March 2007
Report to the State Board of Regents


 Teacher Supply and Demand


       Less than a year after the initial report on teacher supply and demand, we have the second report, which shows marked improvement in several indicators. 



The data reveal progress as colleges and schools move to prepare and employ teachers where they are needed.  The data also enable prospective teachers to make decisions about which fields to enter.  Regents now have a guide for policy making on teacher credentials.  The State Education Department can better align funding decisions.  Educators can better position new alternative certification programs.


In addition the Board will hear about the Department’s new web-based teacher certification system (known as TEACH) that expedites the movement of qualified graduates of teacher preparation programs into the pool of certified teachers eligible for employment.  In less than a year of operation the Department has issued over 24,500 certificates through this system.




       The Comptroller’s audit that we requested is now public.  Roosevelt had a $6.2 million deficit on June 30, 2006 and has the potential for a $6.1 million operating deficit on June 30, 2007 for a cumulative deficit of $12.3 million. These deficits are a consequence of the poor controls and budgeting practices that the SED audit revealed last May.  The deficits were avoidable. They are unacceptable. The practices that led to the deficits are a barrier to improving student achievement in Roosevelt.  We have begun to execute a new intervention strategy and have taken the following actions.


1.  Address fiscal crisis and help Roosevelt regain financial stability.


·        Issued a Commissioner’s Order to ensure more than $4.4 million in revenue enhancements and spending reductions in the 2006-07 spending plan.


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


·        Named a team of experienced school leaders to advise me on additional spending reductions and revenue enhancements in both the 2006-07 and 2007-08 budgets.  I am prepared to ensure these additional spending reductions and revenue enhancements with additional Commissioner’s Orders followed by monitoring.   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.


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


·        Directed Fiscal Administrator Jeffrey White to determine that the following financial controls are currently operational and sufficient, or to inform me so that we can direct immediate improvements:  Encumbrance of expenditures, every purchase supported in advance by an approved purchase order, balanced budget with reasonable and supported revenues and expenditure projections, electronic system to block expenditures that are unsupported by a budget line, and regular review of revenue and expenditure reports by senior administrators and the Board of Education.


·        The Regents will review monthly financial reports from Roosevelt at each Regents meeting and I will take additional actions as needed.


  1. Improve the quality of education at Roosevelt.


·        Assigned Jim 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.


·        Assigned newly appointed Senior Deputy Commissioner Johanna Duncan-Poitier to make an expedited assessment of other actions and systems needed improve student achievement.


  1. Regents direct involvement in reform: develop short and long tem strategies.


·        The Regents have scheduled their monthly meeting to be in Roosevelt on April 23 to review district operations first hand, to listen to the community, and to explore practices that have led to improvement in similar school districts.


       Some have said that Roosevelt does not have sufficient resources to operate a school system. The facts dispute that view. Roosevelt has revenues of almost $18,000 per student, which makes it an average spender among downstate high need suburban districts.  Roosevelt would receive an 8.4 percent increase in State education aid in the proposed Executive Budget. The challenge is to budget and spend those funds carefully. That has not been done. Now it will be done.


Preliminary Plan for Perkins Career and Technical Education


New York receives $60 million annually for this program.  While a final five-year plan is not due until early 2008, the preliminary version is due in April and requires Regents approval.  The elements of the plan are consistent with previously expressed Regents views, including: academic rigor, successful transitions to higher education, high skills content, reassessment of technical skill requirements in the workplace, and accountability.  Regents also have called for increasing the opportunity for CTE, particularly in urban districts, which should be included in the plan as it develops. This important federal program and its planning component can be a lever to remove obstacles to a Regents goal.


Proposal to Discontinue Component Retesting


       The Regents will discuss a proposal to discontinue component retesting. This is a program introduced as part of the transition to 65 as a minimum passing score on Regents exams.  Students who have failed the English or Mathematics A Regents exams two or more times may take components of the exams that assess topics they have not yet mastered.  The concept is attractive. In practice,   the program has been costly and has served few students.


       Only 5300 out of the 260,000 students taking tests used this program last year. The cost per student is high: $261 per student vs. $2.35 for the regular assessment.  And the existing appeals program, together with the safety net for students with disabilities, provides alternative support for students.


Proposal to Reduce Regulation of Attendance in Non-Public Schools


       At the February meeting, the Regents heard a report on Mandated Services Aid and the costs imposed on non-public schools by regulations that required taking attendance at every class.  We have determined that non-public schools had sufficient systems in place to achieve very high attendance rates prior to the 2001 regulation. The regulation in the case of the non-public schools was costly and unnecessary.


       Since the last Regents meeting, the State Education Department has distributed half of the Mandated Services Aid, exclusive of the comprehensive attendance program aid, through a short form to get immediate aid to the non-public schools and begun distributing the second half through the long form.  A discussion to resolve the comprehensive attendance aid issue is still pending as part of the budget process.


Monitoring Middle School Reform


       The Regents will discuss the second monitoring report of the Middle School Reform policy.  This report shows that few schools have used the flexibility offered in the three middle school options. So far, we have received 9 applications on behalf of 28 schools in 5 school districts.  Test results in the middle grades reveal low achievement.  This approach is not producing results.


       The report suggests other approaches, including a focus on adolescent literacy and professional and leadership development.  The original Regents policy statement on the components of effective middle schools is worth another look, too.  We are not yet improving middle schools.


Literacy Among Young Children


The Cultural Education Committee will hear presentations from Sandra Feinberg, Director of the Middle Country Public Library and Katherine Jetter, Educational Coordinator at WMHT, on library and PBS programs and services that encourage emergent and early literacy in young children.  These programs, which are available across the state, offer an informal approach to developing school readiness skills in a population (birth-3 years) that has not yet become involved in formal pre-K or kindergarten programs.  These programs are a largely untapped resource to educators that could, if better integrated with the educational system and other family support systems, help reduce the number of children who enter the school system unprepared.


Designing the Future of Vocational Rehabilitation


       The Regents will receive an offline report on progress with the design of vocational rehabilitation.  VESID has combined data analysis, pilot studies, training, financial controls, partnerships with other state agencies and USNY institutions, and focus on fundamentals to transform vocational education.  The design is showing results: After one quarter, VESID has achieved a third of its placement goals for the year.  This work illustrates how a major part of the State Education Department is preparing for the future.


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Last Updated: March 16, 2007