February 2013 Issue
January 31, 2013

99% of districts meet evaluation deadline

Author: Sylvia Saunders
Source: NYSUT United

As the clock struck midnight, all but six school districts met the state's Jan. 17 deadline to have an approved teacher/principal evaluation plan in place.

"We know that all our local leaders worked very hard to negotiate teacher evaluation plans that were fair to teachers and would improve instruction for our students," said NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi.

Three districts did not submit plans to SED: New York City, Fallsburg in Sullivan County and Pine Plains in Dutchess County. The Hamburg district in western New York submitted a plan, but it was not negotiated with the local union, as required by law.

Two others, Harrison and Oysterponds, submitted agreements, but needed to make further revisions as midnight struck. Harrison's plan has since been approved.

Gov. Cuomo repeatedly said he would not extend the deadline for any district. As part of the 2012-13 state budget, districts had until Jan. 17, 2013 to have a teacher evaluation plan approved by the State Education Department — or they would lose any school aid increase for the current year.

Contentious negotiations for New York City attracted wide media attention, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg sabotaging an agreement at the last minute, union leaders said.

"It is particularly painful because our negotiators had reached agreement — but Mayor Bloomberg blew the deal up in the early hours, and despite the involvement of state officials we could not put it back together," said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Iannuzzi joined UFT in holding the mayor accountable.

"I commend the UFT leadership team for fighting to develop a strong and fair evaluation system and ensure that $250 million in badly needed state funding is provided to New York City's schoolchildren," he said. "Unfortunately, the mayor undermined those efforts every step of the way."

Shortly after the Jan. 17 deadline was missed, State Education Commissioner John King directed New York City to submit a plan by Feb. 15 describing how the city will implement required evaluation activities by March, or risk losing more than $1 billion in federal funds.

Similar problems occurred in Hamburg where NYSUT member jobs were threatened if the APPR was not approved. The threat led to a breakdown in negotiations.

Iannuzzi said NYSUT will continue to fight for a fair evaluation system for all teachers and for the funding all New York students need.

The governor, in his new budget plan, once again calls for withholding state aid increases for school districts unless they have fully implemented the teacher evaluation process for the 2013-14 school year. The next deadline would be Sept. 1, 2013.

About 90 percent of the approved teacher evaluation plans are one-year agreements.

NYSUT will urge lawmakers to reject the governor's plan to link APPR and state aid.

In addition, the September date is problematic because it does not factor in the times needed for analysis to make the needed adjustments for improving the system. At a minimum, the deadline must be moved later.