Meeting of the Board of Regents | November 2008
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Report on Wyandanch Union Free School District (WUFSD)
November 7, 2008
Goals 1 and 2
Issue for Discussion
Report on work underway and progress made in the Wyandanch Union Free School District to support student success.
Reason(s) for Consideration
The Regents Subcommittee on Audits will discuss this report at the November 2008 meeting.
In September 2008, the Regents Subcommittee on Audits discussed the recurring number of audits of the Wyandanch Union Free School District as well as its current deficit fiscal position. Committee members were provided with information on steps the Department has already taken as well as planned steps. The Subcommittee asked that Department staff examine information related to Wyandanch’s actions and report back within 60 days on the status of the District. At the October Subcommittee meeting staff provided an oral report updating the Subcommittee on actions taken between September and October 2008. This month, Department staff will provide the 60 day report requested in September. This report includes information on work underway in Wyandanch to achieve fiscal stability, reach compliance with school improvement requirements and improve student performance outcomes.
The Commissioner of Education exercises fiscal and educational program oversight of all school districts. Throughout this past year, members of the Board of Regents and State Education Department staff have worked closely with the leadership of the Wyandanch Union Free School District to ensure the school district’s finances are stabilized and put in balance. Staff was asked to provide a report to the Board of Regents this month on continued work underway and accomplishments in Wyandanch to:
- Strengthen student achievement and provide for a productive learning environment where all students can succeed.
- Achieve fiscal stability.
It is recommended that the Regents review the attached update on the operations and oversight of the Wyandanch Union Free School District. Staff is available to provide additional information as requested.
Timetable for Implementation
update on work underway and progress made
in the WYANDANCH Union Free SCHOOL DISTRICT (WUFSD)
The State Education Department continues to significantly increase support and oversight at the Wyandanch Union Free School District and work with members of the Long Island Regional Strategic Planning Network (LIRSPN) to support student success and to help the District achieve and maintain fiscal stability. The following are highlights of work undertaken and progress made by the District and technical assistance by the Department and regional technical assistance providers.
September 29, 2008
Representatives of the Department met with the newly instated Interim Superintendent of the Wyandanch Union Free School District, Dr. Mary Jones, members of her staff and members of the Wyandanch Union Free School District Board of Education regarding the financial condition of the District and the need to eliminate the budget deficit while protecting academic programs.
October 8, 2008
Representatives of the Department met with representatives of the District. Discussion included the need for the District to:
- Resolve the 2007-08 operating budget deficit: SED would support the Legislature granting deficit financing to pay the estimated $2.5 million budget deficit of the 2007-08 school year. The State is awaiting the District auditor’s final budget report for the 2007-08 school year.
- Address audit findings regarding Title I funding: The District is required to return $285,000 in undocumented Title I expenditures.
- Balance the 2008-09 budget: The District had identified cuts – mostly non-personnel and other cost savings and indicated it would forward additional cuts as approved by the WUFSD Board of Education (BOE).
October 19, 2008
As of October 19, 2008, the District identified and submitted to the Department budget items that produced a $1.428 million deficit reduction toward a $1.5 million deficit proposed for the 2008-09 school year. Dr. Mary Jones, Interim Superintendent, reported that this reduction would leave classrooms:
“intact and, support services, although substantially reduced, should not adversely affect the well being of students and staff. These reduced budget line items created the need for the district to restructure its clerical and custodial departments to meet their responsibilities in a very efficient manner. This reorganization has also resulted in the creation of a position of "Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services"; a "Supervisor of Attendance"; and a "Director of Support Operations". These new positions will provide supervision and oversight to titles that were previously abolished.
My thanks to all of you at SED and BOCES for providing the guidance and
support that we so desperately need during these difficult times”.
October 20, 2008
Charles Szuberla, Executive Director of School Operations and Management Services presented an update to the Regents Subcommittee on Audits which reviewed actions of September 29 – October 19, 2008.
October 24, 2008
Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier issued a letter to the District indicating the need to balance the 2008-09 budget, address the accumulated deficit and repay $285,868 in federal Title I funds.
By November 3, the BOE was requested to take the following actions:
- Submit the District’s final audited financial statement.
- Submit the District’s plan and timeline for addressing the current budget deficit and balancing the budget for the current school year.
- Provide documentation showing the size of the 2007-08 operating deficit.
By November 21, the BOE was requested to take the following actions:
- Make further budget reductions to comply with Education Law Section 1718 and ensure that the 2008-09 school budget is in structural balance. If there is staff who will lose their positions, they should be notified as soon as possible.
- Establish policies and procedures to oversee the balanced budget, make appropriate transfers and prevent negative appropriations.
- Submit a management plan to the Department that demonstrates controls are in place to monitor and control spending.
- Forward the Treasurer’s Report on a monthly basis to the Department, as required by Section 170.2(o) of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.
- Forward the Budget Status Report on a monthly basis to the Department, as required by Section 170.2 (p) of the Regulations.
The letter also indicated that the Department would offer the District assistance in the following areas:
- Child Nutrition
- Management Services training for the BOE, Superintendent and other members of the administration
- Grants Management to expedite grant reviews
- School facilities planning
- Maximizing reimbursement for Medicaid and Foster Care Tuition
- Federal Title I audit repayment process
- Health benefits for ineligible former employees
- Payments in lieu of taxes on newly tax-exempt property
The Department is looking for ways the District could save more money without further staff cuts, for example, through more efficient collection of tuition for foster children placed locally by New York City.
On October 31, the District requested an extension on the submission of a District plan and timeline for addressing the 2008-09 budget deficit until such time as it may receive assistance in maximizing revenue for 2008-09 in the areas of Medicaid and foster care tuition reimbursement. Maximizing District revenues will take several more months. The Department advised the district of the need to balance the budget by November 21. The Department will continue helping the district to maximize revenues.
Department staff and regional network technical assistance providers are working together with the District to coordinate their efforts and offer the District available resources and services. Department staff and local network representatives remain in frequent communications with the District.
August 20, 2008
The Board of Education (BOE) of the Wyandanch Union Free School District passed resolutions “determined for budgetary/economic/fiscal considerations and for reasons of efficiency,” effective September 20, 2008 to abolish seven administrative positions and create four administrative positions. In addition, the Board passed resolutions to retain the services of consultants to the Board of Education in the areas of Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel; Business, Finance and Grant Funding; and “Special Counsel” to the Board of Education.
September 23, 2008
Shelia Evans-Tranumn, Associate Commissioner, Office of School Improvement and Community Services (NYC) issued a letter to the District which stated:
….as a result of the on-going administrative instability in the district we have placed a hold on recently approved Audit of Curriculum (AOC) funds awarded to your district. Pending resolution of this administrative instability, we will re-evaluate your capacity to implement the approved AOC Action Plan and adjust the awarded budget as may be necessary. I want to also inform you that prior to our placing a hold on these funds, an initial payment of $350,000 had been released to your district. Please be informed that these funds must be used to only support approved AOC Action Plan activities. Any changes to the approved plan and budget must be pre-approved by my office and will be monitored for compliance.
September 25, 2008
The BOE voted to suspend Superintendent Dr. Sherman Roberts for one month. Dr. Mary Jones (former Principal of the Milton L. Olive Middle School) was appointed Interim Superintendent. Subsequently, the Board voted to suspend Dr. Roberts indefinitely.
District leadership and the Board of Education have been meeting to address staffing needs, recruitment and organization and conducting special Board meetings to take action on assuring that District staffing supports the educational program and ensures a safe learning environment. These changes are being sent to the Department on an on-going basis.
Wyandanch Board of Education Update
The May 2008 BOE election resulted in a change in the Board. The President and Vice President of the Board were not re-elected. Mrs. Denise Baines (a standing member of the Board) and Nancy Holliday (a newly-elected trustee) were named President and Vice President respectively. The Board has communicated to the Department its intent to address concerns regarding the District’s finances and educational program.
Wyandanch UFSD District and Building NCLB State and IDEA Status
The status for the District and buildings for the 2007-08 school year (based upon 2006-07 data) is:
Wyandanch Union Free School District
- NCLB: The District is identified as a District in Need of Improvement Corrective Action (DINI 5) Elementary: ELA - For Limited English Proficient Students Secondary: ELA – For All Students, Black or African American Students, Economically Disadvantaged Students. The District did not make Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in mathematics on the secondary level for the same subgroups as ELA; however, it remained In Good standing in Mathematics for the 2007-08 school year.
- IDEA: The District has been identified as a District in Need of Assistance (DINA) for three consecutive years based on graduation rate and dropout rate for students with disabilities. Achievement for students with disabilities in grades 3-8 in ELA and math falls short of the targeted performance index of 100 (ELA 74 and math 88).
Wyandanch Memorial High School
- NCLB: The building is identified as a school in Restructuring (Year 3) in ELA and a School In Need of Improvement (Year 2) in mathematics. The District did meet criterion for ELA and mathematics by virtue of Safe Harbor based upon 2006-07 data.
- State: The building was identified as a SURR school in 2006. If 2007-08 scores warrant, the District will appeal to be removed from SURR status.
Milton L. Olive Middle School
- NCLB: The building was identified as Restructuring (Year 3) in ELA for Limited English Proficient students and Restructuring (Year 2) in mathematics. The school did meet AYP in all subgroups in 2006-07.
- State: The building appealed and was removed from SURR status for the 2007-08 school year.
Martin Luther King Elementary School
- NCLB: The building was identified as a School In Need of Improvement (SINI Year 1) in ELA for Students with Disabilities and Limited English Proficient students.
The District is required to develop and implement Comprehensive Education Plans and a District Action Plan based upon NCLB identification status. The District has submitted these plans to SED. Department and regional network partners Long Island Regional Strategic Planning Network (LIRSPN) are working closely with the District to align these plans with District and building requirements and funding resources. Based upon IDEA status, the District is required to participate in a Focused Review (which includes a Quality Improvement Process) for the 2008-09 school year.
School Improvement Update
SED and Long Island Regional Strategic Planning Network (LIRSPN) Provision of Technical Assistance
The Office of Elementary, Middle and Secondary Education, has established a Wyandanch team to inform the Department of on-going developments in the District and actions to address Department concerns, gather information regarding the fulfillment of District responsibilities as well a providing the district with technical assistance in the areas of finance and educational program development and implementation.
The Offices of Regional School Services (both Upstate/LI and NYC) in conjunction with the Long Island Regional School Support Center, Long Island Student Support Services Center, VESID (Long Island SEQA and SETRC offices), Western Suffolk BOCES, Long Island BETAC, Long Island Parent Technical Assistance Center have been in daily contact with District and building leadership to provide technical assistance and resource coordination in support of school improvement and regulatory compliance in light of recent changes necessitated by budget reduction. Changes in personnel have resulted in District and building leadership.
From September to the present time, LIRSPN partners have worked closely with District leadership to provide technical assistance and support for the identification of priorities in each building in the area of school improvement and the allocation of federal and State funding sources to address these areas. In addition, various LIRSPN partners are providing technical assistance in data analysis, data-driven decision-making, targeted professional development for leadership and staff, literacy program support, achieving compliance with education requirements for all students.
Department staff and LIRSPN partners continue to work closely with District staff on the completion, submission and revisions of State and federal grants to expedite release of funding in support of school improvement especially in light of the abolition of the position of Director of Grants Funding. The former Director of Grants Funding has returned to a position as Principal of the Milton L. Olive Middle School. The District has engaged the services of Dr. Pless Dickerson to serve in the coordination of curriculum and instruction as well as maintaining oversight to matters concerning Human Resources. He is currently working to identify building priorities for school improvement and align them with funding sources.
Wyandanch (WUFSD) Performance Plans are SED-issued documents which communicate to the District necessary actions to address school improvement and meet compliance issues. The actions included in the plan are derived through consultation with SED program offices as well as regional representatives from State-funded networks and District leadership. These actions are required by State and federal law, regulation and or special circumstances and are associated with timelines for completion and evidence of completion. The Plans are issued twice a year and have been presented to the Superintendent and the administrative cabinet and to the Board of Education and the community at Board of Education meetings.
Next steps in school improvement and the resolution of compliance issues are derived from monthly tracking of the status of Performance Plan actions. The District, school, SED program offices and regional technical assistance providers monitor accomplishments and develop next steps in the accomplishment of required District actions by established deadlines. These actions are associated with targeted/coordinated technical assistance from the Long Island Regional Strategic Planning Network (LIRSPN) and SED program offices.
The Department will monitor the District’s fiscal status and provide technical assistance to ensure that the District:
- Maintains a balanced budget for the 2008-09 school year;
- Addresses requirements of all audits of District operations and assesses the adequacy of the corrective action plan; and
- Addresses audit findings regarding Title I funding to return $285,000 in undocumented Title I expenditures.
The State Education Department will continue to work closely with the Superintendent, the Board of Education, District administrators and teachers, members of the community, and other partners to address both short- and long-term priorities for the District. In addition, the Long Island Regional Strategic Planning Network will continue to provide support to the District. The Department will maintain a Wyandanch UFSD team to continue to inform the Department of on-going developments in the District and actions to address Department concerns, gather information regarding the fulfillment of District responsibilities as well as providing the District with technical assistance in the areas of finance and educational program development and implementation.
Next steps include:
- Issuance of Wyandanch Performance Plan for the period ending January 31, 2009 to the District and Community.
- On-going monitoring of the implementation of the Wyandanch Performance Plan and consultation on the completion of required actions on the part of the District.
- Finalization and implementation of all Comprehensive Education Plans and District Action Plan to implement academic improvement initiatives supported by federal and State funding.
- Carrying out Comprehensive Coordinated Review the week of March 23 to address:
- Implementation of Consolidated Application (Titles I – IV)
- VESID Focused Review
- BETAC Compliance Review of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) Title III Part A, and the Part 154 Comprehensive Plan and Reporting Requirements for the Education of Limited English Proficient Students (LEP)Part 154
- The State Education Department and LIRSPN will continue to provide support and assistance as needed to address District priorities.