Deadline Passes, Six Districts to Lose State Aid Including Hamburg

11:59 PM, Jan 19, 2013   |    comments
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By: Jessica Bakeman

A few school districts received last-minute approval for their teacher evaluation plans Thursday night, but six missed the deadline, forfeiting a scheduled state aid increase.

New York City, Fallsburg in Sullivan County and Pine Plains in Dutchess County never submitted plans for review.

Hamburg in Erie County submitted a plan, but it was not agreed upon by local unions, so it was not eligible for approval. Superintendent Steve Achramovitch says these were complex negotiations that just broke off and he will now try to go back and work with the teachers' union to get an agreement as required. 

Hamburg will lose about $450,000 in state education funding come March. Achramovitch says he is not calling for any layoffs of teachers or other district personnel and will try not to cut any programs impacting students. He feels they will be able to use reserve funds to fill the gap but may have to transfer some funding as the budget process goes forward. He will also try to lobby state education officials to restore the money but a spokesman for the State Education Department in Albany says the money will not be restored.        

WEB EXTRA: Click here to read Hamburg Central School District's statement

And two districts-Harrison, in Westchester County and Oysterponds in Suffolk County-submitted plans but didn't make necessary revisions in time.

Harrison submitted its plan on deadline day, but the state Education Department determined revisions were necessary.

Superintendent Louis Wool said Thursday the plan was "not everything we wanted it to be." He thought it matched the quality of other districts' approved plans, though.

"Our challenge was-in this very constricted time frame with really poor guidance from the state Education Department and really awful conditions to do this kind of good work-to put in a better system than the one that we had," Wool said.

Beacon schools in Dutchess County received approval from the state in the final hours before the deadline.

"We knew it would be approved," Interim Superintendent Harvey Hilburgh said Thursday after getting a verbal commitment from the state Education Department that the plan was satisfactory.

He said they submitted originally in July, feeling confident that the plan was sound.

"The state might have had different expectations about the language than we did, but I think we ironed it out," he said.

Negotiations between the New York City Department of Education and the local union, the United Federation of Teachers, broke down Wednesday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the union's president, Michael Mulgrew, blamed each other for missing the deadline, which amounted to a loss of $250 million in state aid.

"The loss of state aid is devastating. But just as devastating is the failure to implement an evaluation plan to give educators the feedback they need to improve their practice and help their students learn and succeed," state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in a statement at 12:05 a.m. Friday. "Unfortunately, the adults couldn't or wouldn't come together for the sake of New York's 1.1 million school children."

Districts without an approved plan are still required by law to reach an agreement.


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