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Who's the best candidate on education?

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Alan Wechsler
Special Correspondent

When it comes to this year's presidential candidates, some New York state school board members don't know whom to support. If anyone.

"It's a very difficult year for me. It's probably the first time since I've been able to vote that I don't have someone that I want to support," said Marissa Joy Mims, a member of the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District Board of Education near Syracuse.

Convention speaker to explain why America is failing science

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Eric D. Randall

Who's your idea of a cool geek? Bill Nye the Science Guy? Neil deGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist?

How about David Pogue, who will be speaking at NYSSBA's 97th Annual Convention & Educational Expo in Buffalo in October?

Love and contempt

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

Timothy G. Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

Why do people often feel favorable about their local communities but have serious doubts about the condition of the state as a whole?

Call it a matter of love and contempt.

There is no shortage of complaints about poor government decisions that emanate from distant places like Albany or Washington, D.C. But support for locally-controlled initiatives, as evidenced by the recent budget votes, remains quite strong.

98.5 percent of school budgets approved

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

Voters across the state approved almost all school spending plans when they went to the polls on May 17.

Of the 676 budgets put before voters, 662 budgets passed - an approval rate of 98.5 percent. Ten budgets were defeated, and the results of three budgets were not known when On Board went to press.

Regents tweak regs affecting APPR negotiations

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

With no guarantees that state lawmakers will act to avert a state aid penalty for school districts that fail to get new teacher and principal evaluation systems in place by Sept.1, the Board of Regents has again tweaked regulations for implementing evaluations in an effort to help districts more easily reach agreement.

"We're trying to get people through something that is difficult," Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia told the Regents as she and staff members outlined the rule changes.

Court rules in favor of teacher who challenged APPR score

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

In a decision declaring the method used to calculate a so-called growth score for a Long Island teacher to be "indisputably arbitrary and capricious," a state judge cited the findings of an array of experts who decried the approach as flawed, unreliable and open to bias against some teachers.

Acting State Supreme Court Justice Roger D. McDonough declined to prescribe an alternative to the state's "value-added" growth model, and he did not rule on the use of growth scores, which are tied to student test results, in general.

NYSUT loses lawsuit challenging tax cap

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

An appellate panel has upheld a lower court's dismissal of a challenge to New York's property tax cap. But New York State United Teachers, which brought the lawsuit with several parents and voters, is poised for a likely appeal to the state's highest court, seeking a green light to move forward with the case against the cap.

In a majority opinion for the Appellate Division's Third Department in Albany, Justice Eugene P. Devine rejected NYSUT's contention that the property tax cap (and a related provision known as a tax "freeze") adopted by state lawmakers is unconstitutional and that it denies equal protection under the law for school children.

905 schools set to try computer-based testing

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

For the first time, school districts that are field-testing material for New York's future grade 3-8 exams have the option to administer the tests by computer, and more than a third of participating schools are doing so, according to the State Education Department.

In total, students in 905 schools around the state will use computers to take this year's field tests, said Peter Swerdzewski, assistant commissioner in SED's Office of State Assessment, Standards and Curriculum.

Changes to safety plans required this summer

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Jessica Goldstein
Deputy Director of Policy Services

Within the 2016 budget bill was a policy initiative with big implications for school districts. Six pages of text will impact district-wide school safety plans, including emergency response plans.

Every school district and BOCES in the state is affected by these requirements, which go into effect on July 1, 2016. The amendments involve Education Law sections 2801-a, 807, and 3604.

Safety and emergency plans in their present form have been required since the Project SAVE legislation of 2001, which was enacted in response to the Columbine school shooting.

Ossining teacher gains national recognition for use of technology in classroom

On Board Online • May 23, 2016

By Merri Rosenberg
Special Correspondent

In Adam Schoenbart's classroom in the Ossining school district, 20 high school sophomores are tapping away on tablet computers to fulfill an assignment about climate change.

"Post your claims to the community," says Schoenbart, 30.

"Once you've posted the article, do your best to tag people with your replies to their claims," he adds.

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