CSA’s State Budget Priorities for Fiscal Year 2013-2014
SCHOOL AID INCREASE
CSA supports Governor Cuomo’s proposed 4.4% increase in overall education spending, but opposes the proposal to link school aid increases to the full implementation of the teacher evaluation system by September 1, 2013.
- For too long, our schools have struggled with reduced funding and have been forced to make significant cuts to valuable student programs and services in order to balance our budgets.
- A 3% increase in school aid will help our schools maintain existing programs and, in some instances, resume programs previously eliminated. Creating yet another barrier to even this modestincrease punishes the innocent.
- CSA agrees with the governor that the new evaluation system must be implemented, but we continue to urge the legislature to reject any proposal to link its implementation to a district’s ability to receive additional school aid.
PRE-SCHOOL SPECIAL EDUCATION
CSA opposes the proposal in the Executive Budget that would immediately authorize New York City to approve pre-school education providers and establish payment rates within certain parameters. If New York State is to transition oversight of this program to the city, more time and protections are needed to ensure a seamless transition.
- The Pre-school Special Education program provides children with critical services and supports to assist them with learning and/or disabilities.Under the budget proposal, the city would be given only six months to issue a request for proposal, set rates and transition children to new providers. With such an aggressive timeframe, CSA questionsthe city’s ability to assume this full responsibility as early as the 2013-2014 school year.
COMMUNITY SCHOOL GRANTS
CSA strongly supports the governor’s budget proposal creating community school grants, a much needed funding mechanism that will turn schools into community hubs with service delivery for academic, health, nutrition, counseling, legal and/or other services that will lead to improved educational outcomes. CSA urges the Legislature to increase spending for this program.
- Over the years, CSA has stressed the need to take a holistic approach to education; that is, to bring services, such as health care, housing services, and social services to the school building, so that families have direct access in one locale.
- By making the connections between the school and other critical services, we would be empowering our education system to address all of the needs of the child and improving his ability to learn.
SCHOOL LEADER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The 2013-2014 Executive Budget contains a number of proposals aimed at improving and enhancing teacher performance, including a new program for rewarding higher performing teachers. However, funding for professional development for school leaders was not included. Development and support for school leaders is asessential as it is for teachersif New York is to implement reform measures including the Common Core.
- School leaders are at the forefront of efforts to raise education standards and expectations for students, even while school budgets remain flat or actually decrease. The demands on them as the instructional leaders of the schools are tremendous.
- In order to ensure that theysuccessfully manage and meet ongoing administrative challenges, while succeeding in their main role as instructional leaders, New York State must provide access to ongoing professional development for principals and assistant principals.
- Now, as we move forward with the implementation of the new teacher and principal evaluation systems and the Common Core State Standards, CSA urges the legislature to include funding for professional development that will nurture strong, inspired, dynamic leadership in our schools.
CSA's 2012 State Legislative Agenda
EXPAND & ENHANCE EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION (CSA SUPPORTS A7591-A NOLAN/S5650-B FLANAGAN)
Strong and targeted investments in quality early childhood education and the professionals who provide early learning services are absolutely necessary to the long-term education of our young people. Extensive research has repeatedly proven that children with access to high-quality early education have a major advantage over those who do not. Every child should have access to high-quality early education and corresponding social, health and mental health supports as well as full-day opportunities for all 3- and 4-year olds.
CSA supports S5650-B/A7591-A, to require the New York State Education Department (NYSED), in consultation with other relevant state agencies, to make recommendations on the creation of a seamless and comprehensive set of educational systems and supports for all children from birth to age five.
TURNAROUND SCHOOLS (CSA SUPPORTS A7501 NOLAN /S5648 FLANAGAN)
The federal School Improvement Grants program, established under the No Child Left Behind Act, provides funding to assist those schools deemed to be “persistently lowest achieving”, a determination made by our state education agency, the New York State Education Department. In order to be eligible for this funding, a state must demonstrate its commitment to improving a school’s performance by selecting one of four “turnaround” models: Turnaround, Restart, School Closure, and Transformation. The school Principal must be removed under each of these four models.
CSA supports legislation to require that an assessment be conducted of any school identified as persistently lowest achieving to determine what factors caused the school to be so identified prior to implementing one of the four intervention models.
PRINCIPAL LEAVE (CSA SUPPORTS A6300-A NOLAN/ S5691-A FLANAGAN)
Charter schools were created in New York to:
o Improve student learning and achievement;
o Increase learning opportunities for students who are at risk of academic failure; encourage the use of different and innovative teaching methods; and
o Create new professional opportunities for educators.
Existing law allows public school teachers to request an extended leave of up to two years to teach in a charter school.
CSA believes that public school Principals should be accorded the same opportunity to work in charter schools as is given public school teachers. Allowing both public school teachers and administrators an opportunity to work in a charter school provides both teachers and administrators with an opportunity to learn and apply best practices that can be brought back to the public school upon their return from leave.
In recent years, state and local governments have seen an increase in their required contributions to pension systems due to the economic crisis in New York and the nation. As a result of the cost increases needed to maintain pension systems, legislative proposals have been advanced to drastically alter the pension system to decrease employers’ financial obligations.
Any change to the pension system, whether to create a fixed defined contribution or to cap the State’s fiscal liability, must be applied prospectively and not to current members. Current pension members, many of whom are nearing retirement, would not be able to plan for and absorb alterations to their retirement benefits. Changes made to existing members’ benefits would result in an increased reliance on social service programs to help pay for health care, medication, utilities and food.
HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS FOR RETIREES
As the cost of providing health insurance benefits continues to increase at an alarming rate, many have proposed increasing the financial contributions made by in-service and retiree members to help relieve the financial burden on localities.
CSA strongly believes that any proposal to require an increased financial contribution towards health insurance benefits should not be applied to current retirees. Imposing such an alteration to their retirements would be an abrogation of the employee agreements under which retirees formerly worked and saved for many years. Upon retirement, retirees live on fixed incomes and in many cases are forced to choose between prescription medications that will prolong their lives and the day-to-day necessities of life: food, rent and utilities. We must not add health insurance coverage to the list of items that retirees are forced to do without due to limited income.
For more information, please contact Alithia Rodriguez-Rolon, CSA’s Assistant Director for Governmental Affairs, at (718) 316-8403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.