January 3, 2012
New York City isn’t alone in having its federal School Improvement Grants frozen.
State Education Commission John King announced this afternoon that he was suspending the SIG grants of all 10 districts eligible for them even though six met the deadline to negotiate new teacher evaluations. The grants total more than $100 million altogether.
Roosevelt, Poughkeepsie, Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany and Rochester all submitted applications to use the funds before the Dec. 31 deadline, but there are shortcomings in all of them, King said in a statement today.
King outlined those shortcomings in letters to each district today. Rochester’s SIG spending plan, for example, simply did not outline appeals procedures for teachers who receive low ratings — the policy point that derailed negotiations in New York City. Buffalo’s plan outlined appeals procedures, but the state rated only five out of 13 components of the application as sufficient.
Three other districts — Schenectady, Greenburgh 11, and Yonkers — joined the city in missing the deadline entirely. Officials in Yonkers petitioned for extra time, saying that negotiators on both sides of the table were on vacation last week.
King said all 10 districts could request a hearing within 30 days about the legality of the funding freezes — something that UFT President Michael Mulgrew said today made him hopeful that the city’s funding could be unfrozen. But King signaled that districts such as New York City that weren’t able to meet the eligibility requirements on time would likely not fare well.
“If these six districts get back to the table immediately to address the shortcomings in their plans, the hearings should go well for them,” King said in a statement today.
UPDATE: The head of the state teachers union, Richard Iannuzzi, called King’s decision to suspend the funding of even districts that met the deadline “shocking” and said it represented a “dictatorial approach to reform.”
“SED and Commissioner King have demonstrated that they have totally lost their way in shepherding real, meaningful reform,” Iannuzzi said in a statement. “NYSED is obviously more interested in being a bully than providing leadership.”
King’s letter to New York City is below: