Tag Archives: School budget

Vote on May 16, 2017

Polls will be open from 7am to 9pm on May 16, 2017 for the Kingston City School District Board of Education and School Budget Election.  Voting takes place in the local elementary schools.  If you can not remember where you vote for the school elections, click here.

Read details about the proposed school budget for 2017-2018 and the proposition to use capital reserve funds to renovate Meagher here.

Five candidates are running for three seats on the KCSD Board of Education.  Hear from each candidate and pose your questions to them at Meet the Candidates Night on Tuesday May 9, 2017 6:30pm at Kingston High School.

Your voice matters

Input on the KCSD Budget for 2016-2017

The Kingston City School District draft budget for 2016-2017 was presented to the Board of Education last Wednesday.  At the next Board of Education meeting on April 20, the board will be voting to approve the budget that will be presented to the voters on May 17, 2016.

You have between now and April 20 to examine the budget and ask questions and/or voice your opinion to the school board members regarding spending priorities and the key ingredients in a KCSD education.

The District Wide Parents Council (DWPC) is having an additional meeting next Friday 4/15, at the Cioni Building, 61 Crown Street 9:30am -11am to discuss questions and concerns about the draft budget.  A representative from the District Business Office has been invited to answer questions.  If you have specific questions about the budget, get them to me (Jolyn) by Tuesday April 12 and I will forward them to the DWPC corresponding secretary for inclusion with other questions being compiled in advance of the 4/15 meeting.

All are welcome to attend the DWPC meeting on April 15. UPDATE Meeting canceled.

Resources and events related to the KCSD budget:

  • Budget presentation/highlights on the KCSD web site including the draft version of the KCSD 2016-2017 budget, a summary and several presentations about the draft budget and video of the various community budget forums as well as the April 6 Board of Education meeting
  • Rescheduled digital budget forum – Tuesday April 12, 2016 11:15am -11:45am  Visit this page to learn how to participate in the digital budget forum
  • Coffee and Conversation with Board of Education members – Tuesday April 12, 2016 6pm New Progressive Baptist Church
  • Coffee and Conversation with Board of Education members – Thursday April 14, 2016 8:30am Uptown Coffee
  • DWPC questions/answer meeting about the 2016-17 draft budget – Friday April 15, 2016 9:30am – 11:00am
  • District wide Budget Vote – Tuesday May 17, 2016

Your voice matters

Ending the Gap Elimination Adjustment

Governor Cuomo announced in his State of the State address on Wednesday “once and for all, let’s end the Gap Elimination Adjustment”. I must admit that I sputtered a bit when these words came out of his mouth since he has held onto the GEA throughout his entire tenure as governor despite cries for relief from every corner. Regardless I am glad that he has finally seen the light. However getting rid of the GEA will not solve all of our schools’ financial woes.

The other piece of the financial puzzle is Foundation Aid and is owed to schools as a result of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. You can use the tool at this website to determine how much each school within a district is owed. Kingston is actually owed a relatively small amount (just $8,795,875.13 if I didn’t mess up the addition of the numbers for the 10 schools) compared to many other districts and we have benefited more by having the GEA restored. However school districts need to be able to know how much school aid they can count on from year to year and the Foundation Aid Formula allows for that information to be known.

New York State has been shirking its legal responsibility to our public schools by not using the Foundation Aid Formula.  When New York State starts using the Foundation Aid Formula, school districts will have a sound basis to create yearly budgets.  The districts will know how much money they can count on receiving each year from New York State and can focus on the important task of crafting the school budget not speculating about how much money the state will decide to give them.

Kingston Mayoral Debate

The two Democratic candidates for Kingston mayor, Shayne Gallo and Steve Noble, debated at Temple Emanuel on August 24, 2015. The entire debate is available for viewing here along with the list of questions.

Two of the questions are likely to be of interest to parents within the Kingston City School District whether you live and vote in the City of Kingston or not:

  • Question #3 Do you believe the City Mayor should have more input or oversight into the Kingston school district and their budgets and board of education?
    20:52 – 21:55    Shayne Gallo
    21:57 – 23:50    Steve Noble
  • Question #7  Do you support initiatives such as the Rail Trail, ‘Building a Better Broadway’ and the Riverport?
    37:15 – 38:40  Shayne Gallo
    38:47 – 40:55  Steve Noble
    41:00 – 41: 28  Shayne Gallo rebuttal

Question #7 impacts KCSD and specifically Kingston High School due to the parking concerns recently raised associated with the Building a Better Broadway project.

At a meeting Wednesday night, the Board of Education had requested a 30-day extension of the comment period on the transportation council’s proposed Building a Better Broadway Project, which would use $4.5 million in state and federal aid to improve traffic efficiency and safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians along Kingston’s main business corridor. Board of Education Trustee James Shaughnessy said the proposal would affect Kingston High School but has not yet been evaluated by school district administrators.

“If there is no parking on the south side of Broadway all the way past the high school, it’s really going to have a detrimental impact to drop offs and pickups, parking during the day, parking during the evening, and events,” he said.

Daily Freeman August 19, 2015

Neither candidate addressed the Broadway plan in any detail as part of the debate but you can read more about it here.  If you have any concerns associated with the loss of 55 parking spaces around KHS as part of the Building a Better Broadway project, submit your comments to Brian Slack bsla@co.ulster.ny.us by Friday September 4, 2015.

CLASS goes to Albany

I recently joined CLASS, or Coalition for Legislative Action Supporting Students, to examine legislation presented by Senator Flanagan (bill S5124) and Assemblywoman Nolan (bill A7303A) in response to Governor Cuomo’s education reforms included in the state budget.  Our goal was to develop a list of parent education issues and suggested revisions to the legislation addressing the key concerns that parents throughout New York State are expressing.

Representatives of United to Counter the Core and CLASS headed to Albany yesterday May 27, 2015 to meet with members of the Senate and Assembly education committees to discuss current education policy.  We wanted to thank the committee members for moving in the right direction on various education issues and ask them to consider additional changes that would further address parental concerns as well as to consider parent issues that are not addressed at all by the proposed legislation.

The recommended changes and legislative initiatives presented by CLASS included:

  • Cease the use of VAM (value added model) in calculating students’ growth and for teacher evaluations
  • Decouple the school district funds from implementation of the education reforms proposed by Governor Cuomo
  • Ensure released test questions accurately and cost effectively reflect the nature of the test
  • Develop fair assessment methods for SPED/ELL teachers and students
  • Make changes to the appointment and terms of New York State Regents restoring local control and parent voice
  • Changes to the comprehensive review of the education standards being used in New York State (Common Core) particularly the make-up of the review committee
  • Support for the Common Core Parental Refusal Act
  • FERPA-HIPPA changes to protect student data privacy and restore parental control

I personally met with representatives from the offices of Assemblymembers Steve Englebright, William Magnarelli and Phil Ramos and Senators Betty Little and Hugh Farley.

  • The aides from Assemblyman Ramos and Senator Little’s offices just took notes and were not able to speak to the issues we raised.
  • In general the aides from the other offices indicated that the legislators were concerned about education issues but I did not get a strong sense that they were willing to act beyond what they have already done regarding education legislation.  I believe they will need to hear from additional constituents to generate legislative action.
  • Assemblyman Englebright voted against his majority party with a “No” vote for the state education budget (very few assemblymembers were willing to stand against Governor Cuomo and vote “No!” so this was a strong statement for the students on Assemblyman Englebright’s part) and he also is a co-sponsor on the Nolan parental test refusal bill A6777.  We asked that he consider an amendment requiring that school districts inform parents of their right to REFUSE the state tests.
  • Assemblyman Magnarelli’s aide indicated that Magnarelli voted to move both of Nolan bills A6777 and A7303A out of the education committee.  The aide has to consult with Asseblyman Magnarelli to determine if he is willing to take any further action on the items CLASS requested.
  • Senator Farley’s aide indicated that the senator is very opposed to Common Core and ran on the Stop Common Core ballot line last fall.  Parents need to continue to be vocal about our concerns – do not stop, “keep it up” the aide said.  In addition to contacting the education committee members, we also need to contact our own assemblymember and senator to share our education concerns and request that our representatives communicate our concerns to their colleagues including those on the education committee.

In total, parents met with 16 of the majority education committee members from the assembly and the senate including: Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan, Carmen Arroyo, Barbara Clark, Barbara Lifton, Shelley Mayer, Amy Paulin, Linda Rosenthal, Sean Ryan and Matthew Titone and Senators Kenneth Lavalle and Joseph Robach.

We ask that you now join CLASS in requesting legislative action to support our students.

Please contact the following legislators to let them know that you agree with the changes presented by CLASS.  Also contact your NYS Assembly member and NYS Senator, even if they are not on the education committee, and ask them to voice support for these educational issues with their colleagues.

Assembly Education Committee Majority Members:
Catherine Nolan – 518-455-4851
Carmen Arroyo – 518-455-5402
Michael Benedetto – 518-455-5296
James Brennan – 518-455-5377
Barbara Clark – 518-455-4711
Steve Englebright – 518-455-4804
Earlene Hooper – 518-455-5861
Ron Kim – 518-455-5411
Barbara Lifton – 518-455-5444
William B. Magnarelli – 518-455-4826
Shelley Mayer – 518 455 3662
Michael Miller – 518-455-4621
Walter Mosley -518-455-5325
Daniel O’Donnell – 518-455-5603
Amy Paulin – 518-455-5585
Phil Ramos – 518-455-5185
Linda Rosenthal – 518-455-5802
Sean Ryan – 518-455-4886
Matthew Titone – 518-455-4677
Michele Titus – 518-455-5668

Senate Education Committee Majority Members:
Hugh Farley – (518) 455-2181
Andrew Lanza – (518) 455-3215
Kenneth Lavalle – (518) 455-3121
Betty Little – (518) 455-2811
Carl Marcellino – (518) 455-2390
Michael Ranzenhofer – (518) 455-3161
Joseph Robach – (518) 455-2909
Sue Serino – (518) 455-2945
James Seward – (518) 455-3131

KCSD passes school budget and re-seats incumbents

Thank you to those who exercised their democratic rights and voted in today’s school board and budget vote.

Results are in and the incumbents were re-elected to the KCSD Board of Education with Robin Jacobowitz, Danielle Guido and Jim Shaughnessy winning 3 year terms and James Michael winning the remaining one year in Matt McCoy’s outstanding term.  The paper mistakenly reports this term as having two years left.  The school budget passed as well as the proposition to establish a new Capital Reserve Fund.

Budget 2015 vote tally

Dr. Padalino predictably stated that the vote indicates that the community is happy with the KHS project in spite of the extension in time frame and reduction in size and that the community is pleased with the way the board is running the school district.

District Superintendent Paul Padalino said the re-election of incumbents was an affirmation that district residents support the high school renovation and expansion project, even though it will take longer than expected.

“Both propositions passing and the incumbents being reseated, that is a message from the community that they’re pleased with the way the board is running the district,” Padalino said. “It really is a vote of confidence.”

Kingston City School District was not alone in passing our school budget.  In fact the budget in every school district in Ulster County passed – read here.   I don’t know if most districts re-seated incumbents or not.  I do know that the challengers swept the election for the Saugerties school board of education.

Perhaps the budget vote does indeed say that all communities are happy with the way their local school districts are being run.  In fact I hope that is true.  I would like it very much if all parents are happy with their local schools.  However I know that 200,000 New York State TEST REFUSALS says that parents are NOT HAPPY with an awful lot about education in New York State!

Do NOT forget to vote – May 19, 2015

The Kingston City School District budget vote and board of education election is tomorrow Tuesday May 19, 2015.  Do NOT forget to vote!

KCSD Sample Ballot 2015

Six candidates are running for four seats on the KCSD board of education.  Read information here and here about the six candidates which include incumbents Jim Shaughnessy, Robin Jacobowitz, James Michael and Danielle Guido and new-comers Tim O’Brien and Fred Wadnola.

The KCSD budget for the 2015-2016 school year is up for a vote as well as Proposition 2 to create a new Capital Reserve Fund.  Read information about the budget and the new fund on the district website here.

Vote at your local elementary school.  Click here to determine which school you vote at if you are unsure.  Polls are open from 7am to 9pm tomorrow Tuesday May 19, 2015.

Come meet the candidates for school board tomorrow May 12, 2015

On May 19, 2015 four members of the Kingston City School District community will be elected to the Board of Education.  Who will you vote for?

The terms of current board members Jim Shaughnessy, Robin Jacobowitz, James Michael and Danielle Guido will be expiring.  These four incumbents as well as Tim O’Brien and Fred Wadnola are running for the four seats up for election.

You can read bios for each of these candidates on the Kingston City School District’s website here but please pause for a moment and think about what you want to see in the board members elected on May 19.

Do you realize that the Kingston City School District is the equivalent of a $150 million business and that the volunteers who are elected by the Kingston community are responsible for that business?  What do you want to know about the candidates who are running for school board?  What school district issues are most important to you that you want to ask the candidates about?

While I do not want our schools run as a ‘business’ with competition between the students or the teachers, we as parents and community members need to realize that it is vitally important that we elect people to the school board who will run the schools in the way that we want them to be run.  The only way this will happen is if we are fully engaged in the election process and know who we are voting onto the school board.

Tomorrow night Tuesday May 12, 2015 you have the opportunity to attend Meet the Candidates Night at Kingston High School.  You will be able to hear what the candidates have to say in response to questions asked of them by the community.

I am disappointed that many parents from Edson and Graves would have to skip their children’s music concerts tomorrow night in order to attend Meet the Candidates Night.  I would not expect parents to do this.  However I hope that parents who do not have children in the two concerts and parents at the other schools in the district as well as community members will avail themselves of the Meet the Candidates Night opportunity tomorrow night.

Meet the Candidates Night  hosted by District Wide Parents’ Council

Tuesday May 12, 2015  6:30pm – 9:00pm

Kingston High School auditorium

What will happen to APPR? Watch Learning Summit LIVE Thursday 5/7/15

Board of Regents LEARNING SUMMIT, Thursday, May 7, 2015, 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM.

The LEARNING SUMMIT has been set up by the Board of Regents to obtain input/advice regarding how to implement the changes to the evaluation system for teachers and principals (APPR) required as a result of the 2015-2016 New York State education budget.

Commissioner Regs on EdEval – 4-22-15 has information about the required changes as well as information about the ‘stakeholders’ who have been asked to participate in the LEARNING SUMMIT.

The public can watch the LEARNING SUMMIT via livestream.  You can connect to the livestream at 8:30am at the nysed.gov homepage.

For members of the public watching the Summit simulcast on the NYSED.gov website, NYSED has set up an email address for Thursday, May 7 ONLY.  That email is summitquestions@nysed.gov

After May 7, the public may submit questions and comments at the following email address: eval2015@nysed.gov


Test prep costs more than any lost aid from low testing numbers

Many people talk of ‘lost aid’ if too many parents REFUSE the state tests.  Retired superintendent Kenneth Mitchell is more concerned about another loss.

Any “fiscal consequence” will be less costly than the wasted resources of time, money and quality learning that districts have expended for test prep. There will be costs, but to children whose school experience has been ruined by a test prep culture and eventually to the districts whose legal funds will be exhausted when they must defend a legally indefensible and research-poor accountability system that New York’s leaders have recklessly imposed upon the system.

View:  False threats feed opt-out movement  lohud The Journal News April 23, 2015

He also challenges the talk of ‘lost aid’ because it assumes the aid WILL be lost if 95% of students do not participate, however, this is not true.

On the matter of “real” fiscal implications for failing to make a 95 percent test participation rate because of student test refusals, the New York State Council of School Superintendents issued a statement that included the following:

• There are no provisions in law that would lead to a loss of state aid due to low test participation, unless district officials refused to administer the tests or actively promoted non-participation.

• Districts failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress for a single year, including due to falling short of 95 percent participation, lose eligibility for “Reward School” Grants. These are grants paid for by federal aid and awarded to districts with schools that either have high achievement or have made the most progress in the state and do not have significant gaps in student achievement between subgroups. Only 31 schools were eligible for these grants in 2014-15.

• Schools that fail to make the participation rate target for three consecutive years can be required by the State Education Department to develop a Local Assistance Plan to address low participation.

• The state’s federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act Waiver eliminated the requirement that districts with schools failing to make adequate yearly progress for multiple years set aside Title I funds for specific purposes, such as professional development, extra academic help, or public school choice. Set-aside requirements remain for schools designated as Focus and Priority Schools under the state’s accountability system. Failing to make 95 percent participation this year would not lead to designation as a Focus or Priority School.

• If the state as a whole drops below 95 percent participation in the grades 3-8 assessments required by the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Education Department could impose sanctions on the state, including financial penalties that could filter down to school districts. However, there are no fixed rules to predict what penalties, if any, would be imposed. A consideration could be the extent to which the state acted to promote participation. According to NYSED, “The US Department of Education has made clear that when a district fails to ensure that students participate in required state assessments, the state education agency is expected to consider imposing sanctions on that district, including – in the most egregious cases – withholding programmatic funds. What sanctions to impose must be decided on a case by case basis, taking into account the degree and length of time the district has failed to meet participation rate requirements and the reasons for such failure.”

Kenneth Mitchell is a retired superintendent of the South Orangetown district and wrote about concerns associated with testing and other aspects of Race to the Top in a paper published back in the fall of 2012 as well – Federal Mandates on Local Education:  Costs and Consequences – Yes, it’s a Race, but is it in the Right Direction?  Such a shame that New York State didn’t heed his warning in 2012!