Delegates set official positions, add minority seat to NYSSBA board

by Barbara Bradley

On Board Online • October 23, 2017

By Barbara Bradley
Deputy Director of Online Communications and Project Planning

At the 2017 Annual Business Meeting in Lake Placid, delegates passed 26 resolutions, which will become part of NYSSBA's 2018 advocacy agenda and stay in effect as official positions for five years.

The 250 delegates also passed a bylaw amendment to give the New York State Caucus of Black School Board Members a voting seat on the NYSSBA Board of Directors. It was passed by three-quarters of the delegates. The NYSSBA bylaws require a two-thirds passage for bylaw amendments.

NYSSBA is a voice for all school communities in the state, but many communities with significant minority populations are represented by mostly white board members, said Willa Powell, who represents the Council of Big 5 City School Districts on the NYSSBA Board.

"If someone is feeling their voice hasn't been heard, then we need to hear them," said delegate Jodee Riordan, president of the Lewiston-Porter school board.

"The NYSSBA board should reflect the diversity of the students in its member organizations," delegate Marissa Mims of Fayetteville-Manlius said. Expanding the NYSSBA board with a representative of the black caucus will broaden its perspective on issues such as poverty, achievement gaps and English language learners, she said.

"History was made at #nyssba17," delegate Anthony Miller, vice president of the Freeport school board, tweeted after the business meeting. "So proud to be a member of an organization such as @nyschoolboards," he wrote.

The bylaw amendment and resolutions were presented by Resolutions Committee Chair Frank Chiarchiere, a member of the Valley Stream school board.

Resolutions passed by delegates focused attention on teachers: preparation, certification and pay. They also called for changes in the 3020-a disciplinary process.

Delegates passed resolutions calling for the state to require teacher programs to demonstrate the quality of the preparation of the teachers they graduate and for NYSSBA to advocate for a rigorous process for granting teacher certification.

They renewed a longstanding NYSSBA position that the Legislature should amend the Taylor Law to eliminate school districts' obligations to pay step increments under an expired collective bargaining agreement.

The delegates also passed a resolution calling on the Legislature to grant authority to school boards to terminate tenured teachers without a 3020-a hearing if they had been convicted of child abuse in an educational setting, if their teaching certificate had been revoked by the State Education Department, or if they had failed to obtain permanent certification.

They sought to cap the length of time tenured teachers subject to a 3020-a hearing are paid.

As usual, there was plenty of debate along the way.

"We're talking about capping the time, not refusing pay altogether," said Colleen Doyle of Washingtonville, speaking in favor of the 3020-a payment resolution.

Regina Rose of Ichabod Crane disagreed: "This resolution is about presuming the guilt of the individual charged."

Delegates also passed three resolutions seeking the state to reform - and one resolution to repeal - the property tax cap.

In addition, the delegates passed resolutions that would address:

They called for NYSSBA to oppose legislation expanding the state's charter school laws.

Delegates also passed small city school district-related resolutions, including changes in deadlines for filing petitions and ballot timelines, and aligning small city school district legal requirements with those of central, union free and common school districts.

Outgoing President Susan Bergtraum listed the ways during her two-year tenure that NYSSBA has evolved to better serve members, including the creation of a new Member Relations Department to cultivate stronger ties with members, the commitment to bring training events to more areas of the state, and new Member Appreciation Receptions across the state.

In his remarks to the delegates, NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer emphasized that NYSSBA's "mission is to support school boards so you don't have to do it alone." He also urged school boards to be forward thinking and introduced the "2030 Challenge," a new statewide project NYSSBA is creating to encourage school boards to engage their communities to explore what education might look like in 2030.

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