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Length, cost of 3020-a cases has shrunk

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

The average length of time it takes to decide an educator disciplinary case has decreased by nearly two-thirds in a little more than a decade, according to the results of the latest in a series of periodic surveys conducted by NYSSBA. This has made it less costly for school districts to pursue these cases.

Between 2005 and 2008, the average length of time it took to process an educator disciplinary case under Education Law section 3020-a was 502 days (measured from the date charges were levied to when a case was decided). Between 2014 and 2016 (as of May), the average length was 175 days - a 65 percent decrease.

SED releases draft revision of state learning standards

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

By Eric D. Randall

The State Education Department (SED) has released draft learning standards to replace the Common Core Learning Standards.

SED will be accepting comments on the proposed New York State P-12 English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics Learning Standards through Nov. 4 on .

Two committees comprised of more than 130 educators and parents recommended changing 60 percent of ELA standards and 55 percent of math standards, according to Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

Get the lead out

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

Timothy G. Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

Lead. It's a word that has become all too common these days, largely because some school districts and municipalities have been dealing with lead-tainted drinking water, along with other contaminants.

The most horrific situation we've seen occurred in Flint, Michigan. When the city of Flint switched its water supply to the Flint River, the corrosive water flowed through lead pipes, causing lead to leach into drinking water in homes. Children who drank water in Flint had a 50 percent higher risk of increased lead levels compared to the previous water supply, according to NBC News.

Cuomo signs water testing bill

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

By Kathleen Digan
Governmental Relations Representative

Under a new state law and regulations, school districts must test the drinking water in buildings that are occupied by students and staff every five years to ensure the amount of lead does not exceed the "action level" of 15 parts per billion.

Districts must collect water samples in school buildings serving grades pre-K through 5 by Sept. 30, 2016, while school buildings serving grades 6 through 12 must collect samples by Oct. 31, 2016.

Wallace Foundation funds 18-month study of principals

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

In light of exploding and evolving demands on school principals, the State Education Department has launched a grant-funded initiative to recommend ways to improve their training and recruitment.

The Principal Preparation Project, an 18-month effort supported by a $1 million grant from the Wallace Foundation, includes plans to develop a prototype of a computer-based system that local school districts could use to recruit and hire principals who have appropriate preparation and experience.

The project also will look at ways to improve the state certification process.

Every Student Present campaign seeks to reduce absenteeism

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

By Eric D. Randall

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has proclaimed September 2016 as School Attendance Awareness Month and is calling attention to the state's Every Student Present campaign, which provides resources that schools can use to communicate with families and promote attendance.

"Attendance is critical to academic success, even as early as preschool and kindergarten," Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said at an Albany elementary school on Sept. 14. "Students can't learn if they're not in school, and missing just a few days each month can add up, resulting in students falling behind."

In lawsuit, parents seek promised money to aid schools needing turnarounds

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Four parents of students who attend three schools that were removed from a list of struggling schools in July have filed a lawsuit asserting that the schools have been unlawfully denied a second year of promised turnaround funding.

The parents from Albany, Yonkers and the Bronx are represented by the New Jersey-based Education Law Center, which also represents the plaintiffs in the so-called "Small Cities" school funding case, Maisto v. State of New York. In the new petition, the plaintiffs contend that state officials violated a commitment to nine schools, including the three attended by their children, removed from a list of 20 "persistently struggling" schools. The schools had been in line for a second round of "transformation grant" money to carry on with turnaround initiatives in 2016-17.

Commissioner offers ideas to improve student need data

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

By Brian Fessler
Senior Governmental Relations Representative

Is New York State close to changing the state aid formula? Although you may have read news articles suggesting that, it would be more accurate to say we're getting close to using better poverty data in state aid calculations.

Earlier this year, as part of the 2016-17 enacted state budget, the Legislature and governor agreed on language requiring the commissioner of education to issue recommendations regarding the process of determining the number of free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) participants in school districts. These figures are used in a variety of state aid formulas, including foundation aid, as a way to determine student need.

Appellate court refuses to throw out NYSSBA-backed school funding lawsuit

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

By Jay Worona
Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel

State courts issued rulings in two state school funding lawsuits in recent weeks, one favorable and the other unfavorable for school districts.

In the favorable decision, a state appeals court has denied the State of New York's request to dismiss a lawsuit by a group called New Yorkers for Student Educational Rights (NYSER). The ruling will permit NYSER's' school funding lawsuit to go forward on behalf of all of the school districts in New York State. NYSSBA is an active member of NYSER as is the New York State Council of School Superintendents as well as the New York State PTA.

Judge rejects arguments in small cities lawsuit

On Board Online • September 26, 2016

Eric D. Randall

A state judge has ruled against eight school districts that say they are underfunded because the state has failed to keep its promises and hasn't honored a court ruling that defined adequate funding.

The case, Maisto v. the State of New York, is also known as the "small cities lawsuit." The plaintiffs- school districts in Niagara Falls, Jamestown, Utica, Kingston, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh and Mount Vernon - allege inadequate state funding has denied their students a sound basic education, which is guaranteed by the state Constitution.

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