Citing record number of districts with negative tax caps, Educational Conference Board renews call for $2.2 billion state aid increase

ECB

 

State funding is the only way many districts will be able to continue current services

Citing the record high number of 82 districts that are facing negative tax caps this year, the state’s leading education groups (including SAANYS) sent a letter to state legislators urging them to provide the $2.2 billion school funding increase that is needed in a final state budget agreement.

The districts facing negative tax caps are located in all areas of the state, and the letter from the Educational Conference Board (ECB) identifies them by region. The full letter and the list of districts are available here..

The tax cap data is based on information districts recently filed with the Office of the State Comptroller. Some have not yet reported, which means the number of districts that face the untenable situation of a negative tax cap may ultimately be higher.

In addition to the $2.2 billion aid increase, the letter calls on the state to adjust the tax cap law to address instances of negative caps by setting a floor of zero and to finally implement two tax cap modifications that were signed into law last year but have not yet been put in place.

SAANYS Supports Assembly Bill Amending APPR

SAANYS SUPPORTS
Assembly Bill #7303-A / Catherine Nolan

 

Assembly Bill 7303-A amends Chapter 56 of the Laws of 2015, amending Education Law by:

  • Extending the date by which the State Board of Regents must promulgate regulations for an annual professional performance review (APPR) system under Section 3012-d;
  • Delinking increased state aid from the implementation of the Section 3012-d APPR;
  • Providing that school districts must submit documentation by November 15, 2016, showing that the district has fully implemented APPR;
  • Requiring the release of a significant portion of test questions and correct responses;
  • Requiring that student characteristic be considered in the development of state-provided growth scores;
  • Revising the subcomponents of the teacher observation category;
  • Including “other [approved] locally selected measures of student achievement” in the second optional supplemental assessment for APPR; and
  • Requiring that the commissioner establish a content review committee for all standardized test items in state assessments for grades three through eight.
  • The bill also provides $8.4 million to SED to help eliminate stand-alone field tests.

SAANYS Supports this legislation for the following reasons as it does address several of the immediate concerns regarding Section 3012-d:

  • The timeline set for the New York State Board of Regents and the State Education Department to promulgate regulations for the implementation of a new APPR system under Section 3012-d would be extended from June 30, 2015 to November 17, 2015. At the April and May meetings of the Board of Regents, Board members repeatedly expressed upset in regard to the inadequate time allotted to promulgate regulations in a thoughtful and transparent manner. SAANYS agrees that the timeline is too short, and strongly supports an extension to November 17, 2015.
  • The extension of the deadline to November 15, 2016 for school districts and BOCES to implement the Section 3012-d APPR system is entirely appropriate in allowing for sufficient time to re-negotiate teacher collective bargaining agreements, to re-negotiate administrator collective bargaining agreements, to develop and implement new policies and procedures, to conduct necessary professional development in regard to the new system, and to submit a new APPR plan to the State Education Department for review and approval. The extended time frame will promote the more thoughtful and effective establishment of new APPR procedures. Moreover, there is no need to condition the receipt of additional state aid on the implementation of the new APPR system. Such conditions, if implemented, only hurt students.
  • Teachers and school leaders use test results to revise instruction and to target resources and support to teachers and to students. Releasing a “significant” amount of test questions and corresponding correct answers during the current school year (by June 1) will promote program planning and better position schools, classes, and students for success upon school opening in September.
  • It is essential and right that student characteristics, such as disability status, be considered in the development of state-provided growth scores. However, it is also recommended that the manner/method by which such characteristics are considered should also be examined and revised if appropriate. The department’s current methodology is not transparent, and is felt to be flawed for teachers, and even more flawed for principals.
  • Making the subcomponent two, impartial independent trained evaluator, optional for school districts and BOCES will remove an unfunded mandate and an additional administrative burden. To mandate the assignment of independent evaluators also weakens the ability of a teacher’s instructional leader – the principal – to evaluate and guide a teacher’s growth based on what the principal knows of the needs of his/her students. However, discretionary implementation of this procedure by school districts and BOCES could serve as a pilot program for determining the efficacy of such an approach.
  • Establishing a content review committee for the state assessments administered in grades three through eight is directly responsive to the strong concerns raised by parents and educators since the implementation of the common core-aligned assessments. The establishment of the committee will demonstrate that state leaders are listening, and the committee’s actions may be effective in reversing the growing incidence of students opting-out of such tests.

For more information, please contact James Viola, director of government relations, by telephoning

518-782-0600 or by e-mailing JViola@saanys.org.

SAANYS Delivers Legislative Testimony on Executive Budget – 2/3/15

Jim2SAANYS presented verbal testimony before a joint meeting of the state legislature on 2/3/15. The verbal testimony was limited to 10 minutes, but SAANYS also presented more detailed written testimony. Click here to download the testimony document.

You will find the testimony to be comprehensive in addressing the governor’s Executive Budget proposal. In addition to budgetary issues, some of the programmatic issues addressed include:

·         Annual Professional Performance Reviews (See Testimony Page 8)

·         Probation / Tenure (See Testimony Page 10)

·         Failing Schools and Districts (See Testimony Page 12)

·         Prekindergarten (See Testimony Page13)

ECB Calls on Governor to Release School Aid Runs

ECB

The New York State Educational Conference Board – comprised of the seven leading educational organizations representing parents, classroom teachers, school-related professionals, school business officials, building administrators, superintendents and school boards – calls upon the state to immediately release a 2015-16 state aid proposal and corresponding school aid runs allocating the approximate $1.1 billion increase as presented by the Governor last week.

Read full statement here.

2014-15 New York State Budge Summary

Provided below is a bullet point summary of selected state budget provisions related to K-12 education.

Utilization of Test Data
Individual student scores on the state 3-8 ELA and math assessments may not be placed on a students’ official transcript or maintained in a students’ permanent record, but may be used in required state and federal reporting.

Notice must be provided to parents that the 3-8 ELA and math results will not be included on official transcripts or maintained in the students’ permanent record. The above provisions expire on December 31, 2018.

Promotion/Placement
Student promotion and placement decisions may not be based upon results of the state 3-8 ELA and math assessments. Such results may be a factor in such decisions, along with other measures. The promotion and placement policy shall be provided to parents annually.

Pre-K – 2 Test Ban
The commissioner is to promulgate regulations prohibiting standardized tests, but not those required by federal law or those designed to demonstrate application of knowledge and skills.

Test Time

The commissioner is to promulgate regulations creating the following testing restrictions:

–  State assessments may not exceed one percent of the minimum required annual instructional hours for each grade. Assessments not required by state or federal law also may not exceed one percent of the minimum required annual instructional hours for each grade.

–  Test preparation for standardized tests may not exceed two percent of the minimum required annual instructional hours per grade. Teacher administered quizzes and exams are exempted from these limitations. We expect the creation of regulations that provide clarity to these provisions to be challenging.

SED is also to issue guidance on the reduction and elimination of standardized tests not required by law, and report all standardized tests that are administered, by district. Each district shall be required to post this report on its website.

Students With Disabilities/ELL

The commissioner is to issue regulations to allow students with disabilities who are not eligible for the alternate assessment to be assessed on instructional level rather than chronological age.  ELL may be assessed with a state exam that measures English language development rather than the ELA exam for their first two years of enrollment.

Test Administration

The commissioner is required to reduce field tests, make more test questions from the 3-8 ELA and math exams available for review and to expedite review of proposed changes to APPR plans designed to reduce testing.

Universal Pre-K

$340 million to fund Pre-K, $300 million of which is dedicated to New York City.  Pre-K will be funded by grants awarded by SED pursuant to an application scoring system that SED is to develop.  Pre-K programs must provide at least five hours of instruction per school day by certifed teachers and the programs are subject to annual inspections. Grant awards may only be used to supplement and not supplant current expenditures on Pre-K programs.

Teacher Excellence Fund
A teacher excellence fund was funded with $10 million. Districts must submit their locally negotiated plan on supplementing “highly effective” teachers with up to $20,000 to SED and DOB for approval.

The state budget contains many more educationally related items. This summary is designed to provide a quick overview of some of the more high profile items. Any questions or comments should be directed to Jim Viola, director of government relations at jviola@saanys.org.

Education cuts loom, speak up now!

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Whether you know it as sequestration or as the fiscal cliff, the amount of fiscal support for educational programs will be substantially decreased, by approximately eight percent, if a long-term federal budget plan is not in place by January 2, 2013.

If sequestration is implemented, cuts will take effect for the 2013-14 school year for Title 1 grants to schools (currently $14.5 billion, possible cut of $1.2 billion) and special education grants (currently $11.6 billion, possible cut of $973 million). According to a report by the New York State School Boards Association, the average New York State school district will lose $243,000, and the largest cuts will be incurred by the state’s largest school districts: New York City, $95.1 million; Buffalo, $4.1 million; Rochester, $3.4 million; and Syracuse and Yonkers ($1.6 million each).

Use the NASSP Action Center now to easily contact your senate and congressional representatives!

Tell them:

  • A budget plan is needed now – one that is balanced in a manner that safeguards support to schools and students.
  • Many New York State school districts are already straining to implement required services and educational reforms – many of which emanate from the federal level. More funding is needed – not a reduction.
  • More than 30,000 teachers and 7.5 percent of positions for school administrators have been eliminated. Many school services and programs have been discontinued. The full effects of the funding cliff may be expected to adversely impact not only students’ education, but their life opportunities.

ECB recommended revisions of the state school aid calculation procedures

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On December 7, SAANYS coordinated with other associations included in the Educational Conference Board (ECB) to send a letter to Governor Cuomo recommending revisions of the State School Aid calculation procedures that would improve financial aid planning by school districts.

The 2011-12 state budget instituted new limitations (caps) in annual changes to School Aid and Medicaid – the two largest components of state spending. The changes, which are codified in law for upcoming budget cycles, are different for each of the two components. The Medicaid cap is based on the 10-year average change in the medical component of the Consumer Price Index; and the School Aid cap is based on the one-year, annual change in the personal income of state taxpayers. The method for calculating the School Aid cap is more volatile, with year-to-year swings as much as five percent. In fact, forecasting the change in personal income for a single year is itself, open to wide variation as data become available.  For example, the changes in the personal income forecast for 2013-14 have been revised downward several times, with concomitant reductions in the possible School Aid cap falling from $950 million to $610 million.

In its letter, ECB recommends that the method used to set the School Aid cap be revised in a manner that is similar to that used for Medicaid. The calculation of the School Aid cap should use the 10-year average of change in statewide personal income. It is expected that this revised approach will seldom go up or down by more than one-half of one percent per year. For 2013-14, such a revision would result in a School Aid cap of 4.0 percent – a possible increase of $814 million.In addition to SAANYS, the associations constituting the Education Conference Board are: Conference of Big 5 School Districts, NYS Association of School Business Officials, NYS Congress of Parents and Teachers, NYS Council of School Superintendents, NYS School Boards Association, and NYS United Teachers. The ECB letter to Governor Cuomo is posted on the SAANYS website. For more information about ECB or the letter sent to Governor Cuomo regarding State Aid, contact James Viola, Director of Government Relations at JViola@saanys.org.

 

Tonko Talks Frankly with Local Principals

Twenty-one school administrators from 14 school districts and BOCES within the 21st Congressional District met with Congressman Paul Tonko yesterday afternoon to discuss critical issues facing schools and educators. The three-hour event took place at the offices of the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS) in Latham, New York.

The open discussion covered timely national issues in education ranging from the possibility of fiscal “sequestration” to programmatic issues and recommendations. The principals and other school administrators talked frankly about the real effects of reduced funding and layoffs in their schools, increased testing for students, and problematic outcomes from the Race to the Top initiative.

Commented James Viola, SAANYS director of government relations, “We are very gratified by the interest and effort of the congressman to reach out to school leaders in the 21st district. We look forward to hosting a similar meeting before the close of the calendar year.“