Friday, June 26, 2015

Win Some, Lose Some

Here's what the Big Ugly NYS session-ending craziness looks like for schools.

The Good: 1) No tax credit/deduction for private school tuition or scholarship "investment." 2) No raise in the cap on charter schools except in NYC. Since we're not near the cap yet upstate (we have 130 unused charters!), it never made sense to raise it except as a PR move. However, the state is releasing some charters that have been revoked in past years and re-adding them to the total in NYC plus moving four charters from outside NYC to inside NYC. So the increase, even in NYC, is minimal. 3) Money for production of 3-8 tests that will enable State Ed to release items in time for that release to be meaningful. 4) Changes to the tax cap that allow for the creation of rules that exclude certain BOCES capital expenses from a district's overall costs. It remains to be seen what exactly that means for local districts. 5) Changes to the tax cap that take into account development on tax exempt land. Again, the details are sketchy. 6) Inclusion of student characteristics (ELLs, students with disabilities) in the calculation of growth scores for teacher evaluations. 7) Plans for a "review" of the state learning standards, to include "stakeholders."

The Bad: 1) No yearlong delay in implementation of teacher evaluations. 2) The use of independent observers is still required for teacher evaluations. (This is an issue for small [usually poor] districts with a single building—they will have to hire independent observers with administrative certification to observe teachers. Other districts may just move administrators from building to building as needed.) 3) Failure to complete evaluations in a timely fashion is still linked to state aid. 4) $250 million to private schools for mandated services. Although this is to pay for past services, the release of this money is new. I believe the private schools still have to request the funds, as detailed here. 4) Property tax cap still exists. 5) Dollars better spent fixing schools will now be shipped to taxpayers in the form of election-week rebates. 6) No additional funding for needy upstate cities (except for Yonkers).

The Ugly: Well, it sure wasn't pretty.

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