COLLECTIVE BARGAINING OBLIGATION FOR APPR PLANS

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Despite clear language in the new evaluation law requiring collective bargaining for many key aspects of evaluation, several school districts and BOCES chose to declare impasse and unilaterally develop APPR plans and file them with NYSED for approval. In support of this, they cited a previous PERB decision regarding an issue in Wappingers Falls.  That proves to have been an unwise, simplistic approach to this complex process. NYSED had accepted such plans but had not acted on them. SAANYS, and other representative associations, consistently opposed these APPR plans, disagreeing with the applicability of the Wappingers decision. As a result, formal actions against the districts were initiated and plans for litigation, should the plans be approved by NYSED, were being developed.

On December 28, Commissioner King sent letters to the superintendents of these districts, notifying them that their plans would not be approved absent the signature of appropriate unit presidents representing principals and teachers.  In this letter, the commissioner stated:

“… consistent with the intent of Education Law 3012-c, the Commissioner will not approve APPR unless there is proof of final agreement evidenced by sign-off by the affected unions… “

Commissioner King also indicated that unless a district reaches “final agreement with its unions,” there is a “severe risk” of not receiving the 2012-13 state aid increases. He urged these districts to reach agreement and submit appropriate APPR plans soon.

Now, all districts that chose to ignore the collective bargaining obligation regarding APPR must accelerate such negotiations with teachers and/or principals to minimize this risk. SAANYS will continue to work with our units in these and other districts with unresolved APPR negotiations to settle on fair evaluation procedures for principals. Once the January 17 “deadline” is reached, we will all know which districts have had APPR plans approved and will follow closely the distribution of state aid based on this requirement.

Legislative Update: 3/30

Based on information received on March 26 during a SAANYS meeting with Commissioner King, and information obtained while researching technical assistance inquiries, we are writing to provide the following APPR update information.

Regulations governing APPR requirements were revised by the Board of Regents at their March 19-20 meeting. The regulations require that “By July 1, 2012, the governing body of each school district and BOCES shall adopt a plan, on a form prescribed by the Commissioner, for the annual professional performance review of all its classroom teachers and building principals…” On March 26, Commissioner King clarified this requirement by stating that school districts and BOCES should submit such APPR plans only if it is a final document that has been fully negotiated by both the teachers and the administrators collective bargaining units, and contains no placeholder language. Therefore, it is not required that each school district and BOCES will submit its APPR plan by July 1, 2012.

 

Building on this information, the Budget Bill (Section 22-b of S-6257-E /A-9057-D amending §3641 of the Education Law by adding a new subdivision 15) establishes new Annual Professional Performance Reviews Transition Grants for school districts submitting APPR plans before June 30, 2012. The following additional information is noteworthy:
  • The grant is applicable to the 2011-12 and/or 2012-13 school years.
  • If a school district has submitted an APPR plan before June 30, 2012 and the commissioner finds that the plan does not meet the requirements of §3012-c and that the cost of implementing the locally developed components of the revised approved plan are more costly than the plan originally submitted, the commissioner is authorized to award annual professional performance reviews transition grants to eligible school districts.
  • The commissioner shall have the discretion and authority to approve or disapprove such expenses and may require supporting documentation to determine whether or not such additional expenses were valid, reasonable and essential. The commissioner may also consider the manner in which the components of the plan were developed and if such requirements were not met as a result of a lack of good faith.
  • Approved expenses shall be eligible for payment on or after September 1 following the end of the school year in which such expenses were approved. In the event the appropriation is insufficient to pay all approved claims, the commissioner will pay claims on a prorated basis among all districts filing such claims until the appropriation is exhausted.
  • The commissioner will promulgate rules and regulations to implement the above procedures within 60 days of the effective date.

As you will note, this information lays out more work for SAANYS in obtaining:

  • Logistical information (e.g., application timelines, details regarding the prescribed form, required documentation, and maximum grant amounts; and the basis for the difference in the statutory and regulatory submission dates), and
  • Programmatic information (e.g., both schools districts and BOCES must submit APPR plans, but it appears that the APPR Transition Grants are restricted to school districts).

We hope that you will find this update helpful.

Jim Viola

Support for “Finding Common Ground”

We were excited to hear that SAANYS member Peter DeWitt has been selected to write a blog for Education Week entitled, “Finding Common Ground.” Based on his opening quote, I think we’re in for a thoughtful and honest discussion about schools and our kids. More at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/

“Everyone should have at least one time in their life when they feel chosen, wanted, held up for some kind of special treatment. The times are rare, life is short, others have only a given amount of real need and generosity. It is good to be philosophical when we are not chosen, but it is a vital, precious, almost scintillating thing to be young, to be excited, to be wanted specifically for some task, and to feel a possible dream is on the edge of fulfillment. It is vital for there to be an experience of morning in our lives and for this experience to be called on in the memory of other, more difficult mornings to come. There is no mercy in this world if at least once in our lives we do not feel the privilege of being wanted where we also want to be wanted.”

—David Whyte, “Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity”