Schools and School News

    22-year-old gets OK to open Charter School

    A 22 year old School of the Arts Alumni has recieved approval from the NY State Board of Regents to open a charter high school in Rochester in 2015. The Charter School will be called the Greater Works Charter School, and it will be accepting around 100 9th graders in its first year, eventually expandingto about 400 students in grades 9 - 12.
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Justin Murphy.

    Suspensions a Problem in RCSD

    Metro Justice and the RCSD provide data on the number of suspensions in the RCSD. Some highlights of the report included:
      • Twenty percent of students aged 12-17 were suspended at least once.
      • Across all grade levels 12.8 percent of black students, 8.9 percent of Latinos, 6.5 percent of white students, and 2.1 percent of Asians were suspended.
      • 13.5 percent of students with disabilities were suspended, while 10.3 percent of students without disabilites were suspended.
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Justin Murphy.

    D&C reports that "Graduating in NY may become easier"

    The D&C reports that "The state Board of Regents plans to add flexibility to its high school graduation requirements, hoping to make it easier for students to focus on career training, “STEM,” the arts and other areas. Students would have the option of not taking one social studies Regents exam currently required for a Regents diploma. They could instead take a “comparatively rigorous” assessment in career/ technical education, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), the humanities, foreign languages or the arts. The Regents, who met Monday morning in Albany, expressed strong support for the move and will likely adopt the change in January. The change would affect students who entered ninth grade in September 2011 and beyond. Right now, for students to earn a Regents diploma, they must pass one Regents exam in math, ELA and science, and two in social studies. Under the new approach, students who take an optional course of study would have to pass either the Regents exam in U.S. history and government or a Regents exam in global history and geography, but not both. Chancellor Merryl Tisch emphasized that the added flexibility should make it easier for high schools to offer career and technical education to students in urban and rural school districts. Tisch said urban districts are anxious to provide more career training."
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Justin Murphy.

    D&C reports that "Special education mix-up costs RCSD millions"

    The RCSD is undertaking important and vital changes in how it provide Special Education services. This is not cheap or painless as reported by the Democrat and Chronicle.
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Justin Murphy.

    NY State asks NY Districts to reduce nmber of Exams

    The D&C reports that "The New York state Education Department is urging districts to eliminate as much local testing as possible for the purposes of teacher evaluations, and is committing federal money to help make it happen. But some educators are opposing the increased reliance on state exams. The initiative by NYSED comes with $9.2 million in federal Race To The Top money, including $800,000 going to schools in the Rochester area. It comes in response to widespread protests about excessive testing in public schools, especially for the youngest children."
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Justin Murphy.

    Renaissance Charter School to open in Greece in former Kirk Road Elementary School

    The D&C reports that "The Greece Central School District is getting its first charter school that doesn’t prioritize enrollment on the basis of family income. On Aug. 25, the Ren­aissance Charter School of the Arts will open its doors in the former Kirk Road Elementary School building. For now, the school will offer classes in kindergarten through second grade, but the goal is to open up one new grade level each year until topping out at sixth grade.."
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Joseph Spector and Sean Lahman.

    RCSD hires Keith Babuszczak as chief of school innovation for career pathways and integrated learning

    The D&C reports that "The Rochester School District has hired a former New York State Education Department contractor to help revamp its career and technical education program, marking the third high-profile administrator to be hired in the city since school let out for the summer. Keith Babuszczak, a former consultant with the CTE Technical Assistance Center of New York, worked with BOCES in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Hudson Valley and the Yonkers school district, helping schools improve their CTE programs. He previously served as assistant superintendent for CTE in Pittsfield, Mass., and worked for the Massachusetts Department of Education. His title in Rochester will be chief of school innovation for career pathways and integrated learning. He will earn $135,000 annually and will supervise Beverly Gushue, who remains in her current position as CTE director. Gushue will concentrate on the specifics of the district’s CTE offerings, while Babuszczak will work to integrate career and academic offerings, including for younger students.
    Click this link to read the pdf of the article.

    NY State approves East High Plan

    The D&C reports that "The New York State Education Department on Wednesday formally approved the Rochester School District's partnership with the University of Rochester for East High School, according to the district. UR's Warner School of Education, in the person of professor and former Canandaigua superintendent Steve Uebbing, will serve as superintendent of the school, using district funds. The partnership begins immediately in the 2014-15 school year, but the university will spend the rest of 2014 developing a more in-depth plan for 2015-16.
    Click this link to read the D&C article.
    Click this link to read the pdf of the article.

    Exiting Webster Superintendent to join RCSD as Deputy Superintendent for Administration

    The D&C reports that Webster "Superintendent Adele Bovard will step down and take a new job with the district in Rochester — a move that will bring a pay cut, but also a chance to help city students realize their potential, she said. Bovard, 56, will become Rochester's deputy superintendent for administration. The role pays $175,000 a year, said Chip Partner, a spokesman for the city schools. That's roughly 15 percent less than her salary in Webster, which was $207,300 for the 2013-14 school year.
    Click this link to read the D&C article.
    Click this link to read the pdf of the article.

    NY State Public School Teachers Pension's Grow

    The D&C reports that "The number of teachers and school administrators in New York collecting pensions increased 9 percent between 2010 and 2013, and the average pension grew 6.5 percent over that period, records show. Teacher pension records had been sealed by the retirement system amid a court fight over whether the details on individual pensioners should be public...The largest pension went to James Feltman, who retired in 2010 as superintendent of the Commack school district in Suffolk County. He collected $325,854 from the pension fund in 2013. That’s just slightly more than Sheldon Larnilow from Half Hollow Hills on Long Island; he’s receiving an annual pension of $322,650 since his 2011 retirement...Among retirees in the city of Poughkeepsie schools, the average teacher pension was $45,185. It was about $43,000 in both Rochester and Buffalo city schools. The average pension was less in the Southern Tier: about $39,000 in the Binghamton and Elmira city schools.
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Joseph Spector and Sean Lahman.
    Click this link to search the D&C database for teacher and administrator pensions

    West Irondequoit CSD finalizes 2014-14 Budget cuts

    The D&C reports that "Field trips, modified sports and a variety of class offerings have all been canceled in West Irondequoit for the fall, the final reckoning of the district’s failure to pass its proposed 2014-15 budget."
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Justin Murphy.

    Webster CSD Superintendent resigns

    The Webster CSD reports that "The Webster Central School District Board of Education announced today that it has accepted Superintendent Adele Bovard’s resignation during its July 8 reorganization meeting. Bovard’s resignation is effective July 31, 2014. “The Webster Central School District Board of Education wishes Ms. Bovard the best in the future and we thank her for her efforts over the past several years,” said Mike Suffoletto, Webster Board of Education President. “We appreciate the many efforts to improve student achievement and continue the tradition of academic excellence at Webster Central School District.” Superintendent Bovard will serve as Deputy Superintendent for Administration at the Rochester City School District, effective August 1, 2014. The board will meet to appoint an acting superintendent while it plans for a process to identify and select a new leader to succeed Superintendent Bovard."

    Penfield CSD names acting Superintendent

    The D&C reports that "The Penfield Board of Education has named an acting superintendent. Thomas Putnam will take over as acting superintendent of the Penfield Central School District, effective immediately, the board said in a written release on the district's website. Putnam replaces Stephen Grimm, who is leaving the district to serve as superintendent of the Clinton Central School District. "I'm looking forward to maintaining the level of excellence we enjoy in our district as well as helping our students and staff to continue to move forward," Putnam said. Putnam has served as principal of Penfield High School for the past four years. "We are very pleased that Dr. Putnam has agreed to serve as our acting superintendent," said board President Carole Nasra. "He is an outstanding administrator who is focused on student learning and building a positive culture within the district." Putnam previously served as an assistant principal at Penfield High School, as well as an assistant principal at Greece Olympia High School. The board, and Putnam, said they expect to name an acting principal for Penfield High School as soon as possible."

    University of Rochester and the RCSD submit final plan for East High Takeover

    The University of Rochester and Rochester School District submitted their final proposal for governance of East High School Monday, just hours before the state deadline of July 1. The D&C reports that " According to the proposal, UR wants to split the students into three sub-schools: the Lower School, for grades 7-8 or possibly 6-8; a Freshman Academy; and the Upper House, for grades 10-12. At each level, students would be grouped into “student families” of 5-9, under the care of one dedicated adult staff member, administrator or volunteer. School days would be lengthened, there would be a full-time counselor and social worker for each grade level and professional development would be strengthened. UR hopes to have about 180 students at each grade level, with preference given to those living near the school. By comparison, according to the most recent state data, there were 267 seventh-graders, 461 ninth-graders and 253 12th-graders in 2011-12. All sides agreed Monday that the school will only succeed by building on its current strengths and recruiting help from the community. “Does anyone really thing East High School will change just because the UR is coming in?” Uebbing asked. “The change will come from the teachers, staff and kids who are already there ... and the community supporting them.""
    Click this link to read the pdf of the D&C story by Justin Murphy.

    University of Rochester plan to take over East High under review

    The U of R's plan to be the Educational Partnership Organization for East High is due to the State by July 1st.
    Click this link to go the story.

    Erica Bryant: "Let school board president take pay cut"

    Erica Byrant piece calling out the RCSD Board for their high pay and the lack of School District success.
    Click this link to read her piece in the D&C .
    " target="_blank">Click this link to read a pdf of the D&C article.

    RCSD 2009-2013 student cohort graduation rate remains lowest in NY State

    Just 43 percent of Rochester students who entered 9th grade in 2009 graduated on time by June 2013.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the D&C article.

    NY State Assembly agrees to fund Phase II of RCSD Facilities Modernization Plan

    WXXI Reports that "A few members of Rochester's Assembly delegation got into a heated debate last night over funding for the next phase of the Rochester Schools Modernization project. Democrat David Gantt and Republican Bill Nojay both questioned whether the $1.2 billion project was on time and on budget. Nojay said, "This has been a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. I believe Mr. Gantt is correct in his assumption or his questions about the number of schools that have been finished. In fact, my understanding is that none of the work has been finished according to any viable schedule or quality of work for the children of Rochester, New York."
    Click this link to see and listen to the WXXI Story.

    RTA files grievance over RCSD testing

    "[T]he RTA filed a class action grievance against the city school district last week, and in a phone interview yesterday, Urbanski was not so supportive of Vargas. The grievance concerns ELA and math tests that teachers have been administering this month, particularly in grades K to 2. Urbanski says the district has broken its agreement with the union regarding how the tests are administered. Urbanski, who has been an outspoken critic of what he calls the state’s testing mania, says the tests have to be given to students individually because they are performance-based assessments. 'This is a woeful waste of time,' says Urbanski. And classroom management has been made more difficult, he says. Teachers in the lower grades don't even have a proctor assisting them. Also, Urbanski says the tests were riddled with errors, and administering them has taken more time than teachers are paid to work.
    Click this link to read the City Newspaper Article.

    Four charter schools set to open in city

    The D&C reports that "Two high schools, elementary and middle school are in the mix. There will be four new charter schools this fall in Rochester, including an arts-heavy elementary school, a middle school with small class sizes and a career­focused high school for boys.
    The elementary school, Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts, will aim for an “enlightened adolescence” with a focus on arts, literacy and “character education,” according to its website. It will begin with grades K-2 in August and eventually expand to K-6.
    PUC Achieve Charter School, the middle school, will follow the same model as several schools now open in California. “PUC” stands for “partnerships to uplift communities,” and the schools stress small class sizes, long school days and honors­level education for all students. It will enroll fifth-graders in August and will eventually be open to grades 5-8.
    The high school, Vertus Charter School, will run year-round, incorporating online lessons with “learning labs” and group work, according to its website. It is led by Perry White, founder of the high-performing Citizens Academy charter school in Cleveland, and Leigh McGuigan, a former lawyer and investment banker who has been involved with public and charter schools in Cleveland and New York City. It will enroll ninth graders only when it opens in September.
    Also opening in the fall is Rochester Preparatory Charter School, a high school that will collaborate with Rochester Institute of Technology and accept students graduating from Rochester Prep’s middle school classes."

    Gates Chili new Superintendent to begin in February

    The D&C reports that "Kimberle Ward, superintendent of the Naples Central School District, has been selected to become the leader of the Gates Chili school system. Ward is expected to be formally appointed to the position by the Gates Chili Board of Education during its regular meeting" in December "She will begin her new role in early February, according to the district. 'The board is impressed with Kimberle's energy, passion and leadership skills,' said Lowell Benjamin, school board president. 'We are very much looking forward to her engagement with the Gates Chili community with a focus on student achievement and instructional excellence.' Ward has previously worked as a teacher in Brighton, Marcus Whitman, Newark and Wayland. She was a principal in the Union Springs Central School District and an assistant principal in the Corning-Painted Post Area School District. She joined Naples in 2009. 'I am excited to continue Gates Chili's tradition of inspiring students to engage in their learning the Spartan Way: Respect, Responsibility, Compassion and Hard Work,' Ward said in a written statement. 'The district motto of teaching and inspiring excellence for all learners will be my focus in all efforts for the community.'"

    A Fairport BOCES 20 year student drowns in Canal

    In a very sad story, a Fairport BOCES Special Needs student drowned in the Canal while in School.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the story.
    In a follow-up to this story the D&C reported on 1/11/14 that there had been an agreement reached in this case
    The D&C reports that "The family of a 20­year-old Kendall man with disabilities who drowned while under the care of a BOCES program has reached an “agreement” to avoid a lawsuit, according to a short state­ment from the family. Michael Vyrvoss apparently wandered away from Monroe 2-Orleans Board of Cooperative Educational Services’ Spencerport facility in September 2012 and drowned in the Erie Canal. The family had filed a notice of claim against the district, according to the statement, which provided no further details. BOCES had no comment, according to a spokesman."

    NY State 2012-13 School Administrator Salaries

    What does your Superintendent make? What do your District's Top Administrators make?
    Click this link to download a pdf of the 2012-13 NY State Administrator Salaries.
    Click this link to go to the NY State Web Page with this data.

    2011-12 School District Special Education Data

    The New York State Education Department’s P-12: Office of Special Education has posted, effective June 1, 2012, each school district’s Special Education School District Data Profile for the 2010-11 school year as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This report provides individual school district data relating to compliance and performance results for students with disabilities.
    Click this link to download a pdf of the Rochester City School District Data.

    D&C Database on NY State Schools

    From the D&C 10/12/12.
    "The numbers are stark. Only 20 percent of kids in the Rochester School District read at a level appropriate for their age. But there’s a dramatic difference between how well the kids perform from one school to another.
    Last Sunday, our education reporter, Tiffany Lankes, told the story of two city schools a mile apart. At the first, 74 percent of students are proficient in math. At the other, the total is only 9 percent.
    That’s a huge contrast, but how is a parent supposed to know how well their child is being served by their school?
    The state’s Department of Education issues annual report cards for each school, but they’re not particularly easy to use. Data from each school are presented in a series of PDF files. It’s difficult to do year-to-year comparisons, and it takes some effort to see how different schools or school districts compare.
    That challenge prompted us to develop our own interactive tool for navigating the school data, available at We gathered the data from the various state reports for all of the public schools in New York and put them in one place.
    You can use our tools to see test scores for each district or for individ­ual schools. This includes results of more than a dozen different Regents exams, and the yearly proficiency tests for math and English given to all students from third to eighth grade.
    We also have included information on topics such as college readiness, demographics and staffing. And with a click of a button, you can compare data from different districts, or even between different schools.
    Our reporters cover the public schools pretty extensively during the course of a year, and we publish dozens of separate school-related data sets — everything from graduation rates to teacher salaries. Moving forward, we’ll integrate these sorts of data sets into our Schools Database, providing a more robust source of information about the public education system than you can find anywhere else. It’s part of our renewed focus on providing databases that let readers explore topics on their own. At, we’ll continue to offer deep collections of information on a variety of topics that affect people in our community."
    Click this link to read go to the

    BOCES overcharges School Districts in NY State Millions

    A recent report by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that BOCES districts routinely overbill local schools and regularly price those services higher than necessary. Daniel T. White, superintendent of Monroe 1 BOCES in Fairport said the overcharges generally fall within acceptable budgeting and accounting limits.
    Click this link to download a pdf of the D&C story.

    Ex-Hillside worker pleads not guilty to sexually assaulting two teens

    What is going on at Hillside. The D&C reports today that "A former Hillside Children’s Center employee accused of sexually assaulting two teens pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning in Monroe County Court.
    Matthew D. King, 29, of Rochester is facing five counts of third-degree criminal sexual act, a felony, and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misde­meanor.
    King is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact earlier this year with two teenage boys he met while working as a youth counselor at Hillside’s residential center on Monroe Avenue, said Assistant District Attorney Kyle Rossi. King also is accused of providing alcohol and cigarettes to teens he met while work­ing at the center.
    Some of the alleged incidents occurred at the center, Rossi said, while others occurred elsewhere in the Rochester region. All of the alleged acts stemmed from relationships that started at Hillside, Rossi said.
    King worked for Hillside for about 1½ years, end­ing July 27.
    King “has been a coach, counselor and teacher’s aide his whole adult life, so we’re concerned” that authorities may not be aware of all potential victims, Rossi said. Any potential victims are asked to contact State Police or the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.
    County Court Judge Frank Geraci Jr. issued orders of protection for the two teens Wednesday morning.
    King’s lawyer, Amanda Oren, said in court that King’s family posted $50,000 bail. King remained free on that bail and is scheduled to return to court for argument of motions on Nov. 7.

    New report shows the RCSD graduates the lowest rate of Black Males in the US

    WXXI reports that "Michael Holzman is a senior research consultant for the Schott Foundation. He says one reason for the low graduation rate comes down to Black males being “locked out” in schools - meaning they're not given the same resources as their white counterparts. Holzman says in Rochester City Schools there's twice as many white male students in gifted and talented programs than Black and Latino male students."
    Click this link to read or listen to the WXXI story.

    Poverty rises in the City

    The D&C report that poverty has risen in the City of Rochester. The D&C report that "A majority of children in three upstate cities lived in poverty in 2011, with Rochester ranking seventh in the nation for its percentage of poor children, U.S. census data released Thursday showed. Rochester had 54 percent of its youth under age 18 living in poverty, putting it in a class with Flint, Mich.; Camden, N.J.; Reading, Pa; and Cleveland. Gary, Ind., led the nation in childhood poverty at 69 percent, the data showed.
    Click this link to read a pdf file of the D&C article.

    Truancy in the RCSD

    The RCSD has a new truancy policy that has drawn some criticism as the District is proposing as a last resort to involve Child Protective Services (CPS). While I worry about how the District will implement this policy, fundamentally kids need to be in Schools. We can't afford to have them not in Schools.
    Click this link to read the City Newspaper article by Tim Louis Macaluso.

    The International Baccalaureate (IB) program offered starting in Kindergarten at Wilson Foundation Academy

    "The prestigious International Baccalaureate program has a worldwide reputation for teaching students critical thinking skills and preparing them for college...classmates at the city’s Wilson Magnet Foundation Academy are getting a jump start, given that Wednesday was their first day of kindergarten. Wilson welcomed 70 students into the first kindergarten class that will have the opportunity to spend their entire school career in the IB program. The district has had an IB program at Wilson Commencement High School for years, but has recently looked to expand the model to include middle and elementary school students."
    Click this link to read a pdf of the D&C article by Tiffany Lankes.

    State Targets RCSD for Intervention

    "The Rochester school district has been flagged as one of 70 "Focus School Districts" by the New York State Education Department. Twenty-two of Rochester's schools have been identified as "Focus Schools" by the SED, and 30 described as "Priority Schools." .
    Click this link to read a pdf of the City Newspaper article by Tim Louis Macaluso.
    Click this link to read the information from the NY State Education Department.

    New Data suggests the RCSD has less than 50% attendance rate

    New Data from the District suggests what has long suspected that the District's ability to track day to day attendance has been wrong. The new information suggests that the RCSD may actually have less than 50% attendance on a daily basis. This new information is in response to new demands from NY State to report accurate attendance numbers on weekly basis. The good news is that this points to an obvious way to increase Student learning. Having the students attend class.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the D&C article by Tiffany Lankes.

    Hillside Staffer charged with sexual abuse at Hillside

    A male Hillside Staff Member has been charged with having sex with a 15 year old Hillside student.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the story.

    Monroe County Schools need over 1 Billion for School Repairs

    The D&C reports that area Schools need over 1 Billion dollars in repairs.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the story.

    Monroe County District Changes for 2012-13 School Year

    An Article from the D&C outlining changes in staff, schools, and programs for all Monroe County School Districts for the 2012-13 School Year.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the story.

    Two New Charter Schools Open in City

    Rochester Career Mentoring Charter School opens with its first 9th grade class.
    Young Women's College Prep, Rochester's first public School exclusively for young women.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the story.

    Say Yes Foundation has programs in Syracuse and now in Buffalo

    The Say Yes Foundation with provides educational aide to Schools and financial aid to students to attend college has already had a program in Syracuse. It is now beginning its work in Buffalo. Why not Rochester? According the D&C "Rochester was one of the metropolitan areas in the state invited to submit proposals that resulted in the selections of Syracuse and more recently Buffalo for Say Yes initiatives, but no proposals were submitted, said Gene Chasin, who is the chief operating officer for Say Yes national." Click this link to read a pdf of the story.
    For more information on the Say Yes Foundation click this link.

    Student numbers undergo decline: Gates Chili, Greece among hardest hit

    The D&C report that the City as well as Rochester's suburbs have declinging enrollments. The article notes that "Gates Chili, for example, had a stu­dent enrollment topping 7,000 in the late 1970s but now has 4,547 students, according to data kept by the state Comptroller’s Office. In a narrower data set kept by the state Education Department, the Gates Chili district lost 255 students between 2009 and 2011, or 5.4 percent of its en­rollment. Other hard-hit districts were Fairport and East Irondequoit. Fair­port lost 337 students, or 4.9 percent of its enrollment, during the same period. East Irondequoit lost 147 students, or 4.4. percent. In Greece, enrollment fell about 3.8 percent, or 486 students, continuing a trend that began in the early 2000s. In­deed, enrollment in that district has fallen more than 12 percent since its peak of nearly 15,000 students in the 1990s."
    While many District's with decling enrollment have had to cut staff positions, the East Rochester School District has increased its staff positions. The article notes that "One district, East Rochester, is an example of the many variables that can affect enrollment. That district, the only one in the county to register positive growth, saw a minimal 1.8 percent enrollment increase — from 1,174 to 1,195 students, but increased staff by 9.8 percent — from 153 to 168. The growth in enrollment and staffing, Superintendent Ray Giamartino Jr. said in an email, was the result of a district initiative to bring students who were receiving special education services elsewhere back to the district. Staff grew at a higher rate than student enrollment because some special education students required more attention from staff members. However, Giamartino said the district was still able to save money by educating those students “in-house” rather than contracting with outside groups.".
    Click this link to read a pdf of the story.

    BOCES 1 Teacher Aide suspended for allegations of sex trafficking

    The D&C reports that "BOCES 1 has suspended a teacher’s aide charged Monday with the alleged sex trafficking of a 15-year-old girl.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the story.

    Lawsuit alleges bullying at Fairport School

    The D&C reporter, Meaghan M. McDermott, reports that "Parents of a Fairport Central School District student have filed a federal lawsuit against the district, alleging officials there didn’t take adequate steps to protect their child from bullies." The parents allege a pattern of bullying that began at Martha Brown Middle school and continued at Johanna Perrin, after the District and parents moved the child to avoid the bullying that had occurred at Martha Brown.
    Click this link to read a pdf of the story.

    Suspensions Are Higher for Disabled Students

    The NY Times reports that a new analysis of Department of Education data, shows that 13 percent of disabled students in kindergarten through 12th grade were suspended during the 2009-10 school year, compared with 7 percent of students without disabilities. Among black children with disabilities, which included those with learning difficulties, the rate was much higher: one out of every four was suspended at least once that school year.
    New York State was not included in this report "due to problems with thier data."
    Click this link to read the story.
    Click this link to download a pdf version of the report.
    Click this link to download a pdf file of the NY Times article.

    RCSD begins $325 million project to modernize Schools

    The D&C reporter, Tiffany Lankes, reports that "Work on the first phase of the project is under way, with construction crews at Schools 17, 50 and 58 as well as the Charlotte and Franklin high school campuses. All of those projects, with the exception of School 58, will be finished in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year. School 58, the largest of the renovation projects in the plan, will take two years."
    Click this link to read a pdf of the D&C article by Tiffany Lankes.

    States Struggle To Meet Special Education Goals

    The nation is showing some signs of improvement in educating students with disabilities, though federal officials say nearly half of states continue to need help. For the 2010-2011 school year, 30 states met a series of goals for their special education programs, according to an analysis of new U.S. Department of Education ratings that was done by Education Week. That’s up from 28 the year prior.
    Click this link to read about the story.
    Click this link to see a map showing State rankings.
    Click this link to download a pdf file of the US Map with State Rankings.

    Cost of Preschool Special Education Services in NYC Sky Rocket

    The Cost of Preschool Special Education Services are sky rocketing in NY City. Concerns are also noted about the quality of the services provided.
    Click this link to go to the NY Times article about the story.

    Which Western NY State Teachers make the most? Where does your District Stand?

    Teachers in Livonia are generally paid the most in the Rochester region – that’s according to Business First which tanked the 67 districts in the eight-county Rochester area

    As reported by Channel 10 news - "According to Business First, "pay levels were analyzed at the fifth, 25th, 50th, 75th and 95th percentiles in each district, using official data from the New York State Education Department. Percentiles indicate the ranking of a given salary on a district's payroll. A salary at the 25th percentile, for example, is larger than 25 percent of all teachers' salaries within that district. Livonia's salaries are among the five highest in the Rochester Area at all five percentiles, including a region-topping $74,416 at the 75th percentile.""

    Complete list:
    1. Livonia (Livingston County)
    2. Pittsford (Monroe County)
    3. Gates Chili (Monroe County)
    4. Webster (Monroe County)
    5. Greece (Monroe County)
    6. Wheatland-Chili (Monroe County)
    7. Fairport (Monroe County)
    8. Brighton (Monroe County)
    9. Addison (Steuben County)
    10. South Seneca (Seneca County)
    11. Hammondsport (Steuben County)
    12. Penfield (Monroe County)
    13. Avoca (Steuben County)
    14. Canandaigua (Ontario County)
    15. West Irondequoit (Monroe County)
    16. Odessa-Montour (Schuyler County)
    17. Corning-Painted Post (Steuben County)
    18. Caledonia-Mumford (Livingston County)
    19. Hilton (Monroe County)
    20. Churchville-Chili (Monroe County)
    21. Seneca Falls (Seneca County)
    22. Canisteo-Greenwood (Steuben County)
    23. Victor (Ontario County)
    24. Naples (Ontario County)
    25. Rochester (Monroe County)
    26. Prattsburgh (Steuben County)
    27. Spencerport (Monroe County)
    28. Wayland-Cohocton (Steuben County)
    29. Jasper-Troupsburg (Steuben County)
    30. North Rose-Wolcott (Wayne County)
    31. Rush-Henrietta (Monroe County)
    32. Geneseo (Livingston County)
    33. Bloomfield (Ontario County)
    34. Watkins Glen (Schuyler County)
    35. Dalton-Nunda (Livingston County)
    36. Honeoye Falls-Lima (Monroe County)
    37. Manchester-Shortsville (Ontario County)
    38. Sodus (Wayne County)
    39. Bath (Steuben County)
    40. Clyde-Savannah (Wayne County)
    41. Marcus Whitman (Ontario County)
    42. Phelps-Clifton Springs (Ontario County)
    43. Brockport (Monroe County)
    44. Arkport (Steuben County)
    45. Waterloo (Seneca County)
    46. Red Creek (Wayne County)
    47. Wayne (Wayne County)
    48. East Irondequoit (Monroe County)
    49. Marion (Wayne County)
    50. Honeoye (Ontario County)
    51. Dansville (Livingston County)
    52. Romulus (Seneca County)
    53. Hornell (Steuben County)
    54. Campbell-Savona (Steuben County)
    55. East Rochester (Monroe County)
    56. Williamson (Wayne County)
    57. Newark (Wayne County)
    58. Avon (Livingston County)
    59. Geneva (Ontario County)
    60. Penn Yan (Yates County)
    61. Lyons (Wayne County)
    62. York (Livingston County)
    63. Palmyra-Macedon (Wayne County)
    64. Bradford (Steuben County)
    65. Gananda (Wayne County)
    66. Dundee (Yates County)
    67. Mount Morris (Livingston County)
    Click this link to see the Channel 10 news story.

    What are your District's Superintendent and other Top District Adminstrator's Salaries?

    Chapter 474 of the Laws of 1996 and Education Law section 1608 required that the State Education Department prepare a statewide compilation of the salaries and other personnel costs of certain school administrators and make it available to all interested parties. Listed here are data, provided by school districts, of the salaries, employee benefits and other forms of remuneration for superintendents of schools (Type 1), deputy, assistant or associate superintendents (Type 2) and the salaries of any other certified school administrators or supervisors (Type 3) who are budgeted to be paid at or above a certain level ($123,000 for 2012-13). This listing refers to information budgeted in May 2012 and expected to be paid in 2012-13 and applies to a particular position in a school district, not necessarily a particular individual. In order to fully understand the meaning of the data, clarification from individual districts may be necessary.
    Click this link to go to the NY State Department webpage with the data Click this link to download a pdf file of the salary amounts for all of NY State Click this link to download an excell file of the salaries for all of NY State.

    Majority of Special Ed. Students in Texas Suspended, Expelled

    On Special Education Blog , Education Week
    A new study by the Council of State Governments Justice Center took a close look at how often students in Texas are disciplined by in- and out-of-school suspension and expulsion. Among the findings: Students with disabilities are especially likely to be punished by one or more of these methods. The researchers looked at records for close to one million students and found that 75 percent of middle and high school students with disabilities in the nation's second-largest public school system were suspended, expelled, or both at least once. That compares to about 55 percent of students without a disability.
    Majority of Special Ed. Students in Texas Suspended

    Rural and urban students suffer under New York state aid losses

    Disparities in School Districts across the NY State are growing due to the fact that State lawmakers can not help themselves in giving wealthier Districts more money.
    rural students suffer under new york state aid losses

    Schools from 12 Rochester NY area Districts cited as underperforming.

    The Schools include the following:
    BROCKPORT HIGH SCHOOL Improvement (year 2) - Basic Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    FRED W HILL SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) -Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    CHURCHVILLE-CHILI MIDDLE SCHOOL 5-8 Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    EAST IRONDEQUOIT MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    LAURELTON-PARDEE INTERMEDIATE SC Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    MARTHA BROWN MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    GATES-CHILI MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    WALT DISNEY SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    APOLLO MIDDLE SCHOOL Restructuring (year 1) - Focused - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    ARCADIA MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    ATHENA HIGH SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    OLYMPIA HIGH SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Secondary-Level English Language Arts

    MERTON WILLIAMS MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    VILLAGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    ROCHESTER ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    BIOSCIENCE & HEALTH CAR HS-FRANKLI Restructuring (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts and Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    CHARLOTTE HIGH SCHOOL Restructuring (advanced) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    DR FREDDIE THOMAS HIGH SCHOOL Improvement (year 2) - Comprehensive - Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    EAST HIGH SCHOOL Restructuring (advanced) - Comprehensive - Secondary-Level Mathematics
    GLOBAL MEDIA ARTS HIGH SCH-FRANKLI Restructuring (year 1) - Comprehensive - Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    INTERNATIONAL FINANCE & ECON DEV H Restructuring (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts and Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    JAMES MONROE HIGH SCHOOL Restructuring (advanced) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    JOHN MARSHALL HIGH SCHOOL Restructuring (advanced) - Comprehensive - Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    JOSEPH C WILSON FOUNDATION ACADE Improvement (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    JOSEPH C WILSON MAGNET HIGH SCH Restructuring (advanced) - Comprehensive - Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    NORTHEAST COLLEGE PREP HIGH SCHO Corrective Action (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    NORTHWEST COLLEGE PREP HIGH SCHO Improvement (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts and Elementary-Middle Level Mathematics
    SCHOOL 12-JAMES P B DUFFY Improvement (year 1) - Focused - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 15-CHILDREN'S SCHOOL OF RO Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 16-JOHN WALTON SPENCER Corrective Action (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 17-ENRICO FERMI Corrective Action (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 20-HENRY LOMB SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 22-LINCOLN SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts and Elementary-Middle Level Mathematics
    SCHOOL 28-HENRY HUDSON Corrective Action (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 29-ADLAI E STEVENSON Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 30-GENERAL ELWELL S OTIS Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 34-DR LOUIS A CERULLI Improvement (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 36-HENRY W LONGFELLOW Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 39-ANDREW J TOWNSON Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 3-NATHANIEL ROCHESTER Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts and Elementary-Middle Level Mathematics
    SCHOOL 41-KODAK PARK Improvement (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 42-ABELARD REYNOLDS Corrective Action (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 44-LINCOLN PARK Improvement (year 2) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 45-MARY MCLEOD BETHUNE Restructuring (advanced) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 46-CHARLES CARROLL Improvement (year 1) - Focused - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 50-HELEN BARRETT MONTGOM Improvement (year 2) - Focused - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 5-JOHN WILLIAMS Corrective Action (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 6-DAG HAMMARSKJOLD Improvement (year 1) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 7-VIRGIL GRISSOM Improvement (year 1) - Focused - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 8-ROBERTO CLEMENTE Improvement (year 2) - Comprehensive -Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL 9-DR MARTIN LUTHER KING JR Restructuring (advanced) - Comprehensive -Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SCHOOL OF ENGNRG & MFG-EDISON Restructuring (year 1) - Comprehensive - Secondary-Level English Language Arts and Secondary-Level Mathematics
    SCHOOL WITHOUT WALLS Corrective Action (year 1) - Comprehensive - Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    SKILLED TRADES AT EDISON Corrective Action (year 2) - Comprehensive - Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    THOMAS JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL Restructuring (advanced) - Comprehensive - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    CHARLES H ROTH MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    A M COSGROVE MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    KLEM ROAD NORTH ELEMENTARY SCHO Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    SPRY MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    DAKE JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    Ontario County Schools

    CANANDAIGUA MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    GENEVA HIGH SCHOOL Restructuring (year 1) - Focused - Secondary-Level English Language Arts
    GENEVA MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Focused - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    NORTH STREET ELEMENTARY SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Focused - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    MIDLAKES INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts
    MIDLAKES MIDDLE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    VICTOR INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL Improvement (year 1) - Basic - Elementary-Middle Level English Language Arts

    Click this link to read Cara Matthews and Meaghan McDermott's D&C article as a PDF file.
    Click this link to go to the NY State webpage to read the entire list.

    US Teachers feel that Schools fail diverse learners.

    A new survey shows that a majority of teachers feel that Schools do not adequately prepare diverse learners for success after High School. In the Study conducted by MetLife, Education Week reports that "Fully 91 percent of the public school teachers interviewed for this year’s annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher said that strengthening programs and resources to help “diverse learners”—defined as students with low-income status, limited fluency in English, or learning disabilities—become college- and career-ready should be a priority in education. read the full article here

    Buffalo Superintendent resigns

    Buffalos' embattled Superintendent resigns and Buffalo's School Board accepts resignation. read the full story here

    Empathy education teaches students to care for others

    The student first met her new teacher close to the end of his ill-fated battle with pancreatic cancer.

    As he lay waiting for the end, Lionel Honorat had no interest in talking to Marissa Malone when she arrived at Isaiah House as part of a Harley School class on empathy. He told her to go away. He wanted to be alone on his death bed.

    "I said, 'That's unfortunate,'" said Malone, who graduated last month. "He was very independent. That was one of the hardest things for him to let go of."

    Malone stayed anyway, sitting in the corner reading a book until Honorat finally opened up to her. She visited him every week after that, comforting him until he passed away several months later.

    Students at Harley, a private school in Brighton that serves 500 students from nursery through high school, have been doing this kind of hospice work for years as part of the school's empathy education program, which aims to teach compassion, listening and social outreach skills they will be able to use in life and the workplace.

    Now, Harley leaders hope to extend their efforts to schools all over the country. With a $250,000 grant from the Edward E. Ford Foundation - the school will match the funds - Harley plans to establish a Center for Service for Empathy Education where educators will receive training in how to create similar programs at their own schools.

    "It has become broadly accepted that empathetic skills, in particular, underlie the success we experience in the relationship-based interactions that permeate professional and personal life," said Tim Cottrell, head of the school. "We feel we have a knack as a school to teach emotional intelligence. The question becomes how can we share that with the world of educators?"

    Teaching emotional intelligence and social skills has become more prevalent in schools in the past decade, in part because of attention to issues such as bullying and school violence. At the most basic level, character education programs teach students about values, decision making and respecting others. At Harley, educators have taken those lessons a step further, having students learn about emotional intelligence by applying what they learn in the classroom to a hospice setting.

    Research suggests that students best learn skills such as empathy and compassion through first-hand experience with others, and that's exactly what the program aims to accomplish. The curriculum, which the school has used for seven years, has been recognized and adopted at colleges.

    The center, which will open next summer, will build upon the hospice work already being done at the school. Harley educators point out that empathy can be taught through a number of projects, from bullying prevention in the middle years to work with people who are homeless or cancer patients.

    Researchers at the University of Rochester will be studying their results, looking at whether the service work makes students more compassionate and their teachers feel more valued.

    "We all have this ability," said teacher Bob Kane, who brought the program to Harley. "It just has to be allowed to open up. I'm hoping that the center will be an open space where we can explore these possibilities."

    For some Harley students, the experience has already offered anecdotal evidence of the program's success.

    Malone thought her hospice work would mainly serve to comfort patients in the last days of their lives. But in the end, she learned more about herself, drawing from her own feelings and emotions to help others. She gained an appreciation for life and the legacies people leave behind.

    "The whole idea is that in the end it wasn't about death at all," Kane said. "It's about living."

    NY State again pares down Regents Exams

    The NYS Board of Regents has again changed the schedule for NY State regents exams to save money. This makes it easier to graduate for some and harder for others.
    Click this link to read about the changes.

    NY State signs into regulations a new teacher evaluation system

    The NYS Board of Regents adopted regulations that will implement a statewide teacher and principal performance evaluation system.
    Click this link to download and read the pdf file about the changes from the NY State Board of Regents.

    NY State Board of Regents elects John King Commissioner of Education

    The New York State Board of Regents voted today to elect Dr. John B. King, Jr. as New York State Education Commissioner and President of the University of the State of New York. The Regents took this action at their May meeting held today in Albany.

    Dr. King currently serves as Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education at the New York State Education Department where, for the past two years, he has led the effort to implement the Regents reform agenda and coordinated New York's successful Race to the Top application. Prior to joining the State Education Department in 2009, John was a nationally recognized education leader who founded and led urban public schools that have won acclaim for their success in closing the achievement gap and preparing students to succeed in college.

    "For the past two years John King has been at the forefront driving the implementation of every aspect of New York's reform agenda across this state. In that role he has won deep respect from teachers, school leaders, superintendents and policy makers for his results-oriented leadership and a style that has consistently brought together diverse groups of stakeholders to achieve consensus around critical reforms for our public schools. John has dedicated his career to closing the achievement gap and raising the level of achievement for all. He has a deep, passionate, personal commitment to public education and will be an outstanding Commissioner for all New Yorkers," said Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch.

    "In selecting John King the Regents are sustaining the pace and focus of the reforms intended for all our schools," said Vice Chancellor Milton Cofield, co-chair of the Boards Search Committee. "John has demonstrated the remarkable energy and insight that the Board wants in place to implement the Regents reform agenda," added Regent Anthony Bottar, who co-chaired the Search Committee.

    "John was my partner in every reform we have pursued over the past two years from realigning proficiency standards on our 3rd-8th grade assessments, to advancing new models for teacher preparation, evaluation and development, to rethinking how we turn around failing schools. He coordinated our Race to the Top application and has worked closely with me in the effort to make New York's standards and assessments more rigorous and more aligned to college and career readiness. He will be an excellent Commissioner who will make a tremendous difference in the lives of New York's 3.1 million school children," said Commissioner David M. Steiner.

    "My life story is about the power of schools to shape lives, even against great odds. Through my experiences as a teacher, as a school leader, and as Senior Deputy Commissioner, working with superintendents, principals, and teachers across this state, I know that all of our schools can be places that ensure our children succeed," said King, the son of New York City public school educators and a product of New York City public schools.

    "There has never been a more exciting time to be in public education in New York. While I know the fiscal environment and the pace of change are challenging, over the past two years I have been struck by the commitment of school leaders from every part of this state to push forward and implement bold reforms that will mean better schools for all of our kids. As we move toward implementing the core of the Regents reform agenda, I am committed to ensuring that the State Education Department will work in close partnership with districts and individual schools to capitalize on that commitment and fully implement meaningful, lasting change," said King.

    King will succeed David M. Steiner, who announced in April plans to return to his former position as Dean of the Hunter College School of Education. King will be the 14th Education Commissioner to serve the State since the position was created in 1904. He will be the first African-American and first Puerto Rican Commissioner of Education in New York State. His salary as Commissioner of Education and President of the University of the State of New York will be $212,500. King requested that the salary for the position be reduced by 15%, from the current $250,000, in recognition of the challenging fiscal environment facing New York State and the State Education Department. He will assume his new post on June 15, 2011. Until that time, David Steiner will continue to serve as Commissioner.

    As Commissioner of Education, Dr. King will serve as chief executive officer of the State Education Department and as President of the University of the State of New York (USNY). USNY is comprised of more than 7,000 public and independent elementary and secondary schools; 270 public, independent and proprietary colleges and universities; 7,000 libraries; 900 museums; 25 public broadcasting facilities; 3,000 historical repositories; 436 proprietary schools; 48 professions encompassing more than 761,000 licensees plus 240,000 certified educators; and services for children and adults with disabilities.

    Prior to his appointment as Senior Deputy Commissioner, King served as a Managing Director with Uncommon Schools, a non-profit charter management organization that operates some of the highest performing urban public schools in New York and New Jersey. Prior to joining Uncommon Schools, King was a Co-Founder and Co-Director for Curriculum and Instruction of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School. Under his leadership, Roxbury Prep's students attained the highest state exam scores of any urban middle school in Massachusetts, closed the racial achievement gap, and outperformed students from not only the Boston district schools but also the city's affluent suburbs. Prior to founding Roxbury Prep, King taught high school history in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Boston, Massachusetts.

    King earned a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, an M.A. in the Teaching of Social Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and an Ed.D. in Educational Administrative Practice from Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition, King has served on the board of New Leaders for New Schools, is a 2008 Aspen Institute-New Schools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellow, and was recently appointed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to serve on the U.S. Department of Education's Equity and Excellence Commission. King grew up in Brooklyn and currently lives in Slingerlands with his wife and two children.

    School budgets being voted on on Tuesday May 17th

    School budget votes go before the public in Suburban Districts in Monroe County on Tuesday. The Democrate and Chronicle provides an overview of District budgets.
    Click this link to go to the article online.

    What is your Monroe County School District paying its top Adminstrators?

    The Democrat and Chronicle reports on top adminsistrator pay in the Suburban Districts in Monroe Coounty.
    Click this link to read the pdf of the article.
    Click this link to go to the article online.

    Buffalo Parent Group calls for 1 day School Boycott

    Buffalo Parents are upset about School Performance. They recently held a meeting with the Superintendent, School Board, Mayor's office, and repesentatives of the governor. The 400 parents present then voted to hold two actions to try to get change in the Buffalo City School District. The first is to have a School Boycott on a school half day on Monday, May 16th. The second is to have a day of 100% School attendance on June 1st.
    Click this link to read about the boycott.

    Greece appoints new Superintendent

    The Democrat and Chronicle reports that the Greece CSD has named a new Superintendent after two national searches. The D&C reports that "Barbara Deane-Williams, currently head of the Lyndonville Central School District in Orleans County, will take over Greece schools on July 1." Click this link to download a pdf file of the D&C article.

    Webster Schools raises taxes, dip into reserves, and still face cuts in staff for 2011-12

    The Democrat and Chronicle reports that the Websters School District is raising taxes 1.9 percent, dipping into its reserve funds for the second year in a row, and is trying to negotiate with unions for concessions. If conceessions are not given, the District is looking to lay off up to 55 teachers.
    Click this link to download a pdf of the D&C article.

    Hilton Schools propose budget cuts and increased taxes for 2011-12

    The Democrat and Chronicle reports that "The spending plan, reviewed by the Board of Education earlier this month, calls for $68.4 million in spending, a reduction of 0.3 percent over this year's $68.6 million budget. Due to a decline in revenues — mostly attributed to a expected drop of $1.2 million in state aid as called for by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — the plan calls for increasing the tax levy by about $1 million, or 3.08 percent."
    Click this link to read the D&C article.

    Pittsford Schools propose spending more in 2011-12

    The Democrat and Chronicle reports that "The preliminary 2011-12 budget is $111.6 million, a 1.69 percent increase from the current budget. The school tax levy, the amount of money a school district raises on taxes, is $84.8 million, a 2 percent increase."
    Click this link to read the D&C article.

    Seperate but not equal - race in Monroe County Schools

    A very good Democrat and Chronicle article by Tiffany Lakes on racial disparities in Schools and School Districts across Monroe County.
    Click on this link to download a pdf file of the Story.

    Budget Cuts Threaten Jobs in Canandaigua Schools

    The Democrat and Chronicle reports that due to proposed budget cuts in Canandaigua the Canandaigua City School District might eliminate 40 positions to help close a $7.1 million budget gap.
    Click this link to download a pdf file of the article.

    Greece CSD proposes cutting teachers and programs

    The Democrat and Chronicle reports that the Greece CSD proposes to cut a number of teaching positions and special programs as well as to raise the tax levy to budge the 2011 School budget. Significantly the District appears to be further eroding the recent special education class action lawsuit in that it is proposing cutting 5 special education teachers and 7 litercy coaches.
    Click this link to download a pdf file of the D&C article.

    State proposing to cut budget for Rochester School for the Deaf and others

    The State is looking to cost shift the funding for Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD) and other Schools back to local School Districts. Currently when a student is placed at RSD or the School for the Blind, the State pays directly or the costs. The State is now proposing to reimburse Local Education Agencies (School Districts) for the cost of the program using a complicated funding formula.
    Click this link to download a pdf file of the D&C article covering this change.

    Brighton proposes cutting teachers and paraprofessionals and increasing tax levy

    The Brighton CSD has proposed "eliminations that include the equivalent of 8.25 teaching positions". The District has also proposed an increase of 0.9 percent in the tax levy.
    Click this link to download a pdf file on the proposed cuts.

    Bernanke and Bill Gates are both worried about Education

    Both Ben Bernanke and Bill Gates both recently gave speeches on how State budget cuts are threatening Education. This should sound familiar.
    Click this link to read about the issue on the Planet Money blog.
    Click this link to read Ben Benanke's speech, which was suitably given in NY STate.
    Click this link to see Bill Gates' speech.

    NY State says most NY Students are not College Ready

    > New York state has reported that over 50% of NY State High School graduates are not ready for college. In this data, only 5% of City of Rochester graduates are college ready. College readiness was considered to be getting a 75 on the English Regents and a 80 on the math Regents. Getting grades at this level the State commission indicated would get at least a C in a college-level course in the same subject.
    Click this link to read a NY Times Article on this subject.

    Churchville-Chili rejects Urban-Suburban Transfer Program

    Staff report from the Democrat and Chronicle • February 2, 2011
    "The Churchville-Chili Central School District has decided not to implement an Urban-Suburban Transfer Program, which would have allowed minority city students to attend school in the district, spokeswoman Amanda Wood said Tuesday.

    After 11 presentations and the completion of a district-wide survey on the program, feedback was compiled and shared with the Board of Education last month. Wood said there were varied opinions on the proposal and responses led the district to conclude that participation in the program did not match the district's core beliefs.

    The board and superintendent have decided to instead increase dialogue on the topic and pursue other opportunities to expand diversity in the district."

    In New York City 1 of 3 Suspended Students are in Special Education

    In NYC the rates of Suspensions has increased even as the number of students in NYC has decreased. Among the students suspended one third of these students is in Special Education.
    Click this link to read an article about the report.
    Click this link to download the pdf file of the report.

    Minimal requirements for classroom aides, substitutes at BOCES

    A story in the Democrat and Chronicle reports on the fact that paraprofessionals working in BOCES's programs do not have to have a Regents's diploma.
    To read the story click on this link.

    New Federal Guidance for School on Bullying

    The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance to support educators in combating bullying (click on this link to see a fact sheet on bullying from the US Department of Education) in schools by clarifying when student bullying may violate federal education anti-discrimination laws. The guidance, which is in a Dear Colleague letter sent to schools, colleges and universities, explains educators' legal obligations to protect students from student-on-student racial and national origin harassment, sexual and gender-based harassment and disability harassment.

    In August of 2010 the Government also launched the Stop Bullying Now Campaign, a national database of effective anti-bullying programs.

    Racial Disparities in Middle School Suspensions

    In a story with similar findings to my dissertation, racial disparities were found among suspension patterns. This study specifically focused on middle school suspensions. One of the findings of the study, quoting from the NY Times was that "Among the students attending one of the 9,220 middle schools in the study sample, 28 percent of black boys and 18 percent of black girls, compared with 10 percent of white boys and 4 percent of white girls, were suspended in 2006". Disparities were also found among racial/ethnic groups.
    To read a NY Times article on the study click on this link.
    To read the study, “Suspended Education: Urban Middle Schools in Crisis,” from the Southern Poverty Law Center, click on this link.

    NY State Changes Standards and more Students in need of AIS Services

    NY State has reconfigured the passing rates for NYS Tests given to students in 3rd through 8th grades. This change has made it harder for students to achieve proficiency on NY State Tests. It also calls again into question why schools spend hundreds of hours preparing students to take one test.
    Click this link to read a NY Times article on the changes.

    Secretary of Education promises changes in Special Education

    Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Candid About Special Education Shortcomings, Promises Change.
    Click this link to read the article.

    School District That Takes the Isolation Out of Autism

    NY Times article on how the public schools in Madison, Wis., work to include children with Autism in classes and in the school community.
    Click this link to read the article.

    Three States have requested to cut their special education funding

    Kansas, Iowa, and South Carolina have requested waivers from the Federal Government to cut the amount of money they give to School Ditricts to pay for special education services. Kansas and Iowa have already been granted these waivers. To read more about the story click on this link. You may also read the article at

    NY State to make it harder for students to pass NY State Testing

    NY State has announced the it will make it harder for Students in grades 3 through 8 to pass the mandated NY State Testing. All Students in NY State are required to take sets of testing. The NY State Department of Education recently commissioned a study to compare the results from this testing with other National tests. The study found that while the number of students in NY State who achieved a 3 or higher on the NY State tests was rising that in reality NY State students were not doing better on the National Tests. As such the standards will be raised to make it harder for students to achieve a score of 3 or higher. This includes students who just took the tests this Spring. To read a New York Times article on this topic click on this link.

    Class Action Lawsuit in Milwaukee Public Schools

    This article reports on the progress in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) after a class action lawsuit was filed indicating that they were not properly identifying and servicing student with disabilities. As in Rochester the district has around 18% classification rate, and is also faced with a large number of students leaving the district to attend private or charter schools. The lawsuit is seeking improved special education services and results. The judge in the case has also ordered the Milwaukee Public Schools MPS "to find and compensate potentially thousands of former students who should have received special education services." The district is appealing that part of the ruling stating that the "process would be prohibitively expensive."
    Click on this link to read the article and listen to the story.

    An International Perspective on Special Education

    Not every country views Learning Disabilities and provides services for individuals with Learning Disabilities. This article from Australia reports on Special Education practices in England. It also highlights the fact that LD is not a legally recognized medical condition in Australia, and that children in Australia have no right to any special education or related services.

    NY City asks NY State to decrease special education regulations to save money

    About 177,000 students are in the city's special education classes, NY City is asking NY State to cut regulations effecting the education of these students to save money. Advocates are worried the cuts will weaken special education programs. To read about the story click on this link.

    Parochial Schools begin to embrace Special Education

    Children with educationally handicapping conditions have the right to Special Education Services if they are in a Public or Charter school. They have the same right if they attend a Private School, but it becomes much more complicated. Because many private schools do not have the resources to support children with special needs, they for years have not accepted these children. It is not uncommon to have a family with one child in a private school, and another in a Public School so he or she could receive their special education services.

    Some parochial and private schools, however are finding that offering some level of special education services is an important factors in retaining families and students in the midst of changing educational systems. Click on this link to read an article about how one private school in Norfolk Virginia has found a way to grow their student body by offering some special education services.

    NYC Mayor pushes for Schools to take more responsibility for Children with Special Needs

    Mayor Bloomberg, who is one of the models for Mayor Duffy's push for Mayoral control of Schools, is overhauling special education by asking every principal to take in more of the students and giving them greater flexibility in deciding how to teach them.

    Currently many students with disabilities are not taught in their home schools, but instead are sent to other district schools that have specific programs for special education. This has been the case in NYC for decades.

    To read more about this topic click on this link.

    Victor schools to investigate case of Student with Autism's arrest

    An article in the Democrat and Chronicle by Bennett J. Loudon on April 15, 2010 reveals that Victor School District officials will be investigating the handling of an incident last week in which an autistic student was jailed after allegedly disobeying and hitting an Ontario County sheriff's deputy. The 19 year old student was charged April 7 with disorderly conduct after he allegedly became physically aggressive at school. The student is described as having been disruptive throughout the day and is charged with endangering himself and those around him. The student was sent to jail in lieu of $500 bail, but was released on April 8 by order of the Victor Town Court.
    The D&C reports that "In a letter to parents dated April 14, Victor schools Superintendent Dawn A. Santiago-Marullo said she has 'launched a full investigation of our disciplinary process to ensure that a situation such as the one we just experienced never happens again.'" This is unfortunately not a totally uncommon incident. With the increased presence of police officers in school there have been a number of cases of the crimilization of students. As noted further down this page this is a common practice in some schools. What is different in this case is the fact that the incident actually made the press.

    Greece School District Audit Details Waste

    Audit of the Greece Central School District details released. The audit found a number of areas of improprieties. Parents in the Greece Central School District should read through the following articles as well. The first is the Review of Payroll and Personnel Records from the auditors. The second document is the Eldredge, Fox & Porretti audit of the Greece Central School District . While many parents were fighting to have their children receive appropriate special education services the district was as the audits so grossly mismanaging district resources.

    More on the State Comptroller audit of BOCES 1

    For additional information on the State Audit of BOCES 1 read the story on 1/21/10 in the Democrat and Chronicle.

    State Comptroller blasts BOCES 1

    The State Comptroller has found serious problems in an audit of BOCES 1 (based in Perinton). Among the findings were that:
    The district rented a bus garage facility owned by the district's head mechanic where district employees also worked for the head mechanic's used car dealership.
    Board members did not disclose their connection to a private foundation when they acted to lease buildings from the nonprofit organization.
    Former Superintendent Gregory J. Vogt ignored complaints about wrongdoing and suppressed the findings of an investigation.
    The probe also found "the misappropriation of funds" and "improper interaction with students by various personnel," according to the state.
    The State Comptroller's report can be read by clicking on this link.

    State Comptroller audit faults Fairport CSD

    The State Comptroller in an audit faults the Fairport Central School District for increasing the tax levy by 17 percent while accumulating $16.6 million in excess funds over five years. (The Comptroller's report is available as a pdf file). In a story in the Democrat and Chronicle on 12/29/09 the paper found that "According to the audit, Fairport schools circumvented state law that limits how much money districts may hold as unreserved fund balance by pouring surplus money into reserve funds (akin to targeted savings accounts) and by making it appear the district would spend some of the unreserved funds in the following year, even though the money didn't end up being spent." The Fairport School District response to the audit is available by following this link. To read more about the audit click this link. Additionally to read more about reserve fund issues read the story below.

    Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress

    The NAEP is the Nation's Report Card. It is given every other year to samples of students across the country. Just as in NY the Regents exam is a measure that allows comparisons of student achievement across the State. The NAEP does the same thing across the country. As such it exists as more of a gold standard to view how State's are doing in educating the State's children.

    Do Police in schools criminalize students?

    A recent New York Times editorial questions whether having police provide security in school criminalize students. This issue strikes home for parents of children in many districts but specifically in the Rochester City School District. As documented by City Council Member Adam McFadden and by the City Newspaper, last school year the number of arrests of students in the RCSD sky rocketed after the RCSD changes it's long term suspension policies.

    Federal Report Faults N.Y. State Over Monitoring of Stimulus Funds

    An Audit by the U.S. Department of Education's office of the inspector general found that New York state needs to improve the way it monitors how districts and others spend their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars. The report found that the state did not verify school districts' reporting of how they spent their Title I aid or money for students in special education before it made reimbursements. The Inspector General's report recommended that New York revamp its monitoring to make sure that funds for districts are administered properly, among other steps. To read the Inspector General's report and to see the NYS Department of Education response attached to the report click on this link.

    Special Education in the Rochester City School District

    There is a tremendous amount of concern among parents, community residents, and community advocates about the quality of special education services in the City of Rochester. Many individuals and even school district employees are often unaware that for many years special education in the City was provided under court ordered supervision through a Consent Decree monitored by the Federal Court. That case ended in 2002. Since that time a number of concerns have arisen that the school district is failing to provide its students with educational handicapping conditions with a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). For more on this click this link to read an article by attorney Jonathan Feldman, of the Empire Justice Center.

    The Greece Central School District agrees to a one year extension of its special education consent decree

    A class action law suit was filed against the Greece Central School District in 2005 by attorney Jonathan Feldman, of the Empire Justice Center. The plaintiffs in the case were eight families who alleged that the district was failing to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to their children with special needs. The School District settled the case in 2007 indicating a recognition of its obligation to provide FAPE. The settlement was originally a two year agreement. The district agreed as part of this settlement to the following:
    To not have any Caps or Quotas regarding the number of students being classified or declassified
    To not have any Caps or Quotas regarding placement or programs, including placement of student with handicapping conditions in out of district placements or programs
    That the District would provide resource room services to any student who required this level of support
    That the District would adopt and implement PBIS (Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports)
    That the District would contract with an outside behavioral specialist to provide staff training and consultation services
    That the District would hire additional behavioral specialists, autism specialists, and a transition specialist
    That the District would agree to adopt a Person-Centered Planning Process in its Transition Model
    That the District would remove all 8:1:1 classes from the BRIDGES Program located in the Greece Ridge Mall

    The district agreed as part of the case to have an independent expert help monitor the compliance of the district. The district has recently agreed to a one year continuation of the consent decree. As part of this the District has agreed to focus on three particular areas. A summary of this agreement is posted on the district website. Click this link to see that summary.
    For background on this case, click this link.
    For additional information click this link to read the Wall Street Journal Article on the case form 12/14/07.

    Washington DC Schools Back Off Plan to pull 170 Students with IEP's from a Private School

    The Washington DC School District had been threatening to suddenly pull 170 Students with IEP's from a private school. The district has worked with the school for the last 15 years. This would have been a gross violation of each of these students IEP rights, if the district did not have individual IEP meetings for each of these students. It now appears that the district has backed off their immediate plan to make these changes. For more information see the Washington Post story.

    David Milton Steiner sworn in as State Education Commissioner

    Cara Matthews • Gannett Albany Bureau • October 2, 2009 Democrat and Chronicle

    David Milton Steiner, former dean of the Hunter College School of Education, was sworn in Thursday as state education commissioner.
    Steiner, who took an oath before about 85 fifth- and sixth-graders at a city school, said he feels an "awesome sense of responsibility" toward New York's three million schoolchildren, "each one of which deserves our deepest, most enthusiastic, most passionate support."
    "I promise to do everything I can to make that adventure a wonderful one for each of you," he told the city students.
    Steiner, 51, will earn $250,000 a year in the position. He said his goals are to continue raising standards of achievement and boosting student achievement, improve accountability, and transform New York's educational system into a "hub of innovation."
    Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch described Steiner as a "thought leader" whom she hopes will help change the state education system from a "regulatory bureaucracy" into a "repository for best practices."
    In Rochester, a group of parents and public education advocates held a press conference to welcome Steiner — and to urge him to visit the city soon as part of listening tour of the state.
    "We'd like to see him in Rochester, meeting the parent community," said Glenny Williams of the Alliance for Quality Education (AQE). Williams said Steiner's leadership at the top of the state's education department should focus in part on including parents in decision-making and educating children.
    AQE organizer Demond Meeks said better accountability and transparency are needed here and statewide. The first new commissioner in nearly 15 years, Meeks said, represents "major opportunity for change."
    Steiner is CEO of the Education Department and president of the University of the State of New York (USNY), which comprises more than 7,000 public and independent elementary and secondary schools; 270 public and private colleges and universities; 7,000 libraries; 900 museums; and 48 professions, among other areas.
    Steiner succeeds Richard Mills, who retired June 30 after 14 years as commissioner. Carole Huxley was interim commissioner for the past several months.
    Steiner has a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University and bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy, politics and economics from Balliol College at Oxford University.

    For additional information see the NYS Department of Education Press Release

    Rochester-area schools put U.S. stimulus funds to good use

    Ernst Lamothe Jr. • Staff writer • September 14, 2009 Democrat and Chronicle

    The federal stimulus money for schools has been called everything from a godsend to a "dark cloud."

    Whether it is helping save teacher positions in districts like Rush-Henrietta, increasing support programs for academically struggling students in Webster, purchasing new technology at Gates Chili, or lowering taxes in Pittsford, the money has given school districts the power to address some of their greatest needs. However, local districts are still waiting to receive their share of the more than $80 million allotted to Monroe County schools, and the money will only last through Sept. 20, 2011, leaving them to worry about what will happen after that.

    Schools must spend the stimulus funds on retaining existing teachers, administrators and support staff; expanding current programs; and improving student results, said Johanna Duncan-Poitier, senior deputy commissioner of education for the state. Schools can also put the funds toward construction, alteration, maintenance or repair of a public building, something Brighton schools will do. Funds are not available for padding rainy day funds, purchasing or upgrading vehicles, or improving standalone facilities, including central office administration or operations.

    Local school districts will receive three types of aid from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The largest proportion for each district is the stabilization fund, which is intended to restore proposed state aid cuts in the 2009-10 budget to last year's level. The other two categories involve money for special education initiatives and Title I programs, which are grants providing financial assistance to schools with high percentages of underprivileged children who need additional academic support and extra instruction in reading and mathematics and after-school programs.

    Two months ago, districts were told by the state they could expect to receive the money by early September; however the funds have not been distributed yet. The deadline for districts to submit an application explaining their plans for the stabilization fund money to the state Department of Education was pushed back from Sept. 1 to Sept. 15. Some officials have complained about confusion throughout the process, but Jonathan Burman, state department of education spokesman, said the delay was more based on the department taking a little longer than expected to develop a Web-based tool for the application process.

    School districts should expect to receive the stimulus money a couple of weeks after their application is approved, and districts must spend the 2009-10 allotted funds by June 30, 2010. This year, districts will have access to 70 percent of the stabilization funds granted to them; the remaining 30 percent cannot be used until April. The government requires school districts to track quarterly the amount they spend on projects, project descriptions, when the projects will be completed and the number of jobs created or retained.

    Gates Chili Central School District officials came into this year's budget process with one thought about the stimulus money, said Michael Mamo, assistant superintendent for business for the district: It's not going to last so we shouldn't pretend like it will.

    Even with a promised $1.3 million to recoup state aid losses, the district still decided to cut 33 teachers and 23 elective classes during the budget process. It instead plans to use the federal funds to sustain three K-5 math specialists for two-year positions which will be evaluated after the stimulus money runs out. The stimulus will also be used to support special education consultant teaching, staff development and technology initiatives, such as software.

    Schools such as Brockport, Fairport and Churchville-Chili also are using the funds for one-time instructional and technology improvements.

    Other districts were able to stave off deep teaching cuts with the stimulus. Rush-Henrietta, which received more than $4.5 million in federal funds, avoided cutting 30 teaching positions that accounted for $1.96 million in salary and benefits. The district also allocated the funds to avert the 2 percent tax increase it had been considering.

    "We were ready to go to the public with a tax increase, so we are thankful for the stimulus. It is no secret that we have a really difficult economy and residents who live in our school district have lost their jobs like people all over the country," said Debbie Rogowicz, assistant superintendent for business and school operations.

    The district also budgeted funds for four teaching coaches for a total of $308,055 in salary and benefits.

    "We know the money is not here forever and will run out in two years, so it is like a dark cloud that still lurks over our head," said Rogowicz. "We don't know if the economy is going to rebound and become robust. In the short term, we are good. In the long term, nobody knows."

    NY State settles federal suit over false Medicaid claims for special education Students
    In a July 21st, 2009 press release by Governor David Patterson indicated that New York state school districts will not be able to submit claims for Medicaid services for a period of time in the wake of a record-setting settlement between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice. The U.S. Department of Justice claimed that school district in NY'S and NYC had claimed more than $1 billion worth of false claims for Medicaid reimbursement for services provided to students with disabilities. As part of the settlement, the state and New York City will repay $540 million to the federal government, partly in cash and partly by releasing their claim to payments that the Medicaid program had withheld.

    IDEA Money Watch is a web site designed to keep track of the use of $11.3 billion in federal funds being provided to local school districts as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Special education advocates across the nation are keeping watch on the use of these funds and how the academic achievement of students with disabilities is improving as a result. The site provides links to data on NY State.

    Justices Rule for Parents of Special Ed Student

    The Supreme Court made it easier for parents of special education students to get reimbursement for private school tuition. In this case the Forest Grove School District, outside of Portland, Ore., noticed that the student, known as T.A, was having problems in high school but suspected marijuana use was the cause and refused to give him special education services. Toward the end of his junior year, T.A.'s parents pulled him out of public school and sent him to a private residential academy.

    The parents then sued the school district to recover the $65,000 they spent on private tuition. The school district argued that the parents stepped over the line and lost the ability to seek reimbursement when they transferred him without first giving public special education a try.

    Attorney David Salmons, who represented T.A.'s family, says the history of the litigation shows that the district had not done its job. T.A.'s parents had raised concerns about their son before they pulled him out of school, and a school psychologist questioned whether he might have attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

    "The hearing officer concluded that any further notice to the school district would have served no purpose," Salmons says, "because the school district was applying the wrong legal standard and would have denied the child services in all circumstances.

    Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens noted that schools have an affirmative obligation to "identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities." He said it would be wrong to reward the school district for refusing to find a child eligible for special services

    Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas joined the dissent, written by Justice David Souter, which said Congress envisioned private tuition payments only for students who already had been receiving special education services in public schools. For a more complete analysis of the case go to wrightslaw

    Justices Rule Strip Search of Students Illegal

    The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Arizona middle school officials acted illegally when they searched a 13-year-old student's underwear while she was wearing them for prescription and over-the-counter pills.

    The justices voted 8-1 that Safford Middle School officials violated the girl's Fourth Amendment rights when they forced her to shake out her underwear. The school had the school nurse and school secretary have the student strip to her underwear and then pull her underwear away from her body and shake it. However, they said the officials couldn't be held liable.

    Savana Redding, now in college, was an eighth-grader at Safford, in eastern Arizona, when a classmate accused her of providing some prescription ibuprofen. The school, which bans prescription and over-the-counter drugs without advance permission, called Redding in for questioning. She denied the accusation and allowed her backpack to be searched. Officials found nothing, but they ordered Redding to take off her clothes and then went a step further, ordering her to shake out her underwear.

    No pills were found.

    The court found that a "reasonable" search of the body of an adolescent would require some reason to believe the search would be fruitful or that the contraband was dangerous.

    "In sum, what was missing from the suspected facts that pointed to Savana was any indication of danger to the students from the power of the drugs or their quantity, and any reason to suppose that Savana was carrying pills in her underwear," Justice David Souter wrote in the majority opinion. "We think that the combination of these deficiencies was fatal to finding the search reasonable."

    Souter wrote that the court did not intend to cast doubts on the motives of the school officials, believing that their aim was to protect the students. Therefore, the justices ruled that school officials cannot be held liable in a lawsuit over the search. They said a lower court would have to decide on the liability of Stafford United School District No. 1.

    Suburban Monroe schools' reserve funds under scrutiny

    from theDemocrat and Chronicle

    Meaghan M. McDermott ? Staff writer ? May 16, 2009

    Outside of their regular operating budgets, Monroe County's suburban school districts have more than $200 million in savings accounts they've socked away for a rainy day.

    In the Fairport school district, these "reserve funds" top $34 million equivalent to 34 percent of the proposed operating budget for 2009-10. Rush-Henrietta has reserves equivalent to one-quarter of next year's proposed $100 million budget. And in Webster, schools have set aside more than $22 million in their rainy-day funds, equivalent to 17 percent of next year's budget proposal.

    The county average for reserve funds is around 17 percent as numerous schools have cut staff and programs in order to balance next year's budgets. Having too much money isn't an issue for the City School District, which is trying to deal with a $50 million budget shortfall.

    Some voters, who will head to the polls Tuesday to weigh in on more than $1.3 billion in school spending countywide, are calling for schools to be more upfront about why they need so much banked money, what they use it for and why it can't just be rolled into the operating budget to keep taxes down.

    "I think districts could do a better job of involving the community in making some decisions in terms of what's the right balance for reserve funds," said Robert Herloski of Webster. Reserve funds are used to save money for expected upcoming repairs and equipment replacements, pay settlements in lawsuits, pay out accident claims and cover other liabilities like unemployment payments or retiree benefits.

    Attention has heightened on these savings accounts since late last year, when the state Comptroller's Office reported hundreds of schools across the state had a total of more than $400 million unnecessarily locked in reserves set up to pay retirees for unused sick, vacation and other leave time. The comptroller said those funds could be better used for property tax relief .

    "We're in a fiscal crisis," said Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. "Every dime counts and $407 million counts an awful lot, especially when all levels of government are trying to bring property taxes under control."

    Churchville-Chili and Spencerport schools were faulted last month for holding more money in those retiree accrued leave reserves than the Comptroller's Office would like.

    But keeping property taxes down is exactly why school systems keep money in all their reserves, school officials say. For example, saving for upcoming building repairs means less borrowing and fewer interest costs, and paying out unemployment and workers' compensation claims from reserve funds allows schools to self-insure and avoid costly premiums.

    "Reserve funds help us with our financial planning for the future," said Michael Crumb, deputy superintendent of the Spencerport district. Reserve funds allowed his district to pursue a $3.8 million building project at no extra cost to taxpayers.

    Leftover money

    The money schools put in reserve funds is usually money left over at the end of the year that was budgeted but not spent. Lou Alaimo, school business official in Greece, said schools have money left over because good financial planning includes accounting for fluctuations in costs over the upcoming year and making conservative estimates. Some of the excess funds are generated by higher-than-anticipated revenues, others by lower-than-expected expenses.

    Boards of education get to decide how to use the leftover money.

    Not all states allow reserve funds, and those that do like New York tightly restrict what the money can be used for, said John Musso, executive director of the Association of School Business Officials International.

    Here, schools can save for long-term capital repairs and bus purchases, and can set aside reserve money to self-insure for workers' compensation, unemployment insurance and for other long-term potential liabilities.

    Reserves "help protect us against unexpected expenditures," said Alaimo. "Our goal with reserve funds is to stabilize property taxes and avoid having to go out to taxpayers with a 12 percent increase if there's an unforeseen expense."

    Money can also be held back to help cover reimbursements districts might have to make if property owners prevail in lawsuits over tax assessments. In the early 2000s, the Webster schools repaid more than $6 million to Xerox Corp. following a tax assessment settlement.

    If not for a dedicated reserve fund, the district would have had to borrow that money and pay interest on the loans or ask taxpayers to approve a substantial tax increase, said Jim Fischera, the district's chief financial officer.

    About $50 million of this year's unspent funds will be held back as "undesignated fund balance," money districts can keep by state law for use in unforeseen events. Districts may keep up to 4 percent of their total budget as undesignated fund balance.

    "If you have a major equipment failure such as a boiler or an emergency roof repair, that can be very costly," said Steve Ayers, assistant superintendent for business in the Hilton Central School District.

    Tough times

    Countywide, schools are asking for an average tax levy increase of one-tenth of one percent. Statewide, the proposed tax levy increase is about 2 percent, the lowest in six years. School officials said they know financial times are tough.

    "We made a commitment early on not to pass the pain of the state's budget problems on to our taxpayers," said Julia VanOrman, Greece Board of Education president.

    Districts locally used a cumulative $21 million in money they didn't spend last year to help keep next year's tax levy down.

    Schools could have used more, but Alaimo said that would be risky.

    The danger in spending reserve funds and fund balances to balance your overall budget is that such money is a one-shot deal, said Alaimo.

    "What happens in years two and three if you do that?" he said. "If you were to liquidate your reserves, you'd be at risk in future years" when you still have liabilities but no money in reserve.

    Although a critic of the way school districts inform the public about reserve funds and fund balances, Herloski said he strongly believes keeping such funds is a prudent fiscal move.

    "Reserves are a good and necessary long-term planning tool," he said. "I just think districts could do a better job of involving community in making some decisions in terms of what's the right balance and how should they be funded."

Quick Links

Click this link to search the D&C database for NY State teacher and administrator pensions

    The Widget above provides a quick and easy way to find information on your child's School and District. Zoom in on your School and click the icon. This will take you to the Great Schools webpage where you can pull up a variety of data on your chld's School including NYS Test Scores.

    Is your Child's School meeting NY State Standards?
    Many people don't realize that just as your child is graded on the NY State Math, ELA, Science, and Social Studies tests, your child's school and district also are graded by NY State. NY State then releases the data, although it can be hard to find on the NY State Department of Education Website.

    Data is provided on how all students perform, how specific subgroups of students perform, and on the make up of the school. Data is provided on how students in the building perform on the NY State Tests as well as on the NY State Regents exams.
    To find you school district click on this link
    From this page either click on the County on the map you live in, or on the County name from the list. Once you find your school district, you can then find the data report for each of school in your school district.

    There are two reports available on each school district and school.

    The Accountability and Overview Report provides enrollments, average class size, demographic factors, attendance and suspensions, teacher qualifications, and staff counts. It also provides accountability results by accountability measure and performance on accountability measures. Accountability measures at the elementary/middle level are English language arts, mathematics, and science; at the secondary level, they are English language arts, mathematics, and graduation rate.

    The Comprehensive Information Report (CIR) provides annual results on Regents examinations, Regents competency tests, second language proficiency examinations, New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Tests, elementary - and middle-level social studies tests, and New York State Alternate Assessments, as well as cohort performance results in social studies and science. The CIR also provides information on high school completers and non-completers and on post-secondary plans of graduates. The report also provides information for racial and ethnic subgroups and for students in special education.

    Additional data on School District's progress with students with IEPs

    New York State also provides additional information on individual school district's performance with children who receive special education services. This link provides a wealth of information on students with disabilities in individual school districts across a number of measures. Information is provided on the previous academic school year.

    © Copyright, all rights reserved Daniel J. DeMarle, Ph.D. 2014