Archive for July, 2011

Odds and ends — state finances, NYC tenure reviews, cheating

July 29th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

In this post:

  • NYC tenure approval rate down to 58 percent
  • Impact of federal debt ceiling debacle on New York State
  • State revenue outlook
  • Cheating

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Category: Achievement Gap, Finance, Standards & Assessments, Teachers | Comments Off on Odds and ends — state finances, NYC tenure reviews, cheating

Collective bargaining, comparing the state and the schools

July 22nd, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Speaking to a group of graduate students last week, one asked me how state government justifies its interventions in school district finances given its chronic tardiness in passing its budget.

I had to point out they did get it done on time this time.

I added that whatever my misgivings about some of Governor Cuomo’s initiatives, he has demonstrated a capacity to get things done.  Legislative accomplishments have been widely publicized.  Tentative collective bargaining agreements with state unions are another example. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance | 1 Comment »

Charter schools spreading to the suburbs (Updated)

July 21st, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Sunday’s New York Times carried a front page story on charter schools spreading to affluent suburbs.

Opponents express concern about the creation of “boutique schools” serving small numbers of students and siphoning off resources from district schools.  Supporters contend that parents tend to over-rate the quality of traditional suburban public schools and that more choice is good in and of itself.

With last year’s raising of the state’s charter school cap from 200 to 460, New York can anticipate its own echoes of this debate sooner or later, with charter schools spreading out from large urban districts to suburbs and smaller cities. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Legislation | Comments Off on Charter schools spreading to the suburbs (Updated)

Some skepticism on the new teacher evaluation law

July 15th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

A few news items have begun raising some skepticism about the state’s effort to improve teacher and principal evaluations…

An article last weekend in the lower Hudson Valley’s Journal News reported that teachers, administrators and even one member of the State Board of Regents are raising concerns about the ability to effectively implement new evaluation procedures in the year ahead.

Yesterday, the Syracuse Post Standard editorialized that the new process is, “convoluted, too reliant on tests.”

This coming week, a state judge will hear arguments on whether implementation of the regulations adopted by the Board of Regents should be suspended, pending resolution of the teacher union’s lawsuit asserting the regulations do not match the requirements of the law enacted a year ago.

Category: Teachers | Comments Off on Some skepticism on the new teacher evaluation law

State tax revenues rebounding, but

July 15th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Some news on tax revenues, in New York, and across the country

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Category: Finance, State Budget | Comments Off on State tax revenues rebounding, but

Governor promises pension savings to be top 2012 priority

July 15th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

A couple items on pension issues — the New York Times reported that reducing pension costs would be a top priority for Governor Cuomo next year;  State Comptroller DiNapoli announced that  state and local Employees Retirement System had a second straight year of strong earnings on its investments. Read the rest of this entry »

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Governor vetoes pension borrowing bill

July 13th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

As expected, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation that would have permitted school districts to issue debt to finance increases in their required Teachers Retirement System (TRS) contributions over a 15-year period.

Pension and health insurance costs are two of the biggest cost drivers for schools now.  Our estimate is that in each of the last two years, overall school spending increases were at the same level as what pension costs alone would have driven, suggesting that schools froze all their other spending on balance.

Yet we anticipate that very few school districts would have used the borrowing option had it been approved.  I am aware of only one district (Yonkers) which was counting on the legislation in its budget. Read the rest of this entry »

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One more time: For schools, it is a zero percent tax cap

July 1st, 2011 by Robert Lowry

A few editorials around the state have described the property tax cap as only a first step, and call for actions to reduce cost pressures on schools and local governments.

See here, here and here.

The tax cap bill did include mandate relief provisions but they are limited in scope, as explained below.

Several of the editorials, and most of the media reporting refer to the cap as limiting property tax increases to the lesser of 2 percent or inflation, unless voters give their permission to exceed the cap.

But as I have written before, the bill establishes what amounts to a zero percent tax cap for schools. Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, Legislation | 2 Comments »