>years of poor financial management and low student test >scores
And, in the year 2007, >The commissioner said immediate goals included >developing a cohesive curriculum for each grade
But, mainly, > "You've been bamboozled from the superintendent down >to everyone on the school board," said one resident, >Antares Wendler. "They have not been telling the truth."
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/13/nyregion/13roos.html?ref=education April 13, 2007 School Official Visits District Run by State By NICOLE COTRONEO ROOSEVELT, N.Y., April 12 ? Responding to a recent state audit that projected a $12.3 million budget deficit in the chronically troubled Roosevelt school district, Richard P. Mills, the state education commissioner, acknowledged to an audience of parents and teachers on Thursday night that he had failed to notice that the district had been spending millions it did not have.
?Clearly I should?ve seen the full depth of this financial situation earlier,? Mr. Mills said at the forum, which drew more than 100 people to Roosevelt High School. The district has been under state control for five years. An audit released in March by the state comptroller?s office projected that by June the district will have spent $6.1 million beyond its budget this year. That shortfall is in addition to a $6.2 million deficit posted during the 2005-6 school year.
Speaking in a conciliatory tone, yet resisting calls from two audience members for his resignation, Mr. Mills acknowledged that a May 2006 audit by the State Education Department had flagged 63 weaknesses in the district?s financial controls. ?I knew then there had to be a problem with the deficit,? he said, ?but at that time I couldn?t tell how large the deficit was.?
He said the current $63 million budget was not completed in time for his office to determine whether it was balanced.
Many in the audience pointed fingers at the administrators whom Mr. Mills had appointed to keep watch. ?You?ve been bamboozled from the superintendent down to everyone on the school board,? said one resident, Antares Wendler. ?They have not been telling the truth.?
In 2002, after years of poor financial management and low student test scores, the Roosevelt Union Free School District became the first to be taken over by the State of New York. The commissioner maintains the power to appoint the district?s superintendent and its school board. At the time of the takeover, the district had a deficit of $5.8 million.
Jacqueline Farquharson, a senior at Roosevelt High School, said at the forum that her teachers did not have enough textbooks for all their students and that the school computer lab did not have enough toner to print student papers.
?I have three siblings in this district,? she said. ?I want to know that my school district is not going to fall through the cracks.?
Ms. Wendler said the ceilings in many school buildings were riddled with holes and bathrooms lacked toilet paper.
Commissioner Mills said he had dispatched 50 people to the district to make an account of its problems. He said next year?s proposed budget, which will be presented to the public on April 26, increases the amount set aside for textbooks. It also reduces the amount spent on outside consultants and reduces staff, he said, adding that he was not prepared to discuss details.
The commissioner said immediate goals included developing a cohesive curriculum for each grade and improving test scores, particularly at the middle school level.
Mr. Mills?s visit to Roosevelt was his first since the state took control.