Temporary Task Force on Preschool Special Education
Minutes from  September 19, 2007

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

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

Observers:  Selena Fischer (Middletown School District), Dr. Darlene McDonough (Middletown School District), Christine Doyle (Middletown School District), Nancy Hampton (Early Childhood Direction Center), Sandy Rybaltowski (SED/VESID), Ellen Burns (Early Childhood Direction Center), Cindy Gallagher (SED), Judi Gerson (Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State), Jozef Kopchick (DOB), Michael Plotzker (SED), Joe Conroy (DOB), Tom Hamel (SED), Julie Marlette (NYSSBA), Theresa Cosgrove (Pitta, Bishop, Del Giorno and Dreier), Jyothsna Buddharaju (DOB), Nelly Odondi (DOB), Ken Crannell (NYSAC), Lisa Mell (Schenectady County), Tom Connolly (ACTS), Gayle Kligman (Kidz Therapy Services/ ACTS), Abbie Schip (Valley Consultant Services), John Calderon (TheraCare Pre-School Services / ACTS), Martha Frank (Whispering Pines Preschool), Jessica Morelli (NYSAC), Brian Bennett (NYSUT), Donna Meixner (Meixner Associates), Alan Stern (Stage Right, Organizational Development), Robert Lowry (NYS Council for School Superintendents), Donna Flynn-Brown (Tri-Valley School), Maggie Kosik (BOCES), Pam Madeiros (NYS Alliance for Children with Special Needs)
 
Facilitator: Rebecca Kennard
Recorders: Sara Silver, Tina Goodwin-Segal and Denise Corbett

Meeting Start up

Becky Cort welcomed everyone to the meeting, noting the ambitious agenda that lay ahead.  She thanked the work groups for their extraordinary effort in deliberating and advancing recommendations to the Task Force.  Kim Fine joined her in acknowledging the hard work that had been accomplished to date and thanked everyone for ensuring broad representation of stakeholder groups through regional forums and participation in workgroups.  She encouraged task force members to pick up a copy of the booklet, “Successfully Supporting All Children in Early Childhood Education Programs” published by the NY Developmental Disabilities Council which is consistent with the Task Force goal of encouraging integration.  She added that it was important to advance realistic recommendations in light of the $3.6 billion gap in the state budget next year.

The minutes of the August 23rd Task Force meeting were unanimously approved.

Governor’s Expectations for Final Report:  Duffy Palmer, Director of Educational Policy
Duffy Palmer thanked the Task Force for its time and effort.  He was aware of the amount of work being accomplished through his read of the various products of the work groups to date.  He affirmed that all Task Force members played a vital role in the process of shaping recommendations because of their expertise in knowing what works and does not work in the educational programming for students with disabilities.  The Governor had selected them because they brought the broadest views to the task and put children first.  He was pleased with the inclusive process used (e.g., the regional round table discussions).  The report outline had been reviewed and the Governor looked forward to receiving a thoughtful product that could shape state policy.  Even though many good ideas are embedded in the recommendations, it was advisable to limit the number of recommendations in the report in light of the cost of implementation.  He also noted that the work of the Task Force not specifically included in the report still would shape policy considerations as the Governor’s advisors have been kept apprised of all recommendations, discussions and deliberations of the Task Force throughout the process. 

Becky Cort reiterated, given preferred limit in number of recommendations,  that the focus should be on selecting recommendations that make a real difference. 

Final Report Format and Outline: Tina-Goodwin Segal 

Tina Goodwin-Segal (MAGI) summarized the report outline (see handout).  It had retained some of the sections that were presented originally, but in discussion with the workgroup chairs, the current format seemed more appropriate. The report would include a brief introduction of the history of special education in NYS, an executive summary and conclusions.  The bulk of the report would be devoted to the recommendations, divided into two categories—those with the highest priority and additional recommendations.  MAGI would take more of an editorial role in crafting the rationale and relevant facts based on recommendations emerging from the workgroup and full task force process.  The report would also include a glossary of terms and an appendix.  Work group chairs were urged to carefully consider what to include in the appendix and to forward appropriate materials to MAGI.  The appended material would need to align to specific recommendations.  Examples of resources might include summaries of the state surveys, regional forum data, and transportation analysis.  Finally, it was agreed that a concise and succinct product would have greater impact than a lengthy report.

Preliminary Recommendations

Becky Kennard led the members in working through the recommendations (see handout on Summary of Preliminary Recommendations).  Members were asked to think about the criteria/decision rules they would use to screen in recommendations into the highest and important categories.  In doing so, they were to provide a rationale for which recommendations go into the categories and which get excluded.  This was an opportunity to advocate for, or object to the recommendations. 

Criteria for screening IN:

Next, members were given an opportunity to ask questions for clarification of the recommendations from each work group.

Condensing the recommendations
Following these clarifications, the group was asked to return to the summary sheet and identify recommendations that were duplicative or redundant.  Were there any that could be combined?  Several combinations were suggested.  The resulting groupings were as follows:

B was folded into P
U …………..into O
J……………into A
R…………...into M with W as a strategy
T…………...into Q
E…………...into S
I……………into H

Perspectives on the recommendations
Members were asked to revisit the criteria for screening the recommendations into two categories:  the highest and additional/important categories—the highest being the ones that meet more criteria, and the additional, those that meet fewer criteria but to the same extent.  Becky clarified questions relative to the advocacy activity: that members should give the recommendations the level of importance they wished, that they should be thinking as full Task Force members.  Each member then had an opportunity to name his/her priority recommendations and provide a rationale for why these were important. 
Highlights:

Polling
Instructions for Dotmocracy Activity
The recommendations were made available on poster board for the dotmocracy activity – those that had been combined into others were noted on the poster board.  The purpose of the activity was to get a sense of the group regarding the status of all preliminary recommendations, to show areas where there was natural agreement, and to isolate the ones that needed further discussion.  Each member was given a set of 10 dot stickers, 5 in red and 5 in blue.  The red dots represented the highest priority recommendations and the blue ones represented the additional recommendations.  Each member was to place only 1 dot per recommendation.  It was not necessary to use all dots.  Discussion was allowed.

Results of the Polling
The following 6 combined recommendations emerged with the highest priority:


Recommendation

Highest Priority (Red)

Important Additional (Blue)

H + I + L

13

2

P + B

12

2

G

11

4

W + M + R

9

2

N

7

3

O + U

6

2

The additional/important priorities are listed below:


Recommendation

Highest Priority (Red)

Important Additional (Blue)

S + E + D (a)

4

5

Q + T

1

6

A

0

7

The remaining recommendations—C, F, V, and X were set aside because they had received few “votes”.

Members of the Task Force were satisfied with the pattern of agreement and the 9 recommendations that had emerged—6 in the highest category and 3 in the important/additional category.  The relative number in each category could be finalized at a later point.

Meeting Wrap Up

The work of drafting the language of these combined recommendations and strategies was left to the work groups chairs.  Task Force members were asked to work with each other (by email) on reviewing and refining the pros, cons, and implementation issues, and to send them to the workgroup chairs by September 28th.  They were urged to be judicious, keeping in mind that less is more.  The scheduled Task Force meeting for October 3rd was cancelled.  Additional work group meetings were also cancelled in light of the progress made today.  The workgroup chairs will turn over the draft language to MAGI, the writers, on October 3rd  for compilation into the report format.  Task Force members should be able to review all parts of the report in draft form by October 17th.


Temporary Task Force on Preschool Special Education:  
SUMMARY OF PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS

Source: 1st number refers to the Work Group, the 2nd number in ( ) refers to the page number of the Work Group’s report where you’ll find the full recommendation.


Recommendation

Principles Addressed

Recommended Priority

Agreement
Level

Source

A

Improve access to continuity of provider services from EI to Pre-School.

1, 2 ,4, 5

High

Full

1/(p1)

B

Increase family knowledge and understanding of available resources that can help them more meaningfully participate in decision-making about pre-school service options.

1, 2, 6

High

Full

1/(p2)

C

EI and pre-school special ed. regulations and policies should be reviewed and revised on an ongoing basis to reflect current evidence-based best practices on transition.

1, 3, 8

Medium

Full

1/(p3)

D

Encourage collaborative relationships and/or partnerships between 4410 and other early childhood services providers (including but not limited to Head Start, UPK, childcare providers, and nursery schools) to better support the needs of children with disabilities in LREs.

3, 4, 5, 6

High

Full

1/(p4)

E

Improve the professional development (both initial and ongoing education and training) of providers of special education and early childhood services to enhance the quality of services provided to children in a least restrictive environment.

3, 6

High

Full

1/(p5)

F

The Governor’s Children’s Cabinet should establish as a priority addressing the mental health needs of children under 5 and their families.

3, 6

High

Full

1/(p6)

G

Allow districts which are approved 4410 programs and operate a UPK program to enroll and fund 3-year-olds in their UPK classes to increase the access of preschoolers with disabilities to integrated UPK classes and to reduce the number of transitions for children and families during the preschool years.

1, 3, 5, 6

High

Full

1/(p7)

H

Establish a new rate setting methodology, using principles of existing systems by creating allowable cost parameters in clearly defined areas.  These areas would include: direct classroom expenses; support services; related clinical services; non-personal service; administration; property; etc.  Annual cost reports will continue to be required.  A new “base year” used in the establishment of tuition rates for each rate year will be developed.   

4, 5, 6

High

Full

2/(p1)

 

Establish rates that are more responsive by replacing the non-direct care parameter with separate administrative and property parameters.

4, 5, 6

High

Full

2/(p2)

 

Promote recruitment and retention of teachers by recognizing regional salary differences.

3, 4, 5, 6

High

General

2/(p3)

 

Develop a mechanism to accommodate fluctuations in enrollment while creating required efficiencies.

3, 4, 5, 6

High

Full

2/(p4)

 

Eliminate redundancies and variability by eliminating the reconciliation process. 

4, 5, 6

High

General

2/(p5)

 

Reduce the volume of waiver requests by making them subject to surpluses in other SED preschool special education programs. 

4, 5, 6

High

Full

2/(p6)

I

Modify the SEIT system to create efficiencies.

3, 4, 5, 6

High

Full

2/(p7)

 

Establish incentives to deliver group SEIT.

3, 4 ,5, 6

High

Full

2/(p8)

 

Establish incentives to deliver bi-lingual SEIT.

3, 4, 5, 6

Medium

Full

2/(p9)

 

Recommendation

Principles Addressed

Recommended Priority

Agreement
Level

Work Group

J

Establish regional RSO rates that reflect the appropriate cost of providing services and address components used in the development of other rate systems such as Early Intervention.  Establish incentives for group RSO. 

3, 4, 5, 6

High

General

2/(p10)

K

Institute enhanced accountability measures to support rate-setting reform.

3, 4, 5 ,6, 8

High

Full

2/(p11)

L

Ensure the availability of 1:1 aides and 1:1 nurses by adjusting the rates to reflect the appropriate costs of providing these services.

3, 4, 5, 6

High

Full

2/(p12)

M

Focus the preschool decision making and service delivery process with the school districts who have the have the federal and State responsibility for ensuring the provision of special education services, increase accountability and oversight of preschool system by school districts, and facilitate the transition between preschool and school age.

1, 4, 5, 6, 7

High

1 Dissenting

3/(p1)

N

Reduce the extremely high costs for transportation within the preschool system and avoid costs exceeding maximum reimbursement rates.

2, 4, 5, 6, 7

High

Full

3/(p2)

O

Ensure that the continuum of preschool services includes the flexibility needed to meet individual students’ needs in a cost effective manner and is applied consistently across districts and programs.

3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Medium

Full

3/(p3)

P

Enhance the knowledge and skills of CPSE members and program providers to facilitate transition from EI and ensure consistent decision making.

1, 2, 3, 5, 7

High

Full

3/(p4)

Q

Increase capacity to predict future system needs, to evaluate impact of early intervention and preschool services on future performance, and to provide system oversight, especially in regard to timeliness of referral, eligibility determinations and service delivery.

1, 8

Medium

Full

3/(p5)

R

Increase district responsibility and accountability for preschool services to be more closely aligned with school-age process.

1, 4, 5, 7

High

1 Dissenting

3/(p6)

S

Ensure consistency of expectations and access to appropriate instruction for both non-disabled preschool students and preschool students with disabilities.

 

High

Full

3/(p7)

T

Improve mechanisms for tracking progress and child outcomes and increase comparability between EI and preschool measures.

 

Medium

General

3/(p8)

U

Ensure access to educationally necessary July and August services for students transitioning from EI or newly entering preschool delivery system.

1, 5, 6, 7

Medium

General

3/(p9)

V

Increase the availability of recommended services for preschool students with disabilities.

3, 4, 5, 6

High

1 Dissenting

3/(p10)

W

Decrease public State and local costs for preschool services by maximizing other sources of income. (a & b only)

2, 5, 6

Low

Full

3/(p11)

X

NYSED should propose legislation to allow all Preschool providers to maintain present registered business entities (i.e. LLC, S-corp etc.) and to allow new providers to be approved under any NYS approved legal entity.

 

None

None

3/(p12)

09/17/07