Posts tagged "Albany"
January 29, 2013
Following up on his promise to detail school budget cuts required by the collapse of a teacher evaluation deal earlier this month, Mayor Bloomberg today described how he plans to reduce costs in the Department of Education’s central administration.
The rest of the $250 million funding will cut come from schools, Bloomberg said during a press conference in which he announced the first city budget revision to reflect costs incurred from Hurricane Sandy.
In addition to the cuts that Chancellor Dennis Walcott outlined in an email to principals on Monday, Bloomberg said he would restrict hiring centrally and eliminate vacancies in areas such as administration, human resources, budget, and help desk staff.
He said the city would also cut non-personnel costs–the costs of running an office that don’t include staff salaries–in administrative and field-based offices by 90 percent, and reduce spending on contracts for services such as youth development, professional development, and anti-bullying programs. (more…)
January 28, 2013
ALBANY — New York City would have to cut 2,500 teaching positions over the next two years under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plans, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told lawmakers this morning.
Appearing at a hearing about Cuomo’s budget proposal, Bloomberg focused on the school aid that would be withheld because the city and teachers union have not agreed on new teacher evaluations. The city already lost out on $240 million in state aid this year as a consequence of missing a Jan. 17 deadline that was written into law and could lose another $224 million next year if Cuomo goes through with his plan to tie school aid to evaluations again.
The cost of that penalty would be severe, Bloomberg told the Assembly Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, forcing cuts to city schools’ spending on personnel and programming.
Bloomberg blamed the UFT, again, for the city’s shortfall and also criticized the State Education Department, which is threatening to penalize the city further by withholding some resources for high-need students.
But during a fierce exchange with Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, who chairs the education committee, the blame also landed briefly on Bloomberg himself.
Nolan pointed out that Bloomberg had supported the law that paved the way for the union and the city to reach a deal on evaluations last February. She recited Bloomberg’s comments at the time the law was passed (“This is a win-win-win for the kids and for the adults”).
“Don’t you feel some responsibility for this disaster?” she asked. “And it is a disaster.” (more…)
January 23, 2013
Three mayoral candidates joined parents, advocates, and union representatives on the steps of City Hall today in calling for a moratorium on school closures and co-locations, centerpieces of the Bloomberg administration’s education policy.
The press conference was organized by New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a group formed to oppose Mayor Bloomberg’s education policies in the lead-up to the mayoral election.
Earlier this month, State Sen. Tony Avella introduced a bill that would impose halt school closures until a state committee determines whether they benefit students.
Now advocates are looking for a sponsor in the Assembly as well, UFT President Michael Mulgrew said today. Hakeem Jeffries, the politician who sponsored a similar bill last year, has left the Assembly for the U.S. Congress. Asked who would sponsor a bill now, Mulgrew said, “There’s quite a few people who are looking at doing it.” (more…)
February 22, 2012
The state’s thaw over teacher evaluations is extending to federal funds that had been frozen to some districts. But New York City is still out nearly $60 million.
Last month, State Education Commissioner John King cut off the funds, known as School Improvement Grants, to 10 districts that had been receiving them to help overhaul low-performing schools. The districts had not adequately complied with a Dec. 31 deadline to adopt new evaluations for teachers in those schools, King said.
The funding freeze, along with a hefty dose of evaluations pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the last month, sent many of the districts back into negotiations about new teacher evaluations with their local unions. Today, King announced that five of the districts — Albany, Poughkeepsie, Syracuse, Rochester, and Schenectady — had refined their evaluations agreements enough to restart the flow of federal funds.
The other five districts, which include New York City, have all requested hearings to try to convince King that he should restore their funding. The districts all called off hearings scheduled for this week after last week’s statewide evaluation deal, although it was not clear how the deal would have changed what districts planned to say during their hearings.
In a statement, King took aim at districts such as New York City that have not been able to work with their teachers unions to adopt new evaluations that comply with the state’s requirements. (more…)
February 6, 2012
Nearly three-quarters of New Yorkers approve of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s carrot-and-stick approach to getting new teacher evaluations in place, according to poll results released today.
Last month, Cuomo vowed to withhold increases in state school aid to districts that do not settle in short order on new teacher evaluations that take test scores into account.
The poll, conducted last week by the Siena Research Institute, asked respondents, “Do you support or oppose the Governor’s plan to link school aid increases to the implementation of an enhanced teacher evaluation process?” Seventy-one percent said they support that plan. (The poll of 807 registered voters had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.)
The support was evenly split between respondents in New York City and the rest of the state and was especially high among black New Yorkers (77 percent) and young people between 18 and 34 (78 percent). Households with union members (61 percent) and Jews (63 percent) supported Cuomo’s plan least often, but even they stood by it in large numbers. (more…)
August 15, 2011
When David Steiner announced his resignation as commissioner of the State Education Department, people close to him speculated that he was burnt out by trying to push his agenda through.
In an interview posted today with Rick Hess, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Steiner describes the thoughts that led to his decision.
“There is an enormous investment in the status quo, even from those you would think have an incentive for change,” Steiner told Hess. “… Sometimes, I would look out from the offices in Albany and ask where the allies were.”
Steiner’s complaint reflects divisions among state education officials documented by Michael Winerip in today’s New York Times. Some officials — such as Steiner’s successor, John King, and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch — favor speedy policy changes in line with federal priorities. Others are urging a more cautious pace.
Now returning to Hunter College’s School of Education, Steiner told Hess that his biggest accomplishment as commissioner was to change certification requirements for new teachers. And he also said he is not confident that plans to boost test quality will pay off. “It’s still an open question whether the next generation of assessments will really match our aspiration to encourage rigorous, deep thinking rather than the rote-like product from the testing regime,” Steiner said.
April 12, 2011
Under Albany’s new budget agreement, New York City’s school capital plan will regain roughly 12,000 seats — a boon to school officials who expected harsher cuts, but a number that does not meet earlier demand estimates.
In November of last year, city officials estimated that they would need to increase earlier seat construction projections in the face of overcrowding in schools. At the time, they planned for 50,074 new seats to be built by 2014, many of them in elementary and middle schools where demand had ballooned.
Then came a proposal from Governor Andrew Cuomo to cap state spending on school construction aid. The plan would have significantly reduced the state’s contribution. To absorb the cut, city officials said they wouldn’t be able to build thousands of the seats they had planned on — a decision that would have affected schools in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Riverdale, Bronx, the most.
But now that Cuomo’s proposal has not been included in the budget agreement, the numbers have changed again. With $1.7 billion more to spend on school construction, the city can now afford to build about 26,500 seats, instead of the roughly 14,000 it had planned on.
City officials said that more information about which neighborhoods would benefit from the seat construction increase, and which would not feel any effect, would be released tomorrow. (more…)
Will New York win the second round of the Race to the Top? We don’t know yet, but add one more item to the list of ways the state’s application has gotten stronger: More teachers unions signed on to the plan this time around, and they added fewer caveats to their endorsements.
The percentage of unions signing on to the plan is now 70%, up from 61% in the last round. That includes New York City’s United Federation of Teachers, which, though it signed on last time, added caveats along with its “yes,” as Steven Brill reported in the New York Times Magazine. One major exception was a clause saying that unions could ignore any part of the plan that violated a union contract — even though, in the same memo, the unions promised to negotiate new contracts following the plan’s main ideas.
In the first round, some judges noted the caveats and the 61% figure as a reason they docked points from the state’s application. I couldn’t find any caveats in this round’s Memorandum of Understanding documents that unions and school districts had to turn in by Tuesday.
Still, among the dissenters are some pretty major unions, including the ones in Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, and Albany. That’s three of the state’s “Big Five” school districts. A typical explanation why came from Buffalo’s union president earlier this month, in the Buffalo News:
A deal on legislation to make New York more competitive for Race to the Top dollars could finally come tonight.
Quick reminder: That would mean that the state’s cap on the number of charter schools allowed to open would rise to 460 from 200, and the teacher evaluation deal worked out by state officials and the union would become law. In return, New York might rake in $700 million in federal grants.
Then again, the deal might not come today at all. When asked what he meant by a note telling us that a deal could come “tonight,” Assemblyman Sam Hoyt of Buffalo sent the following Blackberry reply:
Lol. It is conceivable that tonight could be midnight or 10 a.m. Tmrw.
Nobody’s talking about exact sticking points in negotiations, which are mainly between Mayor Bloomberg (who enjoys support in the state Senate) and the city teachers union (which enjoys support in the Assembly). But presumably they’re similar to the ones raised in the last week of back-door negotiations. For more background on what Race to the Top is, read this.
Liz Benjamin has more on the details of when the Assembly and the Senate will actually do this (late tonight and tomorrow, respectively)., at 6:30 pm
July 17, 2009
Listen to the segment in its entirety right here:
A fuming Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that state troopers should “drag” senators back to Albany — by force, if necessary – if they leave for the summer without voting on a bill to preserve his control of New York City’s schools.
During his weekly radio show, an incredulous Mr. Bloomberg – who seemed to question the intelligence of individual senators by name – said that those holding up the legislation “want to ruin the schools.”
“You wonder what goes through their heads,” he said, adding that the time for negotiations over mayoral control had passed. “It’s over. It’s stopped. You just can’t do that.”
Liz Benjamin has more:
“This is what he should do,” Bloomberg said of Paterson, noting that he has been “defending” the governor throughout the Senate stalemate. “Giving them the summer off is as we say in Gallic, ‘Meshugenah’”.