July 1 was the deadline for school districts in New York to submit their completed Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) plans to the NYS Department of Education for approval.
With crucial state funding at stake, only 164 of New York’s roughly 700 school districts submitted proposals by the deadline, reported the Journal News. The Lynbrook School District was one of them. West Hempstead submitted a plan but without a signature from its teachers union and the Malverne school district has yet to file one at all.
Lynbrook Delivers Signed and Completed Plan
The Lynbrook school district submitted its APPR plan, which was signed by representatives for both its administrators and teachers unions, on June 29, according to Gerard Beleckas, the district's assistant superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment.
"Hopefully, we will hear back by Sept. 1 on whether or not they are approving it," Beleckas stated at the July 3 Board of Education meeting.
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Under the plan, both tenured and non-tenured teachers in Lynbrook will be observed atleast twice a year and these observations, along with other responsibilites the district deems appropriate, will account for 60 percent of their evaluation. Their students' performances on New York State tests (or on "learning objectives" created by the district for classes that don't have a state exam), will count for 20 percent and the other 20 percent will be based on a local assessment administered by the district.
"Because of APPR ... every district is spending a tremendous amount of money to abide by the mandates and work through all that's required," Lynbrook Schools Superintendent Dr. Santo Barbarino said. But to save roughly tens of thousands of dollars, Barbarino explained that Lynbrook, like some other local school districts, is using its own staff members to create the local assessments the plan requires instead of using outside vendors.
Under APPR, there's a separate rubric for Lynbrook's administrators but Balackas said they will be evaluated very smilarily to the teachers with 60 percent based on observatrions and other responsibilies and the rest tied to testing.
West Hempstead Submits Plan Without Union Signatures
The West Hempstead School District also submitted its APPR plan by the July 1 deadline, however, it lacked a signature from of a rep for its teachers union (The administrators union did sign in.). The West Hempstead Board of Education, following the advice of its legal counsel, approved a resolution at its June 26 special business meeting to give Schools Superintendent John Hogan the authority to declare impasse, which he did even though the district and the West Hempstead Education Association (WHEA) continue to work on the plan.
While typically declaring "impasse" means that the parties have stopped talking, Hogan explained that in this case it is just "a formality" to protect the district's state aid.
The NYS DOE Commissioner had guaranteed that plans submitted by July 1 would receive a response by Sept. 1 but that any that came in after the deadline would be reviewed on a rolling basis. Districts that do not have an approved plan by Jan. 17, 2013, will not be eligible to receive an increase in state aid for the 2012-2013 school year.
The impasse declaration allowed West Hempstead to file their plan without WHEA's signature by July 1, safeguarding roughly $175K in state aid, but according to Hogan, the district and union representatives "continue to negotiate collaboratively with the hope we can bring this to fruition and closure as soon as possible." He said together they have made much progress, but still have more work to do, particularing regarding the local assessment component of the plan.
But Barbara Hafner, president of the West Hempstead teachers union, called the decision to declare impasse "insulting."
"It makes it look as if we are not doing our job," she said, and questioned how much the board's law firm will benefit from this move. Then, she told the trustees, "In my opinion, your counsel tells you to jump and you say, 'How high?"
Malverne Holds Of On Filing Plan
The Malverne School District is part of the majority of districts in the state who did not file by the July 1 deadline.
Deputy Superintendent of Malverne Schools Richard Banyon said the district has been meeting often with its teachers and principals unions for the past 20 months.
"We are still meeting," he told Patch. "Hopefully, we will be concluding very soon."
Banyon said he was confident that the district's plan would be complete before the start of school in September and approved before the January 2013 deadline, to ensure there's no loss in its state funding.
"If we have to declare impasse we will, but right now I'd like to continue negotiations to have a mutually agreed upon plan," he added.