New York State School Boards Association
On Board Online March 26 2012
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Regents adopt anti-cheating plan

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior writer

Someday soon, those who administer standardized tests to New York students could be asked to raise a hand and pledge to uphold a code of ethics.

Or perhaps they would make that promise silently by signing a document affirming their commitment to honesty and integrity.

New York second in nation in grad rate improvement

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

Tennessee and New York led the nation with double-digit gains in high school graduation rates from 2002 to 2009, according to a report by a coalition of groups that want the U.S. graduation rate to be 90 percent for the Class of 2020.

New York produced an estimated 31,978 more graduates in 2009 than 2002 – more than double the improvement of any other state.

While Tennessee led the nation with a 17.8 percentage point gain, New York’s graduation rate improved by 13 percentage points – from 60.5 percent to 73.5 percent. New York and Tennessee were the only states to achieve double-digit gains since the research began in 2002.

‘Negotiate harder’

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By Timothy Kremer
NYSSBA Executive Director

Another NYSSBA “murmur moment” occurred this month. Remember when State Education Commissioner John King, speaking at NYSSBA’s 2011 Annual Convention in Buffalo, first advocated for school district consolidations in places like Long Island? The press referred to this as a “murmur moment” as the crowd audibly gasped its surprise.

Well, it happened again – only louder – during State Budget Director Robert Megna’s budget presentation at our 2012 State Issues Conference earlier this month. When pressed about the local impact of the property tax cap, competitive performance grant funding, and collectively-bargained teacher and principal evaluation procedures, Megna urged school board members to “negotiate harder.” They murmured, then they engaged the budget director in what some who were there might call a passionate exchange.

Rebell still fighting for funding equity

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By Meghana Godambe
Governmental Relations Representative

School districts that won a court case and have been waiting for more equity in state education funding will have to wait a little longer, according to Michael Rebell, an attorney who has been prominent in the effort since the 1980s.

“We are right back where we started as far as state aid is concerned,” said Rebell, a professor of law and educational practice at Teachers College, current executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equality (CEE)  and former executive director of The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE). He spoke at CEE’s March 9 conference, “Safeguarding Sound Basic Education in Hard Economic Times,” at NYSSBA’s offices in Latham.

Andrew Brown joins Board of Regents

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior writer

Rochester attorney T. Andrew Brown was elected to the state Board of Regents during a joint session of the state Legislature on March 13.

He will succeed Milton L. Cofield, a Rochester scientist who has served as vice chancellor of the board since 2009. His five-year term representing the Seventh Judicial District will begin on April 1.

Also during the special legislative session, incumbent regents James R. Tallon Jr. of Binghamton, who represents the Third Judicial District, and Charles R. Bendit of Manhattan, who represents the First Judicial District, were re-elected to their seats.

Making the most of your audit committee

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By John Carroll
Leadership Development Manager

The state Legislature has required school boards to have audit committees since 2006, but is your audit committee being fully used to ensure the fiscal integrity of your school district?

Meeting the technical requirements of the law is not enough, according to financial experts. The law provides districts with latitude to structure audit committees to make them powerful and efficient tools for accountability and oversight. This is true regardless of whether your board appoints an audit committee or chooses to have the entire board function as the audit committee, as permitted by law.

Three win NYSSBA advocacy awards

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By Brian Butry
Communications Manager

NYSSBA bestowed advocacy awards on two school board members and a state legislator at the Association’s annual State Issues Conference at the Hotel Albany, in downtown Albany on March 11.

Jim Kaden, president of the South Huntington Board of Education, was named the Advocate of the Year and Anita Feldman, president of the Putnam-Northern Westchester BOCES board, was honored with the Lifetime Advocacy Achievement Award. State Senate Education Committee Chair John Flanagan (R-Smithtown) was named the State Leader of the Year.

Four ways to help H.S. students become college- and career-ready

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By Paul Heiser
Senior Research Analyst

Almost 3,000 high schools in the United States don’t offer Algebra II. And Patte Barth finds that appalling.

“Without Algebra II, you probably don’t go to college,” said Barth, director of the National School Boards Association’s Center for Public Education. “If you do go, you are probably going to end up in remediation. Without Algebra II, you don’t become an auto mechanic. Without it, you don’t get into one of the growing service jobs in growing fields like communications.”

Where Megna sees progress, BOEs see pain

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By Cathy Woodruff
Senior writer

More than state budget details became clear when state Budget Director Robert Megna spoke at NYSSBA’s State Issues Conference.

School board members’ questions got testy, showing how the same financial landscape can look much different, depending on whether you see it from the high perch of the governor’s office or from the ground level walked by board members.

Megna stressed signs of a slowly improving financial climate and called the governor’s proposed new pension Tier VI “the most important thing for fiscal stability” in the long run.

He pointed to progress on controlling state costs, bringing back revenue and providing more sustainable and predictable growth in aid to schools.

Separate budget propositions possible due to tax cap legislation – but there’s a catch

On Board Online • March 26, 2012

By the New York State Association of School Attorneys

Do boards of education have the option of placing multiple expenditure propositions on the ballot for voters to consider in addition to the main budget this May? For instance, can funding for sports, extra-curricular activities and kindergarten be voted on separately from other general fund expenditures? The answer is yes, thanks to wording of the tax cap legislation. The State Education Department confirmed this in a guidance document issued March 20 and posted on the SED website (

The issue has been debated in the state’s legal community because the commissioner of education ruled in 2006 that, with some exceptions, school districts are not permitted to place separate expenditure propositions on the ballot.

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