State Aid – Regent James Tallon and Director Brian Cechnicki presented conceptual highlights of SED’s state aid budget proposal for 2016-17. SED plans to recommend an overall budget increase of $2.4 billion, including the following:
• $2.1 billion for formula aids prioritized to increase Foundation Aid (with full phase-in targeted for 2018-19) and restore the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA).
• $300 million in additional investments including:
o Expanding universal prekindergarten
o Support for struggling schools
o Education of English language learners
o Family and community engagement
Part 83 Good Moral Character Proceedings – The SED Office of Higher Education presented an item that would “streamline” Part 83 procedures by discontinuing the option for practicing teachers and school administrators (or applicant) to select a hearing panel, and would thereby require that all Part 83 hearings be conducted before a single hearing officer. The item, jointly presented by Deputy Commissioner John D’Agati and Director Deborah Marriott, would also expand the State Education Department’s authority to remand Part 83 decisions for reconsideration when SED disagrees with rendered decisions. Upon learning of the item the day before the Regents meeting, SAANYS sent letters of opposition to all members of the Board of Regents and to Commissioner MaryEllen Elia – and apparently the letter was successful. Regent Charles Bendit asked whether appropriate stakeholders were provided an opportunity to opine on doing away with the panels. Regents Anthony Bottar, Judith Johnson, Betty Rosa, and Lester Young each asked why this change is being proposed. Regent Bottar said, “panels have served well” and Regent Young said, “I haven’t heard anything to suggest this needs to be changed.” When Ms. Marriott explained that 25 percent of cases request a panel rather than a single hearing officer, Regent Rosa said, “A choice is a choice.” Regents Bottar and Bendit led other board members in roundly rejecting SED’s proposal to post the item for public comment. They instead directed that SED meet with SAANYS and other stakeholders. The item will be revised and scheduled for discussion again in December.
Special Education – Assistant Commissioner James DeLorenzo and Coordinator Patricia Geary presented information regarding the requirement to place each student with a disability in the least restrictive environment (LRE). They stressed that special education is a service, not a place; and that the LRE requirement applies to school age and preschool students with disabilities. The PowerPoint document used for the presentation includes statewide and regional data summaries that may be helpful for local level benchmarking.
National External Diploma – Deputy Commissioner Kevin Smith presented information regarding the National External Diploma Program (NEDP) — a program that leads to a local high school diploma through the demonstration of 70 competencies. Eight states currently participate in this program. Although the program is normed for individuals 18 years of age or older, New York State currently restricts participation to adults who are at least 21 years of age and receive a minimum score of 9.0 (i.e., grade 9) on the Test of Adult Basic Education (TABE). The deputy commissioner explained that the program is suited to individuals who do not perform well on standardized tests, and that approximately half of the participants in this program formerly had individualized education programs (IEPs). Commissioner Elia expressed that this program may potentially be used as another high school graduation pathway for students with disabilities.
For more information about the Board of Regents meeting, contact James Viola, Director of Government Relations, by e-mailing JViola@saanys.org.
Download the letter sent by SAANYS in regard to contemplated revisions of Part 83 requirements here.
Download the PowerPoint presentation containing statistical breakouts pertaining to Least Restrictive Environment here.