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Meeting of the Board of Regents | October 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 - 9:15am

sed seal                                                                                                 




signature of Johanna Duncan Poitier


EMSC and Higher Education Committees



Johanna Duncan-Poitier



Impact of Attrition and Budget Cuts on P-16 Capacity



October 9, 2008



Goal 5







Issue for Discussion


How have recent attrition and budget reductions impacted capacity in P-16 to accomplish critical work as of September 25, 2008?


Reason(s) for Consideration


For information.


Proposed Handling


This item will come before the Regents EMSC and Higher Education Committees for discussion at the October 2008 meeting.


Procedural History


Summary information for the Regents September meeting from Deputy Commissioner Theresa Savo provided an overview of the overall impact of the 10.35 percent reduction to the Department in State Operations spending. The Co-Chairs of the EMSC and HE Committees requested additional details on the impact of  the hiring freeze and budget cuts to P-16 operations in the Offices of Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education and Higher Education.     


Background Information


Two plans, developed by the Board of Regents; P-16 Education: A Plan for Action and the Board of Regents Statewide Plan for Higher Education, 2004-2012, guide the priority work of the P-16 offices.  Beyond the regular operations within P-16, (that include academic program registration, fingerprinting, administration of opportunity programs, adult education, GED, test preparation, child nutrition, charter schools, regional networks, grants management, bilingual programs, state aid formula, nonpublic schools, the urban strategy for school improvement, teacher centers, etc.), examples of this priority work include, but are not limited to:   


  • Development of  enhanced accountability through the development of a growth model;
  • Review and revision of the State Learning Standards;
  • Implementation of Contracts for Excellence;
  • Overhaul P-12 data collection and reporting;
  • Development of a P-16 data system that enhances data collection & reporting;
  • Strengthen teacher education, professional development & leadership;
  • Expansion of the supply of well prepared urban educators;
  • Ensure the quality of higher education programs;
  • Increased access to CTE as a proven tool for increasing graduation rates;
  • Improvement of test administration and the reporting of results;
  • Increased access to early childhood education programs;
  • Expansion of monitoring efforts;
  • Development of systemic early college model program for high school students;
  • Streamline P-16 regulatory operations;
  • Shorten cycle times for facilities approval and teacher certification; and
  • Evaluate overall effectiveness of charter schools.


With leadership and direction from the Regents and the Commissioner, this work is a priority for P-16, and existing resources within the offices are being directed accordingly to make up for recent restrictions and cuts and fulfill the Regents goals. The loss of experienced staff, combined with new responsibilities, a 10.35 percent cut in State Operations funding and special revenue funds, and a hiring freeze have impacted P-16 capacity to accomplish critical work.  Restrictions in the use of targeted Federal funds also limit options for addressing capacity issues in some key areas.  As noted in Deputy Commissioner Savo’s report to the Regents last month, it will be necessary to leave a number of positions vacant to achieve the necessary savings. As of September 2008, P-16 had 42 positions available to fill.  


To mitigate these capacity shortfalls, aggressive actions have been and continue to be taken, including staff reassignments where skill-sets and funding allow for redeployment.  In addition, we are increasing efficiencies through the use of technology and other resources and will consolidate functions wherever feasible to do so. 







This report includes:


  • A table showing the allocation of the Article VII P-16 staff hired as of September 2008 (Attachment I)


        The Offices of EMSC and HE were allocated 71 of the 77 Article VII positions. 

        To date, 64 of those positions have been filled and 19 of these were promotional

opportunities for existing staff.  We were not able to backfill the vacancies created by the promotions so the net yield was 45 positions.  All of the Article VII positions were, by statute, required to be dedicated to the new Article VII initiatives.              


  • A table reflecting the loss of cumulative experience from staff separations since March 2007 (Attachment II)


              Some of the key unfilled management losses as shown in Attachment II include the retirements of Martha Musser (who led our data collection and reporting operation); James Viola (Assistant Commissioner for Upstate School Improvement;  Nancy Willie-Schiff (who was responsible for the data analysis and reporting related to teacher quality and workforce shortages), and several other               supervisory positions in key offices.  In addition, we have experienced a 20% loss of processing staff in teacher certification; loss of associates in assessment and instructional services (mathematics, artist/designer and education of children with handicapping conditions); and lead positions for teacher recruitment and development.


  • A table reflecting staff eligible to retire now (without penalty), and within the next 1-2 years, which will further reduce Department capacity (Attachment III).


An analysis of staff eligible to retire without a penalty shows that a minimum of 65 people in EMSC and HE are eligible to retire as of the writing of this report and another 50 people will become eligible within 2 years.  New staffing tied to Article VII responsibilities has brought a tremendous wealth of energy and fresh ideas to the Offices of EMSC and HE. Over the last 18 months, however, the cumulative P-16 “experience drain” from 115 staff separations totals 2,000 years of experience.




It is recommended that the Regents review the attached information.  Staff is available to provide additional information as requested.


Timetable for Implementation