With one unfunded mandate vetoed, board of ed urges Cuomo to stop another
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
by Christine Yeres
Last Wednesday, Board of Education President Vicky Tipp reported that Governor Cuomo had vetoed a bill passed in June by the State Legislature which would have required school districts to consider “home environment and family background” in deciding whether to place special education students in private schools at taxpayer expense.
The legislature was pressed by religious groups to pass the bill, while school districts and school board associations lobbied heavily against what they saw as an additional imposition on school districts by the State that left tax-capped school districts to come up with the funds.
Another unfunded mandate proposed
“The ink had not dried” [on the last unfunded mandate], said Tipp, “when we discovered another bill that imposed another onerous mandate on school districts.” The bill would grant tenure rights in layoffs and rehirings to a group of district employees who are now hired and let go at the discretion of the school district.
Classified as “non-competitive” because they are not required to take civil service tests to qualify for their jobs, they include teacher aides, health aides, lunchroom aides, computer aides, and some custodial staff such as cleaners and maintenance workers.
“So if you think about the aides we have in kindergarten,” explained Superintendent Lyn McKay, “we hire those aides based on the way they work with our kindergarten children and the way they work with our teachers. [Under this legislation] we wouldn’t be able to do that.”
Shifting the focus union interests to student performance
The board of ed members approved a resolution officially objecting to the bill, stating that the bill ties the hands of school districts in making staffing decisions, and “would force school districts to base hiring decisions on staff seniority and union interests rather than on actual needs and the best interests of public school students.” Such a law would be, the board’s resolution read, antithetical to Governor Cuomo’s policy goal stating that “education should be about the students and that we need to shift the focus in Albany to a system that focuses on improving student performance and school accountability.”
After approving the resolution, Board Vice President Alyson Kiesel commented, “To say that you care about school age children and then to present this kind of legislation—it’s hypocrisy at the highest level.” Tipp wondered aloud to her colleagues whether the fact that the bill had been passed “at the eleventh hour” signified legislators’ growing cognizance that school districts and taxpayers find such unfunded mandates objectionable.
The bill, Bill No. A.8291-A / S.5771-A (the former is the Assembly’s version; the latter is the Senate’s) was the subject of an August 3, 2012 “Call to Action” by the New York State School Boards Association, in which NYSSBA offered boards of education a model resolution to send to Governor Cuomo.
Click HERE to see the text of the Bill from the New York State Assembly and how legislators voted on it (the list is reprinted below—Bob Castelli voted NO).
MOTION: YEA: 107 NAY: 38
Abbate Y Canestr Y Friend NO Jordan NO McDonou Y Quart Y Simotas Y
Abinant Y Castelli NO Gabrysz Y Katz NO McEneny Y Ra Y Skartad Y
Amedore NO Castro Y Galef NO Kavanag Y McKevit Y Rabbitt Y Smardz NO
Arroyo Y Ceretto Y Gantt Y Kearns Y McLaugh NO Raia Y Stevens Y
Aubry Y Clark Y Gibson Y Kellner ER Meng ER Ramos Y Sweeney Y
Barclay NO Colton Y Giglio NO Kolb NO Mill D NO Reilich NO Tedisco NO
Barrett Y Conte ER Glick Y Lancman ER Mill JM NO Reilly Y Tenney NO
Barron Y Cook Y Goldfed Y Latimer Y Mill MG Y Rive J Y Thiele Y
Benedet Y Corwin NO Goodell NO Lavine Y Millman Y Rive N Y Titone Y
Blanken NO Crespo Y Gottfri Y Lentol Y Montesa NO Rive PM Y Titus Y
Boyland Y Crouch Y Graf Y Lifton Y Morelle Y Roberts Y Tobacco Y
Boyle NO Curran Y Gunther Y Linares Y Moya Y Robinso Y Walter NO
Braunst Y Cusick Y Hanna NO Lope PD NO Murray NO Rodrigu Y Weinste Y
Brennan Y Cymbrow Y Hawley NO Lope VJ Y Nolan Y Rosenth Y Weisenb Y
Brindis Y DenDekk Y Heastie Y Losquad NO Oaks NO Russell Y Weprin Y
Bronson Y Dinowit Y Hevesi Y Lupardo Y O’Donne Y Ryan Y Wright Y
Brook K Y Duprey NO Hikind Y Magee NO Ortiz Y Saladin Y Zebrows Y
Burling NO Englebr Y Hooper Y Magnare Y Palmesa NO Sayward NO Mr Spkr Y
Butler NO Espinal Y Jacobs Y Maisel Y Paulin NO Scarbor Y
Cahill Y Farrell Y Jaffee Y Malliot Y Peoples Y Schimel Y
Calhoun NO Finch NO Jeffrie ER Markey Y Perry Y Schimmi Y
Camara Y Fitzpat NO Johns Y Mayer Y Pretlow Y Simanow Y
Click HERE to see the text of the corresponding NYS Senate Bill.