Minutes from Advisory Council Meeting - September 25, 2008
Michael Hatten, Chairman
Anthony Casale, Member
James Devaney, Member
Vincent Ferrara, Member
Carole Yates – Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision, Ex-officio member
Matthew Downey – Higher Education Services Corporation, Ex-officio member
Lisa Haris – Consuer Protection Board, Ex-officio member
Rabbi Yerachmiel Barash, Member
Roxana Tiffer, Division of Budget – Representing Lisa Timoney, DOB Education Unit Chief
Jay Fund, Hunter Business School
Anne Gambina, New Horizons Computer Learning Center of New York
Meeting was called to order at approximately 10:40 am.
Motion was made to approve the June 19, 2008 meeting minutes, seconded, and voted on - motion carried.
There were no open items from June 19 to discuss.
BPSS Update – Carole Yates:
- The current fiscal crisis is being felt in SED. BPSS was required to reduce spending by 10.5% during the current fiscal year. There is a hiring freeze, with three (3) positions that will go unfilled. The computer system has been put on hold, and close attention will be paid to everything from travel to postage. There is a ‘no growth’ budget for the next fiscal year. Closed school records are being stored, but not scanned.
- There is a possibility that the TRA will be swept, but it is unlikely, at this time. It is her belief that before that happened, SED would have input, but Carole wanted schools to be aware of the possibility. There was a question as to how much money is currently in the TRA ($2.3 million) and some discussion on the possibility of the TRA being swept (the legislature has the authority but may not choose to use it).
- Joseph Frey and Carole Yates met with Teresa Swidorski (Assemblywoman Glick’s senior staff person) regarding the pending statute. She requested info on school renewals, closures, processes, fees, etc. and was pleased with the info provided. There was some discussion about the Assembly support (optimistic) and if there is still opposition (unknown). Senator LaValle still supports the bill.
- On 9/16/08, a decision was made by the court on Caliber’s request for a TRO and Article 78. The judge upheld every issue put forth by BPSS, and denied Calibier’s request. The judge determined that a denial of renewal is not disciplinary action and the school was not entitled to a hearing.
- New York Institute of Business and Technology also filed an appeal of the Comptroller’s TAP audit and subsequent $3 million disallowance. A petition was served and the judge ruled in favor of both parties on certain issues. There will be appeals from both sides. There was some discussion as to the violations uncovered during the audit (overcrowding, unlicensed teachers, no entrance requirements, curriculum not offered as approved, etc.). Mike Hatten reminded the schools to stay vigilant with their record keeping efforts.
- Carole recognized Dr. Nand Panjwani and New York Medical Career Training Center for their recent accreditation, and thanked Roxanne Tiffer (DOB) for reaching out to the AC and attending this meeting.
- BPSS staff is visiting Caliber internship sites to help determine if students are progressing as required.
Mike Hatten discussed the fiscal implications from a school owner standpoint. Enrollment in his schools is up, and recessions/depressions typically are a good time for non-degree schools. However, he warned schools about rapid expansion. He also mentioned that it is a good time for the governor to look at the higher education community in general, and proprietary schools, in particular. He expressed concern about the fact that the $3 million loan from DOB for the BPSS computer system has not been approved, as this sector is a major contributor to NYS residents’ quality of life, and asked that DOB revisit the request for the BPSS loan.
Mike Hatten spoke with Mary Burnett from the Governor’s appointment office about the vacancies on the AC. She requested that we be patient for a little longer, and told him that there have been additional nominees submitted. Mike is hoping that there will be new members appointed by the December AC meeting.
Mike Hatten urged schools to step up their presence in their communities, especially in their local high schools.
Jay Fund (Hunter Business School) presented information on recent developments in his two locations (Levittown and Medford), especially in the areas of marketing and corresponding growth - from leads to enrollment to starts. He also discussed the recent changes in where leads are coming from – less print media more internet and personal referrals. He dropped his print advertising from newspapers and now runs ads in local pennysavers. He also reinforced the fact that schools must operate in compliance and constantly review their processes.
Anne Gambina (New Horizons Computer Learning Center of New York) presented information on ways that promotes community awareness. Some of their accomplishments in this area include: recording student achievements in their local pennysavers, attending local fundraising events, writing letters of introduction and inviting legislators and community leaders to visit the school. They take time to alert leaders to the benefits of career training as alternatives to college degrees, as well as complementing the degree, by giving the students marketable skills. They have also submitted information for legislators to include in their newsletters.
Mike Hatten mentioned the Wall Street Journal article that he received from Thomas Reimer - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121910464115051361.html , which discusses the need for a skilled workforce. Thomas asked schools to share information/articles on the industry, with BPSS for possible publication on the website.
Vincent Ferrara asked if there would be review of the director requirements, once the new statute is approved. Monica Borden replied that the Commissioner’s Regulations would be opened for change, once the statute is approved. The Regulations state the specific requirements for personnel licensure, and the elimination of the two different types school licenses (licensed private and registered business) will require an update to the personnel licensing requirements.
Carole Yates mentioned the joint press release, issued by both the New York State Consumer Protection Board, and the New York State Education Department (attached 53KB ).
Monica Borden also discussed the brochure regarding licensed/unlicensed schools, which is currently being distributed to the field. This brochure has been distributed in English, Chinese, and Spanish, and will soon be translated to Korean, Russian, and French/Creole. The Consumer Protection Board had the Chinese and Spanish brochures translated and Monica requested assistance from the ESL schools in providing translations in Korean, Russian, and French/Creole.
Audience questions were taken at this point:
Terry Zaleski stated that the Coalition has received inquiries and concerns from HHA schools. They request information on how to comply with BPSS requirements, especially in areas of internships, and are requesting clarity and technical training.
Carole Yates responded that, in light of the Attorney General’s findings of Medicaid fraud, sales of certificates in the HHA schools, and not offering curriculum as approved, there needs to be a meeting, and she would like it to be mandatory for all schools offering this program. She also stated her concerns that HRA is pushing students into careers such as this, where personalities may not be a good match, and discussed cases where proprietary schools were sent potentially violent students to train in the home care field.
Thomas Reimer responded that BPSS recently met with Department of Health and both agencies are looking at possible ways to verify validity of certificates, including the requirement that certificates be issued with complete transcripts and third party certification exams. More info to follow . . .
Jim Carr stated the registry bill passed, but Carole responded that it is currently an unfunded mandate. Jim believes that the AG may push for implementation, in light of recent developments.
Terry also stated that the Coalition is ready to work with BPSS on the bill, but has concerns with fee structure (in light of financial crisis) and disbursement proposals.
Carole Yates responded that the bill will not be reopened to discuss these issues, however some negotiation may be possible once the bill reaches the legislative floor.
Terry announced the Coalition Convention, which will run from November 12-14 at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown. Carole Yates responded that BPSS will not be in attendance this year.
Mike Hatten announced that the next AC meeting will be scheduled for early December (date TBA) and is looking for a downstate site to host it.