Three days before a deadline that could have cost Yonkers schools $17 million in state aid and grants, the district’s plan for evaluating teachers and administrators has been approved by the state Education Department.
The state required that all of its 694 public school districts submit plans and have them approved by Jan. 17 or risk state aid money.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the state Legislature in March 2012 to set the deadline because he said he was dissatisfied with the pace of school district compliance. He has made teacher and administrator evaluations central to his education reform agenda.
But some districts have been slower than others about getting the paperwork to Albany, or in getting suggested changes done and the plans resubmitted. As of noon Monday, 656 districts had their plans approved by the state.
Another 29 districts, including Carmel, East Ramapo, Greenburgh-North Castle and Pocantico Hills have have not resubmitted plans with changes sought by the state. Harrison schools is one of five districts — including New York City — that have submitted nothing.
Harrison schools Superintendent Louis Wool has said that he does not want to submit a rushed plan just to meet the state’s deadline. The district could lose an estimated $150,000 in aid.
Yonkers schools submitted its plan Jan. 7 after settling a new contract with the teacher’s union. Schools Superintendent Bernard P. Pierorazio met with state Education Commissioner John King Jr. and Regents Board Chancellor Merryl Tisch last week and was assured they would make their determination as quickly as possible.
The plan’s approval was announced Monday by the district.
“We are grateful to the state’s (evaluation) team, who worked with us throughout the weekend in support of our unwavering efforts to meet the deadline, and the administrators and teachers’ unions whose collaboration was essential to securing approval,” Pierorazio said in an email.
Overall, the state Education Department has approved about 95 percent of the plans submitted by school districts.
“We’ve made remarkable progress,” said state Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. in an email. “Our staff is available around the clock to help districts meet the deadline even at this late date. But this is not a rubber stamp process. We will not sacrifice quality for expediency just to approve a last minute submission. Every district’s plan must be consistent with the law.
“The deadline set by the Governor and the Legislature is closing in. Evaluation plans must be approved by January 17, and that approval process takes time. Every plan we’ve received so far has required some revisions. The sooner a district submits a plan, the more likely it is we can work with them to ensure that plan is approved. The goal is to make certain every student graduates from high school college- and career-ready. Effective evaluation plans that ensure every classroom is headed by a quality teacher and every school is headed by a quality principal will take us a long way toward that goal.”