Temporary Task Force on Preschool Special Education
Minutes from July 17, 2007

Co-chairs:   Rebecca Cort, Deputy Commissioner NYSED
Kim Fine, Deputy Director NYS Division of Budget

Attendees: William Combes, Susan Constantino, Mary Curtis, Michael Dedee, Robert Frawley, Mary Garrett, Michael Grossfeld, Bradley Hutton, Mark Jasinski, Eddie Lee, Sally McKay, Patsy Yang-Lewis
Absent: Christine Vogelsang

Facilitator: Rebecca Kennard
Recorders: Tina Goodwin-Segal and Denise Corbett

Welcome and Getting Started
The facilitator began the meeting by reviewing the agenda and the overall goals for the meeting. Task force members were asked for their consent to have these (full task force meetings) recorded electronically o ensure accuracy of the minutes and to keep a digital record of these events. There were no objections to this procedure.

The minutes from the June 28th full task force meeting were adopted with no corrections.
Becky Cort informed the group that she would be sending an email announcement with a link to a website that was being created to support task force communication and to ensure timely dissemination of all resources.

Kim Fine thanked the group for the commitment they have demonstrated thus far and reminded everyone of the collective responsibility to engage as many stakeholders as possible by making sure that materials and information are shared broadly with their constituents.

Regional Meetings
Kim Fine provided background information to prepare the group for the discussion of the regional meetings. The purpose of these regional roundtable meetings is to solicit additional input from stakeholders to gain a complete understanding of the challenges and benefits of New York’s current services for preschoolers with disabilities. The targeted audiences for the roundtable meetings are representatives of families of children with disabilities, school district members, county representatives and service providers.

Invitation/mailing lists developed for these events will be compiled to provide a resource for the Task Force to use for obtaining feedback from stakeholders as recommendations are being developed. To gain as much input as possible, roundtable participants will be asked to respond to an online survey after the completion of each session.

Anecdotal information gathered through these sessions will complement the factual information that is the focus of the workgroup and full task force efforts.  Stories from the sessions can be used in the report (anonymously) to help make the case for recommended changes.

Kim Fine presented the planning work that had been done thus far on the regional meetings. After a brief discussion, a sixth session, to be held in Albany, was added to the schedule to draw from the northeastern part of the state as well as from the Capital District.

The following schedule for meetings was proposed and accepted.  




Host / Task Force Representatives


August 3


New York City
45-18 Court Square 2nd floor, Long Island City, NY 11101

Sally McKay
Becky Cort
Eddie Lee

Anne Campbell
518-474-0688 or anne.campbell@budget.state.ny.us

August 6



Christine Volgelsang
Mary Garrett
Eddie Lee
Mike DeDee

Tina Bovenzi

August 7


Ramada Amherst Hotel and Conference Center,
2402 North Forest Rd
Amherst, NY 14226
Phone: 716-636-7500

 Susan Constantino

Mike DeDee
Bob Frawley

Wendy McCarthy

(first 100 people)

August 8


Monroe Community Hospital
435 East Henrietta Rd.
Rochester, NY 14620
Directions: 585-760-6555

Mike DeDee

Susan Constantino
Bill Combes


(first 120 people)

August 9


Long Island
Nassau Community College,
One Education Drive,
Garden City, NY  11530 - Cluster B, Classroom 218

Mary Curtis
Michael Grossfeld
Bob Frawley


(first 120 people)

August 13


Center for Disability Services
314 South Manning Blvd
Albany, NY 12208

Mary Garrett
Susan Constantino

Kim Fine
Rebecca Cort


Marie Colbert

The group agreed to have 3 task force members at each of the roundtable events, at least one person to host (and provide opening and closing remarks) and at least two other task force representatives to facilitate small group discussions. Each session will begin with introductions and opening remarks with the whole group and then move to stakeholder discussion with three breakout groups: 1) Parents/Families, 2) Providers, and 3) Funders and Decision Makers (School District/ County).

The role of task force members is to

The designated host for a session will

Kim Fine agreed to provide a standard invitation for Taskforce members to distribute to their compiled mailing list.  Task force members were asked to request RSVPs to the invitations and to provide Kim’s office with an electronic copy of their distribution list.

Highlights from Key Reports
Becky Cort summarized key findings from the State Survey study and the Longitudinal Study. Both of these documents were available electronically before the meeting, in hard copy at the meeting, and will be posted to the website.

Highlights from the State Survey summary included the following

Highlights from the Longitudinal Study summary are as follows

Progress Reports from Work Groups
Each work group provided the task force members with a list of the issues and questions that their group had decided were the most important for the work group to examine. The facilitator instructed the full task force to address three questions as they listened to the delivery by each work group:

  1. How did the group do? Did they cover the most important issues/questions?
  2. Are there any critical omissions?
  3. Can you endorse/support the direction the work group is heading?

As the work groups presented, the facilitator kept track of “cross-cutting” issues that would be addressed by the group after all three work group discussions.  

Work Group 1—Transition/LRE
(Michael Dedee presented the issues/questions that Group 1 would address—see handout for Work Group 1)

Task force responses focused on the following

Following this discussion task force members were asked Questions 1, 2, and 3. The task force accepted and formally endorsed the direction of Work Group 1.

Work Group 2—Rate setting
(Susan Constantino presented the issues/questions that Group 2 would address—see handout for Work Group 2)

Task force responses focused on the following

Following this discussion task force members were asked Questions 1, 2, and 3. The task force accepted and formally endorsed the direction of Work Group 2.

Work Group 3—Delivery Systems
(Becky Cort presented the issues/questions that Group 3 would address—see handout for Work Group 3). During the Group 3 presentation, Becky also identified strategies that this work group was recommending in order to obtain additional factual/qualitative information. One approach was to gather data from the regional roundtable sessions; another was to develop a list of follow-up questions for several states that had participated in the online State Survey. This survey hasalready been conducted as part of the charge to the Temporary Task Force. 

Task force responses focused on the following

Following this discussion task force members were asked Questions 1, 2, and 3. The task force accepted and formally endorsed the direction of Work Group 3.

The strategies for collecting additional data/information were approved and the group agreed that Work Group 3 would take the lead on putting together a list of additional questions to ask other states. All work groups were encouraged to send any additional questions to Becky Cort, with the understanding that only a limited number could be asked and the process of compiling questions needed to happen by the end of the week. 

Cross-Cutting Issues
Five issues were identified as a result of the work group presentations. The first two were considered to be the most critical to the work of the task force.

  1. County involvement in the administration and funding of programs   

Discussion summary: This is an important structural issue that impacts all aspects of the preschool special education program. NYS has very different funding from most other states that responded to the survey. Most other states do not have county funding but instead rely more heavily of state and school district funding. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the NYS system? What are the advantages and disadvantages of systems in other states?

Action(s) to be taken: Work Group 3 will take the lead on 3 strategies for getting more data/information.

  1. System boundaries:  0-5 plus school age   OR   3-21 years   OR   0 – 21

Discussion Summary: There was a very lengthy discussion about the potential advantages to restructuring the system to make transitions for children and families more seamless. Removing the “lynch pins” and creating one system from 0-21 might be beneficial and better coordinated/use services or it might inflate use. Another critical component of the discussion focused around how different the EI and preschool systems are. This is a bigger issue than just which state agency provides oversight; there are programmatic differences that are part of the federal legislation.
Action taken: There was a motion to take a vote on whether the task force would focus its attention and render its recommendations in the context of the possibility of having a 3-21 system. This is not to say that the task force, at this time, voted for a 3-21 system. Rather, the vote was about whether the work groups would proceed considering the possibility of a system where 3 & 4 year olds are served by the same system as 5 and 6 year olds in terms of who runs it, who pays for it, etc. The motion carried with 10 votes “for”, 2 “against”, and 3 people absent.

  1. Ability to continue with the same provider – programmatic and contractual and fiscal issue – as child ages 

 Action(s) to be taken: Work Group 1 will take the lead and address this issue as part of their charge. They gather and vet information to bring back to the full task force.

  1. Medicaid reimbursement

Action(s) to be taken: Work Group 3 will take the lead and add questions about Medicaid reimbursements and expenditures to the list of follow up questions to other states.

  1. Pre-school transportation reimbursement 

Discussion Summary: VESID provided information that the cost for preschool special education transportation is around 20%. Based on this, the group agreed that the cost of transportation for preschool special education is an issue that should be studied. Data need to be gathered to determine why these costs are so high. This is a question that cuts across all groups. It may be important also to gather information about how transportation is discussed at CPSE meetings. Is it offered in such a way that the family feels like it’s a program benefit? This may suggest that there needs to be training for all CPSE members.  

Action(s) to be taken:  Work Group 3 will take the lead and work with Hal Matott to gather data by county and bring it back to the full task force. Transportation costs will also be explored in the follow up questions with other states.

Meeting Wrap Up
Commitments and next steps were reviewed for the group.