Archive for April, 2010

Neither on-time nor timely

April 30th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

On Monday, the Buffalo News had a well-done article about the difficulties the late state budget poses for school districts.  It also raised the possibility of delaying school district budget votes. Read the rest of this entry »

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State Budget News (April 26, 2010)

April 26th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

There isn’t any. Or not much that points toward a resolution of the state budget.

The Senate is holding out for state-funded property tax relief, the Assembly wants a partial School Aid restoration, the Governor resists borrowing to close the deficit, and everyone is looking to see if Washington will approve another round of funding to save school jobs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Education groups file second lawsuit against governor

April 23rd, 2010 by Robert Lowry

A news release, jointly issued yesterday by the Council, New York State School Boards Association, New York State United Teachers, and School Administrators Association of New York State:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 22, 2010

CONTACT: NYSSBA: David Albert, (518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221; NYSUT: Carl Korn, (518) 213-6000 x6313; NYSCOSS: Robert Lowry, (518) 449-1063 or (518) 435-5996; SAANYS: Michelle Hebert, (518) 782-0600 or (518) 265-1624

Education groups file second lawsuit against governor

The New York State School Boards Association, New York State Council of School Superintendents, New York State United Teachers, and the School Administrators of New York State have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality and constitutionality of Governor Paterson’s action in withholding $2.1 billion in aid payments due to be made by March 31. The suit also seeks to enjoin any withholding of the remaining payments for this school year, due in May and June.

In December, the four groups filed a lawsuit challenging the legality and constitutionality of the Governor’s action in withholding $582 million in scheduled state aid payments and STAR reimbursements to school districts, based on the same grounds. Those funds were paid after the suit was filed.

The primary goal of both these lawsuits is to ensure that state officials follow state laws, as they have sworn to do.

Most school aid is paid according to formulas and schedules set in state law. Unless those laws are changed by the Legislature, the payments must be made. We feel obligated to prevent the precedent of a Governor choosing which laws he will follow.

Like the Governor, school boards and superintendents must oversee budgets. We respect the cash-flow difficulties the state faces and school districts are willing to be part of a solution. But any solution must give schools adequate warning to plan for payment delays, a date by which they can count on being paid in full, and it must be done by amending laws for this one-time emergency, not by ignoring them.

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New regulations to help districts keep good teachers

April 22nd, 2010 by Robert Lowry

The prospect of sweeping teacher layoffs have been commanding media attention lately, including the lead-off story on the NBC Nightly News last evening.

Earlier this week the State Board of Regents voted to adopt three recommendations originating with the Council to help school districts retain good teachers who might otherwise be laid off.

Guidance on the new regulations has been released by the State Education Department. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Guidance and Announcements, Teachers | 1 Comment »

NJ voters reject more than half of school budgets

April 22nd, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Voters in New Jersey rejected over one-half of proposed school budgets on Tuesday, the worst approval rate in at least 35 years.

Newsday and the Journal News report on speculation that New York voters might turn down more school budgets next month and the implications for schools if that happens.

Over the last decade, pass rates in New York State have averaged almost 20 percentage points higher than in New Jersey.  Here is a chart comparing outcomes since 2000.

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Route to the Top?

April 21st, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Here is a chart that shows how New York’s “Race to the Top” application compares to those of higher scoring states on each of the criteria used to rate the proposal.

When the federal government announced the first round winners in its $4.35 billion systemic education reform initiative, only two states (Delaware and Tennessee) were awarded funding.  New York placed 15th out of 16 finalists.

In the aftermath of failure, hunting scapegoats became a popular preoccupation.  Blame fell on the Legislature for failing to raise the state’s charter school cap, the State Education Department for proposing to use federal aid to purchase expensive office furniture, and teacher unions for resisting the use of student performance data in professional evaluations.

But careful review of how New York’s application compared to higher ranked states yields a more complex picture of the reality the state must address as it assembles an application for round two – due in Washington by June 1. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: National Policy | 2 Comments »

Regents tackling mandate relief

April 21st, 2010 by Robert Lowry

The New York Times City Room blog reports on efforts by the State Board of Regents to reduce mandates on school districts, beginning at their April meeting, conducted earlier this week (April 19 and 20).

I’m quoted on paperwork demands, and the accumulated impact of mandates.  Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance | 3 Comments »

55-25 Retirement incentive passes — UPDATE

April 13th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Yesterday, the Assembly passed the “55-25″ retirement incentive bill.  It had previously passed the Senate and will now go to Governor Paterson for his consideration.  Since the bill was introduced at the request of the Governor, his approval should come quickly.

Text of the bill is available here.  Major elements of the bill are summarized below.

UPDATE (April 14, 6:08 pm):  Governor Paterson has now signed the bill into law.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance | 11 Comments »

State budget news — Agreement two weeks away? June School Aid to be delayed?

April 9th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Schools could be waiting a few more weeks for a final state budget, and face a delay in June School Aid payments. Read the rest of this entry »

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An incentive for school districts to freeze salaries?

April 9th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Public employee raises were the subject of the day yesterday.

Governor Paterson revealed that he would withhold funding for scheduled 4 percent raises due to state employees from emergency appropriations bills he submits to the Legislature next week. This action came after state unions rejected the Governor’s request for cost saving concessions.

The legality of the Governor’s action is being questioned, by union leaders and state legislators.

Also, Newsday and the Buffalo News reported that the Governor is now also suggesting rewarding school districts which negotiate salary concessions from their employees. Read the rest of this entry »

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