As most folks are likely well aware throughout the state, yesterday (Wednesday, January 21st) Governor Cuomo presented his 2015-2016 New York State Budget Proposal. Most school district officials were well attuned with the basic assumptions regarding what he would speak to . . . we were not aware of the specific details included in the contents of his speech ahead of time.
It was believed he would identify the Teacher (and Principal) performance system (APPR) as a major concern for him - especially as the scores appear inflated from his perspective. He also identified the concept of 3-year terms for teachers earning tenure being too short; the Governor's proposal includes lengthening the non-tenure term to five (5) years and link it directly to evaluation scores.
Although, these issues identified above are not insignificant . . . the major issue Governor Cuomo included was tying these two issues (APPR & Tenure) to the State Aid provided directly to school districts.
Considering the devil is in the details -- right now, there is very little in the way of details. Listening to the Governor’s speech yesterday, I am somewhat encouraged by some of his ideas; I am concerned by others; but, ultimately the budget did not match up several of the important details of his stated proposals. The most important of which is the funding that schools rely on to make budgeting decisions each spring. Without concrete details of what funds schools could expect to receive, it is impossible to determine whether any of these proposals are viable.
I am hopeful that the Governor will provide further clarity and specific details on the funding proposals that he mentioned in his speech very soon. Without that clarity, it is impossible to say whether this budget does anything to help our school district.
Obviously, more information will follow. As I specified in earlier blogs - we begin the budgeting process in November; the State Aid runs are "typically" provided to schools in mid to late January. Without the State Aid formula and calculations provided - it is absolutely impossible to balance [with any certainty] the revenues with our proposed appropriations or expenses. This mechanism of handcuffing schools within the political arena does nothing but directly impact our students negatively.
Mark F. Potter, Ed. D.