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Facial recognition systems in schools: Bold innovation or 'security theater'?

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Alan Wechsler
Special Correspondent

This summer, an artificial intelligence system is being installed in 10 buildings in the Lockport City School District. The 300-camera system will immediately recognize someone carrying a gun and alert authorities. It will also scan for students who were suspended, sex offenders, or anyone else who shouldn't be on school property.

The $3.3 million project has put the 4,600-student district in the middle of a national debate on the use of technology by government to monitor public spaces.


Some districts see opt-out rates drop, others say parental opposition is firm

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The official statewide numbers won't be out until September, but a spot check of New York school districts suggests state test refusals continued to decline this past school year.

In the suburban Scotia-Glenville district in Schenectady County, ELA test refusals dropped to 10 percent this year from 31 percent last year, and math refusals dropped to 12 percent from 32 percent last year, officials said.


Mental health education training will help our students

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

William Miller
NYSSBA President

As you may know, the guiding theme of my NYSSBA presidency is "Every child does matter." I chose that theme because in my experience, I've all-too-often seen students fall through the cracks, or not be given the supports they need to succeed. One of those supports is mental health services.

That's why I am pleased that as students head back to school in a few weeks, in addition to taking courses in science, math and language arts, they'll be learning about the importance of mental health.

New York is among the first states in the nation to require all K-12 students to learn about mental health - and for good reason.

Consider these startling statistics from the World Health Organization:

 


In-district congressional visits planned for August

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Belinda Heckler
Governmental Relations Representative

Concerned about what's happening with public education at the federal level? Plan to meet with your Congressional representatives this August in their home districts.

Each year, NYSSBA's Governmental Relations team coordinates a grassroots lobbying campaign, targeting members of New York's congressional delegation during their in-district work period. These visits give NYSSBA members a unique opportunity to not only talk directly to members of Congress and their staff about key issues important to school districts, but to also meet and advocate with school board members from other school districts in their area.


Two financial extenders signed into law

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Briana McNamee
Governmental Relations Representative

Earlier this month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed two bills that extend sections of current law that provide school districts and other municipalities some financial flexibilities.

The first, S.7855/A.10348 , extends provisions that authorize school districts, BOCES and other local governments to finance the cost of certain tax certiorari judgements.


State releases school-based budget reporting info

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Brian Fessler
Deputy Director of Governmental Relations

State officials have released forms to be used by school districts to report their budget at the school building level. Seventy-six school districts will be required to fill out the forms by Aug. 31.

The 76 districts required to report this year have a minimum of four school buildings and receive at least 50 percent of their total revenue from state aid.


How your budget can fail with 51.8 percent approval

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Marie Testa
Superintendent North Bellmore School District

Imagine your school board approves a budget increase that is within the tax cap and obtains "yes" votes from 51.8 percent of the voters. Nevertheless, the budget fails to win approval.

Can this happen? Yes. It happened this May to my school district, the North Bellmore School District in Nassau County. It points to a glaring flaw in the state tax cap law that could affect any school district.


When a student assaults a teacher, can restorative justice work?

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

The State Education Department has been encouraging school districts to embrace restorative justice, an approach to resolving student misbehavior in a way that minimizes the number of students suspended or otherwise removed from the school setting.

For instance, suppose a student hits or steals from another student. Faculty might settle the matter by facilitating a conversation between the offender and the victim or making the student part of a "restorative circle" group. Instead of being suspended, the student stays in school.

But what if the victim is a teacher? In the 2015-16 school year, 5.8 percent of the nation's 3.8 million teachers were physically attacked by a student. Almost 10 percent were threatened with injury, according to federal education data.


Regents focus on equity, civic readiness

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The state Board of Regents dedicated much of their July meeting to a series of free-form "public retreat" discussions in which they sought to better define some ambitious priorities that have emerged from their work over the last three years - improving "equity" and ensuring students receive education leading to "civic readiness."

The Regents also mulled next steps for pursuing other initiatives stressed in the state's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, which include creating systems for measuring school climate.


State guidance describes expectations for 'mental health education literacy'

On Board Online • July 23, 2018

By Courtney Sanik
Senior Policy Consultant

Beginning this school year, state law and regulations require health education in schools to include instruction in mental health. To help districts fulfill this requirement and address mental health in a comprehensive way, the State Education Department has released a guidance document entitled Mental Health Education Literacy in Schools: Linking to a Continuum of Well-Being.

The intended audience includes school board members, school district personnel, students, parents and guardians, and community organizations.

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