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Meeting of the Board of Regents | October 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007 - 8:00am

sed seal                                                                                                 







Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Report on the Roosevelt School District



October 17, 2007


Goals 1 and 2





Issue for Information


Monthly report on 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.

Proposed Handling 


For information.


Procedural History


              Each month, the State Education Department provides a report to the Board of Regents on continued work underway in Roosevelt to strengthen student achievement, achieve fiscal stability, and to provide for a clean, safe, and productive learning environment where all students can succeed.


Background Information


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 on the Board of Regents on activities and accomplishments in the Roosevelt School District.  This month’s report is attached. 




 Throughout the spring and summer of 2007, members of the Board of Regents and State Education Department staff 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 in September.  Building upon the work completed to prepare for the opening of the new school year, in 2007-08, the Regents and the Department will continue to work with the Roosevelt School District to support student success and to help the district achieve fiscal stability. 




It is recommended that the Regents review the attached update on the operations and oversight of the Roosevelt Union Free School District. Staff is available to provide additional information as requested.


Timetable for Implementation


              Not applicable.


update on work underway and progress made


october 2007


The Board of Regents and the State Education Department have significantly increased support and oversight at the Roosevelt Union Free School District.  Building upon the work completed to prepare for the opening of the new school year, in 2007-08, the Regents and the Department continue to work with the Roosevelt School District to support student success and to help the district achieve fiscal stability.  Highlights of work underway and progress made in Roosevelt include:


Leadership in the Roosevelt School District


New Superintendent Sworn-in on October 15th


With the unanimous recommendation of the Roosevelt Board of Education, Commissioner Richard Mills appointed Mr. Robert Wayne Harris to provide long-term leadership for the district in the role of Superintendent. Mr. Harris was sworn-in as Superintendent on October 15th.  Mr. Harris served for the past five years as the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, School Improvement, Professional Development and Planning in the Freeport School District. 


Mr. Harris has a strong background in education and school improvement. He has served the students of Long Island for the past 15 years and has built a solid reputation as an energetic, innovative, and caring educator dedicated to meeting the needs of all students. His 15 years of educational experience include working for the Nassau BOCES, working with the Long Island Regional Support Center, and teaching in the Uniondale School District, as well as his most recent position in Freeport. Mr. Harris received a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Howard University, a Master’s Degree in Administration and Supervision from The College of New Rochelle, and a Master’s Degree in Education with Distinction from Hofstra University.


To provide continuity in the district until Mr. Harris’ term began his term, Ms. Roxanne Garcia, Central Administrator for Federal and State Funded Programs at Roosevelt, served as Interim Superintendent at Roosevelt since September 17th.  The Roosevelt team would like to take the opportunity to thank Roxanne for her willingness to provide leadership to the district in the role of Interim Superintendent. 


In addition, the team would like to thank Dr. William Brosnan for his service in the district as Interim Superintendent and transition leader over the past several months and for all of his efforts on behalf of the students, parents, teachers, and staff at Roosevelt.  In addition to ensuring that the children of the district got off to a good start this school year, he has been instrumental in helping to set a new direction for the future of Roosevelt.  Dr. Brosnan will continue to provide support to the Roosevelt School District his role as Interim Executive Director of the Long Island Regional School Support Center.


Lastly, special thanks also go to Regent Milton Cofield for his supportive role in the Superintendent selection process and to Regent Roger Tilles for his leadership on district initiatives throughout the summer months.


Other Key Appointments


Other key leaders in the Roosevelt School District have also recently been appointed including Dr. Fayth Vaugh-Shavuo as Interim Principal of Roosevelt High School and Dr. Karen Chapman as the Interim Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operation.  In addition, Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier will be working closely with the new Superintendent to examine any other positions that might be needed to meet the needs of the students in Roosevelt.


Feedback from Opening Day of the 2007-08 School Year


Feedback received from students, teachers, administrators, and others on the launch of the 2007-08 school year at Roosevelt has been overwhelming positive.  A number of teachers and administrators reported that this was the best opening day in the district in recent years.  As late as the week of October 9th, when several State Education Department staff visited the district, Roosevelt staff report that the positive momentum continues in the district.


Setting the Direction for the Future at Roosevelt


On October 9th, Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Joseph Frey, Burt Porter, Charles Szuberla, and other key Education Department staff met at the district with Roxanne Garcia, Bill Brosnan, Karen Chapman, Jeffrey White, and other members of the district’s leadership team to discuss opportunities and next steps for strengthening management and finance practices within the district.  The Senior Deputy Commissioner also spoke with the on-site auditor from the Office of the State Comptroller.  In addition, Johanna continues to have regular communication with Gale Stevens-­Haynes, Chair of the Roosevelt Board of Education, as well as other Board members and community advocates. Consistent with our commitment to Roosevelt to date, in 2007-08, the Board of Regents and the State Education Department will work closely with the leadership at Roosevelt to address the district’s priorities and to provide for a strong future for the students of the district.



Teachers and Staff Pilot Textbook Inventory System with New Social Studies Textbooks


Over the summer, Roosevelt teachers and staff began investigating use of the Mandarin system for maintaining an inventory of new textbooks, verifying which texts are assigned to which students, and ultimately increasing the textbook retention rate.


Media Specialists and Clerical Support staff came together over the course of four days in August for about six hours each day to start up the computerization bar code system for the district’s Textbook Adoption Process. Roosevelt teachers and staff also received turnkey training for using the Mandarin system.


As part of the pilot project, a unique bar code was affixed to each new social studies textbook before the book was assigned to a student. Bar codes were protected with clear, plastic tape, and labeled with the Roosevelt School District’s address. In addition, the student’s name was placed in each textbook. Textbooks were boxed by class and school according to the class lists provided by each school.  The textbooks were then delivered to each school before September 1st. The Technology Department installed the Mandarin program in each school so bar codes could be scanned to identify the assigned owner of the book. Scanners were ordered to support the building systems. 


Special sessions were held during the district’s Professional Development Day on September 5th to provide over 35 teachers, teaching assistants, principals, and reading specialists with the Social Studies Teacher’s Editions and Resource Materials, and to help them to understand their important role in the textbook accountability process. In addition, a textbook consultant from the Scott Foresman publishing company provided information on how the textbooks could be used to support the New York State Learning Standards. After having an opportunity to use the new textbooks and materials in the classroom, a special session is being scheduled during the Superintendent’s Conference Day in November to enable teachers and staff to ask follow-up questions and receive additional information on the textbooks and recommended instructional practices.


Facilities and Construction


Construction projects continue within the district.  The land remediation project at the future site of the Roosevelt middle school is now 99 percent complete and preliminary test data indicate that the site is no longer contaminated.  A public meeting to discuss progress made and next steps with the Roosevelt community is being scheduled for November.  In addition to the construction projects at the middle school and the high school, the Department is also working with district leadership on a number of other priorities including the search for a new Director of Facilities, as well as building and grounds maintenance efforts.


Fiscal Update


  • The Roosevelt Board of Education has appointed an internal auditor.  The district is now in compliance with accountability legislation.


  • Roosevelt’s fiscal administrator is working with staff to strengthen the district’s internal control structure by implementing a series of strategies to help the district maintain a balanced budget and ensure fiscal integrity. This month:


  • An electronic requisition system was put in place to help prevent overspending on non-payroll related costs.


  • Payroll encumbrances now help to ensure accuracy and to prevent over-expenditure of the district’s $28 million payroll appropriations (payroll makes up approximately 44% of the general fund budget).


Roosevelt staff are being trained on the new fiscal procedures that will be implemented consistently across the district.


  • The district’s independent on-site auditors continue their field work. Also, the Office of the State Comptroller continues to provide on-site real-time auditing of the district’s finances.


  • Opportunities continue to be explored for helping the district to achieve long-term fiscal stability. 


Other Examples of Progress made in the District


  • 2007-08 School District Calendar: For the first time in recent years, the Roosevelt school district has developed a comprehensive calendar with important dates in 2007-08 for Roosevelt students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members.  The calendar also serves as a resource guide.  It includes contact information for district and building administrators; information on the Board of Education, the State’s learning standards, district learning goals for students, and the district-wide accountability and appraisal system; codes of conduct for students; a description of health services, academic resources, and support services available in the district and in the community; and much more.  The calendar is available on the district’s Web site and is being shared widely with parents and the Roosevelt community.


  • District Policy and Procedures Manual: The policy and procedure manual for the Roosevelt school district has been shared with district and building personnel, as well as with community representatives.  In addition, copies of the manual have been shared with the Family Center and the Roosevelt Public Library as resources for parents and members of the community.


  • Student Safety: The County Executive’s office continues to provide crossing guards at six site locations. The crossing guards have completed their training are a now permanently placed for the 2007-08 school year.


Next Steps


                Over the last several weeks, Johanna Duncan-Poitier, Bill Brosnan, and Roxanne Garcia have begun to familiarize Robert Wayne Harris with district operations. Building upon the work completed to prepare for the opening of the new school year, in 2007-08, the Regents and the Department will continue to work closely with the new Superintendent, the Roosevelt 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. Dr. Brosnan will continue to provide support to the district through the Long Island Regional School Support Center.  Highlights of next steps include:


  • Developing a strong curriculum and alignment process for all students (including students receiving special education and gifted and talented students).


  • Developing a system to replace textbooks and instructional materials consistent with the State’s learning standards.


  • Finalizing a five year education plan that is consistent with the district’s fiscal plan (additional time was provided on this to enable the new Superintendent to oversee the development of the plan).


  • Continue major construction projects in the district.


  • Continue advocacy efforts with representatives of the Legislature and others to address Roosevelt’s deficit situation. 


  • Continuing the Department’s monthly Roosevelt Cabinet meetings to work with Roosevelt leadership to identify new educational opportunities and resources for Roosevelt to support student success.