Archive for July, 2009

Buffalo institute reports on school district consolidation/regionalism options

July 30th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

My alma mater — the University at Buffalo — has produced a thoughtful report examining options for school district reorganization in Western New York.

The report carefully reviews the history of district consolidation in Western New York and past research on the effects of consolidations.  It also examines a neglected aspect of consolidation — the opportunity to promote equity in resources by merging districts of varying wealth.  In Western New York, the study finds, state aid already largely offsets variations in local wealth.

The author concludes, “that only districts with small enrollments are likely to accrue substantial cost savings from district mergers,”  and adds “For larger districts, those with more than 2,000 students, for example, efficiency gains are often much smaller and are sometimes nullified by the costs of merging.”

While acknowledging potential financial and educational benefits from merging small districts, the report does not suggest new mechanisms to encourage more actual district consolidation.

As next steps, it recommends:

  1. “Unleash BOCES,” arguing that their “promise as a mechanism for educational excellence and costs savings is constrained by narrow thinking and outdated provisions in state law and policy;”
  2. Convene committees of educators, board members, parents, and other local leaders in each BOCES region to explore local restructuring options, as recommended by recent state commissions; and
  3. Make increased use of distance learning and other instructional and operational technology that can diminish the importance of physical proximity while achieving efficiencies and expanding opportunities.

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Category: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Current year state budget deficit confirmed; Governor to offer gap-closing plan in September

July 30th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

In an announcement foreshadowed by earlier reports that state revenues were falling short of projections, today Governor Paterson reported that his Budget Division projects the state faces a $2.1 billion deficit for the fiscal year which began last April.

In September, the Governor will propose will propose an economic and fiscal recovery plan to “eliminate the current-year budget deficit and improve the state’s long-term fiscal health.”

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$30 million available to support energy conservation projects in schools

July 28th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

A few weeks back we posted an item about the availability of funding for energy conservation studies through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Now NYSERDA asks that we pass along notice of availability of more substantial funding to support implementation of energy conservation initiatives.

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Why we’re number 1

July 28th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

Yesterday the U.S. Census Bureau released a report on public school finances with the headline, “New York Leads in Per-Pupil Public Education Spending at Nearly $16,000.”  Earlier today I did a short interview with Syracuse public radio and offered some observations on why we’re number 1.

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More on Education Commissioner-designate David Steiner

July 28th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

More on Dr. David M. Steiner, chosen yesterday by the State Board of Regents to be New York State’s next Commissioner of Education, starting October 1…

The Buffalo News had a “wide-ranging” interview in which he shares thoughts on issues such as standards, assessments, teacher preparation and instructional technology.

Gotham Schools reports on some of his career experiences, including initiatives he launched as Dean of Education at Hunter College and controversies he sparked with a 2003 paper criticizing the soundness of graduate teacher preparation programs.

Here is an article by Dr. Steiner recounting his intentions in the teacher preparation research and his reactions to the criticisms which ensued.

A charter school advocate calls Dr. Steiner a “genius” and says that his “…close and contemporary connection to New York’s charter schools gives charter supporters a reason to be optimistic about his appointment as Education Commissioner.”

To allow you to hear and see him speak, here is a three minute video clip of Dr. Steiner accepting an award last month (June 2009).  Colleagues at SAANYS unearthed this clip.

Here is an unusual piece by Dr. Steiner recounting his own early educational experiences.  He was born in Princeton, New Jersey but spent much of his childhood in England.

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David Steiner, education school dean, to be new State Education Commissioner

July 27th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

It’s official, the Board of Regents has elected Dr. David M. Steiner to be the next Commissioner of Education for the State of New York.

Since 2005, Dr. Steiner has been Dean of of the School of Education at Hunter College in New York City.  Previously, he served as the Director of Arts Education at the National Endowment for the Arts.  Between 1990 and 2004, he was a professor in education and political science at Vanderbilt and Boston University.  At BU, he also served as chair of the Department of Education Policy.

Dr. Steiner will take office on October 1st.  Until that time Carole Huxley will continue to serve as Interim Commissioner.

The State Education Department’s news release appears below.

The Council’s statement is available here.

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New Education Commissioner to be appointed today

July 27th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

Meeting in Buffalo today, the Board of Regents is scheduled to appoint a new State Commissioner of Education at 11:30 a.m.

The New York Post is reporting that the choice will be David Steiner, Dean of the School of Education at Hunter College in New York City.

Stay tuned…

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2010 Grade 3-8 Testing Window Opens a Crack

July 24th, 2009 by tomrogers

The State Education Department recently released its revised examination administration schedule for the 2009-10 school year. This schedule implements the move of the 3-8 tests for English Language Arts and Math to the May timeframe.

The SED invites questions on the implementation for inclusion in a “Q&A” document to be released shortly. Questions may be forwarded through the Office of State Assessment, or The Council.

In advance of that document, we believe one clarification may be useful – the column titled “Administration Dates” indicates the range of dates on which the first day of testing must occur. For multi-day exams, the administration may continue beyond the date range specified (for example, to accommodate students with disabilities or to conduct make-ups). Obviously all other rules for administration of these exams remain unchanged (all students in a single district must start the same test on the same day, etc.). We believe this clarification will be spelled out in more detail in the SED Q&A document, once released.

Category: Guidance and Announcements, Standards & Assessments | 1 Comment »

State funding available for energy conservation studies and projects

July 16th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

We are passing on news about this funding on the request of colleagues at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)…

Later this month, NYSERDA will be issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to allocate $30 million in federal stimulus funds for school energy efficiency and conservation projects.

Pursuant to federal requirements, the window for school districts to apply for these funds will be very narrow – the RFP is expected to be released on July 27, and the first round of applications will be due back on August 24.

Districts will be able to submit proposals for this funding based upon previously developed plans for projects which can meet criteria for the program.

To assist districts which do not have suitable projects already under development, NYSERDA will be awarding up to $5 million in funding for school districts to complete Energy Conservation Studies. Completed studies could then be used to support applications for the upcoming $30 million implementation grant program.

Examples of studies which could receive funding include building improvements to support energy efficiency, certain alternative energy source projects, and studies of alternative fuel and hybrid-electric vehicles.

Applicants may apply for funding up to the lesser of $30,000 or 100 percent of the cost of the study, or 25 percent of the annual energy cost of the facilities or vehicle fleets to be studied.

For more information about how to apply for Energy Conservation Study grants, please see here.

Sometime soon information about the $30 million implementation grant program will be available here.

Maximum funding per applicant under the implementation grant program will be $1 million.

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Regents leader discusses concerns behind 3-8 test schedule change

July 16th, 2009 by Robert Lowry

At its June meeting three weeks ago, the State Board of Regents endorsed moving the grades 3 through 8 state assessments in English language arts and math from January and March, respectively, into May.

The State Education Department is now attempting to settle the details for a revised testing calendar.

An article in yesterday’s Elmira Star-Gazette reveals more of the Regents’ thinking in endorsing the change.

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