Archive for June, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court decides three high profile education cases

June 29th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

As it concludes its current term, the U.S. Supreme Court announced decisions in three high profile education cases last week.

The decisions involve school reimbursement to families making unilateral special education placements, strip searches of students under suspicion of drug possession, and requirements for services to English language learners.

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SED posts Frequently Asked Questions on federal stimulus aid

June 29th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

On Friday, the State Education Department posted an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document on the timing, uses, and reporting requirements of various funding provided through the federal stimulus package.

The FAQ is available here.

Category: Guidance and Announcements, National Policy, State Budget | Comments Off on SED posts Frequently Asked Questions on federal stimulus aid

Albany paper looks back on Commissioner Mills’ tenure

June 29th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

Today’s Albany Times Union includes a retrospective on Richard Milss’ tenure as State Commissioner of Education.  Tomorrow — June 30th is his last day on the job.

The Commissioner says that he plans to take a break, then pursue something entirely new, adding, “When you stop, it’s really important to realize that you’ve stopped.  It’s important to look at it like you are embarking on a new adventure.”

We’re quoted as are the School Boards Association and New York State United Teachers.

Here is what we wrote about the Commissioner in the November Councilgram, after he announced plans to step down:

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Regents discuss high school graduation; to decide whether to renew local diploma option

June 23rd, 2009 by Robert Lowry

The State Board of Regents meetings this week centered on issues related to high school graduation. One issue they will have to resolve in the months ahead is whether to revive the “local diploma” option, which ended for students who entered 9th grade after 2007-08.

The State Education Department released high school completion data for all schools and districts for the three most recent 9th grade cohorts.  Statewide, the four-year high school graduation rate has risen from from 65.8 for the cohort that entered 9th grade in 2001, to 70.9 percent for the cohort that entered 9th grade in 2004.

For the latest cohort, the graduation rate rises to 75.6 percent when students are tracked over five years.

The data sparked mostly positive headlines around the state.  Examples here, here, and here.

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Category: Achievement Gap, Standards & Assessments | Comments Off on Regents discuss high school graduation; to decide whether to renew local diploma option

Fiscal Challenges Ahead…

June 23rd, 2009 by tomrogers

Today, the Albany Times Union posted an op-ed (under my name, but co-written with Bob Lowry) asserting several points which deserve a little amplification below.

Key points include the fact that schools managed to hold down tax increases this year, showing how responsive school leaders are to the public and economic climate, but the kinds of actions they took this year can’t be repeated indefinitely. Also, major fiscal challenges remain on the horizon. Last, the tax cap is a “trickle-down trick” — it purports to solve a revenue problem (the fact that revenues are all eroding) with a spending solution (preventing additional spending). Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, State Budget | Comments Off on Fiscal Challenges Ahead…

GOP Assemblymembers propose clarifying contingency law

June 22nd, 2009 by Robert Lowry

Two Republican members of the State Assembly, James Tedisco of Schenectady and Saratoga Counties and George Amedore of Montgomery and Schenectady Counties have proposed legislation to ban school districts from adopting a contingency budget that would spend more than a budget rejected by voters.

Their proposal came after a local district facing a second budget vote said a contingency budget would require a 15 percent tax increase, approximately 9 percentage points greater than what the second budget proposal called for.  Voters approved the second budget, making the issue moot for immediate, practical purposes.

The State Education Department holds that a contingency budget cannot spend more than a budget rejected by voters even when a district proposes to increase spending by less than what the contingency budget cap would permit, as many districts did this year.

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Regents plan to move all grades 3-8 tests to May (REVISED)

June 22nd, 2009 by Robert Lowry

The State Board of Regents today agreed to move the administration of the grades 3 state assessments in Mathematics and English Language Arts to May, with a two week separation between the tests.  The change is to go into effect next year.

Currently, the ELA tests are given in January, and Math assessments are given in March.

The Regents originally began discussing moving the assessments later in the school year “to permit more time to teach the new year’s curriculum prior to the administration of the test.” Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Standards & Assessments | 3 Comments »

James Baldwin appointed to TRS Board

June 22nd, 2009 by Robert Lowry

On May 19, State Education Commissionr Richard Mills appointed  Questar BOCES District Superintendent James N. Baldwin to the New York State Teachers Retirement System Board.

Dr. Baldwin also serves currently as chair of the BOCES District Superintendents.

By law, two seats on the 10-member TRS Board go to school administrators appointed by the Education Commissioner.  The other administrator on the board is Dr. Rosemary F. Jones, Superintendent of Sayville Public Schools, in Suffolk County.

The TRS news release is available here.

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State revenues down again

June 18th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued another of his monthly “cash reports” for the state, this time for May, the second month of the the state’s fiscal year.  As in April, receipts fell short of the levels projected for the state budget enacted earlier this spring.

Total receipts for April were $347.9 million below projections.  Expenditures also were below projections, by $250.1 million.

The Albany Times Union quoted reactions from Governor Paterson’s Budget Division:

The Division of the Budget says the spending is also down below plan and June revenues could jump. It’s too early to panic, DOB says. “On June 15, quarterly estimated tax payments were due from businesses and certain high-income individuals which may offer a clearer picture about the condition of the economy and the state budget,” said DOB spokesman Jeffrey Gordon.

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May CPI down 1.2% — a negative contingency budget cap for 2010-11?

June 17th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

This morning the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers (the CPI-U) is down by 1.2 percent from a year ago.

The CPI-U is the figure used to compute the school district contingency budget cap.  It would also be used to compute a property tax cap under Governor Paterson’s proposal.

If current trends hold, schools could face a flat or even negative cap for 2010-11. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance | 2 Comments »