By Jessica Bakeman, Albany Bureau
ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the state won't budge on the mid-January deadline for Education Department approval of school districts' teacher and principal evaluation plans.
The department has approved 442 of the state's 697 school districts, it announced Tuesday. More than two dozen districts have not yet submitted.
If districts don't get plans approved by Jan. 17, they forfeit a 4 percent scheduled funding increase. Cuomo said it is a "hard deadline," and the state will only reward performance.
"It was not a 'good faith effort' by that date. It was accomplishment by that date. It was performance by that date," he said after a cabinet meeting at the Capitol. "That's what the law said. That was the directive from very early on.
"We didn't say everybody should try. Government always tries. The problem with government is sometimes, it doesn't perform," he continued. "So we didn't say, 'Let's everybody go out there and try.' They've been trying for years, and they've been failing for years."
Education Commissioner John King warned districts that haven't submitted yet in a statement Tuesday that "the clock is ticking." About 665 districts have submitted plans.
On top of the 442 approved, the state has provided feedback to about 180 more. The department is waiting on those districts' revisions.
"The longer they wait, the more difficult it will be to complete our review by the deadline," King said. "We'll move as fast as we can, but we will not sacrifice the quality of the review."
The controversial state-mandated evaluations require negotiation between school districts and local teachers' and principals' unions, which in some cases has held up progress.