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Student-designed software package tracks community service hours

On Board Online • February 5, 2018

By Merri Rosenberg
Special Correspondent

Rob Jacoby was frustrated keeping track of student paperwork in his role as adviser to the National Honor Society at Alexander Hamilton High School in Elmsford Union Free School District.

"It was nuts how much paperwork I was doing for an extracurricular activity," he said.

So when the Westchester County district switched to software that allows students to log their own community service hours, Jacoby was pleased.

Cuomo calls for $796M state aid increase

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Brian Fessler
Deputy Director of Governmental Relations

When the 2018 Legislature considers school aid in coming months, whose recommendations will hold sway? Different numbers have been suggested by educational advocacy groups, the state Board of Regents and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respectively.

On Jan. 16, the governor proposed increasing state aid by $796 million, or 3 percent. That's short of what the Regents have recommended - a $1.6 billion increase.

The Educational Conference Board - a coalition of state education groups including NYSSBA - has called for a $2 billion increase. The group estimates that $1.5 billion is needed from the state just to maintain current services.

Cuomo targets 'lunch shaming'

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

In his 2018 State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for an end to "lunch shaming" in public schools and offered a package of proposals to help ensure that students aren't trying to learn on an empty stomach.

Among the education-related proposals Cuomo outlined in a full text of his State of the State message was a plan he dubbed "No Student Goes Hungry."

Every Child DOES Matter

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

William Miller
NYSSBA President

Welcome to 2018! It's only January and we've already had enough snow, wind and subzero temperatures for the entire winter!

It is a privilege to be your new NYSSBA president. I know we all share the belief that our state and nation's future is dependent upon having a strong system of public education, and we are all frustrated by many factors that make it increasingly challenging to provide the educational opportunities that every child deserves.

The good news is that NYSSBA is a vital organization that is part of the solution in many ways. As I begin my tenure as president of the Association, I want to acknowledge that no one accomplishes anything alone.

State ESSA plan wins federal approval

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

U.S. education officials have approved a new federal accountability plan for New York schools that expands the types of academic indicators used to gauge school quality beyond math and English language arts test results and puts new emphasis on school climate.

Implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan, which ensures the continued flow of some $1.6 billion in annual federal funding for New York schools, is scheduled to begin this spring.

Stakeholders including superintendents, school board members, teachers and parents collaborated with the State Education Department and Board of Regents for more than a year to craft a draft plan that was submitted to the federal Department of Education in September.

Regents revise graduation options for students with disabilities

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

At a December meeting, the Board of Regents approved a new option to enable more students with disabilities to graduate from high school with a local diploma, even if they do not receive passing scores on required math and English language arts (ELA) Regents exams.

Previously, students with disabilities could be eligible to graduate through a "superintendent determination" process if they earned a minimum score of 55 on both the math and ELA exams (or successfully appealed lower scores).

Tax levy growth for 2018-19 capped at 2 percent

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

The allowable tax levy growth factor for school districts will be capped at 2 percent for the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to State Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli.

This year's levy growth factor of 2 percent is a significant increase over last year's figure, which was 1.26 percent.

In State of State, Andrew sounded like Mario

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior Writer

As he prepares to run for a third term this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered a State of the State message on Jan. 3 that was short on barbs for public education, which he criticized in prior years as a "monopoly" plagued by "failing" schools.

His 90-minute speech was laced with harsh words for the Trump Administration and came amid speculation that he is eyeing a presidential bid in 2020. He described his vision for the upcoming year as "probably the most challenging agenda that I have ever put forth."

It was Cuomo's eighth State of the State message, and it marked his third since his father, three-term governor Mario Cuomo, died on Jan. 1, 2015.

Cuomo vetoes multiple NYSSBA-supported bills

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Julie Marlette
Director of Governmental Relations

NYSSBA's 2017 legislative efforts resulted in passage of a number of bills that addressed issues of importance to school district leaders. But on Dec. 18, 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed several NYSSBA-supported bills.

"These vetoes are really disappointing, especially considering that many of the bills had wide bipartisan support in the Legislature," said NYSSBA President William Miller.

One bill - S.4283 (Murphy)/A.5965 (Galef) - would have made a technical adjustment to the state property tax cap to remove a disincentive for school districts to invest in updating and expanding BOCES facilities.

Want to keep taxes down? Increase state aid

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

If Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers want to keep property taxes low, there is one surefire way to help do that: increase state aid.

A new NYSSBA analysis finds a relatively strong correlation between overall state aid allocations to school districts and the size of their property tax levies. In general, when districts get higher levels of state aid than the year before, the less they need to raise their property taxes.

That correlation doesn't hold true in every school district, but it does for more than half of them. The analysis found that 54 percent of school districts exhibited at least a small association between higher yearly state aid increases and slower growth in their tax levies.

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