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Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2007

Friday, April 20, 2007 - 11:20pm

SED Seal                                                                                                 









Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Status Report on Roosevelt Union Free School District



April 20, 2007



Goals 1 and 2









Issue for Information

Monthly status report on key issues for the Roosevelt Union Free School District.


Reason(s) for Consideration


Requested by members of the Board of Regents.

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 BOE 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.




Staff recommends that the Regents review the attached status report and SED/Roosevelt monthly meeting agenda that provides information on the operations and oversight of the Roosevelt Union Free School District:


  • Attachment A: SED Status Report of the Roosevelt Union Free School District.
  • Attachment B: Roosevelt School District/SED Monthly Meeting Agenda, March 15, 2007.
  • Attachment C: Orders of the Commissioner of Education, March 13, 2007 and March 22, 2007.


Timetable for Implementation

              Not applicable.






                                                                                                                                            ATTACHMENT A





This item provides information regarding six areas of continued Department focus during this reporting period.


  • State Education Department (SED) Oversight and Support


The State Education Department has begun to execute a new intervention strategy with significantly increased oversight and support to the Roosevelt Union Free School District to address the severe budget deficit and to minimize its implications on students, staff, and on the community.  As part of the intervention strategy, Commissioner Mills requested Johanna Duncan-Poitier, the newly appointed Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education, to make an expedited assessment of actions and systems needed to improve student achievement. On the first day of her appointment - March 22, 2007, she met with the Superintendent at Roosevelt and others in the district.  During the next three consecutive weeks since having been appointed, the Senior Deputy Commissioner has conducted extensive field activities with the Roosevelt community, including a meeting with the Chair of the Board of Education.  Last week, the Senior Deputy Commissioner and members of the P-16 leadership team convened a series of meetings with union leaders, community advocacy groups, teachers, and other individuals at Roosevelt to identify actions and systems needed to improve student achievement as well as next steps.  A member of the Senior Deputy Commissioner’s leadership team, Mr. James Viola, Executive Director, Office of School Improvement and Community Services (Regional) has been designated to work in the Roosevelt School District two days a week.  He now regularly meets with the administration, union leaders, parents, teachers, and others and attends Board, budget and community meetings.


On April 16, the Senior Deputy Commissioner appointed an internal departmental Roosevelt Cabinet.  The Cabinet, which includes the three Associate Commissioners in P-16 as well as senior managers throughout the Department, will ensure that all resources and staff expertise available throughout USNY are employed to assist the Roosevelt School District to improve the academic programs that are available to its students.  While appropriate mechanisms are now in place to monitor the fiscal condition of the Roosevelt School district, equal emphasis must be placed on the academic issues to ensure that students have access to the necessary resources and programs to improve learning.


During the initial week of assignment, the Executive Director met with school district and community members at the school district’s first budget meeting, and facilitated the SED/Roosevelt monthly meeting (see Attachment B for agenda).  During the second week of assignment, the Executive Director and other Department staff met with representatives of the PTA, the teacher union, the Roosevelt Watch Society and various school officials. He also attended the Board of Education (BOE) meeting. During the third week, he focused on issues related to timely and accurate student schedules for the high school and middle school and on high school student transcripts.


On March 27, the SED Regional Supervisor and Roosevelt Regional Liaison participated in the first of a series of meetings to support the development and subsequent implementation of the Five-Year Education Plan. The meeting included community representatives and district/building leaders.


On April 3, the Executive Director met with Gale Stevens Haynes, Chairperson of the school district’s Board of Education, to discuss his findings and actions in the school district, and to determine the schedule and content for BOE member professional development. On April 5, he called the high school principal and guidance personnel in from spring vacation to work with Nassau BOCES personnel to identify and resolve remaining issues related to the development of student transcripts. He will continue to meet with the district and community to evaluate the educational and fiscal status of the district related to district and school improvement progress.


On April 12 Commissioner Mills conducted a public meeting in the high school auditorium. Although scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm and end at 9:00 pm, the Commissioner continued to engage the community until 11:00 pm; every member of the community who wished to speak had the opportunity to do so. SED took aggressive action to disseminate information regarding this community opportunity through the media, mailings to the community and telephone contacts to school district leaders and community representatives. This meeting was attended by approximately 150 community members and served as an important vehicle for ensuring an accurate understanding in regard to issues such as budget deficit reduction; school district budgeting for 2007-08; student transcripts (all student transcript requests were completed prior to the Commissioner’s community meeting); schedules and instructional materials; and construction of the middle school.  Regent Roger Tilles and the Senior Deputy Commissioner also attended the community meeting. 


Commissioner Mills issued two Orders in March to enhance oversight of the school district. He appointed an Advisory Team consisting of two Long Island District Superintendents and the Interim Director of the Long Island Regional School Support Center (also a former school superintendent) to advise him on additional revenue enhancements and spending reductions in the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 district budgets. This team has been working consistently in the school district since the issuance of the Orders.  (Refer to the Finance Section for further information about the Commissioner’s Orders).


The SED Roosevelt team, consisting of program, legal and fiscal staff, continues to meet monthly with the Superintendent and his administrative cabinet.  The agenda is developed each month with input from all members of the SED Roosevelt team and with an opportunity for input from the district. The agenda for the March 15 meeting is included as Attachment B. The next meeting is scheduled on April 19 in Roosevelt.


Superintendent Ron Ross has resigned effective June 30, 2007.


2.           Finance


The Commissioner issued Orders that were presented to the Roosevelt Board of Education and Superintendent on March 13 and 22.  The March 13 Order directed that the district take eight actions and the March 22 Order required two actions related to the financial status of the district (see Attachment C). The March 13 Order also included a “Summary of Expenditure Reductions” and a “Summary of Revenue Enhancements.”  The Orders were fully discussed at the SED/Roosevelt monthly meeting on March 15, and the associated deadlines were entered into the Master Calendar.


The Department continues to work closely and intensively with the district to prepare a deficit reduction plan. In order to address the shortfall, the school district has prepared and the Department has approved Phase I and Phase II of a deficit reduction plan.  At the Board of Education meetings on March 22 and 27, the Board approved Phase II of the deficit reduction plan.


The Commissioner’s Advisory Team reviewed revenue enhancements and spending reductions that may address the budget shortfalls during the current and upcoming school years. On April 2, the Advisory Team provided a report to the Commissioner that included recommendations for the 2007-2008 school budget related to utilities, central office changes, reconfiguration of staffing structures, enrollment projections, teacher contract negotiations, buildings and grounds staffing, and management of student data.


The Orders also required that the district submit a realistic and balanced draft budget for 2007-2008 to the Department and the Office of State Comptroller (OSC) by April 2. This timeline was met. The school district’s budget will continue to be refined prior to presentation to the public at the April 26 meeting of the Board of Education. The school district budget vote is scheduled for May 15.


The Board and the Superintendent must prepare a new Five-Year Financial Stabilization Plan and submit a draft of that plan to the Commissioner no later than April 30, and submit the final plan no later than May 25. The Five-Year Financial Stabilization Plan, the Five-Year Education Plan and the school district budget for 2007-08 will be developed to ensure consistency across the three documents.


The State Comptroller announced that, along with increased oversight by SED, he will conduct continuous monitoring and audits of the district’s finances.  OSC auditors will meet regularly with SED and the district and describe any potential problems that they identify. They will also issue public quarterly reports. This enhanced oversight will begin in early May.


3.           Interim Board of Education


SED has worked with the Superintendent and Roosevelt Interim Board of Education to plan professional development and orientation for Roosevelt Board of Education members. A Board retreat was scheduled for April 13, to provide a general orientation to Board members but, due to the unavailability of several members, will need to be rescheduled. Board professional development will also be scheduled to provide training on fiscal oversight and the requirements of Chapter 263.


4.           Academic


The district’s petition for the removal of the Roosevelt High School from SURR status was not approved by the Department due to the lack of fully accurate cohort data as determined during the SED Office of Audit Services audit.


The district has begun to develop a new Five-Year Education Plan for the period July 1, 2007 – June 30, 2012. The first meeting of the Five-Year Plan development team was held on March 27, and included representatives from the community, the Board of Education and district administrative staff. SED representatives participated in small work groups focused on four key categories, including education targets, organizational structures, staffing, and learning community involvement.  The Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction prepared and shared with SED a summary of the notes from the March 27 meeting.


The next Five-Year Education Plan meeting was held on April 18, and included teachers, building staff, and representatives from Hofstra and Adelphi Universities. It is anticipated that a draft of the Five-Year Education Plan will be completed on May 9, presented to the Board of Education on May 24, and submitted to the Commissioner on May 25. In June, the Commissioner or his designee will present the Five-Year Education Plan to the public.


5.           Audit


  • Final Audit Report (SD-0205-5)


The Office of Audit Services (OAS) will follow up on outstanding audit recommendations and prepare a status report for the Board of Regents.


  • Data Audit


OAS completed field work on the audit of the reliability of the district’s data. A draft report is in process. The district will be 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 Board of Regents.


  • State Comptroller Audit


The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) audit has been completed and auditors met with the district on January 24, to review audit findings and recommendations. The Roosevelt UFSD and Board of Education are to develop a Corrective Action Plan within 90 days (April 24) that will be submitted to OSC and the Commissioner.


6.           Construction


              The district’s construction update focuses on Washington Rose Elementary School, Ulysses Byas Elementary School and the middle school.



              The Washington Rose Elementary School was successfully opened for students after the winter break.  Punch-list items remain to be completed.  Operational issues continue to be resolved as the staff become familiar with the operation of the new facility.  Corrective work is done after hours to prevent disruption of the educational program.

  • Ulysses
    Byas Elementary School


The Ulysses Byas Elementary School has been cleaned of asbestos and demolition has begun.  Upon completion of demolition, the new facility construction will commence immediately.

Middle School 


SED, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Department of Health (DOH) continue to coordinate activities to ensure the middle school site is cleaned in accordance with the approved remediation plan.  DEC will implement a Citizen Participation Plan to inform the community about environmental issues impacting the middle school. DEC also conducted soil samples on five private properties to determine if there is more widespread contamination within the community. The results of the soil samples are expected by the end of April. Upon completion of the soil testing, a meeting will be scheduled to inform the community of the actions taken and the recommendations for moving forward.  In addition, the agencies are developing a comprehensive question-and-answer document to share with the community regarding many issues raised at a previous public meeting. 


SED continues to review the total financial impact of the remediation of the middle school land and the building completion schedule. Once the full extent of the necessary remediation is known, we will have better information about the final schedule for occupancy of the middle school and the impact of the cost of the middle school remediation project on the high school renovation project.







Roosevelt School District-NYSED Monthly Meeting Agenda

March 15, 2007 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

475 Park Avenue South
, NYSED, 2nd Floor, Board of Regents Room   Phone: (212) 951-6425






Board of Education

Discussion of orientation and training for board members.



10 minutes

District and SED discuss plan to orientate and provide training to board members.


5-Year Education Plan

--Process for revision of 5-Year Education Plan and plans for March 27 meeting.

-- Update regarding development of district-wide Pre K-12 Curriculum



15 minutes

District and SED are informed regarding next steps.


Fiscal Issues

Discussion of fiscal issues, including:

-- Commissioner’s Orders

--Fiscal deficit reduction plan(s)

--OSC audit next steps

--07-08 budget preparation

--Fiscal Administrator Report

--Quarterly budget report for OSC


60 minutes

District and SED are clear regarding timely fiscal issues.




OAS Audits




Discussion of:

--Office of Audit Services audit of 2001 and 2002 cohort data and systems that will affect accuracy of data in the future

--Progress in implementing outstanding OAS audit recommendations




5 minutes

District and SED have clear understanding of data reliability and data management issues, and status of audit recommendations.


Construction Status

Discussion of status of construction projects.


Preparation for public meeting on middle school land remediation.


20 minutes

District and SED receive updated information on construction.


Review of district actions that need to be completed for meeting.


Special Education Issues




 Update regarding the District’s participation in the VESID/Quality Assurance Focused Review (QA FR) in the area of “IDEA Effective Practices” for 2006-2007.


5 minutes

District and SED have clear understanding of next steps related to 2006-07 QA FR and anticipated Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) with a focus on MS/HS improved instruction and outcomes reflected in State Performance Plan (SPP) indicators.


Master Calendar

Review of Master Calendar, due dates and status of actions.

April 23, 2007 Board of Regents meeting on Long Island; school visits.


5 minutes

Status of calendar items is confirmed.