Getting ready to fall off the cliff
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Local districts are less eager to speak about a second unfunded mandate, the Annual Professional Performance Review System, better known as APPR.
In 2010, the federal government awarded New York State $700,000 in Race to the Top grants, about half of which will go to the performance review process.
The New York State School Board Association, however, says that the federal money will fund only about half the cost for what the process will cost most school districts.
“School boards have long supported the goals of the new evaluation system as a way of improving student achievement,” said the organization’s executive director Timothy Kremer. “Our analysis shows, however, that the cost of this state initiative falls heavily on schools districts. This jeopardizes school districts’ ability to meet other state and federal mandates and properly serve students.”
Brown hopes that the state will restore some of the aid funding, particularly in the high tax category – money traditionally given to school districts that already have high property and school taxes.
“I am assuming that most of that funding will be restored,” he said. “If not, then we have to look for $1.4 million, and that means we could lose 20 teachers. It also means that we have no room for special programs,” Brown told the audience.
“The other problem are is in funding retirement payments. The governor has a plan to stabilize pension costs by keeping them at 12.5 percent for the next 25 years, something akin to a long-term mortgage.
Brown said that he likes the fact that the costs will be stabilized, but thinks that the 12.5 percent is too high.
“It’s a gamble,” he said. There were years when the stock market was going good and we only had to kick in 10 or 12 percent,” he said. “The next year the market did not do so well and we were asked for 16.5 percent. You can never predict from year to year what percentage would be needed to fund the pension fund. Stabilizing it is good, but the 12.5 percent is just not the right place.”