 19, for example, Board members held a series of evening meetings over the course of two weeks to discuss each aspect of the budget in careful detail and to develop a revised budget that averted teacher layoffs where possible and was more consistent with the needs and expectations of the Roosevelt community. Teachers, principals, and other administrators at Roosevelt contributed to the Board’s discussions and as mentioned previously, Board members also invited public input.
SED continues to work with the Superintendent and the Roosevelt Interim Board of Education to plan professional development and orientation for Roosevelt Board of Education members. The Board training is in the process of being rescheduled 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.
Teachers’ Contract Approved by Board of Education
At a special meeting on July 18, 2007, the interim Board of Education preliminarily approved a new contract with the Roosevelt Teachers Association. Pursuant to Chapter 33, the proposed new contact has been submitted to SED for approval. Upon SED approval, the new contract will be effective July 11, 2005 through June 30, 2010.
Five-Year Education Plan
The district has begun to develop a new Five-Year Education Plan for the period July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2012. The second meeting of the Five-Year Plan development team was held on April 18, 2007 and included representatives from the community, the Board of Education, district support staff, facilities staff, district administrative staff, and a SED representative. Participants were assigned to small work groups focused on four key categories: education targets, organizational structures, staffing, and learning community involvement. The Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction is currently on medical leave, and therefore new dates for the completion of the plan have been established. Despite the delay, the plan will be completed this summer and ready for presentation to the public and for implementation by September 2007. The plan will need to 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.
Teachers to Attend Literacy Conference
A number of Roosevelt teachers will be attending a three-day literacy conference at the end of this month sponsored by Eastern Suffolk BOCES through scholarship grants offered by the Teacher Center on Long Island.
Work Underway to Prepare for the 2007-08 School Year
Significant work is underway to prepare for the 2007-08 school year. In addition to efforts described previously to provide Roosevelt students with the textbooks they need by the beginning of the school year in September, work is also underway to ensure that students are provided with reliable class schedules. Dr. Brosnan has arranged through the LIRSSC for a retired assistant principal, Roy Pam, to assist the Roosevelt staff in the development of a master schedule for September. This schedule will meet the needs of students, while maintaining staffing within the total district allocation. Meetings continue with the principal, the guidance staff, and the persons overseeing ESL/Bilingual and Special Education to ensure a collaborative effort. This effort is linked to work by Human Resources Director Marlene Zakierski and Fiscal Administrator Jeff White, who are reviewing the budget staffing allocations line by line to assure that the budget and the staffing required for the schedules match exactly.
Services for Students with Disabilities
The Department met with Roosevelt district staff to discuss funding special education postsecondary education services. This initiative will provide targeted transition support to high school students with individualized education plans and Section 504 accommodation plans who are in the process of transitioning from high school to postsecondary education and employment. Priorities being considered include summer internships, employment for students in the New Horizons alternative program, and the establishment of a culinary arts program.
The Senior Deputy Commissioner has established a Roosevelt cabinet which is comprised of selected representatives from the University of the State of New York (USNY) to identify new and innovative opportunities that may be available through the USNY network to support student learning and achievement.
- Final Audit Report (SD-0205-5)
The 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.
- OSC Audit
Communications have been significantly improved in the Roosevelt school district. Over the past several weeks, the State Education Department has reached out to teachers, parents, administrators, students, community organizations, and other members of the Roosevelt community. On May 22, 2007, for example, the Senior Deputy Commissioner, Regent Bowman, and Department staff met with over 30 teachers, administrators, parents, and members of the Roosevelt community who traveled to Albany to discuss strategies for improvement and next steps.
The Department of Environmental Conservation conducted a meeting on May 23, 2007 at the United Cerebral Palsy Center to update the community on the progress at the Middle School construction site. There was a presentation followed by a question and answer session. The meeting was hosted by Councilwoman Goosby and was well received by the Roosevelt community. The remediation continues and is approximately 80 percent completed.
The Department is working with the district to find a replacement for the Director of Facilities who recently accepted a position with another school district. In addition, the Department will work with the district to ensure the deep cleaning of all facilities over the summer so that the buildings are ready for the start of school in September.