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Meeting of the Board of Regents | May 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 11:00pm

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Strategic Planning Work Group


David M. Steiner


Update:  Structuring the State Education Department to Support Success


May 13, 2010




Issue for Discussion

An update on implementation of the Regents plan for restructuring the State Education Department to Support Success. 

Proposed Handling

This item will come before the Regents Strategic Planning Work Group in May 2010. 

Procedural History

              At its May 2009 meeting, the Board of Regents adopted the recommendations of the Regents Project Management Group (“PMO Group”) and directed the Commissioner and staff to examine how to structure the Department’s internal organization to best support the Regents’ goals of increasing access, opportunity and achievement for all students and closing achievement gaps.  The integration and realignment of certain Department functions will help further the Regents’ aim of ensuring access and opportunity for graduation and post-secondary success for both children and adults.

              In January 2010, Chancellor Merryl Tisch formed the Regents Strategic Planning Workgroup, led by Regent James Tallon, to collaborate with Commissioner Steiner and Senior Deputy King in developing a strategic vision for the organization of the Department based on the recommendations advanced by the Regents PMO Group and adopted by the Board in May 2009.

              In March 2010, the Regents affirmed the recommendations of the Regents Strategic Planning Workgroup relating to (1) the integration of general education and special education within the Office of P-12 Education (EMSC) and (2) the integration of Vocational Rehabilitation (VESID) and the adult and continuing education units currently located within the Office of P-12 Education (EMSC) and the Office of Higher Education.

To support the Regents’ vision and goals for education reform, three new leadership roles within the Office of P-12 Education have been established and the Department has begun to develop a plan for restructuring several offices within the Office of P-12 Education.


Background Information

The Regents implementation timeline for the integration of General Education and Special Education and the integration of Workforce Development, Adult Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (VESID) is for the transition to take place over the Spring of 2010 and to be completed by July 1, 2010, so that our organizational structure is consistent with the schedule for receipt of the majority of our Federal money (including NCLB money) which begins in July.   In addition, in order for the new P-12 structure to be operational before the start of the new school year, the restructuring of the Office of P-12 Education will be completed by July 1, 2010 as well.  A great deal of work is underway to support this ambitious timeline.  An update on the implementation steps that have already been taken and next steps is provided below. 

Update:  Merging the Offices of P-12 Education and Special Education

As recommended by the PMO Group, the integration of special education into the Office of P-12 Education’s general education functions reflects the understanding that the issues related to improving student achievement through a focus on the instructional core – such as teaching, curriculum and assessment – affect all students.  The integration of special education and general education functions within the Department is designed to achieve the following critical goals:


  • To ensure that the needs of students with disabilities are considered and integrated in all policies developed by the various offices of SED;


  • To retain the specialized knowledge and expertise that the Special Education Office now provides to address the needs of students with disabilities and to effectively implement its general supervisory responsibilities required by the IDEA.  The expertise and advocacy for the protection of the rights of students with disabilities and their parents will be maximized and enhanced through this reorganization;


  • To promote a more comprehensive approach across Department offices when addressing school compliance and improvement issues with individual school districts; and


  • To provide greater efficiency in Department efforts by integrating functions which are currently duplicated in P-12 (EMSC) and special education, such as data collection and analysis, fiscal management and contracts, FOIL management and personnel transactions.


Steps Taken:


  • Several joint management meetings have taken place between P-12 and Special Education managers to implement the merger of the two operations.


  • Deputy Commissioner Rebecca Cort, will be moving to the expanded Office of P-12 Education as the senior manager for Special Education under Senior Deputy Commissioner John King.  Becky has already begun participating in P-12 Senior Manager meetings. 


  • Interviews are being conducted for the position of Deputy Commissioner for the expanded office that will include Workforce Development, Adult Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (VESID). 


  • As of March, the P-12 and Special Education data units have merged and are operating under a single administrative structure.


  • Staff in P-12 and Special Education who are responsible for monitoring activities are discussing ways to share best practices, create efficiencies and avoid duplication of effort. 


  • A comprehensive examination of space usage throughout the office of P-12 Education is taking place in conjunction with staff and office relocations that will support the new Department structure and reduce the Department’s use of rental space for offices.  This is a complex logistical task that will require a phased-in approach over the course of several months. The aim is to have all moves completed by the start of the 2010-11 school year, with as many moves done by July 1st as possible.


Update:  Restructuring the Office of P-12 Education

Three new leadership roles within the office of P-12 Education have been created at the Department to advance the Board of Regents P-16 Education Plan which articulates the Board’s vision for a New York in which all people are prepared for citizenship, work and continued learning throughout their lives, and the Regents reform agenda.  The creation of those new leadership positions, Associate Commissioner for District Services, Assistant Commissioner for Accountability, and Executive Director of the Office of Innovative School Models, necessitates the restructuring of the Office of P-12 Education to staff and support the functions of the newly created offices.  

A chart that illustrates the current distribution of P-12 staff by office, as well as a color coded representation of the primary funding source (State, Targeted Federal or Flexible Federal) for each office is attached.   The number of staff for whom the funding source is the accountability funding provided by Chapter 57 of 2007 are indicated in parenthesis within each office (that number is a subset of the office total and not additional staff).  

In addition, the development of the 2010-11 Department Budget submission to the Division of the Budget is focused on ensuring that our limited fiscal resources are directed to supporting the Regents goals and priorities. 

Steps Taken:


  • A senior management team has conducted a comprehensive review of all P-12 functions and mandated responsibilities and developed a proposed “functional organizational chart” aligned by appropriate senior manager area. 


  • This same senior management team then developed a preliminary staffing plan aligned with the “functional organizational chart.”


  • The senior management team and Senior Deputy Commissioner identified outstanding issues that need to be addressed before a final staffing plan and organizational chart can be developed.  Those issues include:


  • Monitoring: What is the best way to organize staff to accomplish all the monitoring SED must do in the most cost-effective manner?  The focus would be on monitoring NCLB titles (including but not limited to: Titles I, IIA, III and IVB) to support receipt of federal funds and avoid negative audit findings which might jeopardize that funding. 


  • School Improvement:  What is our strategy for improving schools and what is the best way to deploy staff doing this work? Priorities for this office would include:  monitoring, differentiated accountability, management of the federal §1003g school improvement grant, support for districts in implementing the §1003g grant, identification of best practices, and the administration of other aspects of the accountability system.


  • Office of District Services: What is our customer service oriented vision for this office in building relationships with districts? What should the priorities be for this office?  How can SED leverage BOCES and RICS in support of the Regents reform agenda?  How can technology be used to improve both SED internal operations and teaching and learning throughout the State? 


  • Curriculum and Instruction: What capacity is required to support implementation of the Common Core standards if the Board of Regents adopts them?  How can SED better support the dissemination of best practices for the education of ELLs to increase graduation rates and college readiness for those students?  


  • Each fiscal year, all parts of the Department are required to complete an Annual Base Budget as part of the Department’s overall budget submission to DOB.  This submission shows DOB how the Department plans to spend the money appropriated to it, or in the absence of an enacted State Budget, as is the case this year, the Department bases the spending plan on the Executive Budget Proposal.   Prior to the 2010-11 Base Budget, EMSC used to build the anticipated spending plan based on updated revenue projections and historical spending levels for each program/fund source.    For the 2010-11 Base Budget, a zero based budget approach is being used which requires all work to be justified, aligned with strategic goals and prioritized. The justification must specify if the activity is required by statute or regulation or directed by Regents policy. The Base Budget is then developed by including the costs of projects and activities that are mandated, but eliminating costs as necessary to arrive at a structurally balanced budget where anticipated revenues equal projected costs.  In deficit fiscal situations, it is especially helpful to identify work and expenditures that are less critical than others. 


Next Steps and Timetable for Implementation

              Proposed next steps will be brought to the Regents for discussion at the June Regents meeting. 

              The integration of General Education and Special Education and the integration of Workforce Development, Adult Education and Vocational Rehabilitation (VESID) are to take place over the Spring of 2010 and completed by July 1, 2010, concurrent with the start of a new federal fiscal year.   In addition, in order for the new P-12 structure to be operational before the start of the new school year, the restructuring of the Office of P-12 Education will be operational by July 1, 2010 as well.