Tag Archives: School budget

KCSD Budget Forum – Monday April 20, 2015

Announcement of a community budget forum has just been posted on the KCSD website:

There will be an opportunity for conversation with the Superintendent about the 2015 – 2016 school budget during a special session hosted on Monday April 20, at 6 PM at 61 Crown Street. All KCSD community members are welcome to attend.

The Kingston City School District board of education must approve the budget on April 22, 2015.  The community will vote on the budget as well as candidates for the school board of education on May 19, 2015.  The board of education meeting on April 22 will be held at Bailey Middle School.

Urgent! Call Albany NOW 3/31/15 to protect our children from testing tied to the budget!

If the information presented by the Cuomo official in this article as of 10pm Monday March 30 (here and at the end of this post) is accurate, this is very bad news for the children of New York.

Not only will the children continue to be tested in order to determine whether their teachers get to keep their jobs or not, a second test might be added to assist with this determination. BUT the extra test will not be mandated by NYSED so if a district decides to use it, the extra testing is on the district NOT NYSED (thanks a lot Governor Cuomo and legislators!) Regardless of how well the teacher does on the observation portion of the evaluation, if their students do not show growth based on the test scores, the teacher can NOT receive an effective or highly effective rating. Not in this article but from earlier reports (here and here), if teachers are rated ineffective for two or three years in a row, they can be fired (within 90 days unless they can justify not being fired for two years of ineffective ratings; mandatory firing in 30 days for three years of ineffective ratings unless the teacher can prove fraud).  That sounds like an awful lot of pressure to put on a child’s test score to me!

Have the people in power in Albany been listening that these tests are developmentally inappropriate; that they cause harm to children; that they are statistically invalid for evaluating teachers; that there are so many problems with these tests that they should NOT be used in any way shape or form (read here for a sampling if you are not familiar with the various testing issues) let alone be the gatekeeper on whether a teacher gets to keep their job?

Apparently the education portion of the budget bill is not yet available (as of 10pm Monday) so we do not know what the exact language is in the bill. Senator Amedore’s office reminded me of this when I spoke to them at 9pm tonight. However Governor Cuomo is willing to waive the three-day waiting period requirement so the budget bill can be passed on time, therefore once the bill hits the legislator’s hands, I expect that it will be voted on very quickly so we will not have the luxury of waiting to see what the bill actually says and then leisurely voicing concerns.

Several of the New York State senators’ offices have been insisting that school aid will not be linked to any of the education reforms but as of the publishing of this article at 7:30pm this evening Monday March 30, 2015, Ken Wagner, an official from NYSED is stating that the aid is indeed linked.

School funding and teacher evaluations are linked after all, a top official with the state education department said late Monday.
I regret the inconvenience this will cause to our legislators’ aides but the phones need to be ringing off the hooks so that our senators and assembly members know that inclusion of any of these items in the budget will be considered by parents as a failure to support what we want to see for the education of our children:
  • increased reliance on testing
  • setting teacher evaluations as part of the budget process
  • receivership for schools – I have not focused on this due to the testing concerns but it is a total destruction of local school control
  • anything tying school aid to Cuomo’s education reforms

Please call both your senator and your assembly member as well as the speaker of the house Assemblyman Heastie and senate majority leader Senator Skelos.  Senator Amedore and Assemblyman Cahill represent the majority of families in the Kingston City School District.

Senator George Amedore (518) 455-2350

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (518) 455-4436

Budget hook

Regarding school funding, it looks like neither the senate or the assembly stuck to their guns and we will not get the $1.8 billion that the assembly was pushing for or the $1.9 billion that the senate put forward.  Reports seem to be settling around $1.3 or $1.4 billion with Senator Skelos being quoted here that schools would get half of the GEA back this year and the rest next year.  Senator Amedore also issued a statement regarding elimination of more than 50% of the GEA.  Please thank him for supporting elimination of the GEA when you call.

Schools also need the Foundation Aid formula to be updated and used each year because this is what will give the school districts a reliable revenue that they can count on from year to year.  Not sure what portion of the school aid will be considered foundation aid.


ALBANY—The final plan for a new statewide teacher evaluation system will require observations by an “independent” evaluator, a Cuomo administration official said during a briefing with reporters late Monday.
It’s hard to say definitively what will be in the bill, since it hasn’t been introduced, and leaders of the State Senate and Assembly did not immediately return a request for confirmation that they have agreed on specifics of the deal. But the administration official, speaking on background, presented the plan in great detail, some of which Capital has already reported, arguing the deal was solid.
According to the briefing, the evaluation system will have two components: observations and student performance on state tests.
There will be two required observations, from a teacher’s principal or administrator and an “independent” evaluator, who could be a principal, administrator or “highly effective” teacher from another school or district. As Cuomo originally proposed, a college professor or retired educator could also serve as the independent evaluator. A peer observation will be optional.
Cuomo official lays out surplus plan
Assembly revenue debate turns back to yacht tax
State to spend $400 M. on rural upstate health systems
The official argued against critics’ characterization of the “independent” evaluator as an unfunded mandate. If schools or districts agree to swap evaluators, neither would have to pay for the other’s services, the official said.
Student growth on state-administered, Common Core-aligned English and math exams in third through eighth grades and Regents exams in high school will be required components for the evaluation system.
Districts and local unions may choose to include an additional test, which would be designated by the State Education Department. Contrary to how the extra test was described before, it would not have to be designed by the state, which is a costly and time-consuming process.
The additional exam would address concerns about teachers being rated based on a student’s work on one day or over one test-administration period, the administration official said. But the test would be optional, so parents wouldn’t be able to blame the state for additional testing. the official said.
While the State Education Department will be charged with determining how performance indicators translate to “ineffective,” “developing,” “effective” or “highly effective” ratings, the budget will include certain rules that “trump” the outcome of the department’s calculation.
For example, if teachers are evaluated using only the traditional state exam and are rated “ineffective” based on student performance on that exam, they may not be rated “effective” overall; they may only be rated “ineffective” or “developing.” For teachers at districts that opt to use two tests, if teachers’ rating based on both tests combined is “ineffective,” they must be rated “ineffective” overall.
If teachers are “ineffective” based on observations, they can’t be “effective” or higher overall.
The budget will also include new requirements for continuing education or professional development. While teachers are already required to complete 100 hours of professional development annually, there will be stricter state guidelines for what constitutes professional development. Teachers will have to complete the state-approved development in order to retain their certification.
The budget will also include $20,000 bonuses for high-performing teachers.

Details begin to emerge on new teacher evaluation system capitalnewyork.com 10:07pm March 30, 2015

New York kids ready for college?

Isn’t the whole point behind common core and all these standardized tests because New York kids aren’t “college-ready”? So why is New York ranked as the 4th best state for K-12 education with a special emphasis on how well states are preparing kids to go to college according to this article?

Have we been sold a bill of goods?

So which states are doing the best job of maintaining strong public school systems? To answer that question, SmartAsset looked at ten across-the-board metrics of education, placing a special emphasis on how well states are preparing students for college. For each state, we considered the percentages of students taking the SAT, ACT and AP tests, and the average scores for those tests. We also looked at the state-level funding-per-student, the student-teacher ratio, the high school dropout rate and the percentage of high school graduates attending college after graduation (read more about our methodology below).

After analyzing the various factors, the article comes to the conclusion:

The state of New York invests $20,376 annually for every student in its public education system, second only to Vermont. That investment is paying off. It has the sixth-highest college attendance rate of any state in the country, with 71% of high school graduates attending college within 12 months of graduation.


Urgent! Call Albany today about school funding in the state budget!

Budget negotiations are coming down to the wire in Albany and school aid/how our kids will be educated hangs in the balance.

Please call your legislators today to state the following points:

  1. Stop holding our school funding hostage for the Governor’s bad plan on testing and teacher evaluation.  Pass the budget without ANY of the education reforms Governor Cuomo is trying to shove through.  Education reform needs to be dealt with separate from the budget.
  2. The Senate must increase school funding to at least the $1.8 billion in the Assembly version of the budget and the budget needs to use foundation aid to prioritize high needs schools along with GEA reductions.

Senator George Amedore (518) 455-2350

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (518) 455-4436

Your voice matters

Here is more information pertaining to the points above if you have time to read the details before you make your phone calls.

Current news on the street is that Senator Skelos is considering a deal with Governor Cuomo that would delay any increase in school aid to June 2015 when an appointed commission would unilaterally determine the final teacher evaluation system.

Although no one really has details, you can read about the possible teacher evaluation commission here and here.

I personally am not in favor of a commission as being discussed even if it is decoupled from the budget.  I do not believe it would adequately represent the stakeholders nor am I convinced that the legislature/Governor Cuomo are the appropriate people to determine how teachers are evaluated even if the legislature gets to vote on the results of the commission and it is not clear if the legislature would vote on the results or not.  I have included a letter I sent to Senator Skelos below.

While the Senate Republican budget is being reported as putting $1.9 billion in for education, it really only works out to $1.4 billion according to Alliance for Quality Education.  The Senate needs to come up to at least the $1.8 billion that the NYS Assembly has in their budget.  In fact the Board of Regents asked for $2 billion and AQE says $2.2 billion is needed but I do not expect we will get to those numbers since the Governor only proposed $1 billion IF the legislature went along with his reforms and the assembly is only proposing $1.8 billion.

I am asking that you call Senator Skelos’ (majority chair) and Senator Flanagan’s offices as well as your local legislators to let them know your opinion on the creation of the teacher evaluation commission and the possibility of school funding being tied to it.

Senator Skelos (518) 455-3171

Senator Flanagan (518) 455-2071

I have contacted the three Senate offices regarding the teacher evaluation commission and was told the following that you can use to inform your comments as you make your calls:

  • Senator Amedore’s office – the commission is being discussed but they are confident that it will not be tied to school aid/the budget and pointed to a statement by Senator Flanagan in this article when I asked for public support of Senator Amedore’s confidence in the Republican coalition.
  • Senator Skelos’ office – on Wednesday the aide would not report where the Senator stood on private negotiations with the Governor but would add my zipcode to the list who had called about the commission
  • Senator Flanagan’s office – the aide told me that the commission has been discussed but stated emphatically that Senator Flanagan does not support anything that will delay school aid

Even if it seems that the legislators are supporting your wishes regarding the education aspects of the budget, please make these phone calls.  With the ongoing negotiations, things are changing moment-by-moment and the legislators need to be reminded that they are serving at our pleasure and we are watching and will indeed hold them accountable.


I sent this email on Tuesday March 24, 2015 before the report came out that they might actually delay the funding.

Dear Senate Majority Leader Skelos and Senate Education Committee Chair Flanagan,
I have just read that Senate Republicans might be close to working out a deal with Governor Cuomo regarding the education reform agenda including in the budget.  http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2015/03/senate-republicans-close-with-cuomo-on-education-reform/
I hope that this means the education reform agenda has been decoupled from the budget and will be dealt with separately as it should be.  I am very dissatisfied with this behind-closed-doors dealings regarding the education of our children.
The creation of a commission to develop teacher evaluation criteria is concerning to me as well.  Legislators and the governor should not be determining how to evaluate teachers, particularly without educators involved in the process, and it definitely should NOT be done in a rush or as part of the budget process.
I want my student’s teachers evaluated by local educators who know them and the job they do and know how to help them improve IF there are areas where they need to improve NOT by people who assume that they are doing a pathetic job and try to figure out how to fire them!  I also do not want my student’s state test scores used as any part of a teacher’s personal evaluation and just to make that TOTALLY CLEAR, I will be REFUSING the tests until they are no longer used as part of a teacher’s personal evaluation.  I am not a teacher nor am I funded in any way by a union so please do not say that unions and teachers are the only ones against using standardized test scores as part of the teacher appraisal system.  I am simply a parent who wants the best education for the children of New York and I will fight until we arrive at that place in this state.
The entire education reform agenda needs to be dealt with openly and with all stakeholders represented fairly and honestly at the table (students, parents, teachers, administrators, legislators, NYSED, governor, anyone else who is a player/has a stake?) not just the teacher evaluation criterion.  Stop this behind-closed-doors dealing about the education reform!  Tell Governor Cuomo that we will NOT accept his ‘education reform’ as part of the budget.  Pass the budget with the educational funding that we need for our schools and then lets get down to open and honest discussions about what we need to do to get rid of the mess that has been made in New York State by all this ‘education reform’.
If a commission is needed, let me suggestion the Blue Ribbon Commission that is part of the Apple Plan presented by the New York State Republican Assembly in bill A3656.
Jolyn Safron

Saugerties Reclaiming Education forum – Wednesday March 25, 2015

PACE Saugerties (People Actively Committed to Education) is hosting a Reclaiming Public Education forum to discuss funding and high-stakes testing on Wednesday March 25, 2015 7:00pm at the Frank D. Greco Senior Center, 207 Market Street in Saugerties.

This forum will be similar to the Demystifying Testing forum hosted by Kingston Action For Education on March 16, 2015.  If you missed the KAFE forum but don’t want to miss the great information, attend the forum in Saugerties.

Saugerties Reclaiming Public Education March 25 2015

Please pass the information below on to any parents in Saugerties who you have contact with and encourage them to attend the PACE forum this Wednesday March 25, 2015.

Earlier this morning [March 23, 2015], Saugerties CSD Superintendent Seth Turner posted a letter on the district website that purports to address ramifications of refusal on the district’s good standing.

Mr. Turner goes on in his letter to outline a litany of “consequences” that may befall the district in the case of opt outs.

Well, NYSAPE has taken the liberty of contacting the NYS Education Department to discuss and separate fact from fiction.

We now offer Saugerties parents a rebuttal to Mr. Turner’s littany of claims, in the letter attached.

We look forward to discussing this and other issues more fully with you at the PACE forum on Wednesday March 25, 2015. Hope to see you there!

Thank you!


RSVP & Forum info here:

NY State Senate supporting Governor Cuomo’s Education Reforms – Contact Senator Amedore to say NO! UPDATED 3:30pm

Okay Kingston, Senator Amedore’s phone needs to be ringing off the hook today and throughout the weekend.  His phone number is (518) 455-2350 and the local office is 331-3810.

He is a very strong supporter of getting rid of the GEA and we should be thanking him for that.  BUT we also need a consistent and predictable Foundation Aid formula put in place that is set in law and runs properly every year.

Apparently the Senate Republicans are under the misguided idea that the majority of Governor Cuomo’s education reforms are a good thing.

UPDATE March 13, 2015 3:30pm:  I have spoken with Senator Amedore’s office and have been told that the article stating that the Republican Senators will support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to increase use of state test scores to 50% of the teacher evaluation is not correct.  This article in the Times Herald Record from March 2, 2015 quotes Senator Amedore:  “I have concerns over the governor’s proposal to base 50 percent off test scores. Not every student learns the same, and teachers need to be able to teach to the ability of their students.”  His office said that his primary concern is with how the tests affect children with disabilities.  I am now expecting that should anyone within the New York State Senate attempt to associate any additional consequences with high-stakes testing or should they attempt to support Governor Cuomo’s attempt to punish teachers further by placing more emphasis on high-stakes testing, that Senator Amedore will be there vigorously working to ensure that this does not become law.  Of course I will be working to totally get rid of the consequences associated with high-stakes testing and will be continuing to urge all parents to REFUSE the state tests in April!   – end of UPDATE

According to this article the New York State Senate has released its proposed budget which

  • gets rid of the GEA (good thing)

but also supports the following from Governor Cuomo’s reform package (bad things):

  • lifting the cap on the number of charter schools as well as increasing funding to charter schools even more than Cuomo proposes (I know many like the charter schools because of ‘school choice’ – for me the problem is the fact that so many fail, unfairness and lots of other issues I have not had time to write about)
  • several tax credits/tax deductions (mixed thoughts on this – I could accept some of these as okay)
  • using test scores as 50% of a teacher’s evaluation (although this would be part of a separate bill, not part of the budget – regardless have they NOT been listening?  High-stakes testing is BAD!  Right, of course not, Senator Flannigan had his 5 forums last year and thought all was right with education just like Commissioner King did!)  **see UPDATE above**
  • teachers will only receive tenure after 5 consecutive years of effective or highly effective ratings (in separate bill)  (again high-stakes testing which ratings are based on is BAD!)
  • teacher preparation programs will be closed in which 50% of the graduates do not pass the certification exam (in separate bill)

In the article, NYSUT gives credit to the Senate Republicans for at least separating out the bad parts of what they are proposing so that children are not being held hostage.  However as a Republican, my feelings are more along the lines of “with friends like these NYS Senate Republicans and Jeb Bush who supports Common Core, who needs enemies?”

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, please call your state legislators and let them now what YOU think about these educational issues.  The legislators are there to SERVE THE PEOPLE, not to line their pockets with donations from the lobby groups or even just to do what they think is in the best interest of the state.  It is OUR JOB as their CONSTITUENTS to DEMAND how they VOTE ON  OUR BEHALF!!!

While you are making phone calls, give a call to Assemblyman Cahill’s office and thank him for the New York State Assembly budget proposal that boosts education aid to $1.8 billion (not the $2.2 billion that AQE said we should advocate for but better than what Cuomo is offering dependent on accepting the ‘reforms’) and saying ‘No’ to Cuomo’s reforms.  Urge Assemblyman Cahill and the rest of the Assembly to stand strong against Governor Cuomo (and now the New York State Senate).

Ulster County defends public education forum wrap-up

Several hundred parents, students, teachers and concerned community members attended the Ulster County Defends Public Education forum last Monday February 23, 2015 at Miller Middle School.  The forum was hosted by Kingston Teachers Federation, New York State Allies for Public Education, Alliance for Quality Education and Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers.

Dr. Paul Padalino, superintendent of Kingston City School District, and Billy Easton, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education, spoke regarding school funding and the problems with Governor Cuomo’s education budget proposal.  Mr. Easton asked audience members to call New York State legislators and demand that the legislators say “No” to Governor Cuomo’s education plan and put $2.2 billion in new school aid in the budget.  The state legislators CAN do this and we as constituents of New York State should accept NO excuses!  Alliance for Quality Education is coordinating a rally/lobby day in Albany on March 11, 2015.  20150311EDUParadeFlyer-color-1

Student Sam Longbotham, Rondout Valley, and teachers Kristina Flick, Rondout Valley Central School District, and Laura Harnden, Ulster BOCES, spoke regarding the impact of high-stakes testing on the classroom.  Bianca Tanis, co-founder of NYS Allies for Public Education, spoke regarding excessive testing and its adverse impacts, particularly on students living in poverty, students with disabilities and English Language Learners, and test refusal.

An opportunity was given for audience members to ask questions after all presenters concluded their remarks.

The Daily Freeman and Kingston Times wrote articles about the forum and NYSUT also published a write-up on their website.

Kingston Times article – Dissatisfaction with Cuomo common bond among local educators

Daily Freeman article – Forum participants say NY Gov. Cuomo hurting schools

NYSUT article – Ulster unites to demand fair funding and relief from testing

Video of the entire forum can be viewed here as well as videos of some of the individual segments.


If you would like an opportunity to talk further about high-stakes testing, plan to attend the upcoming Demystifying Testing forum hosted by Kingston Action For Education and NYS Allies for Public Education on March 16, 2015.

Everything you wanted to know about "the tests" hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE)
Everything you wanted to know about “the tests” hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE)

Challenging the Attack on Public Education forum postponed to March 4, 2015

Announcement from Rethinking Testing:

Due to inclement weather, Challenging the Attack on Public Education has been rescheduled for tomorrow, March 4th at 7pm. Please spread the word! Looking forward to a great panel tomorrow.


Original post about forum here

Challenging the Attack on Public Education - Carrying on the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement
Challenging the Attack on Public Education – Carrying on the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

Challenging the Attack on Public Education forum – March 3, 2015

Please attend this forum at SUNY New Paltz this Tuesday March 3, 2015 7pm.

While corporate education policy makers claim to be advocates of civil rights, their policies have instead undermined the civil and human rights of students, parents, educators and local communities.

The legacy of the civil rights movement to challenge injustice calls on people today to oppose high stakes testing, inequitable school funding, and the privatization of public education.  Speakers will discuss this legacy and today’s movement to reclaim public education.

Challenging the Attack on Public Education - Carrying on the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement
Challenging the Attack on Public Education – Carrying on the Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

Two of the speakers at the forum, Dr. Yohuru Williams and Dr. Nicholas Tampio, authored an article about how the Common Core, while intended to help bridge the achievement gap for minority students, actually further disadvantages minority students and actually betrays the civil rights legacy.

We share the National Urban League’s ambition to prepare black youth to succeed in the 21st century global economy but disagree that the Common Core is the way to make that happen. So far, the Common Core is draining educational budgets, narrowing the curriculum and turning students into little test-taking machines. This is no way to advance the civil rights legacy. Instead, we should recommit to the principle that all children, of whatever race or background, can attain the same kind of education only available, right now, to the children of privilege. – Common Core Betrays the Civil Rights Movement

VAM scores should NOT be used for significant teacher personnel decisions – act now!

VAM stands for Value-added measurement and is referring to the method of evaluating teachers based on student test scores on tests such as the New York State standardized tests for ELA and Math.

Edward Haertel VAM

Mr. Haertel is simply one of many voices pointing out the error of using this methodology to evaluate teachers.  Watch several of his videos here from 2013.

See this post by Diana Ravitch from April 2014 for additional explanation of VAM and associated problems.

The ASA issued a short but stinging statement that strongly warned against the misuse of VAM. The organization neither condemns nor promotes the use of VAM, but its warnings about the limitations of this methodology clearly demonstrate that the Obama administration has committed the nation’s public schools to a policy fraught with error.

The majority of the variation in test scores is attributable to factors outside of the teacher’s control such as student and family background, poverty, curriculum, and unmeasured influences.”

The VAM ratings of those who teach children with disabilities and English language learners will be low, because these children have greater learning challenges than their peers, as will the ratings of those who teach gifted students, because the latter group has already reached a ceiling.

Diana Ravitch was talking about testing/VAM problems being forced on the states by the federal government.  However in New York we now have the situation where Governor Cuomo wants to up the ante even more and base 50% of the teacher evaluation on this unreliable VAM.

Contact your state legislators today and tell them to say NO to Governor Cuomo’s education agenda and to put the $2.2 billion that our schools need in the state budget.

Also REFUSE the state tests for grades 3-8 in April 2015 and put a stop to our children being used to create data that does not help the children but is actually being used to tear our public schools apart.