Last evening the e-mail message attached from Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch was disseminated by Senior Deputy Commissioner Ken Wagner. Based on this e-mail, SAANYS is already receiving inquiries regarding the actual timeframe within which school district and BOCES collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) and APPR plans must be revised to conform with the new requirements included in the new law, §3012-d. Please note that we too have just received this information and have not yet had the opportunity to discuss it with Acting Commissioner Berlin and/or other department representatives. As soon as we have such meetings, we will immediately provide you update information. In the interim, here are our thoughts:
First – We agree with the appropriateness and the need to extend the required phase-in of the new APPR system. In fact, we would submit that such an extension is as necessary for SED as it is for school districts and BOCES. We also agree with decoupling increased school aid from a due date for the implementation of the new §3012-d APPR requirements.
Second – Do NOT take the chancellor’s information at face value. I say this for three reasons:
- The timeline extension called for by the chancellor would not apply to all school districts, but to “districts facing hardships meeting the timeline.” How will such determinations be made by SED? Will another procedure, an APPR Timeline Extension Application, be necessary? Nobody can answer this.
- The November 15, 2015 due date for APPR Plan approval and APPR implementation, and the fiscal implications for school districts not completing such requirements by that due date, are included in Education Law. The State Board of Regents’ authority extends to education regulations and policy – not the statute. Moreover, regulations and policies must be developed in a manner consistent with Education Law, and cannot countermand or supersede the provisions of law.
- The chancellor indicates that she has “directed” the State Education Department take such actions in regard to APPRs and school aid – not the Board of Regents; and the possibility of such actions was not discussed at any public session at the last Board of Regents meeting, on April 13 and 14. It appears that such action would certainly require policy or regulation, and this does not appear to be the case.
Third – At the current time, it remains impossible to re-negotiate teachers’ collective bargaining agreements to fully conform to the new APPR requirements; and it is more impossible to re-negotiate such new requirements for school principals – because the requirements of the new APPR system are not yet fully specified. Therefore, any collective bargaining agreements established and ratified between the current time and the time when the all the necessary aspects of the new APPR system are in place should include “reopener language” such as the language that has been provided to all SAANYS negotiators.
Additional Information: Following the transmission of the message above, 10:28 am. The following additional information has come to the attention of SAANYS. Mr. Alphonso David, counsel to the governor, said, “Under existing law, SED may have a hardship exemption procedure if SED defines the process by regulation and if the hardship is genuine and due to a particular circumstance, but that is the exception not the rule.”