July 2007


commissioner letterhead

Board of Regents on the Web

The July Meeting of the Board of Regents will be available on line for the first time as a web cast. The Regents have historically been one of the most open public bodies in state government, and web casting will now allow the public to observe Regents meetings in real time without traveling to Albany. This innovation will make Regents’ proceedings more accessible to parents, students, teachers, school leaders and all the institutions that comprise USNY.

Contracts for Excellence

The Regents early focus on improving student achievement and closing the gap helped set the stage for Article VII reform. High learning standards, a state of the art assessment system, and an innovative proposal to change the way the state funds public education—all laid the groundwork for many of the Article VII reforms. Through Regents actions in April, May and June, the Contracts for Excellence were launched, and the Board continues its work this month to ensure that the contracts provide for rigorous accountability. At the June Regents meeting, the Board reiterated that districts must use Contract for Excellence funds to predominantly benefit students with the greatest needs, and that allowable programs must be tailored to address those specific needs. Since the June Regents meeting, the Department received additional public comment, contracts have been filed with the Department and staff has begun the review process. The EMSC-VESID Committee will once again this month discuss the Contracts for Excellence regulations, act on revised emergency regulations and receive an update on implementation. Due to administrative filing requirements, and additional public comment periods for the revised emergency regulations, additional emergency action will be required in September with final action on the regulations anticipated for the October meeting.

Budget and Legislative Priorities

Each year the Regents identify policy issues that will require legislation to implement. Some legislative proposals are carried over from the previous year, and some are new. Those requiring a state appropriation are included in the Department’s budget proposal, and the others are proposed for introduction during the legislative session. The bill development process and the process to develop Regents budget initiatives is fully aligned. In each committee and again at full Board, the Regents this month will discuss and act on their budget and legislative priorities for 2008-2009.

Illegal Practice Regulations

The Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee will discuss regulations to implement legislation, passed in 2003, that authorizes the Department to address complaints of the unauthorized practice of the professions. No resources were provided when the law was passed, and for the last four years the Department has sought legislative approval to impose a $10 surcharge on each licensee every third year (every two years for physicians), a strategy supported by almost every profession. While that legislative proposal has yet to become law, our responsibility to prosecute unlicensed practice remains. We cannot fully implement this initiative without adequate funding, but we have identified resources that would enable partial implementation while we continue to advocate for a legislative solution. The regulations before the Committee for review will establish the process for addressing these complaints, and, with Regents approval, will enable the Department to seek support for an appropriate staffing plan.

Strategic Advocacy Plan for NOVEL

NOVEL has been a Regents budget and legislative priority proposal since 2001. Since its creation, NOVEL has developed into a fundamental information resource for more than 5,000 libraries in the state. Yet, we have not succeeded in gaining enough support from the Executive or the legislature to fund NOVEL in the state budget. NOVEL has instead been supported piecemeal by temporary federal LSTA funds, which are designed to stimulate new initiatives but not sustain them over time. It is time for the State to invest in a NOVEL pilot project and make it a permanent state program. The Cultural Education committee will discuss a new Strategic Advocacy Plan for NOVEL.