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When does a counseling letter become a form of discipline?

On Board Online • December 11, 2017

By Jeffrey Mongelli
Senior Staff Counsel

School administrators can issue counseling letters that constitute critical administrative evaluations and place them in an employee's personnel file. However, depending on the wording of a letter and other factors, the commissioner of education or a court might view it as a disciplinary reprimand that is permissible only upon a finding of misconduct consistent with due process protections.

How helpful is your policy on executive sessions?

On Board Online • December 11, 2017

By Courtney Sanik
Senior Policy Consultant

"I move that the board go into executive session to talk about, um, district business."

Buzzer sound.

Well, you need to be a little clearer than that. Not only does Public Officers Law section 105 list out the permissible reasons, there have been multiple decisions regarding proper language going into executive session.

Nonprofit brings biathlon, orienteering to Albany after-school program

On Board Online • December 11, 2017

By Jason Franchuk
Special Correspondent

Is there a place for guns in schools?

Russ Myer says there is - in biathlon training.

Myer, an Albany resident, runs a non-profit organization called Capital Region Nordic Alliance. He provides after-school training in biathlon (skiing and target shooting) as well as orienteering (think scavenger hunt meets relay race) at Hackett Middle School in the Albany City School District. This winter he plans lessons on snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Advocacy Alert: Tax Reform Bill Clears Senate

December 4, 2017

Working through the night on Friday, the U.S. Senate voted 51 to 49 to pass its own version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1) early Saturday morning. There was an amendment offered by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to authorize an expansion of 529 education savings accounts for use for nonpublic school tuition, similar to the language included in the House-passed bill.  An additional amendment was offered by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to allow taxpayers to deduct up to $10,000 in property tax payments (similar to language found in the House-passed bill).

Advocacy Update: Work Resumes on Tax Reform Bills

November 27, 2017

Congress has returned to Washington after the Thanksgiving holiday and the Senate is expected to start voting on their version of the tax bill as early as Wednesday. The House passed their version before the holiday.  The Senate version currently includes a full repeal of the SALT deduction. The version passed by the House would eliminate the deduction of state and local income and sales taxes, and would cap the property tax deduction at $10,000. NYSSBA has been active in voicing our opposition to any changes to the SALT deduction.

The proposed tax plans are far broader than just the SALT proposal. Also on the table are proposals to allow for up to $10,000 to be withdrawn annually from 529 education savings plans for use towards elementary and secondary tuition and other expenses.

Florida, New York are top destinations for 6,400 students fleeing Puerto Rico

On Board Online • November 20, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

Hurricane Maria's destructive path across Puerto Rico two months ago has spurred hundreds of families to travel to New York State, where local school districts are hustling to enroll the newly uprooted students and help them feel at home.

How many more will come - and how long they will stay - is anybody's guess. Local school officials in more than a dozen districts contacted by On Board said the only thing they are counting on is that they will need to be prepared for more, as Puerto Rico continues to face shortages of electrical power, running water and critical infrastructure.

Elia wants state dashboards with data on school climate

On Board Online • November 20, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

School districts across the state should prepare to begin administering school climate surveys annually and report results as regularly as graduation rates and state test scores, according to state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.

"We want to get to a point where (climate surveys) are used across the state as a strategy to support students and build the social and emotional supports that are needed in schools," Elia told reporters Nov. 13.

Giving thanks

On Board Online • November 20, 2017

By Timothy G. Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

".And the days that I keep my gratitude higher than my expectations.Well, I have really good days."

Ray Wylie Hubbard
from Mother Blues

I have usually taken the holiday of Thanksgiving for granted. It has been a fairly predictable affair - a four-day weekend, family gathering, tons of food and refreshments, football, poker, lots of laughs, big clean-up. The venue changes once in a while, but not much else.

Sure, there has been the occasional surprise: my father-in-law's trip to the emergency room after slicing his hand while trimming the turkey, being locked out of the house with the alarm going off and explaining my dilemma to the sheriff, the late-night meltdown over a silly board game dispute. Oh, the memories.


Policy change would allow Regents exam credits to count toward high school equivalency diploma

On Board Online • November 20, 2017

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

The Board of Regents has endorsed a plan to allow teens and young adults to keep any credits they earned for passing Regents exams in math, science, English language arts or social studies before they dropped out or turned 21, so they may later apply those credits toward a high school equivalency diploma.

The plan is scheduled to take effect in February unless there is a hitch in the formal approval process.

Cuomo signs another veterans' tax exemption

On Board Online • November 20, 2017

By Brian Fessler
Deputy Director of Governmental Relations

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in late October to extend the "eligible funds" veterans' property tax exemption to school taxes.

This is the third school property tax exemption for veterans signed into law in the past four years. The alternative veterans' tax exemption was approved in 2013 and the Cold War veterans' tax exemption was enacted last year.

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