Full Board



Jean C. Stevens



Status Report on Roosevelt Union Free School District



March 13, 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 board 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 on Roosevelt Union Free School District

·       Attachment B: Roosevelt School District/SED Monthly Meeting Agenda, February 9, 2007.


Timetable for Implementation


          Not applicable.






                                                                                                    ATTACHMENT A





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


1.     State Education Department (SED) Oversight and Support


                   The State Education Department continues to provide ongoing and sustained oversight of the Roosevelt Union Free School District (UFSD). A Department team, consisting of program, legal and fiscal staff, meets monthly with the Superintendent and his administrative cabinet. The February meeting was conducted on February 9, 2007. The agenda is developed each month with input from all members of the SED Roosevelt team and with the opportunity for input from the district. The agenda for the February 9, 2007 meeting is included in Attachment B.


          In addition, during January/February/March 2007, State officials met with the Superintendent and members of his administrative cabinet and communicated regularly by phone and e-mail in order to advance the school district’s plan to address the budget deficit. The meeting held in the district on January 31, 2007 also included the school district attorney who provided information regarding the legal implications of contemplated staff reductions. This meeting resulted in a Phase I deficit reduction plan which was presented to the Board of Education on February 15, 2007 and approved. The Phase I reductions, which do not involve teachers or paraprofessional positions, will be effective March 15, 2007.


2.       Interim Board of Education


 SED is working with the Superintendent and Roosevelt Interim Board to plan and implement professional development and orientation for Roosevelt Board of Education members. The Board of Education President will poll members to determine the most convenient time for such training. Initially, the focus of training will be financial issues and requirements of Chapter 33 of the Laws of 2002.


3.               Academic


The Roosevelt UFSD cabinet and SED have identified the development of a PreK-12 curriculum as a high priority. The Roosevelt UFSD has appointed staff from each building to serve as curriculum council members. Curriculum councils will serve as representatives to the curriculum committee that will develop the districtwide curriculum plan and work to ensure continuity across grade levels.


The district has also begun to identify a school planning team that will work on the development of a new Five-Year Education Plan. The first meeting of this team is scheduled for March 27, 2007 and will include representatives from the community, the Board of Education and district staff. SED representatives will also work collaboratively with Roosevelt UFSD staff on the development and revision of the Five-Year Education Plan.

The Roosevelt UFSD has timely submitted a Title I Corrective Action Plan in response to the SED Title I report and findings. Department staff is reviewing the district plan and will monitor implementation.


4.               Finance


          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 approved Phase I of a deficit reduction plan.  At the Board of Education meeting on February 15, 2007, the Board approved Phase I of the deficit reduction plan. It was determined that those staff affected by the Phase I plan will receive a 30-day notice. Phase II of the district reduction plan was also prepared, and proposed reductions are scheduled to be acted upon at the March 22 Board of Education meeting.


Additional alternatives that are being considered in order to further address the expenditure budget during the current and upcoming school years include: 1) additional grant funding; 2) special legislation to increase the contingency budget cap; and 3) establishment of a debt service fund to pay principal and interest on long-term debt.  Although these alternatives help address the deficit, the district is still subject to the legal contingency budget cap.  In the absence of additional grant funding or an increase in the budget cap, reductions will be required in order to be in compliance with the law.


          On March 5, 2007, draft 1 of the Roosevelt district budget for 2007-08 was submitted to the Office of State Comptroller for review and recommendations. The district will also be required to complete its encumbrance process in July 2007. Thereafter, appropriations and budget transfers will be reviewed monthly. 


Finally, the Department has learned that the district missed a debt service payment that was due on December 15, 2006.  Although the Depository Trust Company paid the bondholders on the district’s behalf, it was bond counsel’s opinion that this incident meets the Securities and Exchange Commission’s definition of a material event requiring disclosure.  The fiscal administrator has recommended a procedure to help prevent a recurrence.


5.       Audit



The school district is preparing a report on the status of six remaining recommendations. The Office of Audit Services (OAS) will analyze the information provided by the district and prepare a status report for the Board of Regents.



The Office of Audit Services completed field work on the audit of the reliability of the district’s data. A draft report has been issued. The district is given 30 days to respond to the draft. A final report will then be issued, including the district’s response as an appendix. At the conclusion of the audit, the report will be presented to the Board of Regents.



On March 6, 2007, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) released its audit report pertaining to the Roosevelt Union Free School District. This audit was requested by the State Education Department on September 14, 2006 upon the preliminary determination by State officials of a significant budget deficit in the school district. OSC initiated its audit on September 25, 2006, reviewing school district fiscal records and procedures for the period July 1, 2004 through November 30, 2006. The findings documented in the Financial Condition and Expenditure Control sections of the report are serious, and the report's 10 recommendations are felt to be strategic and on point. The contents of the Comptroller's report provide a factual basis upon which the State Education Department will provide more enhanced and targeted oversight and support of the school district financial operations; greater support for the Department-appointed Fiscal Administrator; and greater direction for the School Superintendent and administrative cabinet members in establishing instruments, controls and procedures to bring about and maintain a balanced school district budget.


It is important to note that the State Education Department and the school district have already taken actions to improve the school district's financial performance and to address the budget deficit. SED has established and has updated a Master Calendar of fiscal and program requirements set for the district. (Because the school district was untimely in meeting requirements, intermediate due dates were added to the document in the fall of 2006.)  In September 2006, a full-time Albany-based employee was assigned to provide oversight and technical assistance to the school district. Beginning October 2, 2006, the Department-appointed Fiscal Administrator has worked with school district personnel on-site in the district to address many of the items documented in the OSC report and to develop a realistic and balanced budget for 2007-08. State officials have also worked closely with the school superintendent to identify expenditure reductions and strategies to address the budget deficit. Most recently, Commissioner Richard Mills has communicated with State legislators to discuss possible strategies to address the current budget deficit.


In light of the findings and recommendations provided by OSC, it has been determined that a more focused, a more directive and a more targeted approach is called for. Therefore, the following actions will be taken by the State Education Department, appropriate branches of the University of the State of New York (USNY) and by the school district. On March 15, 2007, SED officials, including the Fiscal Administrator, will meet with the school superintendent and members of the administrative cabinet to review OSC report findings and recommendations, to determine the status of the Corrective Action Plan required by OSC and to ensure consistent understandings between the Department and the school district in regard to other school district fiscal responsibilities. A plan of action will be developed to provide enhanced oversight and support to the Roosevelt district. This plan will outline specific actions that will be implemented by SED, the district, and USNY.


On March 13, 2007, Commissioner Mills issued a Commissioner’s Order to the superintendent and Board of Education that included a series of actions to reduce the Roosevelt district budget deficit.  Among the actions are the following:


·       Ordered the preparation of a 2007-08 budget that is in structural balance by April 2, 2007.

·       Named a team of experienced school leaders to identify additional revenue enhancements and spending reductions in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 budgets.  The team members are James Mapes, District Superintendent, Nassau BOCES; Edward Zero, District Superintendent, Eastern Suffolk BOCES; and William Brosnan, former superintendent of Northport-East Northport UFSD who currently serves as Interim Director of the Long Island Regional School Support Center. Commissioner Mills directed the superintendent and Board of Education to cooperate fully with this team and with Fiscal Administrator Jeffrey White.

·       Ordered a new Five Year Financial Plan to restore financial stability within the resources that can reasonably be expected to be available in Roosevelt. (Draft due April 30, 2007; final due May 25, 2007)

·       Directed Fiscal Administrator Jeffrey White to determine that the following financial controls are currently operational and sufficient, or to inform the Commissioner so immediate improvements can be made:

o      Encumbrance of expenditures,

o      Every purchase supported in advance by an approved purchase order,

o      Electronic system to block expenditures that are unsupported by a budget line,

o      Balanced budget with reasonable and supported revenues and expenditure projections, and

o      Regular review of revenue and expenditure reports by senior administrators and the Board of Education.

·       Assigned James Viola, Regional Coordinator for School Improvement, to work in Roosevelt two days a week to ensure that educational results improve in the middle and high school, increase community involvement in the work of the school district, and expand the district’s programs with area colleges. 

·       Directed Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education, Johanna Duncan-Poitier, to make an expedited assessment of other actions and systems needed to produce improved student achievement.


In addition, the Commissioner ordered actions for new revenues and reductions and to tighten fiscal controls.  These actions include:


·       Ordered more than $4.4 million thus far in revenue enhancements and spending reductions.


Revenue enhancements ($3.45 million above the 2006/07 revenue budget)

o      Additional $1.3 million in unbilled foster care revenues for the periods of 2002/03, 2003/04 and 2004/05

o      $ 900,000 in additional income from property taxes levied earlier in the year not previously recorded in the budget

o      $1.25 million in additional interest income, largely from proceeds of bonds.


Expenditure Reductions ($990,000 savings)

o      Expenditure reductions of $499,000 savings as specified in the Commissioner’s Order.

o      Application of federal IDEA and Title I and IIA grant funds from the prior year will save $ 491,000.


6.       Construction


          The Roosevelt UFSD construction update this month focuses on Washington Rose Elementary School, the middle school and the development of an operations and maintenance budget plan for 2007-2008.


·       Washington Rose Elementary School


          The move into the new Washington Rose Elementary School was substantially completed and inspected on Friday, February 16. SED issued Certificates of Occupancy, and the district moved into the facility during the Presidents’ week vacation.  Classes in the new building began on Monday, February 26.  Some work remains to be done, such as the gymnasium floor, and will be scheduled for completion at a time that is not disruptive to students and staff.



With completion of the new Washington Rose School, the Ulysses Byas School is being vacated and scheduled for demolition.  Contracts were previously bid and awarded and are within budget.  Demolition is expected to commence in March.



A second public hearing on the middle school land remediation is scheduled for March 28, 2007 in Roosevelt.  The meeting will be run by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  A fact sheet and Question-and-Answers are being developed with input from DEC, the Department of Health (DOH), and SED. Spanish translations will be provided. 


A citizen participation plan is needed to inform the community about environmental issues impacting the middle school. DEC will assume responsibility for the citizen participation plan since the town and private residences are potentially involved. 


SED will not allow the facility to be occupied unless agencies are confident the remediation was successfully completed as documented by test results. Construction will continue and is currently on schedule to be completed, potentially as early as December 2007.


The Department 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, the Department will have better information about the final schedule for occupancy of the middle school and the impact of cost of the middle school remediation project on the high school renovation project.



Roosevelt School District-NYSED Monthly Meeting Agenda

February 9, 2007 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM

116 West 32nd Street, 5th floor, New York City







Board of Education

Discussion of orientation and training for board members.



5 minutes

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


Site Visit Report Follow-up

--Collaborative discussion of revision of 5-Year Education Plan.

-- Update regarding development of districtwide PreK-12 Curriculum

--Title I LEA Compliance Review  Report

-- School Lunch/Nutrition program



35 minutes

District and SED agree on next steps related to recommendations from site visit report.


Fiscal Issues

Discussion of:

--Fiscal Administrator Report

--Fiscal deficit reduction plan

--Quarterly budget report for OSC

--07-08 Budget preparation


35 minutes

District and SED are clear regarding timely fiscal issues.



      District Personnel Issues



District provides information regarding personnel actions in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures related to personnel.


10 minutes

District shares information regarding upcoming personnel/actions.




Update regarding SURR petition

for removal of high school.



5 minutes


District and SED receive update on SURR status.



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.


10 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.




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

-- Status  of OSC audit



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


10 minutes

District and SED receive update information on construction.


Master Calendar

Review of Master Calendar, due dates and status of actions


5 minutes

Status of calendar items is confirmed.