Joint Legislative Public Hearing on 2018-2019 Executive Budget Proposal: Topic Elementary & Secondary Education - Testimonies

February 15, 2018

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Hearing event notice and video:



 2  ------------------------------------------------------
 3             In the Matter of the
          2018-2019 EXECUTIVE BUDGET ON
 5  ------------------------------------------------------
 6                             Hearing Room B                                                    
                               Legislative Office Building
 7                             Albany, New York
 8                             January 31, 2018
                               9:44 a.m.
11          Senator Catharine M. Young
            Chair, Senate Finance Committee
            Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein
13          Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
            Senator Liz Krueger 
15          Senate Finance Committee (RM)
16          Assemblyman Bob Oaks 
            Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
            Assemblywoman Catherine T. Nolan
18          Chair, Assembly Education Committee
19          Senator Carl L. Marcellino
            Chair, Senate Education Committee 
            Senator Diane J. Savino
21          Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee
22          Assemblyman Michael J. Cusick
23          Assemblyman L. Dean Murray
24          Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.


 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-31-18
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
 4           Assemblyman Edward P. Ra
 5           Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee
 6           Assemblyman Matthew Titone
 7           Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton
 8           Assemblyman Steven Otis
 9           Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis
10           Senator Gustavo Rivera
11           Senator Patrick M. Gallivan
12           Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick
13           Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper
14           Senator James N. Tedisco
15           Assemblyman Victor M. Pichardo 
16           Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry
17           Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino
18           Senator Marisol Alcantara
19           Assemblywoman Vivian E. Cook
20           Assemblyman Félix Ortiz
21           Assemblyman David I. Weprin
22           Assemblyman William Colton
23           Senator John E. Brooks
24           Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy


 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-31-18
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
 4           Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell
 5           Assemblyman N. Nick Perry
 6           Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow
 7           Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins
10                   LIST OF SPEAKERS
11                                     STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
12  MaryEllen Elia
13  NYS Education Department                11      24
14  Carmen Fariña 
15  NYC Department of Education            162     186
16  Andy Pallotta
    Executive Vice President
17  Christopher Black
    Director of Legislation
18  New York State United Teachers        
19  Michael Mulgrew
20  Cassie Prugh
    Assistant to President 
21  United Federation of Teachers          273     291




 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-31-18
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                    STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
 5  Dr. Kriner Cash
 6  Buffalo School District
    Dr. Edwin M. Quezada
 7  Superintendent
    Yonkers City School District           
 8  Everton Sewell
 9  Rochester City School District
    Jaime Alicea
10  Superintendent
    Syracuse City School District
11        -and-
    Georgia Asciutto
12  Executive Director
    Conference of Big 5
13   School Districts                      352     368
14  Dr. Bernadette Kappen
    Executive Director and Chair
15  4201 Schools Association               388     394
16  Jasmine Gripper 
    Legislative Director
17  Alliance for Quality Education         397     
18  Robert Lowry
    Deputy Director
19  New York State Council of 
     School Superintendents                401     407
    Mark Cannizzaro
21  President
    Council of School Supervisors 
22    and Administrators (CSA)             409



 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-31-18
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                     STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
 5  Cynthia E. Gallgher 
    Director, Government Relations
 6  School Administrators Association 
      of New York State (SAANYS)           415 
    Julie Marlette
 8  Director, Governmental Relations 
    NYS School Boards Association          420     426
    Michael Borges
10  Executive Director
    NYS Association of School
11   Business Officials                    433     
12  Elliot Garcia
    3rd Vice President
13  NYS School Facilities Assn.            441
14  David A. Little
    Executive Director
15  Rural Schools Association
      of New York State                    448     
    Rabbi Yeruchim Silber
17  Director of New York
     Government Relations
18  Agudath Israel of America              455     464
19  Jake Adler
    Director of Government
20   Affairs
    Orthodox Union                         466     469
    James D. Cultrara
22  Director for Education
    New York State Catholic
23   Conference                            470     475


 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-31-18
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                     STATEMENT  QUESTIONS 
 5  Christopher Goeken 
    Executive Director 
 6  Assn. of Public Broadcasting
     Stations of New York                  477
    Randi Levine
 8  Policy Director
    Advocates for Children of NY           482     488 
    Lindsay Miller
10  Executive Director
    New York Association on 
11   Independent Living
12  Chad Underwood
13  Access to Independence 
     Independent Living Center             491
    Helga Yuan Larsen
15  Director
    QUALITYstarsNY                         497
    Mike Neppl
17  Director of Government 
18  NY Library Association                 504     507
19  Mark Bordeau
    Vice President
20  New York School Nutrition
     Association                           512
    Peter F. Mannella
22  Executive Director
    New York Association for 
23   Pupil Transportation                  517     523


 1  2018-2019 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  1-31-18
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                     STATEMENT  QUESTIONS 
 5  Kyle McCauley Belokopitsky 
    Executive Director 
 6  NYS Congress of Parents &
      Teachers (NYS PTA)                   528
    Marian Bott
 8  Education Finance Specialist
    NYS League of Women Voters             536
    Christopher Treiber
10  Associate Executive Director
    InterAgency Council of
11   Developmental Disabilities
     Agencies, Inc.
12      -on behalf of-
    Coalition of Provider 
13   Associations                          542






 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good morning.  

 2          Good morning, everyone.

 3                 Good morning.  I'm Helene Weinstein, 

 4          chair of the New York Assembly Ways and Means 

 5          Committee, the cochair of today's hearing.  

 6          Today we begin the seventh in a series of 

 7          hearings conducted by the joint fiscal 

 8          committees of the Legislature regarding the 

 9          Governor's proposed budget for fiscal year 

10          2018-2019.  

11                 The hearings are conducted pursuant to 

12          the New York State Constitution and the 

13          Legislative Law.  And today the Assembly Ways 

14          and Means Committee and the Senate Finance 

15          Committee will hear testimony concerning the 

16          Governor's budget proposal for education.  

17                 I will now introduce the members of 

18          the Assembly who are here.  Senator Young, 

19          the Senate Finance chair, will introduce the 

20          members from the Senate.  And in addition, 

21          Bob Oaks, our ranker on Ways and Means, will 

22          introduce the members from his conference.  

23                 So we have our Education chair, Cathy 

24          Nolan; Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper, 


 1          Assemblywoman Jaffee, Assemblywoman Glick, 

 2          Assemblywoman Pellegrino, Assemblywoman 

 3          Lifton, Assemblyman Cusick, Assemblyman Otis, 

 4          Assemblyman Pichardo, and Assemblyman Aubry.  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good morning.  I'm 

 6          Senator Catharine Young -- oh, I'm sorry, 

 7          Mr. Oaks hasn't gone yet.  Excuse me.  

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.  

 9          Mr. Murray and Assemblyman Ra are both with 

10          us today.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

12          Assemblyman.  

13                 Good morning.  I'm Senator Catharine 

14          Young, and I'm chair of the Senate Standing 

15          Committee on Finance.  We're joined by our 

16          vice chair of Finance, Senator Savino.  We 

17          have Senator Liz Krueger, who is ranking 

18          member of Finance.  Also we're joined by 

19          Senator Carl Marcellino, who is chair of the 

20          Senate Standing Committee on Education.  The 

21          ranking member of that committee is Senator 

22          Joe Addabbo, who's joining us.  We also have 

23          Senator Pat Gallivan, Senator James Tedisco, 

24          Senator John Brooks, and Senator Marisol 


 1          Alcantara.  

 2                 So good morning.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Before 

 4          introducing the first -- 

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Oh, I'm sorry.  

 6          Excuse me, Chairwoman.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Sitting down is 

 9          Senator Gustavo Rivera.  Good morning.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So before 

11          introducing the first witness, I want to 

12          remind all the witnesses testifying today to 

13          keep your statements within your allotted 

14          time limit and to keep an eye on the clock so 

15          everyone can be afforded the opportunity to 

16          speak.  And we'd like to end earlier than the 

17          10:30 we ended last night.  

18                 Witnesses are reminded that the 

19          testimony has been submitted in writing and 

20          it will be made a part of the record of the 

21          hearing, so there's no reason to read your 

22          testimony.  We would very much appreciate a 

23          concise summary of the highlights, and that 

24          will allow for questions and answers between 


 1          the members and the witnesses.  

 2                 As I said, keep an eye on the clock, 

 3          because it's important that we move the 

 4          hearing along so that the people who are 

 5          later still have an opportunity to speak.  

 6                 And also I'd just remind members 

 7          likewise to keep an eye on the clock.  And 

 8          the intention is that the clock is both to 

 9          ask your question and for the witness to 

10          respond.  So we'd just ask people to be 

11          concise.  

12                 And we're very happy, that being said, 

13          to welcome our first witness of the day, the 

14          New York State Education Department 

15          Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia.  

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you very 

17          much.  And good morning, Chairs Young, 

18          Weinstein, Nolan and Marcellino, and members 

19          of the Senate and Assembly here today.  My 

20          name is MaryEllen Elia, and I'm the 

21          Commissioner of Education.  I'm joined by 

22          Executive Deputy Commissioner Beth Berlin and 

23          Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education 

24          Policy Jhone Ebert.  


 1                 You have my full testimony before you.  

 2          I'll speak to a few slides and then I'll be 

 3          happy to address your questions.  

 4                 Before we begin, I want to thank 

 5          Chancellor Rosa and the Board of Regents for 

 6          their leadership and the important work that 

 7          they do to support students across the state.  

 8          I also want to welcome Regent Beverly 

 9          Ouderkirk and Regent Nan Mead, who are 

10          cochairs of the Regents' State Aid Committee, 

11          who are in the audience today.  

12                 Our 2018 state aid proposal would 

13          provide much-needed resources for school 

14          districts to maintain their base operations 

15          and educational programs while allowing for 

16          expansion in policy areas.  As you can see on 

17          Slide 2, the Board of Regents continues to 

18          advocate for the full phase-in of the 

19          Foundation Aid formula by providing a 

20          $1.25 billion increase.  This increase would 

21          include a new $85 million set-aside for the 

22          English language learners within the 

23          Foundation Aid formula, similar to the 

24          existing Community School set-aside enacted 


 1          two years ago.  

 2                 Accelerating additional Foundation Aid 

 3          to districts through an ELL-driven formula 

 4          would ensure that these funds are spent 

 5          consistent with Part 154 of the 

 6          commissioner's regulations that govern 

 7          requirements for the education of English 

 8          language learners.  If enacted, the 

 9          department would publish guidance for school 

10          districts on how to spend these additional 

11          funds.  

12                 The Regents and I are firmly committed 

13          to the English language learner students, and 

14          we seek your support of our budget priorities 

15          aimed at making sure districts have the 

16          resources they need to help these students 

17          succeed.  The Regents aid proposal would not 

18          only maintain their current reimbursement for 

19          aid formulas, such as Building Aid and 

20          Transportation Aid, but proposes a 

21          $314 million increase for these aids.  

22                 On Slides 3 and 4, the Regents and I 

23          are once again requesting significant 

24          investments to expand the Career and 


 1          Technical Education Pathways.  We recommend 

 2          investment through changes to reimbursements 

 3          for CTE programs that would support the 

 4          creation of high-quality pathway 

 5          opportunities.  

 6                 New York State will continue to face a 

 7          deficit of workers for mid-level skill jobs 

 8          which require more than a high school diploma 

 9          but less than a four-year degree.  

10          High-quality CTE programs are a boon to the 

11          state's economy as they prepare the workforce 

12          of the future with the skills employees need 

13          on the first day of work.  

14                 Several years ago the Regents approved 

15          the 4+1 Multiple Pathways Model, which allows 

16          all students to substitute one of the social 

17          studies Regents exams with approved 

18          alternatives.  Districts and BOCES need 

19          support so that their programming can catch 

20          up to the demands of the economic communities 

21          that they serve.  

22                 The State Education Department and 

23          Regents support the development of CTE 

24          programs by, for example, modifying 


 1          certification requirements so experts in 

 2          various fields can teach in these classes.  

 3          This is only one of the many changes we've 

 4          made to our teacher certification regulations 

 5          to support instruction in the classroom.  

 6                 However, efforts to further expand 

 7          these programs will depend on additional 

 8          support and funding.  Your one-house budgets 

 9          have included versions of these CTE proposals 

10          over the past few years, so let's work 

11          together to make sure this is the year these 

12          investments come to fruition.  

13                 In the 2017-2018 enacted budget, the 

14          Legislature and Governor included the Regents 

15          proposal to begin consolidating the existing 

16          multiple pre-kindergarten programs and 

17          provided an expanded investment of $5 

18          million.  And we thank you for this.  

19                 In 2017, the board convened an Early 

20          Childhood Blue Ribbon Committee that 

21          developed a series of recommendations to 

22          expand opportunities and improve the quality 

23          of all early learning programs.  

24                 If you turn to Slide 5, you will see 


 1          as a first step towards implementing those 

 2          recommendations the board proposes investing 

 3          an additional $20 million in pre-K programs, 

 4          targeting areas of highest need first and 

 5          phasing in additional funds over the 

 6          subsequent years until pre-K is fully 

 7          universal for 4-year-old children in New York 

 8          State.  We were happy to see the Governor's 

 9          $15 million pre-K expansion investment.  

10                 This provision also includes a focus 

11          on placing our students with disabilities 

12          into inclusion programs, which is another 

13          Regents budget priority proposal found on 

14          Slide 8.  

15                 Slides 6 through 27 provide you with 

16          an overview of our agency budget priorities.  

17          I will speak briefly to a few of the 

18          priorities, and I ask that you take some time 

19          to review the rest.  

20                 As you can see on Slide 10, we believe 

21          it is critical that the state provide 

22          resources for schools to be able to assess 

23          and improve their current school climates; 

24          establish effective strategies for building 


 1          healthy, supportive and safe learning 

 2          environments for students and educators; and 

 3          encourage strong social-emotional learning 

 4          skills while providing mental health support 

 5          for all students.  

 6                 The state should also provide these 

 7          schools with technical assistance necessary 

 8          to develop and implement plans for improving 

 9          school culture, climate and safety.  

10          Evidence-based strategies and best practices 

11          should guide these plans.  

12                 Building upon the Executive's proposed 

13          $250 million investment in this area, our 

14          $10 million would establish Regional 

15          Technical Assistance Centers to provide the 

16          leadership, training and support for schools 

17          to build capacity to create a positive school 

18          environment.  This $2.4 million investment 

19          would include efforts to ensure and enhance 

20          compliance with the Dignity for All Students 

21          Act.  

22                 The proposal would also create a 

23          $7.6 million supportive school grant program 

24          for school districts that would be used to 


 1          implement and expand their action plans 

 2          through partnerships with these Technical 

 3          Assistance Centers.  

 4                 On Slide 11, we propose implementing 

 5          one of the recommendations of the Online 

 6          Learning Advisory Council to expand access to 

 7          quality higher-level online courses.  This 

 8          council was established pursuant to 

 9          legislation sponsored by chairs Young and 

10          Nolan.  

11                 Access to higher-level coursework is 

12          also a priority in our approved New York 

13          State ESSA plan.  A $3 million investment 

14          would capitalize on the strength of existing 

15          successful regional online learning programs.  

16          This strategic use of funds would increase 

17          the equity in access to higher-level courses 

18          and would be provided at no cost to 

19          high-needs, underserved, and the Big 5 school 

20          districts.  

21                 Future support for access to all 

22          higher learning coursework, including dual 

23          enrollment and IB, is envisioned.  

24                 This priority builds upon the $500,000 


 1          investment contained in the Executive's 

 2          proposal to provide technical assistance 

 3          grants for school districts wishing to 

 4          provide advanced coursework that currently 

 5          offer no or few advanced courses.  

 6                 We would also like to thank the 

 7          Governor for his proposed $2 million in 

 8          continued funding to subsidize the cost of 

 9          both Advanced Placement and International 

10          Baccalaureate Exam costs for New York State 

11          low-income students.  This is an example of 

12          the state stepping up to support a critical 

13          funding need that our federal government 

14          eliminated over a year ago.  

15                 As you can see on Slide 15, we 

16          continue our priority in providing 

17          high-quality professional learning for 

18          educators with a $2.9 million funding 

19          request.  There is almost no predictor as 

20          important to the success of students as the 

21          quality of their teachers.  Having started my 

22          career as a teacher, I know the immense value 

23          of this profession and the unrivaled impact 

24          it has on our students' futures.  


 1                 As you know, we are moving forward 

 2          with the Next Generation Learning Standards.  

 3          We need to avoid the mistakes of the past and 

 4          make sure that teachers have the professional 

 5          learning support and resources to understand 

 6          and engage with the standards so they know 

 7          how to apply them in their classroom 

 8          instruction.  

 9                 During my travels around the state, 

10          many teachers have directly told me that they 

11          would like to have more and better 

12          professional learning opportunities, and we 

13          want to support that.  

14                 Moving on to Slide 23, we request that 

15          you enact the Museum Education Act and 

16          provide $5 million to support students living 

17          in low-income communities in urban, suburban, 

18          and rural settings.  Your students and 

19          families would benefit from having access to 

20          more than 1500 museums, historical societies, 

21          zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums and 

22          cultural institutions across New York State.  

23                 Fair and equal access to these types 

24          of institutions will provide enhanced 


 1          learning opportunities for our students.  We 

 2          want to thank Senator Little and Assemblyman 

 3          Titone as well as all the other cosponsors of 

 4          this important legislation for their support 

 5          on this issue.  

 6                 Support of our state library, regional 

 7          library systems, and public libraries results 

 8          in state-of-the-art technology, book and 

 9          material delivery, shared e-resources, 

10          skilled library staff, and resources for 

11          library services and programs benefiting New 

12          Yorkers of all ages.  

13                 In order to sustain this critically 

14          important library infrastructure, we 

15          recommend at a minimum to restore the 

16          proposed $4 million decrease.  Our Regents 

17          proposal is to bring Library Aid to the 

18          statutory level, which would result in an 

19          additional $7 million investment over last 

20          year's funding level.  

21                 As you can see on Slide 24, your 

22          investment in the Library Construction 

23          Program over the years has leveraged millions 

24          more to improve public library facilities 


 1          throughout the state so that they are safe, 

 2          accessible and efficient.  We recommend, at a 

 3          minimum, restoring the proposed $10 million 

 4          decrease.  Our Regents proposal would provide 

 5          an additional $6 million over last year's 

 6          funding level.  

 7                 Finally, on Slide 26, we again ask 

 8          that you implement a 5 percent set-aside for 

 9          the administration and oversight of any new 

10          education-related programs.  This 5 percent 

11          set-aside is a common practice at the federal 

12          level and in several other states.  

13                 The set-aside provision would allow us 

14          to keep up with our growing responsibilities 

15          and support your districts in implementation, 

16          whether it be for pre-K, review and approval 

17          of Smart Schools investment plans, or the 

18          grants and programs you fund in this year's 

19          budget.  

20                 The agenda we have laid out today 

21          includes providing adequate resources to our 

22          high-needs schools to ensure equity in 

23          education for all children, investing in 

24          early childhood education and supporting and 


 1          developing our educators.  I am proud of the 

 2          teaching and learning I see in schools 

 3          throughout this state.  I trust that our 

 4          educators and students can continue to rise 

 5          to the challenge.  They need your help to do 

 6          so, especially in these financially 

 7          challenging times.  

 8                 As I mentioned before, our P-12 

 9          programs are the most important 

10          infrastructure to develop our workforce and 

11          workforce pipeline, and ultimately it is our 

12          best economic development strategy.  So let's 

13          work together to make sure that this budget 

14          provides the resources and supports our 

15          students' need to succeed.  

16                 Thank you, and I look forward to your 

17          questions.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

19          Commissioner.  

20                 Before we go to questions, I just want 

21          to acknowledge we've been joined by 

22          Assemblywoman Vivian Cook and Assemblywoman 

23          Pat Fahy.  

24                 To our Education chair now, Catherine 


 1          Nolan, for some questions.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  And 

 3          I want to just say again what a wonderful day 

 4          it is, having spent so many years as a member 

 5          of the Legislature myself, to have our 

 6          leader, the first woman from the Assembly 

 7          majority to chair Ways and Means, Helene 

 8          Weinstein, here.  

 9                 I'm still a little jealous the Senate 

10          made history first with Cathy Young a year or 

11          two ago, and Liz Krueger even a year or two 

12          before that.  

13                 But as someone who, when I first got 

14          here, there was -- the first woman ever 

15          appointed to this committee had just been 

16          appointed, our dear colleague, the late 

17          Assemblywoman Eileen Dugan -- it makes such a 

18          personal difference for me, a happy 

19          difference, to be here today with so many 

20          women leaders here at the committee.  

21                 I also want to congratulate 

22          Commissioner Elia because the work that 

23          you're doing, the work that you've done with 

24          your team to get ESSA approved -- which now 


 1          everyone, in typical New York fashion, takes 

 2          for granted, like, oh, that was great, she 

 3          got it approved.  We know, we've had so many 

 4          battles in the past on these issues, and you 

 5          made it happen, you made a difference, and 

 6          your team made a difference.  

 7                 I also want to thank Regent Rosa, 

 8          Chancellor Betty Rosa, for the work that 

 9          she's doing and what I really think is the 

10          best budget submission I've seen in the time 

11          I've chaired the committee.  And I know that 

12          you have Regents Mead and Ouderkirk here, and 

13          the work that they've done on this budget 

14          submission.  

15                 And then I just want to say Helene was 

16          here late with Cathy because they were at a 

17          hearing that went till 11:00.  I was up late 

18          looking for the word "education" in the State 

19          of the Union address, and I didn't see it.  

20                 (Laughter.) 

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  So now we're 

22          going to have to just look to ourselves as 

23          state leaders to try to make some of these 

24          things happen.  


 1                 I just want to ask quickly whether you 

 2          could talk a little bit more about the 

 3          Dignity for All Students proposal.  It's been 

 4          a big issue here.  I want to thank 

 5          Assemblyman O'Donnell, a member of our 

 6          committee, and Assemblywoman Glick for their 

 7          leadership on this through the years.  But we 

 8          want to make things happen, so tell us a 

 9          little bit more about the importance of that.  

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  Well, I 

11          think there's so many opportunities that we 

12          have to work with schools to improve what the 

13          climate is in their schools.  And let me 

14          point out to you, when the climate in the 

15          school is a positive school climate, that 

16          means that students feel safer, they are more 

17          open to learning, they interact in more 

18          positive ways with their peers, and 

19          ultimately what happens in the classroom is 

20          setting the stage for how they interact 

21          outside of the classroom.  

22                 So we all know there have been 

23          tragedies that have occurred in the State of 

24          New York and in other places across this 


 1          country.  And when you drill down to find out 

 2          what could we have done differently, the 

 3          challenge really comes with, okay, how can we 

 4          make sure that our students feel comfortable 

 5          and that they can in fact deal with issues 

 6          that come up in their life with other 

 7          students, with the staff of the school, with 

 8          their administrators in positive ways.  

 9                 So one of the things that the Regents 

10          have taken very seriously -- and I also want 

11          to call out that the New York State School 

12          Board Association has addressed this issue, 

13          they've had a number of conferences relating 

14          to school climate and supporting social and 

15          emotional learning.  This is creating the 

16          environment that we need for the movement in 

17          academic success.  

18                 The proposal that we have before you 

19          is for $10 million, and it supports school 

20          climate and bullying prevention and the 

21          support of the Dignity for All Students Act.  

22          It would establish initially an expansion of 

23          the Center for School Safety and then develop 

24          an RFP for five additional Technical 


 1          Assistance Centers that could work across the 

 2          state and provide resources for every 

 3          district and every school to be trained in 

 4          those strategies that research indicates to 

 5          us really make the difference.  

 6                 To get back to -- and Chair Nolan 

 7          referred to the ESSA plan.  That Every 

 8          Student Succeeds Act federal law was the 

 9          opportunity for us across New York State to 

10          talk about what people want in their schools 

11          and how they see them and how they want to be 

12          able to judge whether or not they're 

13          successful.  

14                 We had an enormous amount of input 

15          from across the state, and I will tell you 

16          that consistently both practitioners in the 

17          field of education, parents and others, 

18          including some of you, weighed in on the 

19          importance of having a quality climate in 

20          school so that students can be successful.  

21                 So this opportunity that we have would 

22          provide for all of our districts across the 

23          state to have access to the kinds of 

24          resources that could provide training for 


 1          them, that could come in and do an assessment 

 2          of how well their climate is and what they 

 3          could do to improve it.  And we've already 

 4          been working through our schools, our Safe 

 5          Schools Technical Assistance Center, to make 

 6          sure that we have training out there for our 

 7          staffs and our administrators.  But this 

 8          brings it all together.  

 9                 For those schools that are identified 

10          then that have high needs in this area, we 

11          would provide a $7.6 million grant program, 

12          working with our Technical Assistance Centers 

13          to increase the positive school climates 

14          across the page.  The ESSA plan calls for 

15          surveys that would be done of parents, of 

16          practitioners, educators within the school, 

17          including teachers and administrators and 

18          school staffs, to give us the feedback on how 

19          well they think their school is doing.  Every 

20          administrator could look at that and say, I 

21          know there's some things I could improve in 

22          my school.  

23                 And this really gets to, I think, the 

24          underlying value that we place on continuous 


 1          improvement across all areas, including each 

 2          school and what they can do.  That is very 

 3          individual, and it's important to have 

 4          feedback, which the survey will provide for 

 5          us, and then provide resources to them.  

 6                 We're very excited about this, and we 

 7          really hope that it builds on what was 

 8          proposed in the Governor's budget.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

10                 And just real quick, how important is 

11          Foundation Aid to everything that you're 

12          doing at State Ed and in our 700 school 

13          districts?  

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Foundation Aid is 

15          the basis for the funding in New York State.  

16          As you know, last year we were very vocal 

17          that we think Foundation Aid as the concept 

18          and a proposed goal needs to be established 

19          and continued, and Foundation Aid is what 

20          covers the cost of the bills for our school 

21          districts.  It allows them then to plan so 

22          that they have a projection of how much 

23          funding they're going to receive and they 

24          know that when they have to go to their 


 1          voters and talk about that, they can make 

 2          sure that they have a number in place for 

 3          their district that's going to be critical.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And how do you 

 5          feel Foundation Aid addresses the equity 

 6          issues in the wide variance in our school 

 7          districts?  

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, that's one 

 9          of the things we've proposed.  We know that 

10          there are schools, for instance, that have 

11          high numbers of ELL students.  And in our 

12          Foundation Aid we have proposed an 

13          $85 million set-aside that would be targeted 

14          for those students, and it would go to those 

15          districts that have high needs in that area.

16                 We believe that that's a critically 

17          important piece of Foundation Aid, and it 

18          does then differentiate specifically on that 

19          issue of supporting the ELL students.  

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And then just 

21          quickly -- I know this will come up in so 

22          many other areas we could talk about -- but 

23          Senator Marcellino and I go back a long way, 

24          and many years ago I worked as a tutor in an 


 1          adult ed program that he was the 

 2          teacher-leader at in the night school at 

 3          Grover Cleveland.  So we both have had a very 

 4          lengthy interest in adult ed for a very long 

 5          time, and I would just like you to -- 

 6                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  (Inaudible.) 

 7                 (Laughter.) 

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I just thought 

 9          maybe you could comment a little bit; I 

10          didn't see too much in the proposal about 

11          what's happening in adult ed, which is near 

12          and dear to so many hearts.  

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So we have a 

14          proposal in front of you to take the program 

15          in fact that you and I have visited together 

16          at LaGuardia -- it is a program that we feel 

17          is a Bridge Program which bridges where an 

18          adult or an student is who may have left 

19          school early, who may be an English language 

20          learner that's trying to develop skills so 

21          they can get into the job market, that it 

22          would take those individuals and provide for 

23          them the opportunity to have career 

24          exploration, career assessment, relationships 


 1          with employers and colleges.  

 2                 Ultimately, they could learn English 

 3          at those sites, they can then develop skills 

 4          in any career that they're interested in.  

 5          They could be placed in internships with 

 6          employers and have opportunities for job 

 7          shadowing, et cetera.  And then they could 

 8          ultimately become productive and have a job 

 9          in our society.  

10                 We really believe that those 

11          apprenticeships and internships are critical.  

12          It's a $3 million budget request.  And we 

13          really believe that by duplicating the 

14          Bridge Programs -- and we have a wonderful 

15          model at LaGuardia that we could use -- 

16          across the state, it would really give us an 

17          opportunity to expand those programs across 

18          the state.  

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                 Senate?  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

23                 Senator Marcellino.  

24                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thank you very 


 1          much.  

 2                 In the days that Cathy was talking 

 3          about, I had dark hair, had a mustache, 

 4          weighed about 50 pounds less than I do now, 

 5          so things were somewhat different.  

 6                 But I'm just looking at some 

 7          statistics that came off the State Ed 

 8          website.  We have a district in Monroe 

 9          County, a school in Monroe County which has a 

10          45 percent graduation rate and a 34 percent 

11          dropout rate.  There's another school in my 

12          district which has a 100 percent graduation 

13          rate and a zero percent dropout rate.  

14                 What are we doing -- that's a 

15          tremendous spread between the districts.  

16          Education is one of the fastest-growing parts 

17          of the State Budget.  We have been funding it 

18          extensively over the years and will continue 

19          to.  But we still see this discrepancy in the 

20          numbers.  What are we doing, what is State Ed 

21          doing to help a school like the one in 

22          Monroe -- I'm not going to name it, but like 

23          the one in Monroe County that is obviously in 

24          need of help?  What are we doing for them?  


 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, you remember 

 2          you passed a law, the receivership law, and 

 3          we've been very active at State Ed in 

 4          supporting those schools that have been 

 5          identified.  And if you remember, there's 

 6          been conversations and of course much 

 7          coverage of the work that we have done in 

 8          specific districts with those low-performing 

 9          schools.  

10                 Each school has a plan.  It's been 

11          developed by a group that's made up of 

12          parents and community members as well as the 

13          teachers and/or the administrators of that 

14          school.  They have funding that has gone to 

15          them to support them.  

16                 We have -- each year after the data 

17          comes in, we look at those schools and 

18          determine what it is they're doing, are they 

19          making movement forward.  We actually have, 

20          in fact, moved the agenda even to a -- I 

21          would say a tighter control of those schools 

22          in several cases.  

23                 I don't know the particular school 

24          that you're talking about in Monroe County, 


 1          but I would say to you that the focus has in 

 2          all of those schools been on what they need 

 3          to do to improve.  We've worked closely with 

 4          the districts.  In some cases we have put our 

 5          staff in there to do improvement plans in 

 6          specific areas, whether it be for their 

 7          students with disabilities, their ELL 

 8          students, or generally to run the district 

 9          and what they have to do to improve.  

10                 So we are working extensively with 

11          them.  And those schools are still -- we have 

12          about 70 schools right now across the state 

13          that are on that receivership list, and 

14          they're at various points.  We judge whether 

15          or not they have met the criteria that were 

16          established in the indicators generally.  

17                 And as we transition in ESSA, we do 

18          have a request for support for our schools in 

19          the ESSA plan, and in that plan there is 

20          clearly a process involved in establishing 

21          who are the lowest 5 percent of the schools 

22          in New York State and what are we going to do 

23          about them.  

24                 So I share your concern.  We do have 


 1          wide discrepancies in performance of students 

 2          across the state in various schools.  You 

 3          represent a district that generally has 

 4          high-performing schools.  Even within your 

 5          area, there is a discrepancy between the 

 6          performance of some schools.  

 7                 So as the state education agency, we 

 8          are out there working with those schools and 

 9          telling them the things that we see that we 

10          believe they could improve.  We have a very 

11          effective tool that is used by the school and 

12          then reviewed with our staff.  It is a matter 

13          of identifying what needs to be done, making 

14          sure it gets done and, if it doesn't, taking 

15          a more aggressive action with them.  

16                 But there's discrepancies across this 

17          state in performance of students in schools 

18          and districts.  

19                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I don't want 

20          anybody to misunderstood as I push on this.  

21          But in my opinion, Commissioner, you're doing 

22          a heck of a job across the state.  I've heard 

23          nothing but high praise from superintendents 

24          all over the state as I visit them.  They 


 1          like what you're doing, they like your 

 2          approach.  So, you know, as far as I'm 

 3          concerned, you're aces.  

 4                 But I do read these numbers, and I do 

 5          see the numbers.  And I know it concerns you, 

 6          and it does concern me and I'm sure it 

 7          concerns the people whose children go to 

 8          these schools.  When you have a school 

 9          that -- what can you do to a school or for a 

10          school if this continues over a period of 

11          time?  This is not new to this particular 

12          school.  This has been going on for some 

13          time.  So what is your tool?  And what do you 

14          need from us in the Legislature -- forget 

15          money, that's a given.  But what do you need 

16          from us in the Legislature that could help 

17          you?  

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well -- so let me 

19          point out -- and you know this, any of you 

20          that have been in education, or you've 

21          watched the schools in your own districts.  

22          If there's a concerted effort to improve 

23          those schools and people are looking at the 

24          data that comes out -- so when we look at how 


 1          well our students are doing in not only our 3 

 2          through 8 assessments -- but those are state 

 3          assessments that give you an indication -- 

 4          you also can look at their graduation rates.  

 5          You've talked about the fact that we have 

 6          dropout rates.  

 7                 We are targeting strategies in each of 

 8          those areas to support our schools and our 

 9          teachers to help students be more successful.  

10          But I will tell you this:  This is not going 

11          to happen overnight.  It has to be a 

12          concerted effort and there has to be a will 

13          by those leaders in the school district, in 

14          each of those schools, to address the needs 

15          of the school.  

16                 And we are doing the things that we 

17          can do.  We have used the authority that is 

18          vested in the position of the commissioner, 

19          through either the receivership law or in 

20          other cases, in other ways to go in and work 

21          very closely on improving in every one of our 

22          schools.  

23                 We have a number of things that I 

24          think we can come and talk to you.  Senator 


 1          Marcellino, as the chair of the committee in 

 2          the Senate, we'd love to have you take 

 3          forward some things that we believe would 

 4          help us in terms of supporting schools that 

 5          are not functioning as well.  And those 

 6          things are difficult, because we have to make 

 7          the decisions so that we can support students 

 8          in those classrooms.  

 9                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I would be happy 

10          to meet with you -- 

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Great.  

12                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  -- and talk about 

13          these issues, and we can have some members of 

14          the committee join us so that, you know, we 

15          can get some real good discussion going 

16          forward.  Because it concerns me, it really 

17          does.  When you see a discrepancy of a 

18          45 percent graduation rate, I mean, that's 

19          very difficult to take when you've been in 

20          schools and you know what goes on in schools.  

21                 And I'm sure I've seen it in Buffalo.  

22          Buffalo has gotten a new superintendent; that 

23          seems to be going in the right direction.  

24          They seem to be turning a corner, moving and 


 1          working with the mayor of Buffalo, Byron 

 2          Brown, former State Senator.  And they're 

 3          moving in the right direction, so it can be 

 4          done.  

 5                 And I look forward to working with you 

 6          and your staff and devising programs and any 

 7          laws that we can pass, anything we can do as 

 8          a State Legislature to assist you, and I'm 

 9          sure my former student Cathy would join us in 

10          that endeavor.  

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I do want to 

12          point out that there are some things that I 

13          think you need to understand we believe are 

14          really helping.  And those are things like My 

15          Brother's Keeper and the agenda that we have 

16          there.  We have really targeted high-needs 

17          schools.  Some of the data that you pointed 

18          out would be exactly what would identify a 

19          high-needs school.  We have gone in with 

20          resources and supported those schools 

21          particularly.  

22                 The Community Schools agenda that you 

23          have is -- we're seeing some changes that are 

24          coming in the approach that administrators 


 1          and communities are pulling together to 

 2          support a child in their development in a 

 3          school.  Agencies that are coming forward in 

 4          the Community Schools model to support the 

 5          health and the emotional supports that are 

 6          necessary.  

 7                 Those are things that really we can 

 8          track back to the work that you've done to 

 9          support a shift in the use of funds that go 

10          into a district.  So I think we are on a 

11          pathway, but I share with you your concern on 

12          every student in New York State.  There 

13          should be no student that doesn't have access 

14          and equity in their educational 

15          opportunities, and we are not there yet.  And 

16          we need to get there, and thank you very much 

17          for your offer of support.  

18                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Just one last 

19          question, if I might.  

20                 Currently, 180 days is the school 

21          year.  If a school wishes to start early, is 

22          it somehow prohibited from doing that?  Would 

23          they need a waiver?  Is there anything we can 

24          do about that, or -- because it's not set in 


 1          law, as far as I can find.  

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So what we have, 

 3          you have a requirement in your law that says 

 4          that a school cannot begin actual classes 

 5          prior to Labor Day.  So that may have been 

 6          developed for various reasons, but it's been 

 7          around a long time.  There are some school 

 8          districts -- superintendents and 

 9          administrators -- that would suggest to you 

10          that maybe we ought to have that flexibility 

11          to be able to start our school year earlier.  

12                 That doesn't mean every school would, 

13          because as you well know, every single 

14          district does their own calendar.  And it 

15          should be a local decision, the calendar 

16          should be something that reflects that school 

17          district.  

18                 But I would suggest to you that this 

19          has been a -- the work that we have done on 

20          reviewing the 180-day requirement that's in 

21          law and providing what the superintendents 

22          across the state have asked for, which is 

23          some flexibility in how we judge that, is 

24          what you're going to be seeing.  The Regents 


 1          will be taking an action on that; it's out 

 2          right now for review.  We did a number of 

 3          meetings across the state, we gathered a lot 

 4          of input.  It's out now, we're getting 

 5          comments back.  

 6                 But providing flexibility for 

 7          districts so that they can design around 

 8          their calendar the most instructional time -- 

 9          I want to focus on this.  The reason that we 

10          have a calendar is to put students in school 

11          for instruction.  So the focus has to be on 

12          the use of the time they're in school for 

13          instruction.  And we want to make it as 

14          flexible as we can, but we also have to focus 

15          on the instructional time that they provide 

16          for their students.  And there's clear 

17          research that indicates the longer that a 

18          child is focused on educational activities in 

19          a school setting, they are more successful.  

20                 And so instructional time has to be 

21          the focus.  Our 180-day review, which will 

22          come out with new guidance after the comment 

23          period.  The board will determine, as we move 

24          forward, to focus on providing flexibility 


 1          while still focusing on instructional time in 

 2          the classroom for every child.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 4                 Deputy Speaker Hooper.  

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  Thank you, 

 6          Madam Speaker.  

 7                 And before I proceed, I want to thank 

 8          my colleague, Chairperson of the Education 

 9          Committee Cathy Nolan, for bringing to us 

10          Commissioner Elia.  Thank you.  

11                 Commissioner, I'm Earlene Hooper.  I'm 

12          the deputy speaker of the New York State 

13          Assembly, but I am also the representative in 

14          the Assembly for the Hempstead School 

15          District.  

16                 And I have been chided that I am too 

17          emotional regarding the problems that are 

18          manifested in that district.  But I want to 

19          thank you.  I thank you for your compassion, 

20          your interest, your leadership as we join in 

21          our efforts to introduce education in that 

22          district.  And without your leadership, I 

23          don't think that we would even be near 

24          resolving the issues there as we are now.  


 1                 So before I ask one other question, I 

 2          want to just indicate that I look forward to 

 3          your sharing with me the report that the 

 4          school district is required to present to you 

 5          on February 2nd, because time is of the 

 6          essence as it relates to all of those 

 7          participants and all of those persons who are 

 8          affected by what happens in the School 

 9          District of Hempstead.  

10                 And now for my questions.  Very 

11          quickly, I have a group in the Hempstead 

12          community comprised of very distinguished, 

13          well-educated, well-rounded women who have 

14          taken it upon themselves, and with their 

15          leadership, to train young women in STEM.  

16          And every Saturday, they are being taught how 

17          to even program and to work with STEM.  And 

18          they've been able to acquire donations from 

19          very wealthy participants, and even New York 

20          State University has participated.  

21                 And I want to know, I would like to 

22          know would you work with me in assuring that 

23          that program that is now going on Saturday in 

24          a disadvantaged community with at least 12 -- 


 1          I think there are 12 or 25 girls who are 

 2          there every Saturday morning from 10:00 to 

 3          12:00 who are being taught so that they can 

 4          access careers to which you have referred on 

 5          page 25.  

 6                 And lastly, my question is in 

 7          reference to the languages that are being 

 8          taught in the schools for these students who 

 9          are non-English speaking students.  I have a 

10          sizable community of Haitians, but the 

11          Haitian language sometimes is not necessarily 

12          French, it's Creole.  So I was wondering if, 

13          as I look at your presentation on page 18, in 

14          addition to French, that Creole would be 

15          incorporated into that curriculum so that 

16          they also -- the Haitian students will also 

17          have access.  

18                 Those are my two questions.  

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay, thank you.  

20                 First of all, I appreciate your 

21          support in Hempstead.  I think this is a 

22          challenge for us.  And as we move forward, I 

23          can assure you of our focus at State Ed on 

24          what we can do to improve the opportunities 


 1          and the success of the students in Hempstead.  

 2          So thank you for that support.  

 3                 Secondly, on the Saturday program that 

 4          you identified, I'd be happy to look at the 

 5          program and see if there's some way we can 

 6          continue to support it.  Obviously they're 

 7          getting support in the community, but let me 

 8          look at it and find out exactly how they're 

 9          doing it and where they're doing it, so 

10          perhaps we can help.  

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  I thank you for 

12          that.  

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And then your last 

14          question had to do with the opportunities 

15          that we have for students and what we can do 

16          to make sure that they have what they need to 

17          be successful.  And we're looking very 

18          closely at that.  

19                 You referred to earlier the report 

20          that is due to me on February 2nd.  Of course 

21          we all know that is the beginning of the 

22          report.  It doesn't mean -- it is the plan 

23          that they have.  The most important thing is 

24          the implementation of the plan.  


 1                 And so we'll be keeping in contact 

 2          with you to make sure that you're aware of 

 3          what was proposed as the plan and then where 

 4          we are as we move forward on the 

 5          implementation.  

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN HOOPER:  I thank you so 

 7          much for your interest and your leadership in 

 8          that endeavor.  Thank you so much.  

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

11                 Good morning.  

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  It's so great to 

14          see you.  And first of all, I just sincerely 

15          want to say thank you to you.  I love Slide 

16          11, as you could guess, and that has to do 

17          with expanding access to quality high-level 

18          coursework for underserved high-needs 

19          districts and the Big 5 school districts.  

20                 And you and I have had good 

21          conversations in the past.  And as you know, 

22          the Legislature a few years ago passed a bill 

23          that I sponsored, was passed in the Assembly 

24          also, signed by the Governor, that would 


 1          establish a blended online learning program 

 2          statewide.  There was a group that got 

 3          together, experts in the blended online 

 4          learning came up with a plan.  And it's been 

 5          a little frustrating since that time because 

 6          it hasn't been implemented.  

 7                 So I appreciate your support, because 

 8          as you know, a lot of the more rural 

 9          districts especially, but the high-needs 

10          districts in general, don't have access to 

11          these type of enrichment opportunities, the 

12          Advanced Placement courses for the students.  

13          And it puts them at a real disadvantage.  

14                 So I think that establishing such a 

15          program finally this year would be a major 

16          step in the right direction to deal with some 

17          of the districts that struggle to be able to 

18          even provide the basics.  

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So we totally 

20          support that.  And the fact that there was 

21          funding -- a funding issue related to the 

22          bill that you're referring to, we believe 

23          that the $3 million that we're asking for 

24          here is a great foundational piece to move 


 1          the agenda forward.  

 2                 The reality is, when students walk out 

 3          of our schools and no matter what kind of 

 4          programs they're going into, online learning 

 5          and access to digital experiences are a 

 6          wonderful opportunity for us to be able to 

 7          get them ready for what they're going to face 

 8          when they leave here.  When they go to SUNY 

 9          schools, CUNY schools, any of our independent 

10          schools, all of those things are just a 

11          reality for them.  This, we believe, will 

12          give them the opportunity to expand the 

13          higher-level coursework while we're giving 

14          them opportunities in online and digital 

15          learning.  

16                 So we're very pleased that we put this 

17          budget proposal together, and we hope that it 

18          can move forward, Senator Young.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I hope so too.  

20                 And a few years ago, as you know, the 

21          Legislature and the Governor passed the Smart 

22          Schools Bond Act referendum.  The voters of 

23          the state decided that it would be wise to 

24          invest in technology.  And I know the 


 1          Governor has included a competitive grant 

 2          program again this year in his Executive 

 3          proposal.  And obviously there are winners 

 4          and losers when you have a competitive grant 

 5          program.  And I believe that that funding 

 6          should be repurposed for really worthy 

 7          endeavors such as this.  

 8                 So that's where I'm going to push at 

 9          the negotiating table, just to let you know.  

10          And again, I appreciate your support.  

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, related to 

12          the proposal that the Governor put in to 

13          focus on computer science and science 

14          standards, we have not just been focused on 

15          establishment of our English language arts 

16          and mathematics standards, New York State 

17          Next Generation Standards.  That's not all 

18          we've been doing, we've just already adopted 

19          our science standards.  

20                 And what is absolutely critical is 

21          that nothing of this becomes a silo and that 

22          in fact it really is an integrated program.  

23          So when you're talking about science and 

24          you're talking about online work and you're 


 1          talking about computer science, all of those 

 2          things should be joined.  That's why there is 

 3          power in the concept of STEM or STEAM, if you 

 4          will, so that we can move forward and as 

 5          teachers are teaching this work, it's infused 

 6          across all of the work that they're doing.  

 7          So we're very supportive of that.  

 8                 I actually believe that the $6 million 

 9          competitive grant refers to the fact that it 

10          would be for everyone, but it would go 

11          initially, in the beginning part of that, 

12          specifically for high-risk districts.  

13                 But you're absolutely right.  I mean, 

14          there is so much to do in this area.  And we 

15          have a lot of support and training to do for 

16          teachers so that we can take full advantage 

17          of this unique opportunity in New York to 

18          fund the infrastructure that has come from 

19          our $2 mill of money.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

21          Commissioner, for that answer.  

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you for 

23          bringing that up.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Now, just switching 


 1          gears, I would associate myself with my 

 2          colleagues who spoke very articulately -- and 

 3          you also -- about Foundation Aid, making sure 

 4          that there's operating aid available to the 

 5          districts, they can use it the way that they 

 6          see is best to meet their students' needs and 

 7          help them excel.  

 8                 One of the questions I have, however, 

 9          has to do with the part of the Executive 

10          proposal that would limit the growth in the 

11          aids -- cost-driven or expense-driven aids -- 

12          to no more than 2 percent above the 2018-2019 

13          aid levels.  And the reason I bring that up 

14          is that as you know, these expense-driven 

15          aids are just that; they're based on expenses 

16          to the schools for things like BOCES, 

17          Transportation Aid.  And basically when you 

18          apply it, it would result in a loss of over 

19          $120 million just in BOCES and Transportation 

20          Aid for over 300 school districts.  

21                 So that really has me alarmed, because 

22          it's obviously going to take resources away 

23          from our school districts.  These are costs 

24          that they have to incur.  When you look at 


 1          Transportation Aid, for example, obviously we 

 2          have to get the kids to and from school, and 

 3          we should be reimbursing the districts for 

 4          those costs.  

 5                 So my question is, in your opinion as 

 6          commissioner, how would this affect school 

 7          districts' ability to afford these services 

 8          that they provide?  

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  As you pointed 

10          out, I think this is a serious issue.  I 

11          would tell you that having the experience of 

12          running a large district, those are expenses 

13          that are very difficult to control, if you 

14          will.  Even if you're trying to control them, 

15          we have a payment system that you incur the 

16          expense and then you get reimbursed.  So how 

17          would they in fact, if they have student 

18          growth, if they have increases in their costs 

19          for transportation, the other things that you 

20          pointed out -- we want to provide the very 

21          best for our students.  Putting a 2 percent 

22          cap on expenses in areas where it's very 

23          difficult to control is a -- is really 

24          forcing districts then to look at other areas 


 1          to pull funding from to cover those expenses.  

 2                 I'm equally concerned about that in 

 3          the budget.  And I think it's going to be a 

 4          major issue for our districts, and I 

 5          certainly understand why.  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 7          Commissioner.  

 8                 And, you know, obviously the money has 

 9          to come from somewhere.  So in my opinion, 

10          and I'd like to get your take on it, the 

11          districts will be faced with either having to 

12          cut services and/or raise taxes.  And as you 

13          know, the tax issue, the property tax issue 

14          is a big one in New York, and obviously it's 

15          contributed to people leaving the state.  So 

16          I'd like to get your thoughts on those 

17          thoughts.  

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I think you've 

19          pointed out exactly what the problems are.  

20          And, you know, you are taxed with making -- 

21          and I hate to use that term, but taxed with 

22          making some very difficult decisions on that.  

23                 You're absolutely right.  You noticed 

24          I'm sure that our Foundation request from the 


 1          Regents was less than the educational 

 2          entities that you've gotten other requests 

 3          from, and proposals.  We know the difficulty 

 4          that is facing both the Governor and the 

 5          Legislature in making these decisions.  And 

 6          as you pointed out, there's a give and a 

 7          take.  

 8                 But I would suggest to you that 

 9          Foundation Aid is an absolutely critical 

10          thing as we move towards just maintaining 

11          programs.  Many districts are still coming 

12          back from having less funding than they 

13          actually need, and we're seeing that a number 

14          of districts that have been able to move to 

15          reinstate some of the cuts that had been 

16          taken during the recession are still not 

17          there, and a number of them, based on the 

18          Foundation Aid formula, are backed up as 

19          well.  

20                 So there is no question that the 

21          provisions of new federal tax Law are going 

22          to affect New Yorkers more heavily than 

23          others -- we've heard our Governor speak very 

24          eloquently about that -- and we have to do 


 1          something.  

 2                 I'm suggesting to you that I 

 3          understand the problems that are going to be 

 4          faced in districts, but the bottom line is 

 5          the funding is going to be to take and try to 

 6          control those expenses that are going to be 

 7          hard expenses for them.  The bus 

 8          transportation, some of the other requests 

 9          that they have that are reimbursable aids, 

10          those are very difficult to keep under a 2 

11          percent cap.  In some areas it's been close 

12          to 2 percent over the last two to three 

13          years, but it has been over the 2 percent 

14          cap.  

15                 But then when you get to the other 

16          programs that are required in districts, it's 

17          a challenge for districts to be able to 

18          figure out how they can make it happen, 

19          especially when we have not really fully 

20          funded the Foundation Aid formulas, as we 

21          well know.

22                 So I concur, and I think that those 

23          are all difficult decisions.  And it is 

24          putting a strain on the taxpayers in New York 


 1          State, who are going to have additional 

 2          strains that we haven't even tried to control 

 3          yet.  

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Exactly.  And I 

 5          fully agree with everything that you just 

 6          said.  

 7                 Just one final comment or question.  

 8          You know, the BOCES are cost-driven aid too, 

 9          the BOCES program.  And you've heard me speak 

10          in the past about the importance of BOCES, 

11          especially -- obviously they provide 

12          special-needs students with opportunities, 

13          but also as we look at career development and 

14          making sure that our young people can stay 

15          after they graduate, BOCES I believe is a 

16          tremendous resource that hasn't been fully 

17          developed yet as far as providing career 

18          development.  

19                 And, you know, BOCES still has a 

20          stigma, I believe, unfortunately in many 

21          cases, where we just like shove the throwaway 

22          kids, the kids that can't excel, when 

23          actually we should be finding out what 

24          ignites a student's passion, where they could 


 1          go as a career.  We know that not everybody 

 2          is college-bound or some people need to go 

 3          into, you know, some of the trades and that 

 4          sort of thing.  

 5                 And we need to make BOCES cool again.  

 6          We need to make it -- rebrand it.  We need to 

 7          actually expand on some of the successes that 

 8          we've had recently; for example, the P-TECH 

 9          program that you talked about, the STEM and 

10          the STEAM and the technical skills that 

11          students need to be exposed to and they need 

12          to develop.  

13                 And, you know, I think that BOCES is a 

14          real opportunity to take that on and really 

15          start to have a connection between what the 

16          labor market's needs are locally, for 

17          example, and to let students know they don't 

18          have to move out of New York, that they can 

19          have a great career right here, they can have 

20          the development that they need, and there are 

21          jobs in the community that aren't being 

22          addressed right now that students could 

23          actually be directed toward.  

24                 And I just would like to have you 


 1          comment on that.  

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I am a great 

 3          believer in the power of BOCES.  And I will 

 4          tell you that the district superintendents 

 5          have been the reason that the State Education 

 6          Department has been able to move forward on a 

 7          number of issues that we've had to face.  

 8                 There is no question that they are a 

 9          real hand of State Ed out across the state 

10          working.  And every one of their BOCES 

11          centers that I've been to -- and I've been to 

12          many -- I would suggest that you're 

13          absolutely online, that those are the 

14          programs that in many cases students leaving 

15          the career/technical opportunities that 

16          they've had at BOCES and moving out into the 

17          job market are going into jobs where they 

18          have great opportunities.  

19                 And the reality is in the millennial 

20          environment that we are in, students will go 

21          into a job and they will change careers.  It 

22          is a reality.  It's different than what -- I 

23          was in education, I've been in education now 

24          for over 40 years, and I probably will stay 


 1          education until my dying day.  So the bottom 

 2          line is people in my generation and yours 

 3          stayed in jobs.  Our millennials don't.  They 

 4          need to be able to go out and to change jobs 

 5          if they want to, but move up that ladder as 

 6          they go.  

 7                 The opportunities that are provided in 

 8          BOCES to go into some of the best-paying jobs 

 9          that are available right now are only 

10          available, in many cases, through BOCES.  

11                 So I totally agree with you.  We have 

12          proposals in front of you that support BOCES.  

13          We are paying experts in a field to come in 

14          to teach in a BOCES, and the salaries have 

15          not gone up.  We've requested it multiple 

16          times, it's in the packet that you have, and 

17          we believe that that should be addressed.  

18                 We also believe that there should be 

19          funding specifically in the BOCES, we've 

20          requested $25 million for College and Career 

21          Pathways.  It will support expansion in 

22          BOCES, expansion in the Big 5 districts for 

23          career and technical programs.  And the major 

24          issue, and you pointed it out, we have to tie 


 1          that to the regional economic development 

 2          that's going to be spurred by having people 

 3          in the pipeline to go into jobs.

 4                 So that connection is something that 

 5          we've been working on.  We're going to 

 6          continue to work on it.  We want the local 

 7          economic development institutions that are in 

 8          place across the state, we want them to work 

 9          with the BOCES and with the school districts, 

10          identifying the areas that they need to have 

11          workers in, identifying what the pipeline 

12          required skills are, and making sure they're 

13          available.  Whether they're in an individual 

14          school district, in a high school, middle 

15          school/high school, whether they're in a 

16          BOCES program, that has to be our focus.  And 

17          the BOCES are the people that can make that 

18          leadership occur.  

19                 We talked about this whole image of, 

20          oh, that's a tech center and it isn't really 

21          getting people prepared for lots of 

22          opportunities.  That is not the reality of 

23          the workplace in New York nor across this 

24          country, and we have to become smart about 


 1          that.  

 2                 A number of our BOCES have started 

 3          outreach programs to their parents, to their 

 4          schools, to the elementary and middle schools 

 5          so that they see that this is a right pathway 

 6          for their students to be successful.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Absolutely.  And I 

 8          think it's a matter of putting all that 

 9          together and then doing rebranding and 

10          marketing the program to the students, to the 

11          parents, to the community, to the employers, 

12          and I think that we could hit it out of the 

13          park.  So thank you for that.  

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.  

15                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

16                 Before we go to the next 

17          Assemblymember, we've been joined by 

18          Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, Assemblyman David 

19          Weprin, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, and 

20          Assemblyman Bill Colton.  

21                 And now to Assemblywoman Jaffee.  

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Good morning, 

23          Commissioner.  

24                 And I want to thank you, Commissioner, 


 1          and the Regents for your compassion and real 

 2          efforts in understanding what we need in our 

 3          education system.

 4                 And I want to thank you as well for 

 5          the work that you have done in support of 

 6          East Ramapo, following up on the issues that 

 7          we have focused on that really are so 

 8          necessary to be of assistance.  And you've 

 9          been very helpful in that way.  

10                 And I truly appreciate the recognition 

11          of the challenges that our districts face at 

12          every level, especially our struggling 

13          schools, and the support that you are noting 

14          and have provided as we're moving forward.

15                 I agree, you know, in so many of the 

16          issues regarding the Foundation Aid, which we 

17          need to provide real support for our schools; 

18          it just doesn't cut it for them.  And it is a 

19          major issue regarding the 2 percent cap, 

20          especially now with so many of the challenges 

21          that there are within the school districts in 

22          assuring that our children are prepared for 

23          the future.  

24                 You know, and especially the support 


 1          for kindergarten and pre-K programs.  We need 

 2          to continue that, providing the funding, so 

 3          that we can have full-day kindergarten and 

 4          pre-K for all of our children, so that they 

 5          are prepared.  As a former educator, you 

 6          know, I understand the true need of providing 

 7          that early education.  It prepares them in a 

 8          way that really provides them the opportunity 

 9          to be successful rather than failing if they 

10          are not given the pre-K programs and 

11          education and social interaction.  For so 

12          many, that is so essential, and it is 

13          something that we need to continue to focus 

14          on and provide additional support for.  

15                 You mentioned -- and also BOCES, I 

16          agree.  I'm not going to go down that road.  

17          I was going to mention everything that was 

18          discussed because it is so essential, and 

19          especially now with the workforce and what is 

20          occurring.  I have met many young boys and 

21          girls, young women and men who are working 

22          through BOCES to be able to seek positions 

23          and jobs, and it has been very successful for 

24          them.  So we need to continue to support and 


 1          really need more support for BOCES, actually, 

 2          and working with the Economic Development 

 3          Councils is a good point.  

 4                 I had a question regarding -- you had 

 5          mentioned about mental health programs, which 

 6          is another major issue, especially for our 

 7          youth as they mature, recognizing that there 

 8          may be issues that they face.  If we are able 

 9          to respond to it quickly, we then will be 

10          able to provide them the opportunities to be 

11          more successful in school in many ways.  

12                 One of the concerns that I've heard 

13          over and over again from our school districts 

14          and in our communities is a lack of 

15          counselors, mental health providers, 

16          psychologists in our state.  And it is a 

17          major issue in terms of, you know, really 

18          suggesting and encouraging our high school 

19          students to go into college and go into those 

20          fields.  

21                 Is that an issue that you have been 

22          noting?  

23                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, actually, 

24          Assemblywoman Jaffee, that is just one piece 


 1          of that issue.  We are in fact very concerned 

 2          by the long-term presentations we've seen 

 3          related to the number of teachers that we're 

 4          going to need, particularly in some of the 

 5          fields that right now we're already facing 

 6          shortages in.  

 7                 So we've been working with our 

 8          colleges and universities who provide 

 9          education programs to focus on making sure 

10          that those that are already in the pipeline 

11          to be teachers understand what fields they 

12          can immediately get jobs in because we have 

13          shortages.  

14                 But also, as you know, we have been 

15          working on the Teach NY agenda.  So Nancy 

16          Zimpher, our recently retired chancellor of 

17          SUNY, and I have been very involved in 

18          establishing programs and working across the 

19          state to hear exactly what needs to be done 

20          to expand the teacher pool, if you will.  And 

21          we're working to make sure that across the 

22          state that issue doesn't get lost.  

23                 Now, I will say to you that we have a 

24          lot of things that we have to do within the 


 1          profession of teaching so that people want to 

 2          be teachers.  And when you talk right now to 

 3          teachers and ask them, Would you suggest that 

 4          you be a teacher to your child, most of them 

 5          tell you no.  So the stresses that are on 

 6          teachers and the issues that relate and 

 7          they're concerned about, we have to work 

 8          with.  

 9                 And I think that generally -- Senator 

10          Young talked about we need to do a PR 

11          campaign.  The reality is we do need to do a 

12          PR campaign, and we have to make sure that it 

13          is based on the truth of what the wonderful 

14          position of being a professional teacher 

15          actually is, and how that can bring, for the 

16          person who's the teacher but also for the 

17          students that they have, the incredible 

18          supports that are necessary for those 

19          students' success.  

20                 So I would say to you that we really 

21          need to address the bigger issue of teaching.  

22          But within that, yes, there are fewer 

23          guidance counselors, we have fewer media 

24          specialists and librarians.  We have -- 


 1          certainly within the field right now, we have 

 2          a real problem relating to our teachers for 

 3          students with disabilities as well as our ELL 

 4          teachers, some of our sciences at the high 

 5          schools particularly.  You know, we're 

 6          looking at all of those certification areas 

 7          to see what we can do to maintain the quality 

 8          of the people going in our classrooms but 

 9          also take down any unnecessary barriers for 

10          people to go into the field.  

11                 But I share with you your concern 

12          about that.  And I think that we are starting 

13          to change that paradigm in New York.  But it 

14          exists, and it's in people's minds and it's 

15          not going to turn around quickly.  

16                 The major issue is making sure that 

17          the environments in the schools where those 

18          teachers are -- and that gets back to the 

19          work that we're doing on school climate.  

20          It's school climate for students, but it's 

21          also school climate for the teachers that 

22          work in those settings.  We've got to make 

23          sure that we're doing the right things there.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  


 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  And that was -- 

 2          I have one more question.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  It's the 

 4          Senate's turn.  The clock has expired some 

 5          time ago.  

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 7                 Senator Joe Addabbo, ranker in 

 8          Education.  

 9                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Thank you, 

10          Commissioner Elia, for your time and 

11          testimony today, as well as the deputy 

12          commissioners for their time and efforts 

13          throughout the year.  And for your advocating 

14          for, obviously, additional  school aid, so 

15          thank you very much.  

16                 My initial line of questioning is a 

17          concern that I have in the Executive Budget 

18          proposal, and that's the individual school 

19          funding reports.  So the initial school year 

20          2018-2019 for the Big 5, and then expanding 

21          it to the other districts in the following 

22          years.  

23                 What necessitated this requirement for 

24          a report that could affect, obviously, direct 


 1          school funding for our school districts?  

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So you're 

 3          referring in the Executive Budget to the 

 4          requirement for the reporting and then the 

 5          approval process that was suggested?  

 6                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  We'll get to the 

 7          reporting, yeah.  

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yeah, I'm very 

 9          concerned about that.  Let me put this in 

10          context.  

11                 The Every Student Succeeds Act plan 

12          that was submitted to the federal government 

13          had a requirement for financial transparency 

14          for every school in the state.  That is 

15          included in our plan.  We are in the process 

16          of developing the template for how that will 

17          look for every school that will be requiring 

18          them to provide information to their 

19          communities on all state, local, as well as 

20          federal funds that are in that school.  So 

21          there is a report that in the next two years 

22          is going to be required by every school.  

23          That includes all districts, our largest 

24          districts and our smallest districts, to 


 1          provide that.  

 2                 This step that was proposed in the 

 3          Executive Budget is beyond that.  And I think 

 4          you're getting to the point where a budget 

 5          has to be proposed by the school board, it 

 6          has to go out very often -- I mean, we've 

 7          got -- people are voting on their budgets for 

 8          their school districts.  And taking the 

 9          funding that is currently in place, looking 

10          at it, and having a decision made on whether 

11          or not that's appropriate I believe is a 

12          local decision.  

13                 I think that schools and communities 

14          are a reflection of what that community 

15          wants.  I think that it's important that we 

16          have transparency in that and we provide that 

17          and will be providing that under the new ESSA 

18          plan for every school.  But the decisions on 

19          the funding are a reflection of what they 

20          want.  And they are elected by their 

21          communities, and that local control I think 

22          is important.  

23                 Now, I will say to you if we are 

24          walking in as State Ed and we're looking at 


 1          budgets in a particular school that is having 

 2          a lot of trouble and we see that we don't 

 3          believe that, based on what they've reported, 

 4          that school needs some additional resources, 

 5          I have no problem saying that.  But the 

 6          process that is proposed I think would be 

 7          very, very difficult, and ultimately I do 

 8          believe local control should be in place.

 9                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  I appreciate that.  

10          And knowing that the ESSA federal 

11          requirements are somewhere a little bit down 

12          the line, I don't mind our state being 

13          slightly ahead of the curve.  But in forming 

14          that template, hopefully the State Department 

15          of Ed can work with our colleagues here as we 

16          look to formulate, again, that template.  

17                 My concern -- and you alluded to it a 

18          little bit in the sense that according to the 

19          Executive Budget proposal, both the State 

20          Department of Ed and the Division of Budget 

21          would have to approve this report.  And my 

22          concern was that both would have to approve 

23          it?  Or what if one didn't, you know, approve 

24          it?  And if the deadlines were missed by the 


 1          submission of these reports, is there a 

 2          penalty?  Because we're already crying out 

 3          for additional school aid.  

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So let me point 

 5          out to you right now, we do not have 

 6          resources to be in the mode of approving what 

 7          would be probably 16 to 18 various budgets.  

 8          The timelines and the sequence of that would 

 9          be extremely difficult.  

10                 As I pointed out, I believe it should 

11          be local control.  And we do have the ability 

12          to go in, particularly for schools that are 

13          in trouble, having difficulty, to give 

14          feedback on a budget.  And if they're in 

15          receivership, we have even more control to do 

16          that.  

17                 The big issue here is we are using a 

18          model -- we've got individuals that are 

19          helping us design that template that will be 

20          in place.  They are from parent groups, 

21          they're from other groups that represent 

22          practitioners across the state.  When we get 

23          the model in place, that's what will be in 

24          place for every district.  And it will be 


 1          available online for parents and anyone else 

 2          in that community to see how every school in 

 3          their district is being funded.  

 4                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Quickly, it was 

 5          alluded to by Chairwoman Young about the 

 6          Smart Schools Bond Act that we voted for in 

 7          2014 as, you know, the voting public, the 

 8          Legislature approved -- can you just give a 

 9          quick update?  That was $2 billion for school 

10          technology.  What kind of programs or 

11          infrastructure has been approved?  

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So we have right 

13          now, with reviews -- 226 of them are with us 

14          for review.  We have -- the review board and 

15          their staff are ready for five of those.  We 

16          have zero that are ready right now to be 

17          acted on.  But I want to say we've already 

18          approved 467 of those that have been 

19          submitted to us, which is 67 percent of all 

20          submittals have already been approved.  

21                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  In your professional 

22          opinion, are you happy with that time frame 

23          or the work that has been done since the 

24          referendum has been approved?  


 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, let me point 

 2          out this is public money.  We have to be 

 3          responsible for how it's being spent.  There 

 4          are guidelines in place.  That doesn't mean 

 5          every plan that comes to us follows every 

 6          guideline.  

 7                 So it does take time for us to make 

 8          sure that there is -- that when we're 

 9          approving it and it moves forward, that that 

10          funding is going to the right things and what 

11          has been approved by all of you to be part 

12          that agenda.  

13                 But I would say to you that given -- 

14          we have constraints.  Given that the 

15          constraints that we have, the scheduling of 

16          this -- there are three agencies that are 

17          part of that -- I think we're moving forward.  

18          And when there is a lag on time, whether it's 

19          in a review or whatever, we are trying to 

20          move it as quickly as possible.  

21                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Greatly appreciate 

22          that, and I look forward to working with you.  

23          Thank you, Commissioner.

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.  


 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 2          Senator.  

 3                 I just want to remind members to leave 

 4          enough time for answers during their time 

 5          slots, because we do have a lot of people 

 6          today and we want to make sure they all get 

 7          an opportunity to be heard.  

 8                 Assemblywoman Pellegrino.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  Good 

10          morning.  

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.  

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  Good 

13          morning, Commissioner.  I want to thank you 

14          very much for your testimony this morning.  

15          And I would -- 

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Can you just 

17          pull a mic a little closer?  

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  I would 

19          very much like to thank you for your 

20          presentation and for your thoughtful remarks, 

21          particularly as it relates to your thinking 

22          about the work that goes into -- from a 

23          teacher perspective.  

24                 As you know, I was a teacher, most 


 1          recently -- for the last 25 years, that was 

 2          my career.  I dedicated my life of service to 

 3          the teaching of students in elementary 

 4          school, and I left that profession to join my 

 5          colleagues in the New York State Assembly 

 6          most recently, and now I'm joined here.  And 

 7          this is a great honor to think about this 

 8          work that we're going to do in this critical 

 9          time.

10                 And we talked about a PR campaign and 

11          we're facing a budget crisis and we're also 

12          facing a teacher shortage, as we know.  And, 

13          you know, I want to point out that I think 

14          that the best PR campaign that we can provide 

15          is to support the work that our teachers are 

16          doing by way of advocating and talking about 

17          the stress the teachers are under and the 

18          children are under.  

19                 We have put an enormous amount of 

20          pressure on them by way of high-stakes 

21          testing in the last few years.  We're talking 

22          about it today in terms of accountability.  

23          And we have acknowledged in certain terms 

24          that districts have performance rates that 


 1          may or may not be in relative terms to their 

 2          levels of poverty.  So -- and a lot of what 

 3          happens inside a classroom and as it relates 

 4          to a student's performance has nothing to do 

 5          with the teacher's ability.  

 6                 So as we talk to teachers and future 

 7          teachers about whether or not they would 

 8          become teachers, I think that for me the 

 9          glory of being a teacher and the gloriousness 

10          of being with children is something that I 

11          would recommend to any person who thinks 

12          about wanting to come into the classroom.  

13          But there is an undue amount of stress.  

14                 So I thank you for your compliments 

15          and for your acknowledgment of that, and I'm 

16          happy to see that we're sort of moving away 

17          from the times where we're advocating for 

18          increased testing, because we know that the 

19          narrowing of the curriculum is a disadvantage 

20          to our students.  

21                 And I would like to congratulate you 

22          particularly in the area of our effort to 

23          reengage students in access to 

24          multilingualism and multiculturalism.  I know 


 1          from experience -- and I come from a family 

 2          of teachers -- that this particular area, as 

 3          we disengaged from Regents examinations in 

 4          world cultures and world languages, that this 

 5          was a -- there was real sadness around this.  

 6          So I'm very happy to see this.  

 7                 But I would also like to expand this 

 8          idea and ask how we can support this effort 

 9          in not just the elementary school, because we 

10          know as best practices that the acquisition 

11          of language happens most definitively in the 

12          earliest stages.  But how can we couple that 

13          with our advocacy in pre-K?  And how can we 

14          drive more concerted efforts to link 

15          vertically, through pre-K and elementary 

16          education, that effort so that, when students 

17          reach their testing years in high school, 

18          that they are proficient?  

19                 You know, we look to overseas and 

20          other countries, they're not just -- you 

21          know, they're not just expecting to learn 

22          languages in fifth and sixth and seventh 

23          grade, they're exposed to languages 

24          throughout their lives.  


 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So we have a 

 2          number of proposals that relate specifically 

 3          to English language learners.  One of them 

 4          relates to a set-aside of $85 million in the 

 5          Foundation Aid for districts and schools to 

 6          support their ELL students through the 

 7          characteristics that are in the provisions 

 8          that are part of the Regulation 154 relating 

 9          to support for ELL students, number one.  

10                 Number two, we're asking for support, 

11          specifically for professional development and 

12          technical assistance, for those students in 

13          those schools.  That is a request for 

14          $1.6 million.  It really relates to our ESSA 

15          plan that is really focused on equity and 

16          access for all students, and particularly for 

17          those that have -- that come from other 

18          cultures, are learning our language, and we 

19          want to support that development.  

20                 We're also looking for an expansion of 

21          world languages.  You mentioned that; that's 

22          been on our page for a number of years.  It's 

23          come as a proposal to the Assembly and to the 

24          Governor's office and to the Senate.  And 


 1          that, I think, is an important part of it.  

 2                 However, I think the biggest thing 

 3          that we can do is support our teachers in 

 4          acquiring support and understanding of how 

 5          they can best deal with the requirements that 

 6          students have that are sitting in front of 

 7          them.  And that will come from the 

 8          professional development that we've put in 

 9          our proposal.  We think that that's a really 

10          critical part of it.  And when I say 

11          "professional development," even though it 

12          may not specifically say that this is 

13          professional development with ELLs -- 

14          although we do have that in the proposals -- 

15          any professional development that we give on 

16          standards that are implemented would be 

17          supporting how you deal with special 

18          situations in your classroom.  

19                 So the special situation is a group of 

20          ELL students, a group of students with 

21          disabilities -- and how do you teach those 

22          standards to all of the students that are 

23          sitting in front of you?  And I think that's 

24          a critically important part of that.  And 


 1          you'll see it throughout our proposals, 

 2          specifically for the English language 

 3          learners and our students with disabilities.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  I would 

 5          agree with you.  Thank you so much.  

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8                 Senate.  

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

10                 Senator Jim Tedisco.  

11                 SENATOR TEDISCO:  Hi, Commissioner.  

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Hi, there.  

13                 SENATOR TEDISCO:  Thank you for being 

14          here.  The button's red.  

15                 Hi, Commissioner.  Thank you for being 

16          here, and thank you for your testimony.  

17                 I know we have limited time, and 

18          before I ask you to weigh in on something, 

19          there's a lot of questions I'd like to ask 

20          you but we don't have a tremendous amount of 

21          time.  I'd really like to ask a question and 

22          have everybody in the room weigh in on it 

23          before I tell you what I want you to weigh in 

24          on.  


 1                 I'd like to ask everybody in the room 

 2          who clearly cares about education, our kids, 

 3          the system itself, if your child was being 

 4          bullied in school, raise your hand -- 

 5          I've got my colleagues here and all the 

 6          staff -- raise your hand if you would not 

 7          want to be notified of a case where your 

 8          child has been bullied in school, 

 9          psychologically, emotionally or physically.  

10          Just raise your hand.  I just want to know.  

11                 Okay, I think you know where I'm going 

12          probably with this, Commissioner.  I think 

13          you'll agree with me parents count.  It's 

14          their tax dollars we're talking about.  They 

15          love their children more than probably any of 

16          us could imagine, and we love our own 

17          children.  They're the ones who are 

18          accountable, they're the ones who are 

19          responsible.  They're the ones who want to 

20          see them get a great education.  

21                 We could have great bricks and mortar, 

22          the best teachers in the world -- and I spent 

23          10 years, as you probably know, in a 

24          classroom.  I was an educator, did all the 


 1          standardized tests, got my degree from the 

 2          College of St. Rose, special education, ran a 

 3          resource room, did team teaching -- great 

 4          administrators, great commissioners; you 

 5          mentioned it earlier, if they don't feel 

 6          safe, comfortable and respected in school, 

 7          we're failing.  They're simply not going to 

 8          learn.  

 9                 We're at a point now where we do think 

10          parents count.  I hear educators, I know you 

11          as the commissioner, the Regents, all of us, 

12          we want parents involved.  They did get 

13          involved with that Common Core with the 

14          standardized tests, and I'm happy we're 

15          moving in a little bit of a different 

16          direction.  We're making a lot of 

17          improvements here, and I really appreciate 

18          that.  

19                 We want them to come and meet with the 

20          teachers, we want them to help with 

21          educational plans, curriculum, join the PTA.  

22          But we have that Dignity For All Students Act 

23          which you talked about, which I think 

24          you're -- if there was 10 million and another 


 1          7 million, that's about 17 million -- you're 

 2          going to work to try to improve that Dignity 

 3          For All Students Act.  

 4                 The one thing I didn't hear, and the 

 5          guidelines are not, I believe -- if there is 

 6          bullying in a school, the main reporter has 

 7          to report that to the State Education 

 8          Department.  They are not mandated to report 

 9          it to the parents.  That absolutely boggles 

10          my mind.  And I know why none of my 

11          colleagues in the Senate raised their hand, 

12          because they voted 62 to zero for Jacobe's 

13          Law.  

14                 Do you know the case of Jacobe Taras 

15          in this Capital Region?  

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I don't.  

17                 SENATOR TEDISCO:  Jacobe Taras was 

18          12 years old.  He was bullied in school, 

19          bullied excessively.  And by the way, I think 

20          you and I understand, this has evolved, what 

21          bullying has been for me and for you -- I 

22          mean, you're a youngster, but it was a little 

23          bit different for me when I was there.  It 

24          doesn't end at the gates of the school or the 


 1          doors of the -- it's 24/7.  It's 

 2          psychological.  It's emotional.  And it is 

 3          physical.  It goes on and on and on and on.  

 4                 Jacobe Taras, 12 years old, the 

 5          parents weren't notified that he was being 

 6          bullied in school.  Jacobe Taras committed 

 7          suicide, took his life.  Lived in the Capital 

 8          Region.  

 9                 I fully believe if their parents were 

10          notified -- I know if I was notified, I'd be 

11          at that school, just like I want to be a part 

12          of the curriculum in other educational 

13          aspects of my child, I think the parents here 

14          and the parents in New York State want to be 

15          a part of protecting the environment that 

16          their kids are in.  I'm not only talking 

17          about Jacobe, I'm talking about that poor kid 

18          and those kids who did the bullying.  Their 

19          parents needed to be notified too.  

20                 That's what Jacobe's Law does.  It 

21          would say that schools are required, when 

22          bullying takes place -- pretty simple:  I'm 

23          going to contact the parents.  

24                 And just like I want you to come in 


 1          and talk to me about the curriculum of your 

 2          child, how he's doing on those or she's doing 

 3          on those standardized tests -- by the way, 

 4          not to stigmatize the child, but give us 

 5          guidance on how to move forward with those 

 6          standardized tests -- I want you to help me 

 7          develop a plan, I want the parents of the 

 8          child who's doing the bullying and I want the 

 9          parents like Jacobe Taras's parents to come 

10          in.  

11                 I can't understand why we're going to 

12          spend $17 million -- and don't get me wrong, 

13          I think you're doing some good things there.  

14          But we're not required to tell a parent when 

15          their child is being bullied at school?  I 

16          believe Jacobe would probably be alive today 

17          if his parents had known, they would have 

18          weighed in.  

19                 And I don't know what your position is 

20          on this, but I hope you would support the 

21          concept that we would notify the parents on 

22          an important issue like this, just like we 

23          want them to be involved with other aspects 

24          of our educational system.  


 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So let me weigh in 

 2          very clearly.  I think parents should be 

 3          involved in everything that happens to their 

 4          child.  All of the work that we've done in 

 5          State Ed since I've been here has included 

 6          parents as key contributors to whatever we're 

 7          working on.  

 8                 I would agree with you that parents 

 9          need to know when there's issues happening 

10          with their child, and they also need -- the 

11          other group of parents that needs to know is 

12          the one who is causing the issues.  

13                 Those are the things that are good 

14          practice, that is supported in research, that 

15          is also -- we also know that when we have 

16          surveys, it comes out clearly.  The surveys 

17          that I mentioned earlier, Senator, 

18          specifically have a component that gets 

19          information from parents, gets it from 

20          students, and gets it from teachers and 

21          practitioners.

22                 SENATOR TEDISCO:  I know getting 

23          information from parents is good.  I'm asking 

24          you, do you support notifying parents?  Your 


 1          child, if he or she is bullied in school.  I 

 2          don't know if you have any.  

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So let me just say 

 4          that real clearly.  I thought I said they 

 5          should be involved in everything.  So that's 

 6          what it is.  But yeah, I support that.  

 7                 But I will say this to you.  We also 

 8          have to have parents understand that when 

 9          they get a call from a school about what 

10          bullying is, they need to get in there and 

11          address that and they need to work with the 

12          school.  

13                 What I'm suggesting is $10 million 

14          that would support a program that not only 

15          would help schools to understand the 

16          importance of having input and notification 

17          to parents, but also how to deal with that in 

18          the school environment.  Because as you know, 

19          that is an important part of that.  It's not 

20          just your child was bullied, it's what are 

21          the issues that are causing this to happen.  

22                 And I would suggest to go even 

23          further.  In the environment that we are in 

24          with social media, this is a major issue.  


 1          Because parents don't even know -- 

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 3          Commissioner.

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  -- parents don't 

 5          even know that these things are happening on 

 6          social media and carried into the school.  

 7                 So I'm very focused on making sure 

 8          parents are part of all of that.  I would 

 9          support parents being notified.  But it's 

10          much more than that, and I think we have to 

11          make sure we have resources for schools so 

12          they can really address the issue.  It's not 

13          17, it is $10 million, and it specifically is 

14          to support positive school climate and 

15          bullying prevention.  

16                 SENATOR TEDISCO:  Thank you for your 

17          support for that, Commissioner.  Appreciate 

18          it very much.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

20                 Now, Assemblyman Ra.  

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, my 

22          colleagues, for the assistance there 

23          (referring to mic).  

24                 Commissioner, thank you for your 


 1          testimony this morning.  

 2                 I just had a couple of issues that I 

 3          wanted to bring up, one of them being each 

 4          year the Legislature, through the leadership 

 5          of several colleagues from Long Island -- and 

 6          Senator Phillips has been very involved in 

 7          this in the two years she's been here -- the 

 8          Henry Viscardi School in Albertson on Long 

 9          Island, which services disabled students, 

10          does tremendous work, and there is an 

11          allocation that the Legislature puts in each 

12          year directly to them for $903,000 that the 

13          Executive takes out in the Executive Budget 

14          proposal.  

15                 I think it's clear to everybody that 

16          that funding is needed.  It helps them do 

17          what they need to do at that institution.  

18          And I know that, you know, the department has 

19          tried to be supportive of the 4201 schools at 

20          large.  But we appreciate your continued 

21          support with regard to that allocation, 

22          because we all know there are things that get 

23          taken out in the Executive Budget proposal 

24          that is kind of just known that the 


 1          Legislature is going to fight for it, and 

 2          this is certainly one of them.  

 3                 But we appreciate the department's 

 4          support to ensure that that funding remains 

 5          and in future years is there.  And it 

 6          shouldn't really be something that needs to 

 7          be the subject of a political negotiation.  

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We have a number 

 9          of schools that serve special-needs students 

10          in this state.  They are absolutely critical 

11          for students that need those resources, they 

12          need that special setting.  And we've been 

13          very supportive of establishing appropriate 

14          opportunities for them to have the resources 

15          that they need in those settings.  And they 

16          clearly are different, and they need to be 

17          reviewed that way.  

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Yes.  And somewhat 

19          along those same lines, I thank you for this 

20          past fall when you were down on Long Island 

21          and we had the Long Island Pre-K Initiative 

22          Conference, and you were nice enough to come 

23          down and meet with a group of educators and 

24          me and a couple of my colleagues present as 


 1          well.  And, you know, so I appreciate your 

 2          attention to the pre-K issue.  

 3                 And as you're well aware, many of us 

 4          on Long Island and other parts of the state 

 5          are trying to push to expand these programs 

 6          in our neck of the woods.  There's been a lot 

 7          of focus, obviously, on the programs in 

 8          New York City, but we want to make sure that 

 9          gets out there.  

10                 And I think a critical component of 

11          that, as well as the involvement -- I was 

12          wondering if you can just comment in terms of 

13          your proposal how the 4410 programs would fit 

14          into your proposal in terms of pre-K.  

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  So in the 

16          big proposal, we asked for increased numbers 

17          of seats and expansion of that program.  The 

18          Executive Budget does include a $15 million 

19          allocation for additional spaces, if you 

20          will, across the board.  

21                 And as I mentioned last year, we are 

22          now moving towards -- approval came for us to 

23          move towards a single model for that, which 

24          prior to that time we had seven different 


 1          models across the state, every one of them 

 2          different with different components.  So 

 3          we're very pleased with that.  There were a 

 4          number of other recommendations with lesser 

 5          amounts required to support them.  This all 

 6          came out of a Regents Blue Ribbon Committee 

 7          that was established on early childhood and 

 8          pre-K programming.  It included experts from 

 9          across the state, advocates as well as 

10          practitioners.  

11                 I will say that I think it's extremely 

12          important for us to understand that when 

13          you're talking about pre-K children, you're 

14          not talking in separate buckets for students 

15          who may have been identified early on as 

16          having some developmental issues and 

17          therefore they get identified as special ed, 

18          and you have regular students who aren't 

19          identified as special ed.  

20                 The most powerful programs are those 

21          that have inclusion where it's appropriate.  

22          And we are very supportive of that.  In fact, 

23          we had a request for $6 million to establish 

24          a pilot program that specifically would work 


 1          to create models, there are some in the state 

 2          already to duplicate those and create models 

 3          that would be responsive to the inclusion 

 4          program of students who have been identified 

 5          as special-needs being able to access pre-K 

 6          programming with their chronological peers.  

 7                 We also are very interested in 

 8          establishing a indexing system to fund 

 9          special education sites that serve some of 

10          our most at-need students.  This is the most 

11          at-risk students, and we don't have a stable 

12          way to fund it.  And it needs to occur.  

13                 And I would say to you that in the big 

14          picture, pre-K, as we're expanding, we right 

15          now support 66 percent of the 4-year-olds in 

16          New York State.  We know that New York City 

17          has a huge program.  You're talking about 

18          Long Island, which has a much smaller program 

19          but great need.  Our goal is to ultimately be 

20          able to support our 4-year-olds across the 

21          state.

22                 But I will say to you that it also 

23          requires quality in all of those programs, 

24          and the infrastructure to support having 


 1          multiple people or groups support them.  

 2          Whether it's a school district, whether it's 

 3          a private vendor, whether it's a federally 

 4          funded program, that there is consistency and 

 5          quality across all of them.  So it's not a 

 6          simple answer, but our focus is making sure 

 7          that our students have inclusionary programs 

 8          that can support them.  

 9                 One of the things that we've included 

10          that you supported last year in a $2 million 

11          budget support for us was a database that 

12          would allow us to actually know what 

13          providers are out there that do have programs 

14          that support our special-needs students.  

15          We've moved forward on that, and that will 

16          help us immeasurably as we need to deal with 

17          the need of that particular population and 

18          the programs that are available in geographic 

19          areas to support them.  

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

22                 Our next speaker is Senator Brooks.  

23                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Thank you.  

24                 And thank you, Commissioner, for being 


 1          here and helping us with the school 

 2          situation.  

 3                 I really have two areas I'd like to 

 4          briefly address, one associated with aid and 

 5          the other associated with the stigmatizing of 

 6          children getting assistance with the school 

 7          lunches.  

 8                 As we know, given the changes in the 

 9          federal tax law and the cap on SALT 

10          deductions, and recognizing the high 

11          percentage school districts are funding 

12          education through property taxes -- many in 

13          excess of 75 percent, many of those districts 

14          with very limited commercial property -- in 

15          your opinion going forward, are we going to 

16          be able to continue funding education the way 

17          we do today in this state?  

18                 And the second question on the funding 

19          would deal with the situation where many of 

20          the districts that we have in this state, 

21          particularly with the changing demographic 

22          profiles, are seeing significant additions of 

23          students midyear.  And how can we better fund 

24          those expenses too?  


 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So that's a very 

 2          big question, isn't it?  

 3                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Yes, it is.  

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right?  So it's 

 5          not just little tweaks.  Because when you do 

 6          the little tweaks, ultimately they have to be 

 7          re-tweaked.  Because as you pointed out, 

 8          things are changing across the state and the 

 9          profiles of districts are very different.  

10          And the way that we fund them is not as much 

11          of a challenge in some districts as it is in 

12          other districts.  And particularly we have 

13          large urban centers that are a challenge.

14                 I would say that that is something 

15          that over a period of time, if we're going to 

16          look at that, it would require an enormous 

17          amount of will from the Legislature, the 

18          Governor, and all of us that are involved in 

19          education.  Because we'd have to think very 

20          differently about what we -- so if that is 

21          something that the Senate, the Assembly, and 

22          the Executive are interested in, I think that 

23          is something that could be established as a 

24          commission to review possibilities.  


 1                 We have looked at, at State Ed, some 

 2          components that could be changed that would 

 3          affect putting the funding in different 

 4          places just by changing formulas.  We know 

 5          that when that happens, that affects 

 6          everyone.  Right?  And so as I said, I think 

 7          that is a long-term goal that may be 

 8          something that the Assembly, the Senate, and 

 9          the Executive want to do, and we would be 

10          certainly willing to work that through and 

11          have a commission on that.  

12                 But it isn't something that's going 

13          happen easily or quickly.  

14                 SENATOR BROOKS:  No, I recognize that 

15          it's not going to happen easily, it's not 

16          going to happen quickly.  

17                 I also recognize in the community I 

18          live in, as an example, our taxpayers are 

19          funding 75 percent of the cost of education, 

20          basically.  There's no commercial property.  

21          And we're in a situation, given the changes, 

22          that it's going to present some significant 

23          hardships to people.  And I think that's 

24          going to be echoed in many areas of the 


 1          state.  

 2                 And I wouldn't expect you to have an 

 3          answer -- it would be great if you did -- in 

 4          terms of what we should do, but just whether 

 5          you think we can continue down that road of 

 6          change.  

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I think it 

 8          definitely should be looked at.  And I think 

 9          that some of the most recent changes in tax 

10          structures at the federal level and at the 

11          local level are going to perhaps necessitate 

12          it.  

13                 SENATOR BROOKS:  In terms of the 

14          midyear additions, I've got one school 

15          district that's picked up almost 300 students 

16          already this year, and it's a very-low-wealth 

17          district.  

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  And so 

19          those are things that I think we would have 

20          to study and review.  There are some 

21          experiences that I've had where, halfway 

22          through the year, there's a review of the 

23          number of students there.  

24                 We right now are facing over 2,000 


 1          students who have come to us from Puerto 

 2          Rico, and they're in over a hundred 

 3          districts, primarily in Rochester, Buffalo, 

 4          and New York City.  But that's a situation 

 5          that you're talking about.  Right now there's 

 6          no extra resources for those districts that 

 7          have certainly an additional influx of 

 8          students.  

 9                 And I think it certainly is something 

10          that is a possibility.  It would require us 

11          to be working closely with you.  

12                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Okay.  And you've 

13          done some work addressing the stigmatization 

14          of students that are getting assistance with 

15          the lunch in terms of paying.  You want to 

16          just address that a little bit?  

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yeah.  So the 

18          Executive has put forth a group of proposals 

19          relating to school lunches, et cetera.  I 

20          will tell you that I am very much in favor of 

21          the work that's being done there, that's 

22          being suggested there, and the approach.  

23                 I think we do need to make sure that 

24          our students have nutrition.  Nobody can 


 1          learn if you're hungry.  I mean, that's a 

 2          reality.  It's really a requirement.  We need 

 3          to make it easy for districts.  We need to 

 4          support them.  And we have a very proactive 

 5          school lunch staff that works closely on all 

 6          of the federal programs.  

 7                 And, you know, this is one of those 

 8          areas.  To do this in the state I think is a 

 9          great thing to do.  I think we should be 

10          teaching about good nutrition and using the 

11          resources of New York State to support our 

12          lunch programs.  All of those things are 

13          positive.  We have to make sure that we can 

14          help districts to do that from the State Ed's 

15          position.  

16                 So the requirement on shaming that I 

17          think you mentioned and is part of that, no 

18          child should feel like they are at fault, 

19          that they're less than anyone else.  That all 

20          gets back to that bigger issue of school 

21          climate and how you make students feel in 

22          your school.  I don't think that should 

23          occur, and I think we have to work very 

24          closely with school districts.  


 1                 We did, several months ago, put out a 

 2          guidance document specifically to school 

 3          districts about that.  And we -- and I know 

 4          many of our districts came back and said, We 

 5          have never done anything on that, and we're 

 6          not.  And I think what we have to do is make 

 7          sure that's not happening in our state.  

 8                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Thank you.  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10                 Assemblyman Murray.  

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Thank you.  

12                 Thank you, Commissioner.  First, let 

13          me make a statement.  I want to commend you 

14          and thank you for your obvious dedication 

15          towards the BOCES and CTE programs.  I think 

16          it's an invaluable resource and we need to be 

17          not limiting what we're doing, but we need to 

18          be expanding the kind of help and resources 

19          we put into it.  

20                 But moving on to a different subject 

21          that you and I have discussed in years past, 

22          and that is the standardized testing.  Now, 

23          recently, as part of ESSA, I believe the feds 

24          had launched a pilot program allowing some 


 1          states to use alternative methods or ways of 

 2          assessing the students without using the 

 3          standardized tests.  And I'm wondering why 

 4          we're not kind of jumping on board.  We said 

 5          we're not going to do it.  

 6                 But the second part of the question 

 7          is -- and we discussed this last year -- we 

 8          currently have in place more than 40 

 9          consortium schools in New York City that 

10          already do not use the standardized tests.  

11          They use their alternative methods for 

12          graduation and for assessment such as written 

13          essays and verbal presentations, things like 

14          this.

15                 We've had schools on Long Island that 

16          have requested to go that path and been 

17          denied.  And I'm wondering why aren't we, as 

18          part of this pilot program, at least allowing 

19          some of our schools that want out of this to 

20          take that path?  As you know, I'm from 

21          Suffolk County.  Long Island was the absolute 

22          and has been the absolute epicenter of the 

23          opt-out movement, not just in New York State 

24          but nationally.  And they are -- it's not 


 1          going to die down.

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So let me just 

 3          point out, I've been to Long Island very many 

 4          times.  As you know, I tried to go to where 

 5          it was hot.  Right?  

 6                 And so let me point out to you -- 

 7          because I'm not sure you know, but I can just 

 8          run down all the changes that we've made in 

 9          assessments so you're aware of it and then 

10          review for you exactly what the innovative 

11          assessment pilot was so that you understand 

12          our position on it.  

13                 First of all, we have made major 

14          changes in our assessment protocols.  Number 

15          one, right now we have, over the last two and 

16          a half to three years, increased teacher 

17          involvement and teachers are writing the 

18          questions that are on the assessments.  

19          New York State teachers are writing those 

20          questions.  

21                 We have changed the requirement for 

22          timing on the test.  That has let some 

23          children who were nervous to calm down a 

24          little bit.  


 1                 We've included parents all the way in 

 2          all of these changes that we've made by 

 3          having them be part of committees and talking 

 4          about the changes and getting feedback from 

 5          them.  

 6                 We have communicated much more to 

 7          teachers.  In fact, there are people that I 

 8          talk to that don't know any of this -- I'm 

 9          sure you do, but many people don't know the 

10          changes that we've made.  

11                 Not only that, last April our 

12          Regents have moved to go from a three-day to 

13          a two-day test.  Which, when I went to 

14          Long Island, was one of the major issues for 

15          Long Island.  

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Yes.  

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Now remember, 

18          these are only the three Grade 3 through 8 

19          assessments.  When you talk about the 

20          innovative assessments, that is the only 

21          project that they were accepting a change 

22          from.  

23                 The requirement of the innovative 

24          assessment grant -- which by the way brought 


 1          no money with it -- the reason that we have 

 2          decided, with the Regents and a subcommittee 

 3          that is led by Regent Chin and Regent 

 4          Norwood, the reason that we've decided to not 

 5          do that is that it would be a major 

 6          expenditure to change the 3-8 assessments 

 7          when we've made multiple changes over the 

 8          last three years that included teachers all 

 9          the way, that included changes in the length 

10          of the test and changes in the administration 

11          of the test.  

12                 So all those things have been changed.  

13          The innovative would require us within a 

14          seven-year period to put out changes to the 

15          assessments and cost millions of dollars each 

16          of those years.  There is no money coming 

17          from the federal government to support that.  

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Commissioner, 

19          we're down to a minute.  Can I -- 

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I know, but -- 

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  -- and then I'll 

22          let you answer.  

23                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  -- I think 

24          everybody's really interested, and if I could 


 1          ask the chair if I could just have a moment 

 2          to finish this comment.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  I just have a 

 4          quick follow-up, that's why I don't want to 

 5          get cut off.  

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  But I have to 

 7          finish your other comments, because I think 

 8          you have a little bit of a confusion and I 

 9          want to straighten it out.  

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Sure.  Sure.  

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You talked about 

12          the schools that in fact have -- 

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  The consortium.  

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  They don't have 

15          waivers off of anything 3-8.  We're talking 

16          only -- there, you're only talking about high 

17          school programming.  

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Correct.  

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And we have put in 

20          place changes to requirements for graduation, 

21          and we're expanding that.  

22                 So I would suggest to you that we have 

23          changed enormous numbers of the things 

24          related to assessments and graduation 


 1          requirements in New York State.  We continue 

 2          to look at all of those things.  But it's 

 3          important to know that if we were to take 

 4          that grant -- that is not money, by the 

 5          way -- if we were to take that, within seven 

 6          years every child would have to be assessed 

 7          that way and it would be probably, as I 

 8          pointed out, $7 million to $10 million per 

 9          year for us to do that.  

10                 So that's the reason that the Regents 

11          subcommittee decided to not do that.  But we 

12          are interested in doing other types of 

13          creative assessments, and we'll be working 

14          with teachers across the state to implement 

15          those in areas possibly like science, like in 

16          writing, like something that is a finishing 

17          product of -- 

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  The portfolio 

19          type?  

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  

21                 So all those things are on the page, 

22          and we examine them all the time.  

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  And we're open to 

24          allowing some of these schools that if they 


 1          requested, to allowing them to maybe do that, 

 2          such as Patch-Med has requested to do that?  

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I want to make 

 4          it really clear.  We have requirements for 

 5          graduation, and we have requirements from the 

 6          federal government.  So I can't answer that 

 7          as saying yes, I'm open to anything, because 

 8          I can't be open to everything.  

 9                 But I just want to point out, we have 

10          never said to anyone "We won't talk to you," 

11          and particularly in the area that you 

12          represent, because I'm very open to working 

13          very closely to make changes, and we've done 

14          it.  

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Great.  Thank 

16          you.  

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

19                 Senate?  

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

21                 Hi.  I'm Senator Krueger.  

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Hi, Senator.  

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  How are you?  

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good.  


 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good.  

 2                 So some of us were here till almost 

 3          10:45 last night, and the last group of 

 4          testifiers were a group of victims of sex 

 5          abuse as children urging us to pass the Child 

 6          Victims Act, which the Senate has not done 

 7          but the Governor has included in his budget.  

 8          But they talked about you never forget, you 

 9          didn't even understand what was going on 

10          because you were a child, and you didn't know 

11          who to tell or whether they would listen.  

12                 And then last week we had an event up 

13          here around the fact that -- and I had asked 

14          you a little bit about it in Higher Ed, that 

15          we have mandatory reporting if you work with 

16          children in almost any setting in New York 

17          State except the private schools, where we 

18          don't have the same rule.  

19                 This morning I woke up and watched 

20          Simone Biles, the great Olympic athlete, on 

21          TV talking about the 157 women who came 

22          forward to tell their stories about the 

23          horrible things that happened to them.  And 

24          then I opened up my laptop and read a 


 1          phenomenal editorial basically calling for us 

 2          to have healthy sex ed for children that 

 3          included making sure children know if they're 

 4          being abused -- because they might not even 

 5          understand what it is -- and knowing what to 

 6          do about it.  

 7                 So I'm asking you and the Regents, 

 8          even though some things need to be 

 9          legislated, such as the Child Victims Act, 

10          what we can do more throughout our schools, 

11          public and private, to make sure we do not 

12          allow predators to be there and continue to 

13          attack our children -- and we help children 

14          learn that if this is happening to them, that 

15          it's wrong, it's not their fault, they have 

16          someplace to go, and that we the adults will 

17          make sure that they are taken care of?  

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, there's a 

19          number of things that I think both of us can 

20          do.  I know that Chair Nolan has already put 

21          a bill together that would address this 

22          loophole that we have.  

23                 And I would say to you I'm very 

24          focused on making sure that anyone who deals 


 1          with children in New York State, whether it's 

 2          a public school, a nonpublic school, a 

 3          charter school, any environment where that 

 4          child is, that that should be reported and it 

 5          should be required by law to report it.  So 

 6          whatever we need to do together, we will do 

 7          it.  

 8                 The other thing that I think is really 

 9          critical is for us to review -- as you 

10          pointed out, particularly in young children, 

11          how can we make sure they understand the -- 

12          who is the adult in their life that they can 

13          talk to about issues that they maybe don't 

14          know about or they have questions about.  

15                 That all really gets to this issue of 

16          providing a safe and secure environment at 

17          their schools.  Because the way that comes up 

18          can be in a question that a teacher may have 

19          in their classroom, and they see something 

20          that comes out from a child that is a 

21          spontaneous response that might alert them.  

22                 Those are all things that we need to 

23          be very sensitive to.  They require training, 

24          very often, of staff to understand what that 


 1          would be.  And it's not just teachers, but 

 2          it's also the support staff of the school.  

 3          And then what is the process for that, and 

 4          what do we do about it?  

 5                 I think that it needs to all be either 

 6          through law, where we know there are some 

 7          loopholes, or through regulation.  And we 

 8          will work very closely to make that happen in 

 9          New York State.  

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  I look 

11          forward to working with you and with everyone 

12          here to get this done finally this year.  

13                 So I had a teacher, a constituent, she 

14          had moved from Pennsylvania to New York, she 

15          had gotten a job with the New York City 

16          Department of Education.  She filed for the 

17          paperwork with the State SED, and then she 

18          never heard back.  And then she finally, in 

19          frustration, contacted my office.  And 

20          working with my office and intergovernmental 

21          with SED, it still took nine additional 

22          months to get her paperwork done, with our 

23          having to help her refile paperwork multiple 

24          times with SED and being told by people in 


 1          the agency, Well, we have such an incredible 

 2          backlog, it just takes over a year to 

 3          complete this process.  

 4                 We got the City Department of 

 5          Education to agree to extend her temporary 

 6          approval because she was doing an extremely 

 7          good job in our schools and we certainly 

 8          didn't want to lose her.  I just don't 

 9          understand why we have such an incredible 

10          backlog.  We hear about teacher shortages.  

11          We hear about wanting to encourage people to 

12          participate and be public school teachers.  

13          What's the story?  

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, certainly I 

15          don't think it should take us nine months.  I 

16          don't know all the circumstances of it.  And 

17          I'm glad that you got over to us and we could 

18          respond, but it's not acceptable that it's 

19          taking nine months.

20                 As I said, I don't know the 

21          circumstances.  It could be that the 

22          paperwork came in multiple times incorrectly, 

23          and when we got to it in a long -- you know, 

24          we opened up certification for people who had 


 1          three years of successful teaching experience 

 2          and had been certified in another state to 

 3          come into New York as a teacher.  

 4                 I'm also glad that New York City took 

 5          the initiative to say we do have a provision 

 6          to ask for extension on getting paperwork 

 7          completed.  So that was a good thing.  

 8                 You're absolutely right, Senator, it 

 9          shouldn't take that long.  We're trying to 

10          make sure that we have systems in place that 

11          can make it as quick as possible.  But we 

12          have -- and I don't think this is any 

13          surprise, we are short on staff.  

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So just to follow 

15          up, we were actually told that the 

16          applications couldn't be taken out of order, 

17          and I get that.  But that there was actually 

18          such a long backlog that this was a normal 

19          time frame.  So I don't -- 

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We'll check it.  

21          I'll check it.  

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  All right.  Because 

23          you and I agree, we don't want to discourage 

24          good teachers from being able to participate 


 1          in the system.  

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.  And let me 

 3          point out, in defense of the staff, we are 

 4          inundated with changes that are coming in 

 5          because we've opened up certification 

 6          requirements.  

 7                 We have some strategies that we're 

 8          establishing to try to make that quicker, and 

 9          hopefully that will address the issue.  But 

10          I'll check on it, clearly.  

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  My time is up; I may 

12          have to come back.  Thank you.  

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

15                 Assemblywoman Lifton.  

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Good morning, 

17          Chancellor.

18                 I want to start just by echoing the 

19          comments of many of my colleagues about what 

20          a terrific job you're doing, and your staff 

21          also at SED, with your leadership, in helping 

22          get us through a very, very tough time, a 

23          time of great transition and change.  And 

24          mostly by listening and really understanding 


 1          that there were serious problems that had to 

 2          be dealt with.  And you're still working on 

 3          them, I see, and working very 

 4          collaboratively.

 5                 I was very pleased, we were talking 

 6          about the edTPA and the assessments for 

 7          teacher certification, and you and the 

 8          department did a great deal of work, working 

 9          collaboratively with teachers and other 

10          representatives on that, and I'm very, very 

11          appreciative of all of your efforts there.  

12                 I don't know if that's all quite 

13          resolved in terms of the edTPA.  I know there 

14          were concerns about people doing student 

15          teaching while they were doing the edTPA.  

16          I'm not quite sure where that all stands -- 

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We have ongoing 

18          committees that are addressing each of those 

19          issues, so there are things that will require 

20          some changes in regulation, et cetera.  

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  Great.  Because 

22          I know that I was hearing -- SUNY Cortland, 

23          as you know, is our foremost teacher 

24          education school, and they were seeing a 


 1          tremendous drop in people going through the 

 2          teacher education program, people coming out 

 3          of it.  You know, precipitous drops, a 40, 

 4          50, 60 percent falloff.  And it seemed like a 

 5          direct correlation with these test issues and 

 6          the edTPA, that it was just -- the hurdles 

 7          were just unbelievable.  

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So one of the 

 9          largest correlations I can make there is when 

10          we went through the recession in New York 

11          State, many, many districts were firing 

12          people and laying them off; they might have 

13          been great teachers.  And the real issue got 

14          down to, Am I going to go into a field in 

15          college and pay for a degree in something 

16          that I can't get a job?  

17                 So those things all contributed to 

18          that environment, I think.  

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I think there 

20          were multiple hurdles there, multiple 

21          problems.  A perfect storm, if you will.  A 

22          disastrous storm, if you will.  

23                 So whatever those issues are around 

24          teacher shortage -- and I know we have issues 


 1          around diversity, the need for diversity in 

 2          our teaching profession that I assume you're 

 3          also looking at.  

 4                 I want to say that on the -- I'm glad 

 5          that the teachers are involved in the testing 

 6          and curriculum work.  I'm hearing that maybe 

 7          they'd like to be a little more involved than 

 8          they are, a little more at the table, 

 9          perhaps, than they currently feel they are.  

10          I'm hearing from master teachers who say 

11          they've asked to be on panels and aren't 

12          getting a positive response.  And I guess 

13          you're still in this transition where perhaps 

14          they're not fully integrated into the 

15          curriculum and testing regimen.  

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, as you know, 

17          we have to have representatives from across 

18          the state.  So our committees have 

19          representatives from across the state, so if 

20          we get a lot of requests from one particular 

21          area, we can only take so many from that 

22          area.  

23                 But you're absolutely right, 

24          everywhere we can, we need to expand the 


 1          opportunities for teachers to be part of the 

 2          decision-making.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN LIFTON:  I think that's 

 4          really important.  So thank you for looking 

 5          at that.  

 6                 On the issue of professional 

 7          development, I think, you know, we talk about 

 8          making the profession better for teachers.  I 

 9          think it's a really -- having taught high 

10          school for eight years, I think it's a really 

11          critical issue.  And again, especially 

12          through this time when we've thrown so many 

13          changes at schools and at teachers very 

14          directly.  

15                 How do you see that relationship, 

16          given our strong tradition of local control 

17          in New York State?  And I often tell this 

18          story about one of the things that drove me 

19          out of teaching in the end was that -- and 

20          you know, I'm a strong supporter of local 

21          control, but there are times I'd sort of like 

22          some guidance from the state on certain 

23          requirements.  

24                 I'll never forget the days of saying, 


 1          well, we're going to have a Superintendents 

 2          Day for teacher development and professional 

 3          development and we waited and waited -- we 

 4          were saying, Well, we'd like to work on 

 5          curriculum, we'd like to work across grades 

 6          and work on the writing curriculum together, 

 7          let's spend our day that way.  And unh, unh, 

 8          unh, couldn't get an answer, couldn't -- and 

 9          we ended at the end of it all sitting 

10          together, English teachers sitting around a 

11          room reading our required reading list to 

12          each other, and that was our Professional 

13          Development Day.  

14                 Now, mind you, this was quite a few 

15          years ago.  That leadership isn't there 

16          anymore.  So I'm not casting personal 

17          aspersions here.  But, you know, it was very 

18          discouraging.  You know, I hear teachers very 

19          often say "We want to be better teachers, we 

20          understand we've got enormous challenges, we 

21          want to try to understand the new standards 

22          and do a good job."  But I hear that they 

23          feel sometimes that there's less creativity 

24          in the classroom, they feel bound up.  


 1                 And perhaps there are ways, with 

 2          required good professional development, that 

 3          they can feel that they're doing their jobs 

 4          well.  One of the most discouraging things is 

 5          being asked to do a great deal and not 

 6          getting enough training to do that job well.  

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We're very focused 

 8          on supporting teachers.  We are in the midst 

 9          of some transitions, obviously.  I think it's 

10          a major transition for teachers when we 

11          revamp and you support standards that are 

12          shifting.  Right?  And they need to have 

13          training so that they understand that, and 

14          then they work together collectively to 

15          establish what their lessons and their 

16          curriculum is really going to look like to 

17          take the standards and put that in the 

18          classroom.  

19                 We've been very focused on that.  We 

20          have a request for professional learning 

21          efforts to leverage New York State's 

22          professional learning providers so that all 

23          of us together across the state -- the 

24          Teacher Centers, all of the agencies and 


 1          support groups that support teacher training, 

 2          our universities as well as State Ed -- are 

 3          all on one page on what needs to occur so 

 4          there's consistency about what the standards 

 5          are, and that local control then allows them 

 6          to develop -- whether it's with a single 

 7          district, a consortium of districts that are 

 8          organized through the BOCES, whether it's 

 9          provided through BOCES -- that everybody is 

10          talking the same kind of language around 

11          standards and helping teachers within those 

12          school districts to support the development 

13          of their curriculum.  

14                 I have been very emphatic with 

15          superintendents, and I have said this for my 

16          career and as a leader in education:  Your 

17          biggest resource are the teachers that are in 

18          your classrooms.  They should be used to 

19          develop curriculum, to work together to 

20          change the curriculum, and your job should be 

21          to support them.  

22                 And I think that's an extremely 

23          important value for our education leaders 

24          across the state to have.  And I know many of 


 1          them do that naturally, and we have to make 

 2          sure that we support all of them to see the 

 3          importance of teachers being included and 

 4          having the time to get together and work on 

 5          curriculum development.  And then being able 

 6          to review it, share it, talk about it, and 

 7          then make changes as necessary.  

 8                 So I'm very supportive of teachers.  

 9          We hope that the high-quality professional 

10          learning proposal that we have in front of 

11          you, that we are able to get some support for 

12          our teachers in that way.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

14                 I want to just acknowledge that we've 

15          been joined by Assemblyman O'Donnell.  

16                 Senate, for a question.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

18                 Senator Savino.  

19                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

20          Young.  

21                 Good morning, Chancellor, good to see 

22          you again.  I just want to ask you to explain 

23          something, maybe you can shed some light on 

24          it.  Because your PowerPoint slide by slide 


 1          shows that the Board of Regents proposal for 

 2          state aid to schools is -- you're requesting 

 3          $1.6 billion in additional spending -- 

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  1.25 in Foundation 

 5          Aid.  And then there's additional 

 6          opportunities that we're looking at that are 

 7          proposals.  

 8                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Let me just start 

 9          from the top line, 1.6, how you break it 

10          down.  I understand -- it's explained on the 

11          rest of the page.  

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  That's correct.  

13                 SENATOR SAVINO:  The question I'm 

14          asking, though, is it seems that we've all 

15          been working off of this proposal when in 

16          fact we're -- this is the Governor's budget 

17          proposal, which is about $800 million less 

18          than the request that you have.  

19                 So I'm just curious if you can explain 

20          to us, if we were -- unless we can find 

21          $800 million in the seat cushions 

22          somewhere -- that's always possible in 

23          Albany -- we're more likely going to be 

24          working off the Governor's budget proposal.  


 1          How would imposing his budget proposal affect 

 2          the programs that you have outlined as 

 3          important and the commitments that you 

 4          believe State Ed should make to the various 

 5          programs, whether it's UPK or, you know, 

 6          Careers to Colleges or BOCES or any of the 

 7          wonderful programs that we all want to 

 8          support, including the English language 

 9          learners?  How would we accomplish that based 

10          off the Governor's proposal?  

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I think 

12          there's a major issue there, isn't there?  

13          Because we're talking about different -- I'm 

14          here to talk about what our proposal is.  And 

15          when anybody's asked a question about how 

16          that fits given the Governor's proposal, I've 

17          responded with my opinion and the opinion 

18          that we've discussed with the Regents and 

19          with my staff.  

20                 But when you're looking at Foundation 

21          Aid, the Executive Budget is for 

22          $338 million, and ours is for 1.25.  So the 

23          documents that you have that are in your hand 

24          now that are the slides that I presented are 


 1          the budget that we are proposing.  It is 

 2          different than the Executive's, as you know.  

 3                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Obviously.  

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And as you move 

 5          forward, that's the process that you're 

 6          involved in.  Right?  So he proposes, we 

 7          propose, you get proposals from other 

 8          individuals and groups that are very 

 9          supportive of education.  Theirs are 

10          different than ours as well.  And I would 

11          suggest to you that much of the work that 

12          we're talking about is not going to occur to 

13          the extent that we're talking about unless we 

14          have some resources to do it.  

15                 SENATOR SAVINO:  I appreciate that 

16          answer.  And I'm just wondering -- 

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  (Applauding.) 

18                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Cathy.  

19                 Has there been -- have you been able 

20          to convey that sentiment to the Executive?  

21          Because somehow or other they arrived at this 

22          decision that 3 percent above last year's 

23          spending was sufficient to meet the needs of 

24          the students around the State of New York.  


 1          And, you know, I'm just wondering, how did 

 2          they make that decision to ignore what those 

 3          of you at State Ed and school districts 

 4          around the state and teachers everywhere 

 5          realize is really what's necessary to make 

 6          our schools places where we can educate 

 7          students and prepare them for life?  

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I guess what I 

 9          would say to you is that when the budget 

10          comes from the Executive -- we aren't part of 

11          the process for the Executive to develop his 

12          budget.  And -- 

13                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Do they consult you?  

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Pardon me?  

15                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Do they consult you?  

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Ask me if I think 

17          $338 million is enough?  

18                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Mm-hmm.  

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  No, no one asked 

20          me that question.  And I would have given 

21          them an answer.  So -- 

22                 SENATOR SAVINO:  That's quite 

23          shocking.  

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, we have a 


 1          process in New York.  I mean, I think this is 

 2          part of the process.  I absolutely understand 

 3          the Executive is determining and coming up 

 4          with a number for education purposes, given a 

 5          bigger picture.  I'm coming to you as the 

 6          commissioner of education and saying these 

 7          are the things that we think are pretty 

 8          important.  

 9                 There are a number of Executive 

10          proposals that relate to education that 

11          aren't in ours, and there are certainly some 

12          here that are in ours that are not in the 

13          Executive's.  That's the proposal and the 

14          process that needs to include all of you 

15          giving feedback so that it works out in the 

16          end and we have what ends up with a budget on 

17          April 1st that is including the agendas you 

18          have and including the agendas that he has.  

19          And I don't have a vote.  

20                 I have the opportunity to come and 

21          tell you what I think, and that's what you 

22          have in front of you.  

23                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Hopefully we'll find 

24          some -- some of the money.  


 1                 I just want to ask you one specific 

 2          question.  

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure.  

 4                 SENATOR SAVINO:  I was at Curtis High 

 5          School over the weekend, they had a -- 

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I'm sorry, what 

 7          high school?  

 8                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Curtis High School on 

 9          Staten Island.  And they had a college fair 

10          there.  

11                 And the principal of Curtis told me 

12          that they're having a problem now with the 

13          International Baccalaureate testing, because 

14          some of the school districts are being told 

15          that only Advanced Placement courses are 

16          eligible for funding, so they're having to 

17          pick up the cost of these IB tests.  It's 

18          going to cost the school about $25,000.  

19                 The principal said it's something with 

20          respect to the -- how some agencies are 

21          interpreting the term "advanced placement" 

22          and limiting it only to Advanced Placement 

23          tests, not advanced testing.  They're being 

24          literal about the term.  


 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So the 

 2          Staten Island high schools are obviously 

 3          controlled by New York City.

 4                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Right.  

 5                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  But I would say to 

 6          you the federal government a year ago took 

 7          out the funding that they had in place.  

 8                 You have a proposal in the Governor's 

 9          budget that would support IB and AP, and that 

10          is clearly in here for all students who are 

11          at risk and would have challenges in paying 

12          the fees, the costs of those fees.  So that 

13          is included, in fact, in both of ours.  

14                 We want to expand access to 

15          high-quality coursework, and there's a 

16          proposal in there on ours and there's also a 

17          proposal from the Executive.  

18                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                 Assemblyman Otis.  

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Commissioner, nice 

23          to see you again, and thank you for all your 

24          good work.  


 1                 The question that I wanted to focus on 

 2          today was to get a sense from you, SED and 

 3          the Regents about where you are in terms of 

 4          the teacher evaluation process.  We're in a 

 5          moratorium period now.  The moratorium is 

 6          going to end.  There was lots of concern 

 7          about where we were before we started the 

 8          moratorium, which is why we did the 

 9          moratorium.  

10                 But really there was unanimity between 

11          school districts, teachers, parents that the 

12          system that we were about to embark on had 

13          real problems.  And so -- and I believe the 

14          Regents are studying this at some level.  

15                 So where are we going, what is the 

16          current thinking?  And that would be a great 

17          update, I think, for all of us.  

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Great.  So when I 

19          came to New York almost three years ago, one 

20          of the things that was identified for me is 

21          the level of tension and stress in the state.  

22          It wasn't just about teacher evaluation, 

23          although I would say that that was a key 

24          lever.  It also included issues relating to 


 1          standards, and a number of you shared your 

 2          concerns about standards and the involvement 

 3          of others, of teachers and other 

 4          practitioners in what those standards would 

 5          be.  It also included the issue of 

 6          assessments, and we talked a little bit about 

 7          assessments.  

 8                 Since I've been here as the 

 9          commissioner, I've worked with the Regents 

10          and we have been very purposeful in seeking 

11          opportunities to get feedback from the 

12          community.  The development and then the 

13          ultimate adoption of the Next Generation 

14          New York State Standards took about two 

15          years.  We included everyone from across the 

16          state, all the -- we had teachers, we had 

17          surveys that went out, got thousands of 

18          responses, took that and we ultimately came 

19          up -- after teacher committees met and gave 

20          us feedback, we developed the Next Generation 

21          Standards, and they were ultimately approved.  

22                 So the process was established that we 

23          seek a lot of input and we take what we get 

24          and we establish then what needs to move 


 1          forward, ultimately to get reviewed by our 

 2          Regents -- and in some cases, legislators -- 

 3          to make any necessary changes.  

 4                 We did the same thing on assessments.  

 5          So we took the opportunities to hear from 

 6          everyone across the state, I had meetings, 

 7          our district superintendents had meetings, we 

 8          had parent groups that came in and gave us 

 9          feedback.  And we made multiple changes as we 

10          moved through the last two years on that that 

11          were approved by the Regents and moved us 

12          into a very different setting with 

13          assessments.  

14                 The third area had to do with 

15          curriculum that everyone was stressed about.  

16          And we said that's a local decision.  We have 

17          guidelines for you and supports for you to 

18          make those local decisions, but curriculum is 

19          really developed off the standards and 

20          teachers need to do that work.  And we put in 

21          place a timeline that will give them plenty 

22          of time to do that in the next two to three 

23          years before the assessments are tied to the 

24          new standards.  


 1                 The fourth area, I think the largest, 

 2          was the evaluation of teachers and our 

 3          educational leaders.  Caused an enormous 

 4          amount of stress.  As I went across the state 

 5          and got feedback, there were individuals that 

 6          said there's some good things about the 

 7          evaluation, but one thing -- we didn't have 

 8          really say in how this evaluation was going 

 9          to be structured and how it would work, 

10          ultimately, to support continuous improvement 

11          for teachers and be a productive instrument.  

12                 So that's where we are right now.  

13          That's the area that we have not really made 

14          the shifts in yet.  We are now instituting a 

15          process that will be very thoughtful and 

16          inclusive and have people from across the 

17          state give us feedback on what we have in 

18          place, anything that's good about what we've 

19          done in evaluation, and what we need to have 

20          as we move forward.  And it is a -- in my 

21          mind, it's a process that will establish that 

22          teachers should be collaborating on the 

23          evaluation that will be most productive for 

24          them, as will the education leaders across 


 1          the state.  

 2                 This isn't going to be a fast process.  

 3          Because if you do things too quickly, then 

 4          you don't give yourself time to listen and 

 5          hear the issues that relate to it.  

 6                 So we have a survey that will be going 

 7          out to individuals across the state.  All of 

 8          our teachers will get it individually.  We 

 9          also will have our educators and various 

10          practitioners get the opportunity to fill 

11          that out.  We're taking the information that 

12          comes in on that, we're establishing focus 

13          groups across the state to probe on some of 

14          the feedback that we get in the survey.  

15                 Then we're having groups of meetings.  

16          We'll have a targeted kind of leadership 

17          group that will help us move through this 

18          process.  It will include various 

19          stakeholders, including the leadership from 

20          AFT and the leadership from NYSUT and School 

21          Board Association and our superintendents 

22          group -- all of those individuals will be 

23          part of it as we move forward in the process.  

24          We'll take that information and ultimately 


 1          we'll start putting together what we think 

 2          will be a collaborative, well-developed 

 3          evaluation that will support teachers to get 

 4          better.  

 5                 The purpose of teaching and giving 

 6          evaluation is to give feedback.  That's why 

 7          it's so powerful when people who understand 

 8          what you're doing in your classroom come in 

 9          and talk to you about it.  And a lot of work 

10          needs to be done to get us there, but that's 

11          really going to be the way that we can 

12          improve teaching and learning across the 

13          entire State of New York, with an 

14          instrument -- not just that instrument, but 

15          other factors that are going to be really 

16          critical in this.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank -- thank 

18          you.  

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  This is -- let me 

20          just -- if you don't mind.  Thank you.  

21                 I think that that process that we've 

22          used for other things, being very inclusive 

23          in who can give us feedback and then taking 

24          that listening and then developing as we go, 


 1          I think that will be an extremely important 

 2          part of this process.  There's no question 

 3          teacher evaluation, principal evaluation was 

 4          a hotspot in New York; we have to address 

 5          that.  And we need to have this be a 

 6          collaboration with teachers, not having it be 

 7          something that's done to teachers.  

 8                 So that's the approach that we're 

 9          going to take, and it will be time-consuming, 

10          but that's the way we want to move.  

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you.  And I 

12          appreciate the methodology and open process 

13          that you're describing, and hopefully we'll 

14          get a good result.  So thank you.  

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

18                 Commissioner, I just had one final 

19          topic to ask about, and that has to do with 

20          penalties on building projects where the cost 

21          reports are filed late.  

22                 And as you know, in the 2012-2013 

23          enacted budget the Legislature worked with 

24          the Governor to set up an amnesty program for 


 1          schools that actually had failed to submit 

 2          final cost reports prior to July 1, 2010.  So 

 3          the Legislature took action then.  And prior 

 4          to the enactment of the amnesty program, the 

 5          penalty for a late-filed final cost report 

 6          was a total loss of state aid on a project, 

 7          even if all the aid had previously been paid.  

 8                 So that particular statute that exists 

 9          in law has put terrible burdens on school 

10          districts that made a mistake.  

11                 In the 2017-2018 enacted budget, a 

12          provision was included whereby school 

13          districts who are facing building aid 

14          penalties from late-filed final cost reports 

15          could opt into a 10-year recovery program, 

16          provided that the penalties exceeded a 

17          specific percent of their total General Fund 

18          expenditures for a given year.  So again, the 

19          Legislature acted, in conjunction with the 

20          Governor, to help some of these districts.  

21                 I guess I raise that point because we 

22          still hear about other districts that are 

23          still getting into issues with their cost 

24          reports being filed late, not being filed at 


 1          all, uncovering it later down the road.  And 

 2          so I think that there's an issue here that 

 3          maybe we have to rethink how we're 

 4          communicating with school districts.  And I 

 5          know you're frustrated about it.  But there's 

 6          got to be a better way in dealing with this.  

 7                 And I don't know if you had any 

 8          thoughts on what we could do.  I know you and 

 9          I have discussed that you are proactive at 

10          State Ed.  But what can we do differently?  

11          Because it just seems like it keeps 

12          happening.  

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I think  

14          there's no question when the legislation 

15          changed, we have implemented what was put in 

16          the legislation.  All right.  We cannot go 

17          back.  And what's happening, I think, is some 

18          districts that prior to the date of the 

19          legislation being put in place -- we can't 

20          back it up and allow somebody that 10 years 

21          before that time or even eight years or six 

22          years, got in trouble then and didn't submit 

23          it and now wants to have a claim on 

24          something.  


 1                 So we're happy to work with you on 

 2          changing legislation, but we don't have the 

 3          flexibility to make those decisions.  We are 

 4          pleased that in fact -- what is it, two years 

 5          ago, I think, or a year ago you gave us the 

 6          opportunity to spread out what the payments 

 7          are so it would make it less devastating for 

 8          districts.  I certainly understand the 

 9          frustration, and we'd be happy to work on any 

10          changes in the legislation.  But that would 

11          need to be done by the Legislature and the 

12          Governor to support that change in law.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.  But is 

14          there anything that State Ed can do, like 

15          through an auditing process, you know, on the 

16          completion of a building project, for 

17          example, just to triple check to make sure 

18          that the districts are filing all the proper 

19          paperwork?  Because this seems to come up 

20          after the fact -- and oftentimes it's a 

21          previous superintendent who failed to do it 

22          or whatever, and then a new superintendent 

23          comes in and then all of a sudden it's like, 

24          oh, my God, this is devastating to the school 


 1          district.  

 2                 So is there anything that State Ed can 

 3          do through, like I said, an auditing process 

 4          or triple checking so that the districts have 

 5          the technical assistance that they need to 

 6          ensure that they've filed everything 

 7          properly?  And I think that would avoid some 

 8          of the issues that we see now.  

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  In my previous 

10          life I was in charge of the building program 

11          in a very large district.  I would say to you 

12          that the districts have professionals that 

13          they hire, both their architects, engineers, 

14          and oversight for their projects.  Those 

15          individuals have oversight and they're very 

16          technically oriented.  

17                 One of the things we can do is provide 

18          a guidance document so that districts know 

19          these are the things that you should put in 

20          your contracts with any of the individuals 

21          you're hiring to make sure that they follow 

22          through and that in fact they provide all of 

23          the documentation to the districts themselves 

24          so that then the districts can make sure it 


 1          comes in to us.  

 2                 I think you've hit on a point that's 

 3          very important.  When you have changes that 

 4          occur in the staffs at districts, and it's in 

 5          one of these timelines and someone who comes 

 6          in is not aware of what has previously been 

 7          put in place and been submitted or not, then 

 8          that's where it gets lost.  And a number of 

 9          these individuals may not be aware of all of 

10          the requirements related to this.  

11                 So we can do the guidance document, 

12          but I would suggest to you that districts 

13          themselves who call our staffs all the time, 

14          we point out to them how this is occurring 

15          and what they need to do.  But if you're not 

16          familiar with exactly what needs to be done, 

17          you have to rely on those individuals who are 

18          experts that you've paid to do this to make 

19          sure they get everything exactly right.  

20          Because then you would eliminate or at least 

21          lessen the opportunities for these things to 

22          occur.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I think that 

24          anything that you can do through State Ed to 


 1          give that guidance, give that technical 

 2          assistance -- and I know you do talk to the 

 3          school districts all the time.  But if 

 4          there's anything additional we can do to help 

 5          solve this problem, I think we should, 

 6          because all it does is penalize kids, at the 

 7          end of the day.  And I know that's not what 

 8          you want, and it's certainly not what we want 

 9          either.  So if there's a way we can figure it 

10          out, that would be fantastic.  

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And we'll look at 

12          the legislation again, and if there's any 

13          suggestions we have on possible changes to 

14          the legislation to clarify it or perhaps to 

15          give a little bit more leeway to some of the 

16          districts, we can certainly suggest that to 

17          you and then you can take it from there.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

20          Félix Ortiz.  

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you, Madam 

22          Chairman.  

23                 And good afternoon, Commissioner.  

24          Thank you for being here.  I have just -- I 


 1          have a couple of follow-up quick changes, and 

 2          one of them has to do with the bully 

 3          situation.  

 4                 I would like to know if you have any 

 5          kind of procedures in place where a school 

 6          district should report to the New York State 

 7          Department of Education about any bullying -- 

 8          any incident that takes place at the local 

 9          level.  

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  So we have 

11          the VADIR report that has recently been 

12          revised, and it's -- right now we're training 

13          all districts and they're using that for the 

14          data for this year.  

15                 And it took the data points related to 

16          the Dignity for All Students Act and combined 

17          them with the issues related to security and 

18          safety in the schools.  And that reporting 

19          document is what is required by school 

20          districts to report to State Ed any of those 

21          incidents that occur.  

22                 To be very honest, it's critically 

23          important for us to make sure the districts 

24          understand exactly what is required for them 


 1          to report.  We are doing that, and then we're 

 2          providing guidance specifically on make sure 

 3          that you do these things.  

 4                 So that is the report that comes in to 

 5          us, and bullying is included in that.  We 

 6          have a budget request of $10 million 

 7          specifically to support the issues related to 

 8          school climate and related to the Dignity for 

 9          All Students Act as well as bullying, which 

10          is included in that.  This would allow us to 

11          put in Technical Assistance Centers across 

12          the state to support districts, making sure 

13          that they're doing the things that are 

14          necessary for establishing a positive school 

15          climate.  

16                 And then for those districts that are 

17          identified as persistently dangerous and 

18          having issues related to safety and security 

19          for students, as well as the data that comes 

20          off of our VADIR report, those districts 

21          would have the availability of a grant 

22          program to support instituting the particular 

23          strategies that would be helpful for them to 

24          establish that positive school climate.  


 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Regarding sex 

 2          assault in the schools, do you have any 

 3          procedures, any -- and how does that work if 

 4          the districts are reporting some sex assaults 

 5          are taking place, what type of action does 

 6          the New York State Department of Education 

 7          take and put into place?  

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  If there is sexual 

 9          assault in the school, it should be reported 

10          to the police.  That should be a definite 

11          thing.  It should also be reported in their 

12          VADIR report as one of those actions that is 

13          against the law that occurred at their school 

14          site.  So that should all be part of that 

15          report.  

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Now, would you 

17          support a hotline phone number in order for 

18          people to -- students or parents to report 

19          any incidents of bullying -- of incidents 

20          that take place in the school?  

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

24                 Senator Brooks.  


 1                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Thank you.  

 2                 Commissioner, just a quick question.  

 3          In December the Board of Regents adopted 

 4          emergency regulations to expand the diploma 

 5          options for students with disabilities.  

 6          Could you just give us an update on where you 

 7          are with that?  

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  So this 

 9          December we had a group of parents that I've 

10          been meeting with and several of my staff 

11          members have had multiple meetings with, and 

12          we expanded the opportunity for a 

13          superintendent's determination on students 

14          that they would have a request from their 

15          parents to review their transcripts.  

16                 We have in place the opportunity for 

17          some waivers on the passing grade for Regents 

18          exams.  Any student who is in a track to take 

19          the Regents exam that doesn't get the 

20          required passing score, they would have the 

21          ability to take it a second time.  If they 

22          still didn't get it, then the 

23          superintendent's determination could look at 

24          the transcript that they had, whether they 


 1          had passed the course but not passed the 

 2          Regents exam, and then as a second 

 3          opportunity, be able to give them and look at 

 4          whether or not they had participated in the 

 5          CDOS program, which is a skills-based program 

 6          so you can go directly into the workforce.

 7                 Superintendents can make that decision 

 8          and make that available to students in their 

 9          district.  

10                 SENATOR BROOKS:  Thank you.  

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Assemblywoman 

12          Jaffee.  

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Thank you, 

14          Commissioner.  

15                 The Governor is proposing an increase 

16          in nonpublic school aid of at least 

17          $5.4 million, which takes it to about 

18          $186 million, a little more than that, plus 

19          an additional $15 million for safety 

20          equipment, $5 million for science, 

21          technology, engineering and math teachers, 

22          almost another million for academic 

23          intervention services.  

24                 And in previous discussions the 


 1          concerns that I have is whether or not 

 2          there's any oversight at all with these 

 3          private schools as to whether actually they 

 4          are providing education that's appropriate, 

 5          the academic education equivalent to the 

 6          school districts in their areas, which is 

 7          part of the law.  

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  So in 

 9          New York State law, there is a provision for 

10          substantial equivalency.  

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Right.  

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We are in the 

13          process of reviewing our guidance on 

14          substantial equivalency.  It's been 

15          distributed for several decades.  It's the 

16          same guidance, and we're reviewing that 

17          guidance right now.  

18                 We're doing that in conjunction with 

19          some of our nonpublic schools as well as with 

20          our superintendents.  In the law that is on 

21          the books of New York, it requires that the 

22          superintendent and the school board determine 

23          substantial equivalency of the schools that 

24          are located in the area that they are in 


 1          charge of.  

 2                 So I think that is -- the important 

 3          thing is that that guidance that we're 

 4          reviewing is being done with a process that 

 5          is allowing feedback from both the nonpublics 

 6          and the superintendents, so we can have them 

 7          have guidance as to how they can identify 

 8          whether or not substantial equivalency has 

 9          occurred.  

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Because 

11          unfortunately, as we are aware in the 

12          conversations we've had, the roundtable 

13          discussions that we had recently, there are 

14          many schools -- many, too many of our schools 

15          are not providing any education whatsoever in 

16          academics.  And now the students are leaving 

17          those schools without even speaking English, 

18          and having no academic opportunity at all, 

19          but they're still receiving funding from the 

20          state.  

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I have been in 

22          some nonpublic schools; I have not found 

23          that.  

24                 However, I think that we need to make 


 1          sure that from State Ed's perspective we are 

 2          providing appropriate guidance for our 

 3          districts, superintendents and school boards, 

 4          and that that is done in the context of a 

 5          respect for different schools.  

 6                 I mean, I would say to you that it's 

 7          very clear public schools and nonpublic 

 8          schools are different.  Parents have opted to 

 9          have their children attend nonpublic schools.  

10          But we have in law and there is support for 

11          nonpublic schools in New York State.  We need 

12          to make sure that we are following the law.  

13          So our guidance is being updated to do that.  

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  I appreciate 

15          that.  And it's something that I will be 

16          following up on, because there is very real 

17          concern in our communities regarding that.  

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  This is a process.  

19          Okay?  It's important to have input from 

20          people across the board.  And then as we do 

21          this implementation, we'll be training across 

22          the state both our nonpublic and our public 

23          partners.  And then as we move forward, it 

24          will be done with pilots in different places 


 1          to make sure that we can -- we've given clear 

 2          and helpful guidance for them.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Well, this new 

 4          department for the private schools, are they 

 5          engaging in this effort?  

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  In which 

 7          department?  

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  In the 

 9          Education Department, there's a new private 

10          school -- 

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  Yes.  Our 

12          office is leading the effort.  

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Okay.  Thank 

14          you very much.  

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

17                 Mr. O'Donnell for our last question 

18          for this witness.  

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Why, thank 

20          you, Madam Chair.  

21                 You brought up the Dignity for All 

22          Students Act, which is why I pushed the 

23          button.  I wasn't going to talk.  

24                 First of all, I would be remiss if I 


 1          didn't thank you for all the work you've 

 2          done, the cooperation you've showed me.  As 

 3          you may remember, I'm the author of the 

 4          Dignity for All Students Act and have spent 

 5          all these years spending a lot of time 

 6          looking at this issue.  

 7                 So I have two very quick questions.  

 8          The first one is that in surveys in schools 

 9          what we learn is that the training that 

10          occurs often is mostly about lawsuit aversion 

11          and not really training to address the 

12          problem.  And so that, we believe, is 

13          partially reflected from the lack of teacher 

14          training in the higher education system.  

15                 So what can be done to assure that the 

16          goals of dignity and the tolerance of 

17          difference, which is what the purpose of it 

18          was, is taught better to prospective 

19          teachers?  

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, as you know, 

21          we have a committee that is reviewing what is 

22          exactly required right now, and whether or 

23          not that is appropriate.  And whether that is 

24          really addressing this in the context of 


 1          school climate and the very critical 

 2          components of that.  

 3                 So that, I think, is an important 

 4          part.  We would anticipate -- we've had four 

 5          or five meetings now.  I think a member of 

 6          your staff is on that committee.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Yes, indeed.  

 8          Yes.  

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And we will be 

10          getting some recommendations back from them.  

11          So that will drive kind of where we need to 

12          then review what regulations we may have in 

13          place that need to be reviewed and/or 

14          changed.  

15                 I do want to bring this back to the 

16          whole bigger issue, and I think that really 

17          is what you're talking about.  It's not just 

18          this aversion of lawsuits, it is what can we 

19          do to create a climate in our schools that is 

20          supportive of students, whatever their 

21          differences are, and respectful of students 

22          and teaching our students the importance of 

23          that.  

24                 We put in a proposal for a $10 million 


 1          allocation that we believe will really 

 2          address these issues and support schools in 

 3          doing the very training you're talking about.  

 4          Because there's lots of people that are 

 5          already in our schools.  They're not going to 

 6          go through the higher ed programs, but 

 7          they're in our schools now and they need to 

 8          be thinking about how important school 

 9          climate is for all students.  It addresses 

10          the issues of bullying that were brought up.  

11          It also addresses the issues of dignity for 

12          all students.  

13                 And so the issue of the training, 

14          which I think clearly came out in the 

15          oversight review of the schools -- that we 

16          had provided information from SED, but 

17          whether that got translated to the staff was 

18          a bigger issue.  

19                 And so we believe that the model that 

20          we're putting in place, if we get the funding 

21          to do it, that we'll have Technical 

22          Assistance Centers reviewing and working with 

23          schools based on the feedback that they're 

24          getting from the surveys that are required 


 1          under our ESSA plan, and then providing 

 2          grants particularly for school districts that 

 3          are identified as having major issues in 

 4          these areas so that they can implement the 

 5          kinds of strategies, the training for staff, 

 6          and the overall approach that's necessary to 

 7          ensure that we have supportive school 

 8          environments that address the issues of 

 9          dignity for all.  

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Thank you for 

11          all that.  And I do appreciate it, and I am 

12          paying close attention to the work that's 

13          going on, and I think it's terrific.  

14                 My last question is, there has been 

15          sadly a rash of suicides among children who 

16          attend nonpublic schools, and some of these 

17          parents have come to my office, clearly 

18          beyond distressed, and want to know why I 

19          excluded their child's school from the 

20          bullying reporting and the training and the 

21          tolerance that Dignity was supposed to 

22          correct.  

23                 And so I have a bill in that would 

24          expand Dignity to all schools in the State of 


 1          New York, and I was just curious to know 

 2          whether or not you think that's a good idea.  

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I certainly 

 4          think that the value is extremely important.  

 5          From the State Education Department's view, 

 6          as you know, this has to be something that a 

 7          school or district sees as very critical and 

 8          then does the work that's necessary to 

 9          establish the appropriate culture and the 

10          climate.  I would think that that would 

11          happen in schools.  And certainly training 

12          that we have should be available to nonpublic 

13          schools that are interested.  

14                 I think where we can perhaps be more 

15          directive is in the idea of the reporting.  

16          Which, as you pointed out, is not part of the 

17          nonpublics' environment right now.  

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN O'DONNELL:  Thank you very 

19          much.  I appreciate it.  

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

22          Commissioner, for being here and spending so 

23          much time with us.  And we appreciate your 

24          response to all of the questions asked.  


 1          Thank you.  

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And thank you all 

 3          very much.  Anything that we can do to 

 4          clarify any of the proposals that you have in 

 5          front of you, or talk through some proposed 

 6          legislation that you think is extremely 

 7          important, please feel free to call us.  

 8                 And I want to thank my staff -- I have 

 9          a great group of people supporting me across 

10          SED -- and the Regents for their work.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

13          Commissioner.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Our next 

15          witness is the chancellor of the New York 

16          City Department of Education, Carmen Fariña, 

17          who's been patiently sitting out waiting for 

18          school to start.  

19                 (Discussion off the record.) 

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you so 

21          much, Chancellor, for being here and your 

22          patience.  And please begin.  

23                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, first of 

24          all, good morning.  For me this is a -- 


 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We're barely in 

 2          the afternoon session now.  

 3                 (Cross-talk.) 

 4                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Good morning.  

 5          It's bittersweet for me to be here, my fifth 

 6          and final testimony before all of you.  And I 

 7          have enjoyed coming to Albany and actually 

 8          getting to meet some of you on a one-to-one 

 9          basis.  So officially, this is my testimony 

10          and I'll be happy to answer questions at the 

11          end.  

12                 Good morning, Senate Finance Committee 

13          Chair Young, Assembly Ways and Means 

14          Committee Chair Weinstein, Education 

15          Committee Chairs Marcellino and Nolan, 

16          ranking members Senator Krueger and 

17          Assemblyman Oaks, and all the members of the 

18          State Senate and State Assembly here today.  

19          Thank you for the opportunity to speak before 

20          you on the 2018–2019 Executive Budget and the 

21          experience of leading the New York City 

22          public school system.  

23                 With me is Raymond Orlando, chief 

24          financial officer for the New York City 


 1          Department of Education.  

 2                 As you have heard, I will be leaving 

 3          my position as chancellor of the New York 

 4          City school system.  This will be my second 

 5          time retiring from the school system that I 

 6          have devoted 52 years to and that I believe 

 7          in so deeply.  I am proud to leave knowing 

 8          that New York City public schools are the 

 9          strongest they have ever been, and under this 

10          administration's vision of Equity and 

11          Excellence for All, we are on the path to 

12          becoming even stronger.  

13                 Our four-year graduation rate for the 

14          Class of 2016 was 72.6 percent, up 6.6 points 

15          since 2013.  We expect this trend to 

16          continue. ELA and math scores are also on the 

17          rise, and we are outpacing the state in 

18          English.  More of our students are graduating 

19          ready for college and careers.  

20                 And just this month I was proud to 

21          announce that the number of New York City 

22          juniors taking the SAT increased by 

23          51 percent in just one year.  And thanks to 

24          our SAT School Day initiative, this gives 


 1          students the opportunity to take the test for 

 2          free during the school day.  These gains were 

 3          especially high for black and Latino 

 4          students, who saw a 57.9 percent increase in 

 5          participation and a 65.1 percent increase in 

 6          participation, respectively.  This means 

 7          15,000 more black and Latino students took 

 8          the SAT.  

 9                 We did some extra interviews on some 

10          of the students who took the test.  Some of 

11          the reasons for the increase were having it 

12          during the school day meant that they didn't 

13          have to leave their neighborhoods and try to 

14          figure out where the test was being given.  

15          Because we paid the fees, it means they 

16          didn't have to figure out how to get a money 

17          order and other ways to do it.  We have tried 

18          to simplify this as much as possible.  

19                 But one of the things that the numbers 

20          don't show is also that teachers now 

21          anticipate that every child in their 11th 

22          grade is eligible to take SATs.  So your game 

23          is upped when you know all the students are 

24          eligible for the test.  


 1                 Under AP for All, one of our Equity 

 2          and Excellence for All initiatives, we have 

 3          increased the number of students taking AP 

 4          courses by 9.9 percent, and the number of 

 5          students passing at least one AP test by 

 6          7.5 percent, again with outsize gains among 

 7          black and Latino students.  In one particular 

 8          high school we went from one AP course over 

 9          the last few years to 15 in just the last two 

10          years.  So that offers the students many more 

11          opportunities.  

12                 We are also increasing the training of 

13          teachers for these courses, we are raising 

14          the bar on good instruction.  We've also 

15          increased fee waiver assistance to students.  

16          And I was glad to see that the Executive 

17          Budget includes a provision to increase state 

18          assistance.  

19                 Our campus initiative also helped AP 

20          participation rates. By encouraging schools 

21          in shared space to work together and share 

22          resources, students gained access to 

23          offerings and opportunities in the collocated 

24          schools.  We pride ourselves on collaboration 


 1          over competition.  We now have 25 collocated 

 2          schools in the City of New York -- actually, 

 3          in all your represented districts -- and a 

 4          combination of 154 high schools.  

 5                 Lehman High School, which is our first 

 6          high school that we did this in, now has 

 7          after-school programs shared by everyone on 

 8          the campus, AP courses by everyone on the 

 9          campus, arts programs shared by everyone on 

10          the campus, and we feel this has really made 

11          a big difference.  

12                 I know that many of you visit your 

13          local schools regularly, attend school 

14          events, and meet with principals, teachers, 

15          parents, and students.  I am grateful for 

16          your commitment to public education and 

17          creating the leaders of tomorrow.  You know 

18          that what makes a school community special 

19          goes beyond test scores.  Of course, students 

20          must make tangible, measurable progress, but 

21          we also want schools to be places where they 

22          make friends, experience new things, 

23          cultivate hobbies, overcome obstacles, and 

24          feel safe.  In many ways, these elements go 


 1          hand in hand with improved academics.  

 2                 Over the last four years we have 

 3          implemented key initiatives that have helped 

 4          students grow academically and also prepared 

 5          them to become responsible citizens of the 

 6          world.  I have always believed that both arts 

 7          and social studies are so important to 

 8          creating well-rounded adults, and I am proud 

 9          that we have strengthened those subject areas 

10          in schools.  We have the highest number of 

11          full-time certified arts teachers in 

12          12 years, and partnership grants focusing on 

13          the arts have more than doubled.  

14                 We are paying for schools where a 

15          middle school and an elementary school work 

16          together, sharing arts teachers, so what 

17          starts in the elementary school can then 

18          continue into the middle school, and also 

19          raises the level of what middle-school arts 

20          looks like.  

21                 Already the DOE has increased our 

22          school level arts spending by $17 million, on 

23          top of the $23 million already allocated by 

24          the mayor’s budget this past year.  


 1                 For social studies, we have developed 

 2          a new extensive curriculum -- which we 

 3          actually have offered to share with the rest 

 4          of the state -- called Passport to Social 

 5          Studies that is now used in over 70 percent 

 6          of our schools in New York City.  This past 

 7          week I visited PS 150 in Queens, and we 

 8          visited a school that has totally adopted the 

 9          Passport.  And you have children talking 

10          about Brazil, China, American history.  This 

11          is all part of bringing history alive and 

12          cultural studies to our elementary schools.  

13                 We have taken major steps to increase 

14          access to unique learning opportunities and 

15          options that fit students' specific needs.  

16          Career and Technical Education, CTE programs, 

17          are a key part of this work, and of our 

18          broader strategy to put students on the path 

19          to college and careers.  Over the 2016–2017, 

20          2017–2018, and 2018–2019 school years, we are 

21          investing in 40 new high-quality CTE programs 

22          while strengthening our numerous existing 

23          programs.

24                 Let me be clear.  CTE is not 


 1          vocational education.  It is an understanding 

 2          that vocational education, in and of itself, 

 3          is a dead end.  You learn a skill, you go out 

 4          and you go to work.  CTE offers multiple 

 5          pathways.  You can learn skills, but then you 

 6          can also continue to college.  And for many 

 7          of our students, there are multiple pathways 

 8          for getting jobs -- so they can go to college 

 9          at night but they can go directly into 

10          college.  

11                 A prime example of something that has 

12          changed in the last few months is something 

13          that's happening at Thomas Edison High School 

14          in Queens.  We can now, due to federal 

15          guidelines, start CTE programs in 7th grade 

16          in middle school.  And Thomas Edison has now 

17          started a drone program, a nationally 

18          certified program, where 7th graders in the 

19          local middle school, 217, start, the teachers 

20          from Edison go and teach some classes.  And 

21          we're using this as a model for many more 

22          parts of the city where we can start CTE in 

23          middle school and use it also as an entry 

24          point to the local high school, such as 


 1          Aviation High School and some of the other 

 2          ones that are really growing and graduating 

 3          students for the careers of the future.  

 4                 We have another program with jet 

 5          simulators in one of the middle schools in 

 6          the Bronx, and now Bronx Aerospace also has a 

 7          jet simulator and those students will be able 

 8          to graduate with many more opportunities.  

 9                 Last year we implemented new 

10          initiatives to support the academic, social, 

11          and emotional needs of our students living in 

12          temporary housing.  We hired more social 

13          workers, implemented literacy programs in 

14          shelters, and provided school-based health 

15          services.  Additionally, we provide Yellow 

16          Bus service to their home schools for 

17          students in Grades K–6 so, although the 

18          shelter may be in one neighborhood, they can 

19          stay in the school where they began their 

20          educational life in, and it helps with some 

21          continuity.  

22                 We are continuing these initiatives 

23          this year, including providing social workers 

24          in schools with the highest concentrations of 


 1          students in shelter and after-school tutoring 

 2          at the shelters themselves.  We are working 

 3          to ensure that school can remain a constant, 

 4          stabilizing force in these students' lives.  

 5                 We have focused on our most struggling 

 6          schools through our Renewal program. These 

 7          schools have been supported over the last 

 8          three years as part of the largest turnaround 

 9          effort in the country.  They received a range 

10          of resources and supports, and I am happy to 

11          report that 21 of these schools have made 

12          enough progress to move out of the program 

13          and become Rise Schools, where they will 

14          continue to receive additional supports to 

15          ensure that their progress continues.  

16                 Many of these schools continuing in 

17          the program are on an upward path, and I 

18          expect many more of them to become Rise 

19          Schools in the near future.  We continue to 

20          evaluate the schools regularly and to make 

21          decisions about their future based on what is 

22          best for children.  

23                 As a first-generation American and 

24          former English language learner (ELL), I know 


 1          firsthand the benefits of being bilingual.  

 2          As chancellor, I have made sure that the ELLs 

 3          have access to rigorous instruction and the 

 4          full range of educational opportunities.  

 5          This school year, we have more than 500 

 6          bilingual programs across every borough, and 

 7          150 are new during my tenure. These include 

 8          the first-ever Urdu program and more Bengali 

 9          programs at elementary and high schools.  

10          This month, we announced 33 new dual language 

11          pre-K programs, more than double our current 

12          number.  

13                 We have also made tremendous progress 

14          with our Language Access services. The DOE's 

15          Translation and Interpretation Unit currently 

16          offers over-the-phone interpretation services 

17          in over 200 languages.  And by the way, these 

18          are almost run 24/7, including weekends, when 

19          parents are more likely to use them and need 

20          them.  

21                 We also have made major investments in 

22          students with disabilities, including hiring 

23          more staff, opening new programs, and 

24          expanding partnerships with providers.  I am 


 1          particularly proud that we have redoubled our 

 2          focus on inclusive classrooms, including the 

 3          expansion of programs such as the ASD Nest.  

 4          Students with disabilities are making 

 5          academic progress:  The four-year August 

 6          graduation rate increased to 44.8 percent 

 7          from 30.5 percent, and the dropout rate 

 8          decreased to 14 percent from 19 percent in 

 9          2011-2012.  

10                 We must continue to work on this.  

11          Students with disabilities have a lot to 

12          offer our system, and we need to be able to 

13          provide for them.  

14                 Providing students with safe, 

15          nurturing learning environments is at the 

16          heart of our Equity and Excellence for All 

17          agenda.  As part of this work, we have 

18          implemented important school culture reforms, 

19          and invested $47 million annually in school 

20          climate and restorative justice initiatives.  

21          In partnership with the First Lady’s 

22          ThriveNYC initiative, we are offering mental 

23          health supports to equip schools with the 

24          critical resources to effectively manage 


 1          incidents and address underlying issues.  We 

 2          also work hand in hand with the NYPD to 

 3          provide safe learning environments in all 

 4          schools.  

 5                 Earlier this year, we announced the 

 6          launch of new anti-bullying initiatives, 

 7          including ways to support families in 

 8          reporting bullying incidents, mental health 

 9          first aid training and community workshops, 

10          anti-bias and anti-bullying training for 

11          staff, increased bullying protections for 

12          students, and funding for student-led clubs 

13          that promote diversity and equity.  

14                 This year -- actually, last week, we 

15          had our first LGBTQ forum with students at 

16          Stuyvesant High School, where students shared 

17          their experience and also support for each 

18          other.  

19                 We are also targeting supports for 

20          300 schools across the city with high rates 

21          of incidents and bullying.  One of the things 

22          we've also started is workshops with parents 

23          on how to identify bullying, how to have 

24          conversations with your children around 


 1          bullying, and then how to be able to ensure 

 2          that your child is comfortable telling you 

 3          things that perhaps in the past they may not 

 4          have been.  

 5                 The environment children learn in 

 6          profoundly impacts their experience.  We have 

 7          undertaken several different initiatives to 

 8          improve and upgrade space in our schools.  We 

 9          have dedicated funding to creating more than 

10          44,000 seats in overcrowded areas across the 

11          city.  We have made great progress in 

12          removing and replacing the TCUs.  Since 

13          2014–2015, we have removed 159 of -- I knew 

14          you were going to laugh at that, Cathy -- we 

15          have removed 159 of 354 total TCUs and have 

16          plans for the removal of 75 more.  These 

17          remaining trailers will be removed with 

18          funding supported by the Smart Schools Bond 

19          Act, which we thank the Legislature for and 

20          look forward to receiving.  

21                 I know this is an important issue for 

22          many of you, and it has been a priority of 

23          this administration as well because we know 

24          children learn best in an environment that is 


 1          safe, that is supportive, and that provides 

 2          them with the resources they need to grow 

 3          socially and academically.  For this reason, 

 4          we also announced two other initiatives last 

 5          year.  One will provide every classroom with 

 6          air conditioning by 2022, and the other, our 

 7          Universal Physical Education initiative, will 

 8          provide every student with adequate physical 

 9          education space by 2021.  

10                 Our work to make New York City’s 

11          schools more diverse and inclusive is 

12          critical to the success of our broader 

13          agenda.  In June, we released New York City’s 

14          first citywide school diversity plan, Equity 

15          and Excellence for All: Diversity in New York 

16          City Public Schools. Building on this plan, 

17          we were proud to announce our first-ever 

18          district-wide school diversity plan in 

19          Manhattan’s District 1, and have launched a 

20          diversity working group in Brooklyn's 

21          District 15, with the aim of announcing a 

22          District 15 middle school diversity plan by 

23          the end of the current school year.  Our 

24          citywide School Diversity Advisory Group has 


 1          also kicked off and will be hosting town 

 2          halls in all five boroughs starting this 

 3          month, to solicit more ideas and feedback on 

 4          our ongoing work.  

 5                 There are many proposals in the 

 6          Executive Budget that are in line with our 

 7          goals.  Community Schools, expanded pre-K, 

 8          increased computer science, increased 

 9          after-school programming and Universal School 

10          Lunch -- these initiatives are very similar 

11          to the ones that we already have trail-blazed 

12          under my leadership.  

13                 I am particularly proud of our Pre-K 

14          for All expansion.  Under Pre-K for All, 

15          nearly 70,000 4-year-olds enrolled in our 

16          schools, thanks in no small part to the state 

17          funding provided by all of you.  As many of 

18          you know, we rolled out 3-K for All in 

19          September, which looks to bring high-quality 

20          early childhood education to 3-year-olds 

21          across the city.  

22                 We started with two school districts, 

23          District 7 and District 23, both high-need 

24          districts in the city.  3-K for All classes 


 1          opened in those two districts, and they are 

 2          serving more than 1,500 children this year.  

 3          I attended the opening day of one of the 3-Ks 

 4          in District 7 and spoke to several of the 

 5          moms.  Two of the moms were crying.  No child 

 6          was crying.  And most of the parents told me 

 7          that for them, this is a game-changer, 

 8          because for the first time they can go to 

 9          work all day and raise their family's 

10          economic status without worrying about where 

11          their children are.  

12                 And I visited the same school 

13          recently, and the teachers are telling me 

14          that it's amazing how fast the kids are 

15          growing in self-confidence.  And many of you 

16          know self-confidence is the first step in 

17          being really successful in school.  

18                 I would like to thank the Legislature 

19          for always supporting additional funding for 

20          our public schools.  I particularly want to 

21          thank you for your advocacy for the My 

22          Brother's Keeper initiative.  

23                 And by the way, one My Brother's 

24          Keeper initiative -- I saw Senator Savino 


 1          there this Saturday, in Staten Island -- held 

 2          their eighth annual.  And this year they were 

 3          able to upgrade it even more through some 

 4          funding from My Brother's Keeper, and they 

 5          had historically black colleges come to 

 6          present to the students.  They hosted over 

 7          600 students from Staten Island at the fair 

 8          that day.  

 9                 And I am actually meeting with the 

10          presidents of historically black colleges, I 

11          believe next week, two weeks, to talk about 

12          how we might work more clearly together, 

13          particularly to raise the level of the 

14          teacher education programs.  I spoke to a lot 

15          of the Jackson State people.  We need more 

16          teachers to come out of these schools so that 

17          we can really have a diverse teaching body.  

18                 Additional state funding has allowed 

19          us to do more for students, including 

20          addressing inequity in funding to our schools 

21          through Fair Student Funding, FSF.  The FSF 

22          formula is an equitable, transparent way for 

23          us to distribute funding to our schools and 

24          to ensure that our neediest schools receive 


 1          the greatest resources.  

 2                 We are committed to a funding process 

 3          that is fair and easily accessible, which is 

 4          why our budget information, both systemwide 

 5          and at an individual school level, is 

 6          publicly available on our website -- any 

 7          parent who wants to know how their school is 

 8          funded has access to it through the internet.  

 9          And we believe that the proposed budget 

10          reporting mandate that would allow the state 

11          to veto our budget is unnecessary and a 

12          violation of the principle of local control 

13          of education decisions.  

14                 This year, every school got at least 

15          87 percent of their Fair Student Funding, up 

16          from 81 percent in 2014.  And certain 

17          schools, like those in our Community and 

18          Renewal School programs, are guaranteed 100 

19          percent of their Fair Student Funding.  On 

20          top of this, we also commit funding to our 

21          schools through many of our central 

22          initiatives.  They're initiatives that 

23          schools get that are paid for out of the 

24          central budget.  


 1                 We have -- in 14 of our school 

 2          districts, we now have literacy coaches in 

 3          the early grades, paid for by the DOE, 

 4          specifically so we can do the training of the 

 5          teachers -- we choose the teachers, and then 

 6          we send them to schools where the greatest 

 7          need is.  

 8                 We have also paid the Single 

 9          Shepherds.  These are guidance counselors and 

10          social workers who are assigned to schools to 

11          follow families from 6th grade right through 

12          graduation in 12th grade.  We have found them 

13          to be very helpful to the families as well as 

14          the students.  

15                 And many of our arts programs are now 

16          funded through us and not part of the school 

17          budgets, to ensure that no school does not 

18          have arts due to their own not choosing to do 

19          it.  

20                 We want to continue to increase the 

21          Fair Student Funding.  This would rely on an 

22          investment from the state in Foundation Aid 

23          that wasn't absorbed by an equal amount of 

24          mandated expenses and revenue reductions that 


 1          directs funding away from schools.  The 

 2          proposed budget cuts other funding streams 

 3          from us, including eliminating basic charter 

 4          supplemental tuition reimbursement and 

 5          capping the amount of funding we can receive 

 6          from the state for charter facilities aid 

 7          reimbursement.  

 8                 We believe that if these are enacted, 

 9          these cuts would cost us $144 million. That 

10          would really absolutely take us backwards 

11          from the amount of successes we've been able 

12          to do in the last four years.  Not having 

13          this critical funding makes it all the more 

14          difficult for us to achieve what we want:  a 

15          sound, basic education for every single child 

16          in New York City.  

17                 I want to thank so many of you for the 

18          work we have done together these last four 

19          years.  We have met here in Albany -- this is 

20          my fifth budget testimony -- visited schools 

21          together, and held events in your local 

22          school communities.  I see several of you 

23          that I'm actually going to be seeing over the 

24          next few weeks on issues relevant to your own 


 1          communities.  Your insights into local 

 2          issues, the legislative process, and our 

 3          schools have been invaluable.  You are making 

 4          the lives of New York City kids better.  

 5                 I am very proud of the work we have 

 6          done to engage communities.  Our rates of 

 7          family engagement have never been higher, 

 8          with a 40 percent increase in attendance at 

 9          parent-teacher conferences and our parent 

10          satisfaction rate in the high 80 percent in 

11          New York City.  

12                 I truly believe that you can only be 

13          successful if you can get people to buy into 

14          your vision, and you can't do that without 

15          speaking to them, strengthening community, 

16          and establishing trust.  As public officials, 

17          we know it’s not about ourselves, it’s about 

18          students and families.  

19                 I have attended town hall meetings, 

20          Saturday meetings with our CEC members, 

21          received a perfect attendance plaque from 

22          CPAC -- which means I never missed their 

23          monthly meetings where their voice is heard 

24          -- and I think most importantly, for the 


 1          first time in many, many years we held a 

 2          Title I meeting for all districts in the City 

 3          of New York and we had 100 percent perfect 

 4          attendance of a parent representative this 

 5          past Saturday.  

 6                 We're moving a lot of our meetings to 

 7          Saturdays.  Actually, it means we work a 

 8          six-day week, which is fine, but it also 

 9          means that parents come to meetings when we 

10          do it on their schedule.  

11                 An educator's work is never done.  And 

12          I believe that anything is possible for 

13          children, and my 52 years has only 

14          strengthened that core belief.  Even in 

15          retirement I will be unable to resist keeping 

16          my hands in projects that are most important 

17          to me, and I have already chosen two of them.  

18          Because of these changes we have made to 

19          empower superintendents and local leadership, 

20          I am confident that there are many strong and 

21          passionate individuals in charge of our 

22          schools who will continue this work.  

23                 I am also proud of bringing back joy 

24          and dignity to educators in New York City.  


 1          There is no greater honor and satisfaction 

 2          than to be of service, and it has been my 

 3          great honor and pleasure to be of service to 

 4          the children and families of New York City.  

 5                 I look forward to your questions.  

 6          Thank you.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 8          Chancellor, for being here and for your 

 9          remarks and commenting on the proposals in 

10          the Executive Budget that would impact the 

11          city school system.  

12                 And I know many members who are here 

13          would like to thank you for your service, so 

14          I'll take the prerogative to do that and 

15          leave some time for them to ask some 

16          questions.  

17                 Before we go to our Education chair, 

18          without revealing any secrets, I did the math 

19          after we last met, and I think you were 

20          student-teaching at P.S. 114 when I was 

21          attending it.  

22                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  That was a long 

23          time ago.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  It was a long 


 1          time ago.  I think both our hair was a 

 2          different color at that time.  

 3                 And now on to our Education chair, 

 4          Cathy Nolan.  

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  You know, 

 6          everyone says that Carmen Fariña knows 

 7          everyone, but even I didn't think she knew 

 8          Helene when she was a kid.  

 9                 (Laughter.) 

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  So I understand 

11          that sets the topper for the five years.  

12                 We all -- I think I can speak for so 

13          many members of the Legislature -- the 

14          chancellor's professionalism, the dedication, 

15          the vision and most of all, the comprehensive 

16          improvements that she has brought to the 

17          New York City school system have made a 

18          difference in the lives of every child in our 

19          city.  And certainly made our jobs easier as 

20          legislators, because the deluge of complaints 

21          lessened just a little bit, and that makes a 

22          big, big difference to us.  

23                 But anybody who's had an experience 

24          with the system knows the kind of dedication 


 1          that you brought to it, and the 

 2          comprehensiveness of your knowledge, but also 

 3          your work ethic.  So it's been a great 

 4          pleasure.

 5                 I just have a couple of quick 

 6          questions.  One is one that I asked 

 7          Commissioner Elia, because our job, as she 

 8          pointed out earlier, is to look at the 

 9          Executive proposals and weigh in on what we 

10          think should be, and how to then come up with 

11          the funding.  

12                 How important is Foundation Aid to the 

13          City of New York's Department of Education?  

14                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  It's crucial.  I 

15          mean, everything we've done, we've done based 

16          on the budgets that we've gotten in the past.  

17          And the reality is -- and I say this over and 

18          over again -- education is not a charity, 

19          it's an investment.  The money that we put 

20          into our schools means that the students will 

21          be the better citizens of tomorrow and will 

22          increase our economy.  The more students go 

23          out into the workforce as educated citizens, 

24          the better jobs they have, the more taxes 


 1          they'll pay.  To me, this is an investment.

 2                 And I really think it's crucial that 

 3          to start thinking that where else you might 

 4          cut, but not education -- and I don't want to 

 5          hurt anybody else -- this is very, very 

 6          important.  

 7                 And also, to some degree, foundational 

 8          aid is also giving money to the people who do 

 9          not have the power to advocate for 

10          themselves.  If you look at the amount of 

11          money that we need on -- certainly to keep 

12          our improvements on English language learners 

13          and special education -- and even, you know, 

14          for so many of our Gifted and Talent 

15          Programs, we must have the money to be able 

16          to do the programs.  

17                 So to have major cuts in this area, 

18          which is foundational, really, for everything 

19          we do I think is crucial.  

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I'm going to 

21          take the liberty of making sure that every 

22          member of the Legislature, even those not 

23          here, gets a copy of your testimony, because 

24          you listed so many different things.  And as 


 1          chair, I've had the opportunity to work with 

 2          you, I could comment on every one of them.  

 3          But I will not do that, just because -- 

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  -- Helene will 

 6          yank that mic right from me.  

 7                 (Laughter.) 

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  But we've had 

 9          the opportunity to talk extensively, and I 

10          appreciate that.  

11                 Just one quick thing about the 

12          trailers.  We still have 200 of them, or just 

13          under.  I say it not so much for you but for 

14          my colleagues in other parts of the state who 

15          don't realize that still in the City of 

16          New York we have thousands of children 

17          learning in a -- I hate to call it a 

18          firetrap, God forbid, but in a very 

19          substandard setup.  And, you know, no one 

20          will ever convince me that there's any value 

21          in having kids put their coats on and walk to 

22          a trailer to attend classes.  

23                 So we appreciate the efforts on that, 

24          but I hope you go back and tell Mayor de 


 1          Blasio, even if you are retiring, that we 

 2          want him to keep that a priority.  

 3                 But I would like you also then to talk 

 4          a little bit about -- the Executive has 

 5          proposed a number of caps on expense-based 

 6          aids, and also a new system that would 

 7          require the city to I guess have the State 

 8          Department of the Budget or the Governor 

 9          himself, perhaps, allocate every penny that 

10          every individual school gets.  We have 1600 

11          of them in New York City; I can't keep track 

12          of the 35 or so in my own Assembly district, 

13          no matter how hard I work.  So it's pretty 

14          miraculous that State DOB thinks they have 

15          the time and the energy to review each 

16          individual school allocation.  

17                 But that's just my opinion; I'd like 

18          yours.  

19                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  No, no, no, it's 

20          my opinion too.  

21                 Let's be very clear:  We can either 

22          educate our kids or we can spend our time on 

23          paperwork and bureaucracy.  And I think we've 

24          done a very good job of proving that we know 


 1          how to handle budgets.  And it's really 

 2          important that we don't add another layer of 

 3          paperwork to what we already have available.  

 4                 I'm sure MaryEllen said the same 

 5          thing.  ESSA is already putting certain 

 6          requirements on us.  So to have three 

 7          different bosses when we're already on the 

 8          path to getting this done the right way the 

 9          first time I think is important.  And to add 

10          another bureau of people who are going to 

11          look at paperwork that will probably never be 

12          reviewed, versus the initial instance, is 

13          going to put a burden on us.  And it's not 

14          just a burden on us, it's time that's going 

15          to take away from running schools.  Which is 

16          where administrators should be, it's where 

17          teachers should be.  

18                 So I would say it's fundamentally not 

19          necessary, and it's also to some degree -- 

20          you know, I'm leaving, I can say this -- 

21          disrespectful, because you're also saying you 

22          need another bureaucracy to oversee the other 

23          bureaucracy who are already overseen by 

24          another bureaucracy.  So to me, it's money 


 1          wasted and not necessary.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And one quick 

 3          thing, it's one thing that you didn't 

 4          address.  I have a great interest, as you 

 5          know, in adult education.  I asked MaryEllen 

 6          this question too.  Can you just give the 

 7          committees an update -- because most people 

 8          do not know that the city has some 

 9          responsibilities for adult ed as well -- and 

10          maybe just give us a little update.  

11                 Under former Chancellor Klein, the 

12          number of hours went down dramatically, and I 

13          know that both you and Dennis Walcott have 

14          spent a lot of time building those hours back 

15          up.  That was a loss for the city, but I know 

16          we're in a better place.  But maybe you can 

17          just comment a little bit.  

18                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, our adult 

19          education program right now is an 

20          award-winning state program.  We have 

21          actually received a little extra money from 

22          the state but also have received a 

23          distinguished award for the way we run our 

24          programs.  


 1                 The programs have been increased 

 2          dramatically.  Any district who wants more 

 3          GED programs, wants more ESL programs, simply 

 4          needs to apply.  We have a superintendent in 

 5          charge of adult education, and we have 

 6          several thousand adults in these programs, 

 7          many of them immigrants to this country who 

 8          are trying to better themselves.  

 9                 So we're very proud of that particular 

10          program.  And I believe last year, for the 

11          first time, it became the number-one program 

12          in the State of New York.  And we continue to 

13          expand that as the need comes up.  

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  We may continue 

15          at some point to have some type of a hearing 

16          on adult ed.  But I hope that you'll be 

17          around a lot longer and perhaps advise us on 

18          that area as we go forward.  

19                 And then the last question, you know, 

20          not to save perhaps the most difficult for 

21          last, but I am satisfied with the progress of 

22          the two Renewal Schools -- or the main 

23          Renewal School in my district, P.S. 111.  I 

24          want to thank you for your extensive visits 


 1          to the school, and your team's visits.  And I 

 2          appreciate the effort that our community has 

 3          made in walking with the principal, who's 

 4          done a marvelous job.  

 5                 But there has been a lot of criticism 

 6          of Renewal Schools, and in this budget there 

 7          are lots of other things that perhaps would 

 8          penalize -- I don't agree with the penalizing 

 9          approach, a penalty approach, but the city 

10          has lost funds in the past because we could 

11          not stop that from happening when the DOB did 

12          that.  So it's a concern of mine, and I 

13          wondered if you would talk a little bit more 

14          about how you see the Renewal Schools moving 

15          forward in tandem with State Ed and other 

16          requirements.  

17                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, let me put 

18          the Renewal work in a certain perspective.  

19          We really started the Renewal work about 

20          three and a half years ago.  And for any of 

21          you who have any knowledge of education, you 

22          don't turn schools around on a dime.  And you 

23          certainly don't do it in one or two years.  

24                 So we started with a very important 


 1          premise that the most important thing in any 

 2          school turnaround is to have a good 

 3          principal, and that those principals had to 

 4          be able to be dynamic enough to encourage 

 5          people to come and make people excited.  

 6                 So in order to start looking -- it 

 7          certainly didn't happen day one.  I would say 

 8          into the first six months -- and then after 

 9          time, who was the right principals for those 

10          schools became a very important part of how 

11          we began the Renewal work.  

12                 In all our Renewal Schools there are 

13          certain things that we have in common.  They 

14          all have extended learning time.  Every 

15          single Renewal School has an additional hour 

16          per day of instructional time.  They all 

17          looked at it a little differently, and about 

18          two years ago we started looking at which 

19          schools were more successful.  So now we're 

20          doing a much more uniform approach to 

21          extended learning time, what it should look 

22          like.  

23                 They're all Community Schools, which 

24          means each of them has a partnership, some of 


 1          them with more than one ongoing organization, 

 2          but that they're embedded during the school 

 3          day.  The difference between an after-school 

 4          program and Community Schools and the Renewal 

 5          work is that we expect whoever the provider 

 6          is to be working there all day long, sitting 

 7          in classes with students, seeing students in 

 8          the classroom before they work with them in 

 9          after-school programs.  

10                 The other thing -- and this is for 

11          those of you from the Bronx -- we made sure 

12          that all these schools were able to hire what 

13          we call highly effective teachers.  So all 

14          these schools have at least one, some have at 

15          least three master teachers who do the kind 

16          of professional development for other 

17          teachers in the building.  But it was also a 

18          recruitment tool, so we were able to 

19          encourage teachers from other parts of the 

20          city to move to schools that were Renewal 

21          Schools.  And that has been very successful.  

22                 I think what we're also looking at is 

23          what were the common things across all 

24          schools that we could move to the other 


 1          schools.  So now we have 21 Rise Schools; I 

 2          was just at their opening professional 

 3          development yesterday.  And I want to put a 

 4          little spin on this a little differently.  

 5          These schools are not schools that are 

 6          failing in every way possible.  A lot of 

 7          these schools have students that may not be 

 8          on the highest level but have other things 

 9          that are wonderful.  

10                 The city champions for debating across 

11          the entire city happens to be a Renewal 

12          School.  One of the schools with the highest 

13          number of new enrollments happens to be a 

14          Renewal School.  

15                 We have now taught principals how to 

16          rebrand their schools, what are some of the 

17          things that make sense, what are some of the 

18          programs that parents are looking for in 

19          schools, and how do you put them in a school 

20          that perhaps parents stopped looking at.  And 

21          again, sometimes what happens to schools, 

22          they get a bad reputation from 10, 15 years 

23          ago, and nobody walks into their buildings to 

24          see how really we have improved.  


 1                 So I think there's a lot of work 

 2          happening in the Renewal Schools.  I'm 

 3          anticipating that a good majority of the ones 

 4          that are not in Rise will be within a year.  

 5          But there may be some, for whatever the 

 6          reason, that don't make it, and that's where 

 7          we come up with mergers, consolidations, and 

 8          in some cases also closures.  

 9                 But the difference between what we've 

10          done and what was done prior -- and I was 

11          here prior -- is that if there's a school 

12          that's closing, we give parents a choice of 

13          three other schools of their choice that are 

14          more successful than the school that we're 

15          closing.  Parents have choice.  There will be 

16          an enrollment person in the school taking 

17          them through the choices, and they make the 

18          choice.  

19                 Same thing with teachers.  Teachers 

20          are not let go so they have to find their own 

21          positions.  We are having an HR person at 

22          every school interviewing teachers.  Some of 

23          them will go to neighboring schools or the 

24          schools are in the same building -- many of 


 1          the teachers will stay within the same 

 2          building -- but we will be doing counseling 

 3          so everyone who's in one of these schools has 

 4          a better opportunity.  

 5                 When I became deputy chancellor, we 

 6          had 1200 schools in New York City.  We now 

 7          have 1600-plus.  Just by the law of economy, 

 8          that may be a little too many.  I mean, how 

 9          many resources and how much can you do when 

10          somehow the resources are limited to begin 

11          with?  

12                 So I am very proud of the schools 

13          we've done.  I think the Renewal work has 

14          been successful.  Anything that you try 

15          new -- and by the way, national -- if you 

16          look at any of the turnaround experts, the 

17          only thing they all agree on is that you need 

18          a great leader in front of the building.  And 

19          after that, there's all kinds of arguments 

20          about what works.  

21                 So I am really confident that we're 

22          moving this in the right direction.  

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

24                 I want to congratulate you on the 


 1          graduation rates, on all the wonderful 

 2          programs, the pre-K, the dual language 

 3          programs, the emphasis on CTE, the renewed 

 4          renewal of that or reinvigorization of that, 

 5          I guess would be the best way to say it.  

 6          You've reinvigorated so many aspects of our 

 7          city schools.  You know how I feel about you.  

 8          It's been a great pleasure and an honor to 

 9          work with you.  Thank you.  

10                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Thank you.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

12                 Senate?  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Marcellino.  

14                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thank you.  

15                 Let me agree with my colleague 

16          Assemblywoman Nolan:  You will be missed.  

17          You've done a great job, as far as I'm 

18          concerned, with the schools.  You're direct, 

19          you're forthright, and you don't pull any 

20          punches.  I like that.  Some have referred 

21          that sometimes I'm a little bit blunt and 

22          perhaps I should use a little more tact, but 

23          I do appreciate some people who give you a 

24          direct answer when you ask them a question 


 1          and don't diddle around the edges.  And 

 2          that's been my experience working with you, 

 3          and it's been a pleasure.  And as I said 

 4          before, you will be missed.  And if we can 

 5          talk you out of leaving, let me know, we'll 

 6          have that conversation later.  But I don't 

 7          think that's going to happen.  

 8                 Has Mayor de Blasio or your office 

 9          taken any steps to allow for more public 

10          input into the selection process for your 

11          successor?  

12                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I believe strongly 

13          that the selection of the chancellor, just 

14          like the selection of a police commissioner 

15          and, you know, other big jobs, cannot be done 

16          by committee.  I'll be very honest about 

17          that.  I think that this is a job also that 

18          if people have to apply publicly and be 

19          scrutinized publicly, a lot of people just 

20          won't apply.  

21                 So I think the process that is being 

22          used right now is actually a good one.  I 

23          think that when the time comes, you know, I 

24          think you will find that the one thing he has 


 1          said publicly is that -- and I agree with -- 

 2          it will be an educator, and it will be 

 3          someone who is going to build on the 

 4          foundational work that we've done.  They may 

 5          have a lot of their own good ideas, but at 

 6          least the stuff that we've put in place will 

 7          stay stable, and I think that's very 

 8          important to the community as a whole.  I 

 9          certainly feel principals and teachers are 

10          invested in things not changing too 

11          drastically because then the things that 

12          we've done cannot be going in a different 

13          direction.  

14                 So I think that the way it's being 

15          handled right now is actually the right way 

16          to do it.  

17                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  If you had -- and 

18          I'm sure you've been doing it, because 

19          looking back at what you've done over the 

20          time, what do you think would be your 

21          greatest success that you're really most 

22          proud of in the New York City system, and 

23          where do you think there's more to be done?  

24                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, I think what 


 1          I'm particularly proud of is the creation of 

 2          strong superintendents and going back to 

 3          geographical boundaries.  I think for too 

 4          long people didn't even know schools that 

 5          were right across the street from each other.  

 6          I think moving the spirit of collaboration 

 7          versus competition is very important.  

 8                 I think also, as a former teacher and 

 9          very proud of having been a teacher for 

10          22 years, bringing joy back to the classroom.  

11          You know, test scores are important, but so 

12          is learning.  I'm bringing the arts back, 

13          social studies, science.  To me, our joy of 

14          learning is why kids want to come to school.  

15          And I think also respecting teachers.  When I 

16          announced my retirement, I would say the 

17          majority of my emails were from teachers who 

18          said you make us proud to be a teacher, you 

19          always speak toward the heart, you always get 

20          what's the really important thing.  

21                 So I think having people feel that the 

22          leader of their system is someone that they 

23          can relate to and really has them in mind is 

24          important.  I think for principals, the same 


 1          thing, a tremendous amount of respect.  I 

 2          think also, given the national tone on 

 3          things, working respectfully with our unions.  

 4          I mean, I was a member of both of the unions 

 5          at one time.  We don't always agree, but I 

 6          think having mutual respect so when we come 

 7          to the table to do what's best for children, 

 8          we start from a positive point.  Those are 

 9          all things I'm very, very proud of.  

10                 And I think also having gone to some 

11          degree to the areas which I thought were the 

12          least served in the city -- you know, Senator 

13          Addabbo knows that I have a particular 

14          fondness for the Rockaways, and I plan on 

15          staying involved with them way beyond my job.  

16          The same thing with our collocated high 

17          school campuses -- going into high schools 

18          and saying to them, sit around the table, 

19          talk to each other about what you can share.  

20                 So I think anything that touched 

21          people personally is what I'm proudest of.  I 

22          think you cannot be a leader of a system, of 

23          any system, without leaving a personal as 

24          well as a professional connection.  So ...  


 1                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  You talked about 

 2          master teachers in the schools.  It was 

 3          always my opinion that -- or my understanding 

 4          that the principal was the master teacher 

 5          whose function was to help the other teachers 

 6          and help them move along and improve their 

 7          skills and the like.  

 8                 So now you're talking about additional 

 9          master teachers, what?  Explain this program, 

10          please.  

11                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, I think, 

12          first and foremost, the last teachers 

13          contract that we worked on provided for an 

14          additional 80 minutes per week for teacher 

15          professional development.  And that is 

16          actually handled, in most cases, by the 

17          principal.  

18                 But now we've really even encouraged 

19          that teacher leaders in buildings actually 

20          work peer-to-peer with each other.  You know, 

21          teachers -- especially those that have been 

22          working in a school for a while, are 

23          sometimes the people who the other teachers 

24          listen to.  


 1                 But I do believe that principals 

 2          should be educators, most importantly, before 

 3          anything else.  They should visit classrooms 

 4          on a regular basis.  They should have a 

 5          really good sense of what's happening in 

 6          their own schools.  

 7                 And I think one of the things you 

 8          asked me that I didn't answer, but I will 

 9          answer it now, is one of the things that I 

10          think we need to do better or more of, we 

11          need to have a better connection with 

12          institutes of higher learning where they're 

13          preparing the teachers of tomorrow for the 

14          classrooms of today.  

15                 And I think, you know, getting 

16          certainly more collaboration and more work 

17          with CUNY and SUNY I think is crucial to the 

18          success of the future of any kind of public 

19          education -- or any education, because we 

20          need to have teachers that are well-prepared 

21          when they go into our classrooms.  

22                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thank you very 

23          much.  And God bless, and good luck.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  


 1                 Assemblyman Weprin.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Thank you, Madam 

 3          Chair.  

 4                 Once again, I want to join in the 

 5          chorus of thanking you for your service and a 

 6          big change from prior city administrations 

 7          that I've worked with with non-educators.  

 8          It's great to hear that you're committed 

 9          to -- or the mayor is committed to having an 

10          educator replace you as well, because you 

11          remember all those years of fights we had 

12          with waivers and what have you.  So that's 

13          terrific.  

14                 I'm very happy you just visited 

15          P.S. 115 in Glen Oaks, which has a very large 

16          South Asian population, which goes along with 

17          your adding Urdu and Bengali to the languages 

18          that you testified to.  And I have a very 

19          large South Asian population in my district, 

20          and I also have Richmond Hill and Jamaica 

21          Hill, with a very large South Asian 

22          population.  So we look forward to that.  

23                 And I was very happy to visit that 

24          program you referred to in Thomas Edison High 


 1          School with you, and I think it's a great 

 2          school and really a gem that's kind of -- not 

 3          everybody knows about, but it's really 

 4          terrific.  As you know, the principal, Moses 

 5          Ojeda, is also a graduate of the school and 

 6          traveled to the school from a great distance, 

 7          and he's really done a lot with the school.  

 8                 Wearing my committee hat -- I chair 

 9          the Corrections Committee in the Assembly, 

10          and I've personally visited a number of the 

11          Department of Education GED programs at 

12          Rikers Island.  We're actually transitioning, 

13          it will take probably a couple of years till 

14          the Raise the Age is fully implemented and 

15          there are no longer 16- and 17-year-olds, you 

16          know, in the traditional correctional 

17          facilities but, you know, will be in youth 

18          facilities.  I just want to make sure that 

19          it's a priority still for the Department of 

20          Education to continue that program.  

21                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, I should 

22          have said, in one of the things I'm proudest 

23          about, I've been to Rikers about four times.  

24          After my first time, we totally revamped the 


 1          curriculum there.  We actually put in a new 

 2          master principal to make sure that things 

 3          such as classroom instruction was improved.  

 4          We put in a library.  We actually nominated 

 5          one of the teachers from Rikers to become a 

 6          Daily News Heroes in Education award winner.  

 7                 And this year, talk about the SATs, 

 8          was the first time that students at Rikers 

 9          were able to take the SATs.  Because just 

10          think about the way the SATs have been done 

11          in the past.  It's a Saturday in a place far 

12          away.  We took the SAT to Rikers.  Kids took 

13          it, and two of the students who took it got 

14          scholarships when they leave Rikers to go on 

15          to college.  

16                 So those are the kinds of things that 

17          we're looking at in Corrections.  Also I went 

18          to visit one of the Passages programs, which 

19          is students who come off Rikers and what 

20          happens when they go to group homes and then 

21          have to serve out their probation time.  

22                 And those are all programs that we're 

23          really putting more rigorous education in, 

24          because to me the answer to a lot of these 


 1          issues are better instruction, more -- higher 

 2          expectations, and then making sure students 

 3          have the counseling they need to make the 

 4          right decisions as they go forth.  

 5                 So I'm particularly proud of the work 

 6          we've done in Rikers, and I expect it will 

 7          only get better when we have it done in a 

 8          different way.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  That's great.  

10          I'm glad to hear that.  

11                 Just one last topic.  I've had a 

12          problem with a lot of schools in my area with 

13          substitute teachers.  Now, a lot of the 

14          principals don't have, in their budget, money 

15          for substitute teachers, which is becoming a 

16          problem.  Do you have any suggestions?  Do 

17          you anticipate any change on that?  

18                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I will certainly 

19          look into it.  I've heard that from some 

20          schools.  Sometimes people have to get more 

21          creative on how they have teachers, you know, 

22          working as substitutes.  But I will get you 

23          more information on that.  

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Again, once 


 1          again, thank you for your service.  Thank you 

 2          for being so hands-on and visiting so many 

 3          different schools, not only in my district 

 4          but throughout the five boroughs.  And I wish 

 5          you good luck.  

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Thank you.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you. 

 8                 We've been joined by Assemblyman Matt 

 9          Titone.  

10                 Senator?  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

12          much.  

13                 And welcome, Chancellor.  We're always 

14          glad to see you.  And I want to join the 

15          chorus of people who are congratulating you 

16          and thanking you for your service.  

17                 I do have some questions, however.  

18          And as you know, in this year's state budget 

19          you were allocated, in the New York City 

20          school system, over $10 billion in state 

21          funding.  In the Governor's Executive 

22          proposal he's proposing more than 

23          $10.4 billion for New York City schools.  And 

24          I know my colleague, who I like very much and 


 1          respect very much, Chairwoman Nolan, talked 

 2          about the reporting requirements that the 

 3          Governor has proposed this year.  

 4                 And I just wanted to say, in the 

 5          enacted budget there was Chapter 73 in the 

 6          year 2016 that required the city to report 

 7          the total funding allocation for each 

 8          individual school.  And as was pointed out 

 9          previously, there are 1600 schools in the 

10          New York City system.  And quite frankly, 

11          there was some information that was submitted 

12          based on that law in 2017 by the city, and I 

13          have to be honest, if it were to be graded, 

14          it probably would have gotten an F, because 

15          it left a lot of the categories blank.  The 

16          information wasn't quite usable.  

17                 But yet we continue to hear stories 

18          about schools in New York City where there 

19          are Cadillacs and then there are schools that 

20          are struggling, high-needs districts that 

21          don't have two nickels to rub together and 

22          have trouble buying pencils.  And I've read 

23          stories about that.  

24                 So the questions that I have have to 


 1          do with that.  If the state is investing more 

 2          than $10 billion in the New York City 

 3          schools, how much of the increased Department 

 4          of Education funding in this year's budget 

 5          from the city would go to individual 

 6          high-needs schools?  

 7                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Okay, I'm going to 

 8          answer that several ways.  

 9                 First and foremost, this system seems 

10          to operate on rumors, and I want to be clear.  

11          There isn't a school in New York City that is 

12          lacking pencils or paper.  Because I have 

13          been, just in the course of the last four 

14          years, to close to 600 schools.  And if there 

15          was such a thing, you can be sure that a PTA 

16          president or someone in that area -- one of 

17          you -- would have called and said, What is 

18          going on here?  

19                 So I really feel that when we kind of 

20          report out on some of the stuff, we've got to 

21          have specific examples:  In this school, this 

22          is missing.  If, by the way, something like 

23          even class libraries that I look for is not 

24          there, I make a phone call and take care of 


 1          it right away.  

 2                 When I came into this job, one of the 

 3          things that was not being done is the 

 4          comprehensive educational plan.  There was a 

 5          lackadaisical approach to it.  We have put in 

 6          100 percent compliance in terms of our CEPs, 

 7          in terms of the way the money is spent in the 

 8          budget to spend.  Anyone who says there is 

 9          something missing in a school, all they need 

10          to do -- and they do, I've done town hall 

11          meetings, I've done 40 town hall meetings.  

12          Any parent would come up and say something.  

13                 In terms of how money is allocated, 

14          look, you have Title 1 schools that get more 

15          money, you have non-Title 1s that get less 

16          money and they would like more money -- but 

17          there's also balances in terms of some 

18          schools get more grants, that some schools 

19          get more funding through all of you.  One of 

20          the things I've been asking elected officials 

21          to think about, particularly for our 

22          collocated high schools, to think about 

23          funding the campus rather than individual 

24          schools so that it's more equitable.  


 1                 So I really do not feel that the money 

 2          is being misspent.  And like I said, I don't 

 3          think having an additional reporter is going 

 4          to make things better.  If there are 

 5          individual issues and anybody knows about 

 6          them, by all means let us know.  And, you 

 7          know, that's our job.  But putting more 

 8          paperwork in place is not going to solve the 

 9          problem.  

10                 Ray, do you have anything to add?  

11                 CFO ORLANDO:  Hi, can you hear me?  

12          I'm Ray Orlando; I'm the chief financial 

13          officer.  

14                 We believe we are actually compliant 

15          with the law that was passed as part of the 

16          budget on mayoral control reporting in last 

17          year's session.  We were asked to provide 

18          total enrollment by school, including 

19          full-time special education, part-time 

20          special education, number of English language 

21          learners in all of our 1600 schools by 

22          school, as well as free-lunch eligible and 

23          reduced-price-lunch eligible enrollment 

24          information, which was provided.  


 1                 We were asked to provide total 

 2          staffing for classroom teachers, all other 

 3          classroom staff and all non-classroom staff.  

 4          That information is available as of this 

 5          month now that school budgets have been 

 6          finalized by the schools.  

 7                 We were asked to provide total 

 8          expenditures by school, including information 

 9          for salary, health insurance, pension, other 

10          fringe and OTPS.  We provided the total 

11          expenditures per school as requested.  We are 

12          not able to provide health insurance, pension 

13          and fringe benefits by school because they 

14          are not allocated to schools, and the salary 

15          and the OTPS information will be available 

16          later this spring.  

17                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  And I think the 

18          other thing that we did that helps answer 

19          your question, when I came into this job we 

20          were not grouped by superintendencies, we 

21          were grouped by autonomy zones in different 

22          ways and everybody had a different reporting 

23          system.  

24                 The superintendents now are 


 1          accountable in each of their districts for 

 2          the kind of reporting you're talking about.  

 3          And we hold them accountable for reporting 

 4          not only on finances but on teacher vacancies 

 5          and, particularly in this last year, you 

 6          know, their newly arrived immigrants so that 

 7          if we need to adjust money from one school to 

 8          another, we do it.  

 9                 But I do feel that the superintendent 

10          structure and the borough field office 

11          structure, which now has a much more hands-on 

12          approach to some of this, if any of you have 

13          any questions specifically about any school, 

14          I'm happy to review it.  But I do not feel 

15          this is an issue.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So -- and I 

17          appreciate your answers very much.  But there 

18          were several areas in the report that were 

19          left blank.  And so if you could go back and 

20          look at it and fill in the blanks, that would 

21          be very helpful.  

22                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I'm happy to 

23          review it.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  


 1                 With your Fair Student Funding 

 2          formula, how much per-pupil amount is there?  

 3          Does it vary among individual schools based 

 4          on factors such as student poverty and 

 5          English language learner status?  How does 

 6          that formula work?  

 7                 CFO ORLANDO:  Ray Orlando, chief 

 8          financial officer.  

 9                 The formula has a base allocation 

10          which is adjusted by weights for a variety of 

11          factors, including special education, English 

12          language learners, rising English language 

13          learners.  There are some weights that are 

14          related to portfolio schools, and there might 

15          be a few others I'm missing.  

16                 But essentially we fund students, not 

17          schools.  So we fund the students and the 

18          characteristics of those students and their 

19          needs using the formula.  The formula is an 

20          allocation methodology for the 1600-some-odd 

21          schools that we have.  And we are working to 

22          continuing to raise all schools to 

23          100 percent.  As Carmen mentioned in her 

24          testimony, we've raised the floor from 


 1          81 percent a few years ago to 87 percent 

 2          currently, with an average across the system 

 3          of 91 percent.  And our goal is to get to 

 4          100 percent.  Unfortunately, without 

 5          additional available funding, we're not able 

 6          to do that.  

 7                 Also, the weights themselves are 

 8          published each year, around this time of 

 9          year.  The weights in the formula are 

10          reviewed by all CECs, the local Community 

11          Education Councils, by district in the city.  

12                 And then finally, there's a 45-day 

13          notice period during which the weights 

14          themselves are posted on the department's 

15          website, and there is a vote held by the 

16          13-member Panel for Educational Policy 

17          approving the weights for the upcoming school 

18          year.  Typically that work is done in April.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Again, I 

20          appreciate -- 

21                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I will also say we 

22          have an approval process.  If a school has 

23          any doubt about how they're being funded -- 

24          and by the way, Ray has gone out to several 


 1          schools personally, as well as entire 

 2          committees, to review that.  

 3                 And I want to say that we shift the 

 4          money as necessary.  As we've increased the 

 5          number of students in temporary housing, 

 6          we've put special monies aside for those 

 7          particular students.  And some of the 

 8          allocations of funds is not necessarily 

 9          just -- like, for example, additional budget 

10          costs, additional social workers to make sure 

11          that our neediest kids get the extra support.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I appreciate those 

13          answers very much.  And, you know, we have 

14          looked at the formula and the weights.  And 

15          one of the weighting measures that I did not 

16          hear you say has to do with poverty.  So it 

17          seems like there's less weight placed on 

18          poverty.  But I would think that the poor 

19          communities would actually need a higher 

20          amount of funding to be able to deal with all 

21          the poverty and social issues that the 

22          students and the families face.  

23                 So I was hoping you could address 

24          that.  


 1                 CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.  Ray Orlando, 

 2          chief financial officer.  

 3                 The Fair Student Funding formula 

 4          accounts for about, on average at any school, 

 5          about 60 percent of that school's funding.  

 6          The schools that have the highest number of 

 7          students in poverty are schools that receive 

 8          Title 1 funding, which is federal funding for 

 9          poorer students.  And that money is a 

10          component of the 40 percent of the remaining 

11          school budget dollars that are distributed.  

12                 In addition, there are over 140 school 

13          allocation memoranda.  Those memoranda are by 

14          program.  Many of the programs that are 

15          funded through the school allocation 

16          memorandum system are poverty-based.  And all 

17          of those 140 SAMs are included on our website 

18          with the allocation to each school published, 

19          available.  And I believe there is a weight 

20          for poverty in the formula as well.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We are very 

22          familiar with the Title 1 schools.  But in 

23          the state school aid formula, the high-needs, 

24          low-wealth districts actually get a higher 


 1          percentage share, it's a very progressive 

 2          formula, and it's on poverty of a district.  

 3                 So although Title 1 can go toward 

 4          those districts too, as you also know, we've 

 5          always been underfunded from the federal 

 6          government in Title 1 funding.  So, you know, 

 7          if you look at the state's formula, I think 

 8          it sounds like it's somewhat different than 

 9          how the city allocates money to the more 

10          poverty-stricken areas.  

11                 CFO ORLANDO:  Well, we're very unique 

12          as well nationally, because there's only a 

13          small number of districts like us who utilize 

14          school-based budgeting.  Most districts and 

15          systems throughout the country do not.  It is 

16          our methodology.  

17                 As I first mentioned, the philosophy 

18          behind Fair Student Funding is to fund the 

19          students in their characteristics within each 

20          building.  And so school-based budgeting is a 

21          very different system than other systems 

22          across the country, and including those in 

23          New York State.  

24                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  And a lot of the 


 1          decisions, once the final budget is given to 

 2          schools, is done at the school level through 

 3          the school leadership team.  So parents have 

 4          oversight over those budgets, as do teachers, 

 5          and they make certain decisions on how is the 

 6          data that the school is given aligned to the 

 7          way they're spending their money.  

 8                 And there are also other things that 

 9          are given -- like, for example, if you have a 

10          G&T program, that money comes more from 

11          centrally.  

12                 But if you have any specific 

13          questions, and specifically if you have any 

14          specific schools, I'm happy to send you that 

15          information in a very clear fashion.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That would be 

17          helpful.  And, you know, hopefully that's 

18          part of the final budget resolution this 

19          year.  

20                 How much funding does the city 

21          allocate to its failing underperforming 

22          schools?  

23                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I think we have to 

24          get back to you with a specific number.  


 1          Because, you know, every underperforming has 

 2          different measures for different purposes.  

 3                 CFO ORLANDO:  Yes, it would very much 

 4          depend on how they're defined.  The Renewal 

 5          School program, for example, could be 

 6          considered a struggling school-type program.  

 7          But I can actually -- if you could provide me 

 8          with the parameters, I'll be happy to share 

 9          with you -- 

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That would be 

11          helpful, thank you.  

12                 CFO ORLANDO:  -- whatever information 

13          you need on how you're defining these 

14          schools.  

15                 And just to remind everyone, the Fair 

16          Student Funding formula, much like Title I, 

17          does in fact direct more resources at schools 

18          with higher poverty rates as one of the 

19          weights in the Fair Student Funding formula.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  But it's a lesser 

21          weight than others, right?  Yeah.  Thank you.  

22                 Thank you.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

24          Ortiz.  


 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you, Madam 

 2          Chairwoman.  

 3                 And thank you for being here with us.  

 4          And I'm probably one of the few here who 

 5          probably have a long history with you, so -- 

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Very long.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  A very long 

 8          history.  

 9                 So I really would like to really thank 

10          you for the service that you did to P.S. 29, 

11          as well as to School District 15.  You was 

12          our eyes and ears and our pioneers when we 

13          needed you the most, and some of my kids 

14          still remember you.  Now they have children, 

15          and now my grandkids are in public school, 

16          so one of them attended P.S. 29 and P.S. 172.  

17                 So I really would like to thank you 

18          for your legacy, what you really are leaving 

19          behind, and I hope that other people will 

20          step to the plate to continue your vision 

21          moving forward.  

22                 I have a few quick questions, and it 

23          has to do -- I asked this question to the 

24          New York State commissioner as well -- if 


 1          there's any procedures in place where 

 2          students can call the New York City 

 3          Department of Education to present their 

 4          complaint, if you will, about -- and to 

 5          address their bullies situation and 

 6          harassment in the schools.  

 7                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Yes, we actually 

 8          have now a protocol in place where people can 

 9          call numbers, they can certainly go to their 

10          principals, their teachers.  And there's a 

11          system that has to be followed, and 

12          everything has to be reported -- whether it 

13          becomes eventually a bigger case or a smaller 

14          case, but it's that.  

15                 We've also started retraining all our 

16          guidance counselors and social workers on 

17          having bullying workshops.  And what we just 

18          started this past year is bullying workshops 

19          for parents:  How do parents talk to their 

20          children about bullying at home, what are 

21          some of the things that we think parents 

22          should be particularly aware of that they 

23          should be encouraging their students to talk 

24          to them about, and then they can come to 


 1          school.  

 2                 We've done parent workshops around the 

 3          city in other languages -- we've done them in 

 4          Mandarin, in Spanish -- to encourage parents 

 5          to step forward and to encourage their 

 6          children to step forward.  

 7                 So there's a lot of work being done.  

 8          We started putting in many schools 

 9          student-led councils that actually encourage 

10          their peers to come forth and complain about 

11          anything they feel necessary.  So I think we 

12          have a lot of things in place.  We can also 

13          do more, always do more on this.  

14                 But I think given social media and the 

15          emphasis on social media, part of the 

16          coursework that we're also thinking of 

17          instituting, particularly in high schools, is 

18          the proper use of social media and how to be 

19          aware of how it can influence people's 

20          actions, not necessarily in a good way.  

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Would the fact 

22          that we continue hearing from Washington, 

23          D.C., about parents with children who are 

24          undocumented going to schools in the City of 


 1          New York, do you have any procedures in place 

 2          to address any concerns and needs that these 

 3          departments might have regarding their kids 

 4          who are undocumented in case ICE or someone 

 5          else knocks on their doors?  What will be the 

 6          next steps that they need to follow?  

 7                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, we have made 

 8          very clear to all principals and all 

 9          superintendents that all students are 

10          welcomed in our schools and that people 

11          cannot ask for extra materials or extra 

12          support documents other than whatever the 

13          parents bring with them.  

14                 We have been very clear also that in 

15          our schools -- I was in the first school that 

16          we thought ICE was coming into and said they 

17          are not able to come into our buildings.  In 

18          fact, if anything, the principals now have 

19          protocols in place of who they have to call 

20          and what has to happen.  

21                 The concern that came up about 

22          undocumented is that in parts of the city, 

23          parents were afraid to go to evening meetings 

24          if they thought that there would be someone 


 1          there just looking for them.  So I think that 

 2          we've actually encouraged our school safety 

 3          officers to be very aware of that.  

 4                 So I think we've put a lot of things 

 5          in place.  Although they're documented, we've 

 6          also been very welcoming to any student who 

 7          comes from Puerto Rico, and we have 

 8          approximately 600, 700 in our city right now.  

 9          And we were very clear that a lot of these 

10          students probably came without documentation 

11          and paperwork because their houses were 

12          destroyed.  So we've asked our schools to go 

13          above and beyond and accept them.  

14                 So we have tried everything.  And if 

15          there's ever an issue, it immediately comes 

16          up to my level and we try to do whatever we 

17          can.  And New York City, you know, as the 

18          mayor has said, is a sanctuary city, so we'll 

19          have to see how that plays out.  

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Just I would to 

21          point out that I do appreciate everything 

22          that you have done.  Also I would like to 

23          thank you for helping us with P.S. 172, that 

24          gas station close next to my house.  Now 


 1          they're using, the gas station next to the 

 2          school, barricades.  And your relationship 

 3          with the 172 persons, DOT was very helpful to 

 4          make sure that we can look for a continuously 

 5          permanent solution to this issue, and I think 

 6          you for that.  

 7                 Lastly, I also would like to point out 

 8          just for the record that I do have 

 9          legislation mandating that we should have 

10          more guidance counselors, more psychologists 

11          and social workers into the schools, because 

12          every time I go to the schools on Friday, I 

13          do see the teachers who are overwhelmed with 

14          all the situation, all the social issues that 

15          all the students are having, and I think it's 

16          very important that we alleviate the teachers 

17          from the social problems that our kids and 

18          families have.  

19                 Thank you, and thank you for all the 

20          work that you have done on behalf of our kids 

21          and our people.  Thank you.  

22                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Thank you, Félix.  

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you, 

24          Chancellor.  I think it's -- my time is here.  


 1                 So the bond act for technology in the 

 2          school system, have you received the state 

 3          money New York City was eligible for, and are 

 4          you spending it?  

 5                 CFO ORLANDO:  Can you hear me?  

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yes.  

 7                 CFO ORLANDO:  Ray Orlando, chief 

 8          financial officer.  

 9                 We have submitted our application to 

10          the Smart Schools Bond Act.  We have 

11          subsequently amended it, and that was done 

12          in -- I believe last June.  So we are still 

13          awaiting approval of our Smart Schools Bond 

14          Act money.  

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And have you been 

16          told how long it will take to get an answer 

17          or the money?  

18                 CFO ORLANDO:  I have not, but I might 

19          not be the right person to ask, I'm afraid.  

20                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  And here again, 

21          you know, we have put so much extra 

22          investment into computer science for all -- 

23          and have gotten a lot of money from funders.  

24          I mean, we are not always dependent on just 


 1          the state or the federal government, but have 

 2          really sought money, and almost $40 million 

 3          in outside money.  

 4                 So if we're going to be able to do the 

 5          kind of work we need to do, we need to get 

 6          the money up-front instead of putting it out 

 7          there ourselves and waiting for someone else 

 8          to come on board with it.  

 9                 CFO ORLANDO:  I'm sorry, Senator, no, 

10          we've received no information about timing.  

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And, I'm sorry, 

12          Chancellor, you're not proposing you don't 

13          need the money because you went somewhere 

14          else for it.  

15                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Oh, no.  Oh, 

16          please, don't ever -- 

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Just 

18          double-checking.  

19                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  No.  No.  We not 

20          only need the money, but we take that money 

21          and make it grow.  And as a result, many 

22          people are coming to see the work we're doing 

23          from across the country, and we need the 

24          money so we can show that.  


 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So you'll be leaving 

 2          us.  What didn't you get done that you think 

 3          would be three priorities for the next 

 4          chancellor for the New York City school 

 5          system?  

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Again, I think one 

 7          of the things that I really want to be able 

 8          to say to more people, that we need a teacher 

 9          corps for the next 10 or 15 years.  If 

10          anything, I see the need for great teachers 

11          increasing; I'm worried about where they're 

12          going to come from.  

13                 I believe also we need teachers that 

14          are more diverse.  We certainly have put a 

15          lot of emphasis in Latino and black men being 

16          models in the schools, and it's a struggle, a 

17          struggle to get people to think of teaching 

18          as a career.  So I'd love to see someone who 

19          figures out how to do that.  

20                 Working more closely, you know, with 

21          CUNY and SUNY on how the teacher preparation 

22          courses could be more aligned to the work 

23          that we need today I think is crucial.  

24                 I think the other thing is how do we 


 1          really understand that in order to have the 

 2          students of the future, that some of the 

 3          issues that our kids come with, they get the 

 4          full support.  So, you know, certainly 

 5          students who come in from foster care, from 

 6          temporary -- how do we support them from the 

 7          very beginning, and sooner?  And if we are 

 8          very successful at spreading the 3-K, why not 

 9          zero to 3?  Why not a much more comprehensive 

10          approach to education where we also help 

11          parents with, you know, parenting skills and 

12          support?  

13                 So I think there's a lot of work to be 

14          done in a city like New York.  We have 

15          1.1 million students.  Someone that's a 

16          little creative is going to find their little 

17          point of success that they need, and I think 

18          there's still a lot of work to be done.  And 

19          building on what we've already done -- 14 

20          districts with ULIT?  We should have, you 

21          know, 32 districts with ULIT.  And I would 

22          like to see some of the gender issues that I 

23          dealt with over my life be eliminated totally 

24          so that there's an expectation that girls and 


 1          boys can accomplish the same thing in life.  

 2          And I think we're better, but I think we 

 3          still have a long way to go.  

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So perhaps this is 

 5          parochial for just a few districts, but as 

 6          the city works to expand to 3-K, we still 

 7          don't have enough seats for 4-K in some 

 8          districts.  So I would add to your list, if 

 9          the city is going to be growing its -- the 

10          number of years, quote, unquote, in the 

11          school system, we're going to have to address 

12          the infrastructure needs, because I don't 

13          really think online education is going to 

14          work for 3-K.  

15                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I don't think 

16          online totally is ever going to work for 

17          anybody.  You need a human face in front of 

18          you.  You need someone to pat you on the 

19          head.  You need someone that says "Go for 

20          it."  Online is not going to do that.  

21                 So no, I agree.  And I think 

22          partially, you know, with all the agencies in 

23          the city working together, it's crucial.  You 

24          need developers to come to the table, so lots 


 1          of things still could be done.  

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  Thank 

 3          you for your service.  

 4                 Assembly?  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 6          Malliotakis.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Hi, 

 8          Chancellor.  Thank you also.  I wanted to 

 9          also thank you for your service, and I wish 

10          you the best of luck in your future endeavor.  

11                 I just had a few questions, one first 

12          and foremost about public safety.  You know, 

13          there have been numerous disturbing reports 

14          about the increase in violent weapons that 

15          are found in the New York City public school 

16          system.  It has gone up in the last four 

17          years consecutively.  This year it's about a 

18          35 percent increase over the previous school 

19          year.  We had a murder of a child in a 

20          classroom in the Bronx.  And I just wanted to 

21          know what steps the city is taking to make 

22          sure that when a child is dropped off in a 

23          classroom -- and it should be the safest 

24          place that a child is, outside of their own 


 1          home -- what measures are we taking as a city 

 2          to make sure that those children are going to 

 3          go home, and those teachers, and the school 

 4          safety officers, are all going to go home the 

 5          same way they came in?  

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, this is 

 7          obviously something I take very seriously.  I 

 8          mean, first and foremost, you need safe 

 9          schools.  You can't teach in a school that's 

10          not safe.  

11                 So several of the things we've done 

12          over the last few years is, first of all, the 

13          retraining of school safety officers.  They 

14          do a great job, but there were a lot of 

15          things that we felt could be done better.  

16          And certainly for those particularly in high 

17          schools and middle schools, how do they 

18          deescalate?  We've done a lot more 

19          restorative justice training in all our 

20          schools.  

21                 We also, in terms of finding guns, we 

22          have been very vigilant on making sure that 

23          when things are found, that students face the 

24          consequences, that parents come in and talk 


 1          also -- because, you know, where did they get 

 2          the gun from?  You know, where -- did it come 

 3          from the home?  Did they find it somewhere 

 4          else?  So I think we've done a lot more 

 5          safety checks in many different places.  

 6                 We also have what we call random 

 7          scanning, which means that although some 

 8          schools have scanning, we also have these 

 9          machines that go around the city and they 

10          show up in schools with no warning, no sign 

11          of anything, and the students know that we 

12          will show up in a school, that they're not 

13          expected, and as a result they're much more 

14          likely not to bring anything to school that 

15          shouldn't be brought up.  And if it's brought 

16          up, it's treated very, very seriously.  

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  The school 

18          safety officers union, in particular, has 

19          been very vocal about the need to add 

20          permanent scanners.  I know that at the 

21          Wildlife Conservation School following the 

22          murder -- and that's being reactive.  Again, 

23          we need to be a little more proactive.  Why 

24          are you not taking the approach of adding 


 1          them maybe throughout all schools, or maybe 

 2          even just picking those troubled schools?  

 3                 Like, for instance, with the Wildlife 

 4          Conservation School, you know that there was 

 5          this survey that was done the prior school 

 6          year that showed that only 19 percent of the 

 7          teachers in that school felt safe.  Only 

 8          19 percent felt safe.  That clearly, to me, 

 9          would say, hey, maybe we should be adding 

10          metal detectors at that particular school.  

11          And had we had those metal detectors, perhaps 

12          this murder could have been prevented.  

13                 But now that we know what we know in 

14          terms of that there is an increase in these 

15          weapons, the school safety union is saying 

16          that we need these precautions, these 

17          measures to be implemented, how come this 

18          administration continues to reject this idea 

19          that's being proposed not only by the school 

20          safety officers union, by many legislators, 

21          by many City Council members?  It just seems 

22          something particularly in those schools where 

23          you have a number of teachers that are saying 

24          that they feel unsafe in their own classroom.  


 1                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  We have reviewed 

 2          all the school report cards -- the quality 

 3          review, the snapshots -- and we have actually 

 4          taken the schools where teachers feel most 

 5          likely to say that -- and we've actually 

 6          visited all those schools.  I believe there's 

 7          31 of them.  And in those particular schools, 

 8          we have met with staff, we have increased, if 

 9          necessary, an additional school safety 

10          officer.  

11                 But in terms of putting scanning 

12          machines -- you know, scanning machines come 

13          with a lot of negativity as well as a lot of 

14          positive.  We do put them in schools where we 

15          see certain needs, and we review that 

16          constantly.  We also have schools that have 

17          them that haven't had any incidents in a 

18          while where they want them removed.  

19                 So this is a school-by-school 

20          decision.  It's also something that requires 

21          careful thinking, because it labels schools 

22          certain ways.  And we want to make sure that 

23          when we do it, we do it judicially but we 

24          also find other ways to lessen the tension 


 1          inside the school.  And when we talk to 

 2          teachers, a lot of them what they want more 

 3          of, and which is what we've increased 

 4          dramatically, is restorative teaching 

 5          practices for themselves and the children, 

 6          and more guidance counselors if that's the 

 7          route to take.  

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Another 

 9          topic, we had the unfortunate and very sad 

10          overdose of one of the teachers in the 

11          classroom -- or in the school, and there has 

12          been a push for Naloxone and other 

13          anti-overdose kits to be added to the 

14          classroom.  The state has approved the 

15          ability for local municipalities to do such 

16          a -- New Rochelle is doing it, the nurse's 

17          station does have that.  

18                 What are your thoughts on having that 

19          tool available in all schools?  

20                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Actually, we work 

21          very closely with the NYPD and we are looking 

22          at some of that.  I would say Commissioner 

23          O'Neill has been particularly supportive of 

24          some of the things we want to do.  On 


 1          Staten Island, it's always the issue when I 

 2          go out to the CECs.  So I do think that is 

 3          something that we will explore further.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Okay.  

 5          Unfortunately, I've run out of time; perhaps 

 6          I could ask questions later.  Thank you.  

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Senator Diane 

 8          Savino.  

 9                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  

10                 Thank you, Chancellor.  It was good to 

11          see you this Saturday at Curtis High School.  

12          That was a wonderful event.  

13                 And of course we want to thank you for 

14          your service to the city and wish you good 

15          luck in whatever you're doing in your 

16          retirement.  I think you tried to do this 

17          once and we dragged you back in, and this 

18          time I hope you get out.  Go.  

19                 I just want to hit on a couple of 

20          points, because I know you'll be answering 

21          questions for a long time here.  In your 

22          testimony you talked about undertaking 

23          several initiatives to improve and upgrade 

24          space in schools, dedicating funding to 


 1          create more than 44,000 seats in overcrowded 

 2          areas.  

 3                 Are any of those overcrowded areas in 

 4          either Staten Island or South Brooklyn, do 

 5          you know?  Particularly in Staten Island, as 

 6          you know, we're looking at a whole rezoning 

 7          issue of the North Shore, and we haven't any 

 8          new school seats in a while and our schools 

 9          are overcrowded.  

10                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  You know, well, I 

11          think we just announced there's going to be a 

12          new building on the Petrides campus which we 

13          just inaugurated, the Hungerford School.  I 

14          think there's another site we're looking at 

15          for something else.  I think also we're 

16          looking at -- there's one site with TCUs that 

17          we want to move.  

18                 So I think Staten Island is going to 

19          always be -- I mean, you have the St. George 

20          Ferry area where you're going to have more 

21          development, so you're going to need more 

22          schools.  So we're trying to look at Staten 

23          Island particularly, although it's other 

24          parts of the city, but to look at it 


 1          holistically:  Where do you need more space, 

 2          where might you not need it but maybe it's a 

 3          good place for an early childhood center.  

 4                 So I think, working very closely with 

 5          your superintendent, there is a plan for 

 6          that, I know including perhaps a new middle 

 7          school that we discussed to have on the 

 8          waterfront.  So there's a lot of special 

 9          plans out there for Staten Island.  And also, 

10          Staten Island is changing in many different 

11          ways.  So, you know, how do we accommodate 

12          the parts of the island that are growing and 

13          the ones that maybe are not growing so much.  

14                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  

15                 Saturday while we were at Curtis High 

16          School, I had a conversation with the 

17          principal, who told me that apparently 

18          there's a discrepancy now in the way some 

19          agencies are interpreting what State Ed will 

20          consider funding to a school for Advanced 

21          Placement courses and the International 

22          Baccalaureate.  So Curtis is now having to 

23          pick up the cost of the IB program, which is 

24          going to cost them about $25,000 a year.  


 1                 I spoke to MaryEllen earlier, and she 

 2          said it was really an issue for -- it was a 

 3          combination of things.  The federal 

 4          government changed the funding for it, but 

 5          now there seems to be some question about 

 6          who's entitled to a waiver and how they 

 7          interpret what is a program under the 

 8          Advanced Placement.  

 9                 Is there a way we can get an answer 

10          for the principal at Curtis so they don't 

11          have to take it out of their own budget for 

12          the students who are -- 

13                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I'm happy to talk 

14          to Greg.  But keep in mind that when 

15          principals apply for some of these programs, 

16          they know ahead of time that this has to be 

17          part of the funding.  That's not to say he's 

18          not doing a great job there, because I think 

19          he is.  And he gets a lot of extra money -- 

20          not extra, but he also has a very strong CTE 

21          program, so he gets funding under different 

22          categories.  

23                 The IB program, we only have about 11 

24          of them in the city as a whole.  So when 


 1          those started, we realized early on that they 

 2          were going to cost more.  And we warned 

 3          people, before you start an IB program -- I 

 4          know there's two or three in Queens -- that 

 5          how are you going to pay for that.  What they 

 6          were concerned about is the fee waivers, 

 7          because at the time the state was paying for 

 8          it.  Now, I believe they gave us back on the 

 9          state budget now the AP waiver fee, but not 

10          necessarily the IB waiver fee.  So I'll have 

11          to look into it.  

12                 But it's like 11 schools in the City 

13          of New York.  It's worth the work, because I 

14          think the IB programs in particular require, 

15          you know, at least one or two foreign 

16          languages.  It's very strenuous work.  But 

17          now I think we are moving so much into the AP 

18          that more schools are moving in that 

19          direction and that it has increased the cost.  

20          We've almost tripled the number of students 

21          in New York City taking AP courses in the 

22          last three years.  

23                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Well, I'm not sure if 

24          you were here last week when we had the 


 1          Higher Ed hearing.  One of the things that 

 2          was emphasized is to the extent that students 

 3          can take Advanced Placement courses or IB 

 4          courses, that's literally money in their 

 5          pocket.  It's tuition that they don't have to 

 6          spend.  So whatever we can do to help improve 

 7          the outcomes and the numbers of students who 

 8          are applying for it, we certainly want to 

 9          encourage.  

10                 My colleague Senator Alcantara, who 

11          stepped out, asked me if I could ask you a 

12          question about has New York City used all the 

13          money that's been allocated for their ELL 

14          students in the last three years.  

15                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Absolutely.  I 

16          mean, in terms of using the money for those 

17          particular students, if anything, we could 

18          use more.  

19                 Keep in mind that our ELL students now 

20          are also coming from many, many different 

21          countries.  At one time it was very specific.  

22          We now have students coming, particularly to 

23          an area of the Bronx and one area of 

24          Brooklyn, that are actually coming from 


 1          North Africa with no written language.  So 

 2          it's not even about translation services.  

 3                 So the amount of training that we have 

 4          to do for teachers to be able to help them 

 5          work with these students has really 

 6          increased.  We have also made an emphasis, 

 7          like I said, on the dual language programs, 

 8          which in many cases require two teachers 

 9          within a class.  So we will always use the 

10          money that we get for English language 

11          learners, and even more so.  

12                 And what I think is beautiful about 

13          what's happening in New York City, that many 

14          more parents are embracing dual language for 

15          kids who only speak English.  The program 

16          that we opened in District 1 last week, 

17          50 percent of those parents were traveling 

18          from all over the city to put their students 

19          in that Mandarin program because they feel -- 

20          and now we started in District 1, it actually 

21          starts next Saturday, a Mandarin program for 

22          adults, because parents now have their kids 

23          going through these dual language programs 

24          and they themselves don't speak the language.  


 1                 So whatever we can do for ELLs -- and 

 2          also keeping in mind that the ELLs in 

 3          particular are a transient population.  What 

 4          happens sometimes, your registration cuts off 

 5          October 31st, but the students come in 

 6          through the course of the entire year, and 

 7          being able to keep up with funding for the 

 8          students who come in after October 31 is 

 9          always a challenge for us.  So we're actually 

10          working with the state on this, it's the one 

11          issue we meet consistently with the state on, 

12          and we'll probably continue to do so.  

13                 But in terms of less funding, I would 

14          never say that, particularly for this 

15          particular group, which is growing more and 

16          more each year.  

17                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  

18                 I ran out of time, but I just want to 

19          say again thank you for your service, and 

20          I'll make one final plug:  Community Schools 

21          and Positive Learning Collaboratives.  My 

22          friend Bridget would kill me if I didn't 

23          mention that to you, but they have wonderful 

24          programs and we really support them.  


 1                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, I don't know 

 2          if P.S. 5 is one of your schools, but P.S. 5 

 3          just became a Community School this year, 

 4          didn't follow any of the other -- but they 

 5          are doing a phenomenal job.  

 6                 We're trying to get the word out to 

 7          highlight schools that might not have been on 

 8          people's radar, but to go look at them again 

 9          with fresh eyes and really say, oh, my God, 

10          look what's happening here.  

11                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

13                 Assembly.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

15          Pellegrino.  

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  Chancellor 

17          Fariña, I would like to add my 

18          congratulations to you on a career of 

19          accomplishments.  And I don't represent the 

20          city, but I -- as a teacher of 25 years, 

21          recently elected, followed you as a teacher, 

22          as a practitioner, and appreciate your body 

23          of work.  And in entering my career, I had 

24          the chance to read your book and I am a 


 1          long-time believer in many of the things that 

 2          you talk about today.  

 3                 So I acknowledge that you're not just 

 4          the kind of practitioner who talks about it, 

 5          but you actually do the things that you 

 6          profess to do.  So I give you a tremendous 

 7          amount of credit for the things that you're 

 8          talking about today.  And I started my career 

 9          as a New York City public school teacher, so 

10          I have a great amount of pride in what you're 

11          discussing.  

12                 And we talked about, with the 

13          commissioner, about a situation where we have 

14          a teacher shortage happening, and that is of 

15          great concern to me particularly as it 

16          affects children's learning.  And we have an 

17          acknowledgement that what happens in the 

18          classroom greatly -- a lot of what happens is 

19          not within the teacher's control, and a lot 

20          of that is also affected by the 

21          administrator's competence.  

22                 And so a lot of what I had been 

23          learning through your work is about building 

24          capacity at the administrator's level, and on 


 1          into my career was studying to be an 

 2          administrator and heard you making remarks 

 3          about building autonomy and independence in 

 4          administrators and great administrators make 

 5          good schools great schools, and great schools 

 6          make good classrooms into great classrooms.  

 7          And those great classrooms are classrooms 

 8          where teachers have high levels of morale and 

 9          are really hubs of learning where we have 

10          high rates of retention and are amazing 

11          places of learning for kids, and they go far 

12          beyond what we can measure on standardized 

13          tests.  And kids can far surpass what we 

14          expect of them and then go beyond measures of 

15          poverty and otherwise.  

16                 And a lot of that is done by fostering 

17          a sense of local control, and I give you 

18          credit for that as well.  And we talk about 

19          that in our body, that a sense of local 

20          control is what we want.  And so for our 

21          Long Island colleagues, what we're driving at 

22          is to really establish and to reestablish a 

23          sense of local control for our schools.  And 

24          one of the things that we have been looking 


 1          toward the city particularly for is a model 

 2          of consortium schools.  And my colleague and 

 3          I were having this conversation as well.  And 

 4          maybe, you know, some of your remarks could 

 5          go towards the impact of consortium schools 

 6          and what those could be on our Long Island 

 7          schools should we come to find some way of 

 8          adopting that model on Long Island, because 

 9          that would be incredible for us.  

10                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, I think one 

11          of the things -- New York City has, for the 

12          first time in a long time, now started being 

13          engaged in statewide issues.  I went to a 

14          conference in Saratoga Springs and actually 

15          met many of the Long Island superintendents, 

16          invited many of them to come and visit, and 

17          actually purposely come and visit schools 

18          that they're looking for something.  

19                 So I do think that -- when I talk 

20          about collaboration, I don't just mean 

21          school-to-school in New York City, I mean 

22          New York City to all the other.  And I had 

23          some very interesting conversations with the 

24          superintendent from actually Garden City, and 


 1          a few others, who said, you know, we're small 

 2          but if we all work together we could be more 

 3          powerful.  And I'm proud to say that one 

 4          of -- actually, the executive superintendent 

 5          in charge of all my superintendents is now 

 6          the president of the statewide 

 7          superintendents organization.  

 8                 So that's partially what we can do; 

 9          share good ideas, not be competitive.  

10                 But I think some of the other things 

11          you said really need to be almost restated in 

12          a different way.  For too long we've stopped 

13          celebrating things that are really good in 

14          our schools.  We need to celebrate the best 

15          principals, the best teachers.  

16                 I have a phenomenal -- we have an 

17          award every year called the Big Apple Awards, 

18          and we ask people to nominate teachers who go 

19          above and beyond.  Because, you know, there's 

20          a bottom line, people do their work, but what 

21          about these teachers who do extraordinary 

22          things?  And last year we got almost 8,000 

23          nominations.  You know, anyone can 

24          nominate -- a parent, a principal.  We've 


 1          encouraged more principals to nominate their 

 2          teachers.  

 3                 And now those teachers, and there's 

 4          about 17 of them, are my teacher advisory 

 5          council.  And I meet with them, I take my job 

 6          very seriously.  And this past year I gave 

 7          them one task.  Last year it was for them to 

 8          come up with ideas on how to recruit teachers 

 9          and how to increase the visibility of good 

10          teachers in our system, and they came up with 

11          great ideas.  We tend to think that we need 

12          to find the ideas; the people in the field 

13          have the ideas.  

14                 This year I've asked them -- in fact, 

15          they're going to be my guest editors.  I 

16          write a weekly note to the city.  They're 

17          going to be my editors for the next weekly 

18          note.  And I asked them to say what do we 

19          need to have a good school climate.  If 

20          you're a teacher in a school, what's a good 

21          school climate?  What's a good school 

22          environment, and how do you get people 

23          involved?  Almost to a person, they said:  

24          More ability for us to help make our own 


 1          decisions on things that matter to us, be 

 2          rewarded and celebrated for what we do well 

 3          and not have everybody stay in the classroom 

 4          and not share.  

 5                 And also, the building capacity.  

 6          We've got to make it clear to teachers -- you 

 7          know, you spent time in a classroom -- that 

 8          they want to become administrators.  And 

 9          we're not going to do it if we don't 

10          celebrate them but also if we don't make the 

11          job of being principal look fun, exciting and 

12          meaningful.  

13                 So I want to see more teachers 

14          encourage their students to become teachers.  

15          We've now started Future Teachers Clubs in 

16          many of our high schools which had lain 

17          dormant for years.  But if we don't make 

18          teaching not just a way to earn a living but 

19          a way to change people's lives, we're going 

20          to really be short on this.  

21                 So I think the celebration and the 

22          building capacity, the professional 

23          development that we have put in place, I 

24          think teachers feel they have a lot more 


 1          support.  That Monday 80 minutes is something 

 2          I certainly suggest the Long Island system -- 

 3          and I've been telling them, put in time in 

 4          the school day that the teachers can learn to 

 5          work with each other.  

 6                 We also have an additional 40 minutes 

 7          for parents to work together.  And what 

 8          parents said to me last year, which I take 

 9          very seriously, we don't need more workshops, 

10          we need more conversations.  We need to sit 

11          around a table and teachers and us need to 

12          talk about our kids and our school and how do 

13          we work together to improve -- for whatever, 

14          you know, community you're in.  

15                 And I think that we talk too much at 

16          each other, and we don't talk enough with 

17          each other.  So my recommendation is listen 

18          more, talk less.  But certainly sharing.  

19          Across the state, best ideas, best practices.  

20          And that's something the commissioner, 

21          MaryEllen, has actually encouraged us to do, 

22          has brought us together, more of those 

23          things.  So I really expect my successor to 

24          do a lot more of that.  


 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you, 

 2          Chancellor.  

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 4                 Senator Joe Addabbo, our ranker on 

 5          Education.  And I screwed up and should have 

 6          called on him much earlier.  

 7                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  That's all right, 

 8          Senator Krueger.  

 9                 Good afternoon, Chancellor Fariña, 

10          thank you very much.  And Mr. Orlando, thank 

11          you very much for your time today as well.  

12                 It has been an honor and a privilege 

13          to work with you, Chancellor Fariña.  I thank 

14          you so much for the long-lasting if not 

15          everlasting impact that you've had on our 

16          children.  So thank you very much.  

17                 I truly appreciate you mentioning in 

18          your testimony that part of the Smart Schools 

19          Act funding might be taking care of some of 

20          the trailers that Chair Nolan brought up, so 

21          thank you very much.  

22                 And I share your concern with the 

23          proposal to use the state to veto a local 

24          budget, so I do appreciate that.  


 1                 I'd like to get a little bit further 

 2          in the discussion about the Renewal Schools 

 3          program.  Initially 94 schools -- you said 21 

 4          are out, those are Rise Schools.  And I thank 

 5          you because John Adams and P.S. 197 in 

 6          Rockaway are out, and we thank you very much.  

 7          But that leaves 77.  Now, of those 77, have 

 8          some of those schools been merged, closed, 

 9          consolidated?  What is that remainder of 

10          77 -- 

11                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, right now 

12          the list is public of the ones we're merging 

13          and consolidating.  

14                 I want to say that with mergers and 

15          consolidations, our hope is to give more 

16          resources to a school.  Many of the schools 

17          have -- one school has 83 children; another 

18          one has 120.  You really can't run a system 

19          with guidance counselors, art teachers and 

20          all the supports you need with such small 

21          numbers.  

22                 I think, in terms of one of the 

23          schools, what we did last year for the first 

24          time, with the support of the commissioner, 


 1          we closed and reopened, which is one of the 

 2          things we're actually going to be doing in 

 3          the Rockaways.  And when you reopen, you have 

 4          an opportunity to reopen it with a different 

 5          emphasis.  For example, one of the things 

 6          that District 27, which you represent, is 

 7          very strong in is technology.  The 

 8          superintendent there believes in technology, 

 9          computer science, and yet you had very few 

10          schools that emphasized that.  

11                 So our hope is to bring in the 

12          workforce tomorrow skills to many more of our 

13          schools.  So we're reopening it with a new 

14          lens, and perhaps even with principals who 

15          have that ability to do that in the new 

16          school.  So I anticipate that that will be a 

17          lot of the kind of work we're doing with 

18          this.  

19                 And I'm actually -- I don't know if 

20          you'll be present, but I'm meeting with the 

21          elected officials from your area on Thursday, 

22          and my hope is to say:  This is what we're 

23          planning, what did we miss on this and what 

24          do you think we should add to it?  So it's 


 1          going to be done with the community.  

 2                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  And I appreciate 

 3          that, because I do have two schools that 

 4          although outside my district, the students 

 5          are from my district:  P.S. 42 and M.S. 53.  

 6          What is the message we should give our 

 7          parents as we calm their concerns?  

 8                 I know you had mentioned the choice.  

 9          My second question is not only the messaging 

10          but does the choice of parents taking their 

11          child to another school, does that affect 

12          that overcrowding situation at those more 

13          successful schools?  

14                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Not really.  I 

15          think when we discuss Thursday you'll hear 

16          that the plan we have is actually very 

17          exciting.  But the reality is parents will 

18          have a choice of three schools within -- 

19          certainly at 53 you have another school in 

20          the building that's doing great work.  I 

21          mean, the Village Academy is actually a great 

22          school, and Doris Lee does a great job.  And 

23          I'm assuming most of the parents, if they 

24          want to stay in the building, they'll stay 


 1          there.  I spoke to Stacey about keeping Brian 

 2          Piccolo, as the name, alive.  

 3                 And in terms of the other school, I 

 4          think also taking the school -- in this 

 5          particular case, that's a K-8 -- and making 

 6          it an upper or lower school, and also we'll 

 7          increase funding for that site.  Because, you 

 8          know, K-8s don't get funded the same as a 

 9          stand-alone middle school.  So those are all 

10          the things that we're going to be talking 

11          about.  

12                 But we will always be keeping an eye 

13          on the numbers to ensure that overcrowding is 

14          not part of it.  There will be more 

15          opportunities.  

16                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  And again, just the 

17          messaging for the parents, to reassure them 

18          that -- 

19                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Absolutely.  I 

20          said I would go visit after I met with you 

21          guys.  

22                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Okay.  

23                 My other concern with the Renewal 

24          program as you look to merge and consolidate 


 1          and close:  Teachers and the jobs.  Can you 

 2          elaborate a little bit more on that?  Because 

 3          I am concerned about the teachers and the 

 4          future of their positions as well.  

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  All the teachers 

 6          will be interviewed one-on-one.  Many of the 

 7          teachers can apply to work in the schools 

 8          that are reopening in the same site.  That 

 9          will be determined by the principals who will 

10          be on the site.  But they will all have the 

11          opportunity to apply for other schools.  

12                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  What happens -- 

13          again, if we look at this Renewal program as 

14          going beyond your tenure and the next 

15          chancellor coming along, what happens to this 

16          renewal program beyond your tenure?  Does the 

17          next chancellor pick it up, or is it up to 

18          the next chancellor to -- 

19                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Keep in mind -- 

20          and it goes back to something I was asked 

21          before -- that it's mayoral control.  So 

22          everything I've done, I've done in 

23          consultation with the mayor, and I anticipate 

24          that everything -- that it will continue with 


 1          the next chancellor, in consultation with the 

 2          mayor.  That's one of the reasons I think 

 3          mayoral control actually works, because it 

 4          keeps stability in the system.  

 5                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  And the total cost, 

 6          if you can -- ballpark figure, maybe -- of 

 7          the Renewal program, how much has been spent 

 8          on these programs?  

 9                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  About 

10          $180 million.  

11                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  And you expect 

12          additional funds as well?  

13                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I expect that if 

14          we get the money that we're entitled to from 

15          the state, we will be able to keep the 

16          program going and also -- at this stage, what 

17          we're doing is also trying to look at schools 

18          that could become Renewal Schools and try to 

19          keep them from becoming Renewal Schools and 

20          offering extra support before, rather than 

21          after.  

22                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  If I may, just one 

23          more quick -- 

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Sure.  


 1                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Only because the 

 2          issue hasn't come up about charter schools, 

 3          collocation versus paying for private rent.  

 4          Can you elaborate a little bit on that, 

 5          briefly?  

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  The charter 

 7          schools?  

 8                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Yes.  

 9                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I think it's 

10          important that all students are our students.  

11          But I think in terms of collocation, there's 

12          an expectation that resources will be shared.  

13          And we have a lot of great relationships.  

14                 The charter school I just went to 

15          in -- I mean, the collocated site I just went 

16          to in August Martin, there's a charter 

17          school, there's ALC, there's a restart, and 

18          they're all sharing resources with each 

19          other.  

20                 So I think if you're in a collocated 

21          site, there should be an expectation that you 

22          will share some of the resources.  

23                 In terms of leasing, it is going to 

24          become, as the numbers grow once the cap was 


 1          lost, it's going to be very onerous on us to 

 2          actually have to come up with all that money.  

 3                 CFO ORLANDO:  Hi, Ray Orlando, chief 

 4          financial officer.  

 5                 Yeah, so on the lease assistance, so 

 6          we have to date spent $50 million 

 7          cumulatively over the last few years on 

 8          charter lease payments, and expect to spend 

 9          another 40 this year.  

10                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Another 40?  

11                 CFO ORLANDO:  Million.  

12                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  On top of.  

13                 CFO ORLANDO:  And the state has -- the 

14          current state law reimburses us at a rate of 

15          60 percent for -- once we've spent 

16          $40 million.  And I believe that there's  

17          appropriated $6 million.  

18                 But the Governor's Executive Budget 

19          also includes a proposal to cap the state's 

20          contribution at 10, which would obviously 

21          leave us holding a very large bag.  

22                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Thank you very much.  

23                 Thank you, Madam Chair.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  


 1                 Our final questioner, Assemblywoman 

 2          Nolan.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Just to follow 

 4          up to what Senator Addabbo just talked about, 

 5          and I should have asked it earlier.  But what 

 6          is your cost estimate to the city regarding 

 7          the Executive's many proposals on charter 

 8          schools?  You referenced it in your 

 9          testimony; I just want it elaborated a little 

10          bit more on the record.  

11                 How much -- how much is gored out of 

12          your hide if we were to implement the 

13          Executive's proposals for charters?  How much 

14          do New York City public school kids lose if 

15          we take the money out of you and give it to 

16          charters?  

17                 CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.  There are 

18          proposals that would increase our expenses by 

19          over $140 million.  

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

21                 Also, just quickly on the issue of 

22          records.  And I have great respect for my 

23          colleagues in the Senate.  I personally think 

24          New York City schools are required to jump 


 1          through more hoops than any other school 

 2          system in the state, and I don't understand 

 3          that.  We have the most students; I don't 

 4          know why we also have to have the most 

 5          bureaucratic regulation.  

 6                 But you're also required to file, 

 7          under the CFE discussion, a whole bunch of 

 8          Contract for Excellence data.  So I would 

 9          urge my colleagues -- and maybe you would 

10          want to elaborate on what that is -- to look 

11          at that, because that's even yet another 

12          level of bureaucratic review and oversight.  

13          I don't know exactly how many schools are 

14          required to do Contract for Excellence data, 

15          but it's an awful lot.  And I think it does 

16          elaborate a little bit about the extensive 

17          extra reporting requirements that New York 

18          City schools are required to do, and I happen 

19          to think it's quite unfair.  But I try to 

20          respect where everybody's coming from on 

21          this.  

22                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Well, I think, 

23          first and foremost, that in New York City 

24          itself we already have a city comptroller who 


 1          audits just about everything.  So we already 

 2          have a mechanism in place.  

 3                 Again, my major concern on this issue 

 4          is that I'm perfectly happy -- if we didn't 

 5          fill in the blanks, I will find out why we 

 6          didn't and we'll get it done.  And that, to 

 7          me, is the most commonsense approach to that 

 8          particular problem.  

 9                 To have more reporting will require 

10          more people.  And every time I think about 

11          more people, I think about what money is 

12          coming out of the classroom.  To me, if we 

13          had money, it should be in the classroom with 

14          the teachers, with the students.  

15                 So to add more -- and also, who's 

16          going to then have to keep their eye off the 

17          ball just to create paper that ultimately 

18          nobody really reads?  I mean, I've tried to 

19          lessen the paperwork in the city for teachers 

20          and principals to the degree we can -- we're 

21          still struggling with that a little bit.  But 

22          the reality is I want people who are highly 

23          educated to be able to do the work that 

24          they're set out to do, which is teach in the 


 1          classroom, administer in the school, 

 2          supervise at the superintendent's level.  And 

 3          adding another layer, to me, almost is a sign 

 4          of disrespect.  

 5                 (Sotto voce)  Okay, I can say that, 

 6          I'm leaving.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 8          Jaffee.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  I just want to 

10          ask the question that I asked earlier as 

11          well.  in terms of the charter schools and 

12          the private schools in the city, is there 

13          accountability?  Is there a way to monitor 

14          whether or not they are providing the 

15          appropriate academics and education that we 

16          do review in terms of the public schools?  

17          And they are receiving a great deal of funds, 

18          so I question whether or not there is 

19          adequate review going on.  

20                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I think there is 

21          always an opportunity for more transparency, 

22          but I leave that to this august body to 

23          decide what that transparency should be.  

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Could you -- I 


 1          didn't hear that last part.  

 2                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  I'd say I think it 

 3          behooves this body to decide what the 

 4          transparency should be.  But the same way 

 5          you're asking us for more transparency, I 

 6          think it behooves everybody to do it.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Okay, thank 

 8          you.  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10                 Senator Young.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

12                 Just one final remark based on what 

13          you just said, Chancellor.  And I think that 

14          requiring transparency and accountability for 

15          a $10.4 billion allocation from the state 

16          isn't a sign of disrespect, it's a sign of 

17          respect to the taxpayers who are funding the 

18          schools.  And it's also making sure that the 

19          students are getting the services that they 

20          need.  

21                 So I just want to end on that point, 

22          because I disagree with what you said.  But I 

23          appreciate it.  Thank you.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you so 


 1          much, Chancellor, for being here.  Good luck.  

 2          Enjoy some time off, perhaps.  And thank you 

 3          again for all you've done for the children of 

 4          New York City.  

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARIÑA:  Thank you.  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you so 

 7          much.  

 8                 Next we will be hearing from Michael 

 9          Mulgrew, president of UFT, the United 

10          Federation of Teachers, and Cassie Prugh, 

11          special assistant to the president for 

12          legislative affairs.  Joining them will be 

13          NYSUT, the New York State United Teachers, 

14          Andrew Pallotta, president, and Christopher 

15          Black, director of legislation.  

16                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Good afternoon.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good afternoon.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good afternoon.  

19                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Chairperson 

20          Young, Chairperson Weinstein, Chair 

21          Marcellino, Chair Nolan.  I'm Andy Pallotta, 

22          president of New York State United Teachers, 

23          representing over 600,000 members statewide.  

24          Thank you for this opportunity to testify 


 1          before you today.  

 2                 I am joined by Michael Mulgrew, 

 3          president of UFT, Chris Black, the director 

 4          of legislation for NYSUT, and special 

 5          assistant to the president Cassie Prugh.  

 6                 We believe that education in this 

 7          state is moving in the right direction.  We 

 8          must continue to work together to ensure a 

 9          high-quality education and restore the joy of 

10          learning, to ensure that each and every 

11          student has that opportunity.  

12                 You have my written testimony.  I will 

13          not be reading it today, I'll just give a 

14          summary.  

15                 On School Aid, we know times are 

16          tough, we've heard the budget address.  And 

17          while we appreciate the $769 million increase 

18          in School Aid, we know that more School Aid 

19          is needed to maintain the current programs 

20          and services for our students.  In fact, an 

21          increase of $1.5 billion in state aid is 

22          needed just to keep our programs going, to 

23          maintain current levels of programs and 

24          services.  


 1                 We urge this level of funding, and 

 2          also increase the Foundation Aid that is 

 3          particularly important to us.  We believe 

 4          that the Foundation Aid formula is the best 

 5          vehicle to drive state aid to students that 

 6          need it the most.  

 7                 Expense-based aids.  NYSUT opposes the 

 8          Executive Budget proposal to limit growth in 

 9          major expense-based aid categories -- that 

10          would be building, transportation, BOCES 

11          aids -- to 2 percent.  We believe that this 

12          cap would damage BOCES programs and services 

13          as well as building and transportation aid 

14          reimbursements to districts.  

15                 On the issue of APPR, with changes in 

16          state standards and testing coming on board 

17          in the next few years, now is the time to 

18          make these changes to the New York State 

19          teachers' evaluation system.  Teacher 

20          evaluations should be returned to local 

21          control with no state mandates.  With nearly 

22          700 unique local school districts in New York 

23          State, a one-size-fits-all evaluation system 

24          does not work.  


 1                 The overall emphasis on testing has 

 2          placed an unfair burden on students, and the 

 3          changes in the federal law, the ESSA, have 

 4          eliminated the mandate for testing and 

 5          teacher evaluations.  These changes are 

 6          necessary to restore parents' trust in the 

 7          state education system.  Think about the 

 8          opt-out movement and the parents' 

 9          frustration.  Students, teachers and 

10          parents have suffered long enough under this 

11          current system.  We must return to the joy of 

12          teaching and the joy of learning.  

13                 I brought a chart with me today, I can 

14          distribute it later, and it shows the 

15          tremendous drop in the amount of students 

16          going into education courses throughout this 

17          state.  

18                 On our specialty schools, New York 

19          State is lucky to have a number of schools 

20          that can serve students with the most intense 

21          needs.  These are specifically the 4201, 

22          4410, 853 and Special Acts schools.  The 

23          dedicated professionals that work in these 

24          schools and support the students, they have a 


 1          compensation package that lags behind the 

 2          districts around them.  

 3                 What we urge the Legislature to do is 

 4          to provide a regular, predictable increase in 

 5          the tuition rates and assist them in 

 6          achieving educational funding parity with 

 7          surrounding school districts.  

 8                 We appreciate the increases included 

 9          in the Executive Budget to $17.2 million to 

10          assist these schools with the minimum wage 

11          increase.  

12                 On the issue of charter management 

13          schools, NYSUT calls for the elimination of 

14          public school districts' obligations to fund 

15          charter schools.  Specifically, we ask that 

16          the funding for charter schools be provided 

17          directly to them by the state.  Charter 

18          school laws should be strengthened to 

19          increase accountability and transparency for 

20          how students are served and public dollars 

21          are spent.  

22                 On revenue enhancement, NYSUT supports 

23          reforming the state's income tax to make it 

24          more progressive so that the state's highest 


 1          earners, our 1 percent here in New York 

 2          State, pay their fair share.  We also support 

 3          the Executive Budget's proposal to close the 

 4          carried interest loophole and treat hedge 

 5          fund managers' income the same as working 

 6          people, such as nurses, teachers and 

 7          firefighters.  

 8                 In conclusion, we believe that the 

 9          investment and the commitment of the 

10          Legislature is crucial to the success of our 

11          students throughout the state.  We look 

12          forward to partnering with the Legislature, 

13          even though we know that these are tough 

14          times.  And also knowing that there are 

15          several teachers in the Legislature and in 

16          the hearing room today gives me even more 

17          confidence that we'll be able to do some 

18          great things working together.  

19                 I'll now turn it over to Michael 

20          Mulgrew.  

21                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Thank you, 

22          everyone.  And thank you for allowing us to 

23          testify today.  

24                 I also would like to thank the chairs, 


 1          Senator Marcellino, Senator Young, 

 2          Assemblywoman Nolan.  But a special 

 3          congratulations to our new chair, 

 4          Assemblywoman Weinstein.  Thank you very 

 5          much.  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  So last year at 

 8          this time I testified a great deal about the 

 9          specific dangers that New York State, 

10          specifically New York State and New York City 

11          schools, might be facing from the federal 

12          government.  I am here to say that those 

13          fears are still alive and well.  

14                 As we know, our state has basically 

15          been targeted for a -- in the tax 

16          legislation, which leaves great danger ahead 

17          of us.  We support anything that we could 

18          work with you on in terms of getting together 

19          a package so that next year the citizens of 

20          New York State not face an undue burden 

21          because of bad federal legislation.  

22                 But also, at the same time, we are 

23          still concerned about the national Department 

24          of Education and its continued conversations 


 1          about not supporting public schools.  We 

 2          understand that the code word for school 

 3          choice equals privatization, and it is 

 4          something that we know we do not want here in 

 5          New York State.  The parents and the teachers 

 6          do not want it, and we know it will be bad 

 7          for the students.  We only need to look to 

 8          Michigan or the State of Wisconsin.  

 9                 Next week I will be having the 

10          president of the Wisconsin Teachers 

11          Association coming here to New York City to 

12          describe what has happened to the public 

13          school system to all of the elected officials 

14          of the UFT.  

15                 In terms of the revenue that's there, 

16          I support what my brother Mr. Pallotta -- 

17          President Pallotta, excuse me -- has put 

18          forth.  But we also want to make sure that 

19          we're looking for all possible revenue 

20          sources at this moment.  

21                 Clawbacks from any broken promises 

22          from corporations for tax credits should 

23          specifically be on everybody's radar, as well 

24          as the restructuring of our own tax system to 


 1          help what has been done at the federal level.  

 2                 On charter schools -- and I've heard a 

 3          lot in here today about transparency.  

 4          Transparency is a great word.  And on charter 

 5          schools, I too believe what the chancellor 

 6          has said.  We work with a lot of charter 

 7          schools in New York City.  But as an 

 8          industry, there have been some bad players 

 9          who have fought anything on transparency or 

10          accountability.  We think it is imperative 

11          that there are taxpayer dollars involved, 

12          that every student should be served and they 

13          should be served fairly.  And schools should 

14          be held accountable if they have a clear 

15          record of students who are counseled out and 

16          disappearing from their ranks.  

17                 On Teacher Centers, a favorite topic 

18          every year up here in Albany.  Last year we 

19          do appreciate the Assembly's $14 million as 

20          well as the Executive's $5 million for 

21          Teacher Centers.  

22                 Six years ago I was up here talking 

23          over and over again about a policy that -- we 

24          were changing our standards to what was then 


 1          known as the Common Core, and how it was 

 2          going to be a debacle because we were about 

 3          to introduce new tests and there was no real 

 4          plan on how to educate people what these 

 5          standards were, nor was there any curriculum 

 6          developed at any level of education, and it 

 7          was not even mandated by SED to do that.  All 

 8          of those scenarios and nightmares that I had 

 9          testified to came true.  

10                 I am proud and happy to stand here 

11          today to say that the State Education 

12          Department and the Board of Regents have a 

13          very good plan and strategy for rolling out 

14          our new state standards, which were developed 

15          by stakeholders and not just by a consultant 

16          being hired from outside.  

17                 There were conversations across this 

18          state, and I was very proud of that, with 

19          teachers and parents about what we wanted 

20          reflected in our standards.  

21                 Now that those standards have been 

22          adopted by the Board of Regents, we are now 

23          taking a year to roll those standards out and 

24          to educate not just teachers but school 


 1          districts and parents across our state.  And 

 2          then the following year, we will then start 

 3          to develop local curriculums that match those 

 4          standards before the rollout of our new tests 

 5          that will match those new standards.  

 6                 That is common sense and a strategy 

 7          that makes sense.  The Teacher Centers are 

 8          the drivers of the majority of this work.  

 9          Which is why this time we know we have a plan 

10          that will make a big difference and people 

11          will not get frustrated and angry as they did 

12          last time.  But we need to fund it to make 

13          sure that this is happening, so Teacher 

14          Centers is key to that.  

15                 In terms of English language learners, 

16          I am proud to say that the Teacher Centers 

17          are the ones who are leading the way with 

18          dealing with the horrendous shortage that we 

19          have in teachers who are trained in English 

20          language learner instruction.  And they're 

21          taking it on -- they went and developed these 

22          programs on their own, and they're working 

23          with teachers not just in New York City but 

24          across the state to help develop these 


 1          instructors that we so critically need at 

 2          this moment.  

 3                 And the other piece -- and I do not 

 4          believe that this was intended, but three 

 5          years ago the Legislature passed a law that 

 6          said every teacher needed to have 100 

 7          professional hours within a five-year period.  

 8          Which was great, and everybody applauded it.  

 9          Well, the problem is that that's now become 

10          an undue burden among -- for teachers.  

11                 So I went and looked at how other 

12          professions -- because the argument at that 

13          time was, well, other professions have to do 

14          professional hours.  If any of you -- say, 

15          like my brother, who's an attorney, or Cassie 

16          Prugh, sitting here -- I asked, How many 

17          hours do you have to do?  And I was basically 

18          told in New York State you need 60 hours over 

19          five years.  So I understand the respect that 

20          you gave teachers and said they need more, 

21          because they do much more than a lot of 

22          lawyers -- no offense to the lawyers.  

23                 But then we turned it into a lot of 

24          small for-profit institutions are now giving 


 1          classes for what we call CTLE hours.  Those 

 2          are our professional hours.  They average 

 3          about $300 for a three-hour class.  

 4                 So what we now have done is we have 

 5          told the teachers of New York State there is 

 6          a possibility, a very great possibility, 

 7          you're going to have to spend $10,000 over 

 8          the next five years to get your professional 

 9          hours in order to keep your certificate so 

10          that you can continue to teach.  I don't 

11          believe that was anyone's intention when that 

12          law was passed.  

13                 The Teacher Centers right now are all 

14          changing a great deal of the work that they 

15          were doing and turning into CTLE providers 

16          for teachers across our state.  To develop 

17          that capacity to the level we need for all of 

18          our teachers is a titanic, to say the least, 

19          undertaking.  I am happy that our Teacher 

20          Centers have -- because they knew it had to 

21          get done and they knew they didn't want this 

22          burden on all the teachers, they have taken 

23          this work on.  

24                 But we truly -- and I know this is 


 1          tough every year on Teacher Centers.  This is 

 2          a year where we passed a law -- there was a 

 3          law passed three years ago that is really 

 4          causing a problem for the teachers across our 

 5          state.  We know we're dealing with teacher 

 6          shortages in a lot of our areas.  But putting 

 7          this on top of them, this 100 professional 

 8          hours, with the possibility of it costing 

 9          them over $10,000, is just not helpful.  

10                 So I am pleading with you to fund the 

11          Teacher Centers and allow them to continue to 

12          do this work while we are still looking at 

13          what we could possibly do with that 

14          legislation.  Because I do not believe that 

15          was anyone's intent when it was passed.  

16                 In terms of Community Schools, we 

17          thank your support for them.  I'm very proud 

18          that in New York City the UFT runs 29 

19          Community Learning Schools.  We invite any of 

20          you, if you would like to come and visit them 

21          and see the work that is being done with 

22          them.  Our achievement is up a great deal, 

23          and we have schools that for generations in 

24          specific neighborhoods have not been able to 


 1          reach certain levels of achievement that are 

 2          now doing it.  But more important, it is a 

 3          true community because we make sure that all 

 4          stakeholders are part of it.  

 5                 In terms of restorative justice and 

 6          discipline, a very big issue -- and we have 

 7          had all sorts of debates up here about this 

 8          issue, and we will continue to have them.  

 9          But this is what I do know.  We are asking 

10          for Positive Learning Collaboratives.  These 

11          are programs that we now run in 30 schools in 

12          New York City.  Part of that funding comes 

13          directly from our members.  These programs 

14          were specifically run and put in place 

15          because of a whole bunch of different issues 

16          that we knew we were facing under the 

17          discipline problems that we were facing as a 

18          school system.  

19                 I am proud to say now, four years 

20          after starting this project, that suspensions 

21          in those schools have gone down dramatically, 

22          that parents have reported that the change in 

23          culture has been significant and they now 

24          look forward to bringing their children to 


 1          school.  Their children like their schools 

 2          better, and their teachers like to work 

 3          there.  

 4                 These are intensive programs.  There 

 5          is no easy way to deal with school culture 

 6          without first coming and saying to everyone 

 7          there needs to be heavy-duty training and 

 8          it's everyone's responsibility, it's not just 

 9          what happens inside of a classroom once the 

10          door is closed and the teacher is in there.  

11                 And also by running this program, we 

12          have been able to identify significantly that 

13          no matter what a school does, there is always 

14          a small proportion of children who need 

15          clinical intervention.  And the fact that we 

16          are all not dealing with that issue is a 

17          shame.  Because right now in New York City, 

18          clinical intervention specialists -- who 

19          could be a psychologist or a social worker -- 

20          we're not able to hire them.  But this is a 

21          statewide problem.  This is -- every school 

22          in the state probably is facing the same 

23          issue.  

24                 We want a progressive restorative 


 1          practice, a good culture in each school.  But 

 2          every school is going to need a clinical 

 3          intervention specialist.  And the earlier we 

 4          get that intervention, the better off that 

 5          student will be later on in life.  

 6                 So we are asking at this point, 

 7          because we are going to come up with a plan 

 8          and present it up here by the end of this 

 9          session, but we are also asking for your 

10          support for our Positive Learning 

11          Collaboratives.  

12                 I also am pleased that the Executive 

13          and the Legislature is considering a 

14          consolidated application in terms of 

15          workforce development, economic development, 

16          and career and tech ed.  We fought this -- 

17          the United Federation of Teachers, NYSUT, and 

18          the American Federation of Teachers fought 

19          very hard to get that change in the federal 

20          government that the state could now take 

21          advantage and put together basically a 

22          coordinated application of all of those 

23          services for the distinct benefit that money 

24          would be used more efficiently and that if 


 1          there is a plan in a regional area, that it's 

 2          not just for the economic development but it 

 3          is also for the development of a workforce 

 4          for a viable job.  

 5                 And those things should be done, and 

 6          we look forward to working with the 

 7          Legislature on putting that consolidated 

 8          application together.  

 9                 On the childcare appropriation, we are 

10          very happy that the cuts from last year have 

11          been restored.  But once again, as always, we 

12          know that families, especially single-parent 

13          families, are facing undue hardships.  And 

14          anything we can do to help -- and I know in 

15          New York City we have 4-K and now we're 

16          moving to 3-K.  But there is the need for 

17          childcare.  Affordable, competent childcare 

18          is a big, big challenge that we face.  And we 

19          look forward to working with this Legislature 

20          and also back in our city to make sure that 

21          we can make that available to more people.  

22                 And I thank you very much for having 

23          us here today.  

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  


 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

 2          We're going to go right to Andy, and then 

 3          we'll take questions.  All right?  

 4                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  I presented 

 5          already.  

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Oh, I'm sorry, I 

 7          stepped -- sorry, Andy.  

 8                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  It's okay.  It's 

 9          okay.  

10                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  You missed him.  

11          He did great.  

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  You know, I'm 

13          sorry to say after six hours or whatever it 

14          was, I did need to stop for a minute outside.  

15          I apologize.  

16                 So our first questioner will be 

17          Mr. Murray.  

18                 Sorry.  I will reread it, Andy, I 

19          promise you.  I promise you.  

20                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Thank you.  Thank 

21          you, Assemblywoman.  

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Thank you very 

23          much.  

24                 So first I'll start by apologizing.  


 1          When I was questioning the commissioner, I 

 2          tried to fit into the small time frame and I 

 3          took two separate issues, and it may have 

 4          seemed like they clumped together as one.  

 5          One was on the ESSA and the feds allowing 

 6          for, with this pilot program, alternative 

 7          ways of assessing and the standardized 

 8          testing.  The other one was on the consortium 

 9          schools.  

10                 So I'm going to make it simple this 

11          time and just focus on the standardized 

12          testing.  And the question is when she 

13          answered as far as what was being done and 

14          the process -- and I believe my colleague 

15          also asked about the APPR issue and where we 

16          stood.  She had mentioned that some changes 

17          were made to the standardized testing 

18          procedure, the shortening of days, the 

19          lengthening of hours that the students were 

20          given.  Which while some might see that as a 

21          benefit, I heard from many parents who said 

22          you're basically forcing the kids to sit even 

23          longer at one time to do testing, so that's 

24          not really a great idea.  


 1                 The other answer was given regarding 

 2          getting teachers involved in writing the 

 3          questions for the tests.  Now, perhaps 

 4          Questar Assessments, the new company doing 

 5          the tests, has brought on some former 

 6          teachers or have some doing that, which may 

 7          be great.  But the feeling I'm getting from 

 8          the teachers, from the administrators, from 

 9          the superintendents is still we're entirely 

10          too test-centric right now and when it comes 

11          to assessing the students, the teachers, the 

12          schools, should we be that test-centric and 

13          are the teachers as accepting as maybe the 

14          commissioner made it sound to this new 

15          testing procedure?  

16                 So what are the teachers' feelings on 

17          this?  

18                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Well, definitely 

19          the answer would be no, they're not accepting 

20          of this.  They've lived through the testing 

21          obsession, the test-and-punish agenda of the 

22          past several years, and they believe it is 

23          time for us to use tests to help students.  

24          That is a real goal of giving a test, any 


 1          teacher knows that.  It's not about punishing 

 2          anyone.  

 3                 And basically, you know, with gigantic 

 4          school districts like New York City, 

 5          1.1 million students, and then a district 

 6          like Indian River with 100 students, how do 

 7          you really have one system that works for 

 8          everyone?  Most of the people that made this 

 9          system up are no longer with us, right, so 

10          they don't have to be held accountable for 

11          what they put into place.  But we are 

12          definitely of the opinion that the entire 

13          system is skewed the wrong way.  When you're 

14          doing test prep from September to the test 

15          date in April, you have wasted an 

16          opportunity.  You have wasted an opportunity 

17          to teach and learn.  

18                 So we want to change that.  We would 

19          say that the entire picture of teacher 

20          evaluations should be returned to local 

21          control, and that local control with no state 

22          mandates.  

23                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  In terms of -- I 

24          agree with my colleague.  And there are other 


 1          ways to assess student learning.  You see, 

 2          that's what we've forgotten.  And when we 

 3          went to a three-day test, I remember the 

 4          absurdity of the argument.  Does anyone know 

 5          why we went to a three-day test?  Because the 

 6          psychometricians needed it.  Not the 

 7          students, the psychometricians needed it to 

 8          sign off that it was valid.  

 9                 So we literally went to a -- 

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  We need to know what 

11          that one is, what that word means.  I'm 

12          sorry.  

13                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  The 

14          psychometricians who were brought in to 

15          certify that the test was valid said they 

16          needed a three-day test.  So we designed a 

17          three-day test, our state adopted a three-day 

18          testing system because the psychometricians 

19          needed it.  It had nothing to do with 

20          students.  And that's when you know the train 

21          was off the rails, at that point.  

22                 So we have to get back to what is 

23          authentic student learning.  I was very 

24          interested in your consortium question.  I've 


 1          been in the Consortium Schools in New York 

 2          City, and it is a high level of assessment 

 3          and learning and it has nothing to do with 

 4          tests.  And their students perform -- when 

 5          they leave their schools, when they go to 

 6          higher ed, they perform at a very high level.  

 7          And all that data is available.  

 8                 So I think it's time for New York 

 9          State to look at other ways to actually 

10          assess authentic student learning and to give 

11          control to the local school districts.  

12          Because as people like to say, if you have a 

13          principal here, they'll say, I know my school 

14          best.  I agree with that.  And then each 

15          teacher will say, I know my students.  

16                 Well, how do we keep telling the 

17          school districts, guess what, we don't care 

18          what you think you know about your students, 

19          you need to do it this way.  Does the state 

20          have a responsibility to say student 

21          achievement is real and it's happening?  Yes.  

22          But there is a better way to do it than what 

23          we currently have.  

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  I agree with you.  


 1          Thank you very much.  

 2                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Thank you.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Senate.  

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 5                 The chair of Education, Carl 

 6          Marcellino.  

 7                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Good afternoon, 

 8          gentlemen and lady.  

 9                 PANEL:  Good afternoon.  

10                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  State Ed is 

11          currently looking at a way to recalibrate the 

12          days, 180 days of instruction.  They're 

13          looking to go to hours.  Your thoughts would 

14          be appreciated.  

15                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  I think that it 

16          was pretty aggravating to most folks who had 

17          to look at this as the school year began and 

18          they didn't really have guidance as to how to 

19          work this through.  

20                 So I do know that they're still 

21          looking at it.  I mean, it has to be 

22          something that makes sense.  There were 

23          collective bargaining agreements that were 

24          already in place, and then -- 


 1                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  That's what I was 

 2          going to get at.  There had to be union 

 3          contracts somewhere in this that dealt with 

 4          start date, whatever.  And if you then 

 5          switched it to hours, I don't know how that 

 6          impacts what you do and what your people do.  

 7                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  and we've asked 

 8          for -- they've come out with some additional 

 9          guidance, so we're waiting for further 

10          guidance from them about what they're 

11          actually talking about -- and this is the 

12          public comment period right now -- what 

13          counts as an hour, what doesn't.  You would 

14          think it's as simple as what's in 

15          instructional time.  Is it just instructional 

16          time?  Is it a child's time inside of the 

17          school each day?  We already have regulations 

18          about what constitutes a day.  We do a 

19          report-based system.  

20                 We're waiting for further guidance 

21          from SED to say whether this is a good idea 

22          or a bad idea.  And until we have that, we're 

23          going to hold back, we're holding back our 

24          judgment.  But it is something that every 


 1          educator -- and this is becoming quite a 

 2          topic now amongst the teachers in New York 

 3          City, that they know this is being looked at 

 4          and they want to know how it affects them, 

 5          and it's frustrating to us because we can't 

 6          give them that answer yet.  

 7                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The start date 

 8          for the schools, is there a problem with 

 9          starting that date earlier or later, or 

10          giving flexibility to school districts to 

11          start -- within reason, not six months of -- 

12          you can't do that.  But I mean, is there --

13                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  I think some 

14          places can do that now, but it's all 

15          according to whatever their agreement is 

16          locally.  When you have 700 districts ...  

17                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  It's my 

18          understanding you need a waiver to start 

19          before September 1st.  

20                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I don't believe 

21          so.  I will check that.  Because we have 

22          schools now -- our PROSE schools, who can 

23          design their own contracts, there's a whole 

24          series of them who have done a lot of things 


 1          with scheduling and time.  One of those 

 2          schools goes -- it does it six weeks of 

 3          school on and two weeks off, and it just 

 4          continues that all year-round.  So there 

 5          really isn't a start and end date.  And we 

 6          have other schools that have changed their 

 7          time in different ways.

 8                 But I don't -- I will check, but I 

 9          want to see if there is some sort of a 

10          regulation that says you can't start before 

11          September 1st.  

12                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I believe there 

13          is.  But we should have that discussion, 

14          because I think it's important.  

15                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I think you're 

16          right.  

17                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The term 

18          "clinical intervention specialist" came up 

19          before in somebody's testimony.  Can you tell 

20          me what that is?  

21                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Well, basically 

22          it's a psychologist or a social worker who 

23          also has a clinical certificate.  So that's a 

24          much deeper intervention in terms of their 


 1          patient.  At that point it's more of a 

 2          patient, not a student relationship.  

 3                 And what we've found in our Positive 

 4          Learning Collaborative schools is that 

 5          somewhere around 8 percent in every school, 

 6          no matter what we did, were having problems.  

 7          And each of the schools started reporting 

 8          that we're not equipped to deal with the 

 9          problems that this child is having.  And it 

10          was clear that we needed someone who could do 

11          a clinical intervention at that point.  

12                 To me, it doesn't matter if they're a 

13          social worker or a psychologist, we just want 

14          someone with a clinical certificate at the 

15          site.  

16                 If a school has -- you know, you 

17          should look at it more of if a school has X 

18          number of suspensions, then we need to look 

19          significantly about what is this school 

20          doing.  So that's why we started our Positive 

21          Learning Collaborative.  In that program a 

22          school has to guarantee to us -- we will not 

23          work with them unless every single person at 

24          the school is trained for four days through 


 1          our program.  They have to come to our 

 2          program.  I'm talking about school safety 

 3          agents, I'm talking about the custodians, the 

 4          people who work in the food services.  

 5          Everybody in the school has to be trained.  

 6                 And then they have a set of tools that 

 7          they can assess and design their own program.  

 8          We don't believe in boiler-plating anything.  

 9          It's we give you the tools, you figure it 

10          out.  So we have schools, very successful in 

11          everything we tried to do, but in the end we 

12          still have that small somewhere around 8 

13          percent that it's clear we need a tool that's 

14          not in the toolbox that we're supplying.  

15                 And I think it's so clear to me that 

16          this is something we should be looking at and 

17          say to a school that -- especially an 

18          elementary school -- if you know children are 

19          having certain issues, we know that early 

20          intervention is going to keep them out of 

21          trouble later in life.  And if you can 

22          identify them earlier, why wouldn't we just 

23          do it?  

24                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The question that 


 1          I have, are we asking too much of the 

 2          schools?  

 3                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Yes.  

 4                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  And that's 

 5          important to me.  Because it's hard enough, 

 6          as one who taught in the city for 20 years, 

 7          to teach them basic biology, which was what 

 8          my subject area was, or reading and writing 

 9          and math and all the rest of that good 

10          stuff -- that's hard work.  Hardest job I 

11          ever had.  People don't understand -- well, 

12          you just tell the kids what -- they don't 

13          know what's going on in the classroom, they 

14          haven't got a clue when they talk like that.  

15                 But it is a very hard job.  If the 

16          schools start taking on more and more 

17          responsibility, is that going to drain the 

18          resources?  Is that going to take away from 

19          your ability to really do what I consider to 

20          be the fundamental job of the schools, which 

21          is basically to teach them how to do math and 

22          a basic education?  

23                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  You heard my 

24          original answer, and I stand by that.  But at 


 1          the same time it's a reality of the job we 

 2          now have.  If a child is coming to our 

 3          school -- first you have a lot of folks who 

 4          are upset that children get suspended.  

 5          Rightfully so.  Okay?  But the reality of the 

 6          job that we have is that we have these 

 7          students who are there, we accept them all, 

 8          we're not saying we don't want these 

 9          students, we want every single one of them.  

10          This is the challenge that we're faced with.  

11                 Our society has changed rapidly.  You 

12          know, it's not like you have one person 

13          working and one at home anymore, that's not 

14          realistic in almost all of our children's 

15          lives.  So they come in with all these 

16          different challenges and it's just now become 

17          a responsibility of the school.  If we're 

18          trying to get every child to have a good 

19          education, then we can't just say, look, we 

20          shouldn't be responsible for this.  Because 

21          if we say that, then we know those children 

22          aren't going to get the education.  

23                 So I completely agree with your 

24          sentiments.  But the reality of the job now 


 1          is that we have to deal with these 

 2          challenges.  So that's why, when we do 

 3          programs -- and I thank you so much for 

 4          supporting Community Learning Schools, which 

 5          you have done in the last two budgets.  You 

 6          know, those are our ways of saying let's 

 7          figure out how to get the things that the 

 8          school needs so that we can remove some of 

 9          the burden on the actual instruction inside 

10          of the classroom.  Because a lot of that help 

11          does not come from teachers.  We bring in 

12          specialists who deal with the different 

13          challenges that our kids face.  

14                 In the end, all we're trying to do is 

15          remove those challenges or burdens or 

16          obstacles that you would face once you're in 

17          the classroom doing the instruction.  

18          Because, you know, for that child who needs 

19          that clinical intervention, we might look at 

20          that one child and discuss that child over 

21          here so much.  But you have to understand, as 

22          you would, that then every time that child 

23          has a problem in class, they're impeding the 

24          education of the other 25 or 30 kids in the 


 1          classroom.  So we can't -- and now, under all 

 2          of our accountability, every child, we have 

 3          to figure out how to do it.  

 4                 So I agree with your sentiments, but 

 5          the job has changed dramatically.  

 6                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  And that's why 

 7          we're here today asking for more money for 

 8          more resources for the schools.  I know -- I 

 9          spent 24 years in the classroom, and one of 

10          the key elements to a successful school was 

11          hiring more social workers.  Right?  And they 

12          really made a difference.  And it's resources 

13          and the freedom for an administrator and 

14          teachers in the school to decide how they 

15          would love to move that school forward and 

16          make it better.  

17                 And just referring back to that 

18          enrollment in New York State's education 

19          programs, it's down 49 percent since 2009.  

20          That's incredible.  It's unbelievable.  But 

21          it's real.  

22                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  It's almost 

23          unheard-of.  

24                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Well, as a former 


 1          chapter chairman in my old high school, I'll 

 2          make you an offer.  Maybe you can refuse it; 

 3          maybe you can't.  But we'll make it anyway.  

 4                 My door is open.  I would like to meet 

 5          with you guys and gal and talk to you about 

 6          what you think your priorities -- 

 7          legislatively, what we can do.  What could 

 8          come out of the New York State Senate.  I 

 9          can't guarantee the Assembly, but Cathy is a 

10          former student, so we have some leverage 

11          there.  

12                 (Laughter.) 

13                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The nature of the 

14          beast is I believe in communication, so let's 

15          talk and let's -- your thoughts on any 

16          legislation that might be helpful to you 

17          coming out of the committees.  Perhaps you 

18          can come -- if you want to meet with the 

19          committee as a whole, we'll have a committee 

20          meeting and you can come and talk to the 

21          committee as a whole.  I think that would be 

22          a good idea, because a lot of my members 

23          don't know what you do.  

24                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I really 


 1          appreciate the opportunity.  And yes, we will 

 2          take you up on that.  We look forward to it.

 3                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  So do I.  

 4                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Thank you, 

 5          Senator.  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7          Sorry, I was out for a bit.  

 8                 Assemblyman Weprin.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Yes, thank you, 

10          Madam Chair.  

11                 President Pallotta, I think you're 

12          convincing President Mulgrew to spend more 

13          time in Albany these days.  I've seen him a 

14          few times this week.

15                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I love being with 

16          you guys.  

17                 (Laughter.) 

18                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  He loves the 

19          weather up here.  That's what he loves, the 

20          clouds and the snow.  

21                 (Laughter.) 

22                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I was telling him 

23          this morning, yeah.  

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Actually my wife 


 1          tells me we got more snow this week in Queens 

 2          than we did in Albany, so ...  

 3                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  It melted.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  Well, she 

 5          complained, anyway.  

 6                 President Pallotta, you discussed the 

 7          evaluation.  It's interesting you brought 

 8          that up, because I've got two separate cases 

 9          of senior teachers -- one in art, one in 

10          music -- who are being forced out or -- you 

11          know, and they're high-paid teachers because 

12          they've been in the system for a long time.  

13          And there's been like an effort to force them 

14          out, in their opinion, and it's based on this 

15          evaluation that doesn't necessarily apply to 

16          art and music.  

17                 So I'm just curious if you have any 

18          comments on, you know, the evaluation system 

19          being used in certain subjects against 

20          teachers; in this case, senior teachers.  

21                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Well, we've been 

22          fighting for years saying that this 

23          evaluation system doesn't work.  So in these 

24          specific circumstances, I couldn't speak to 


 1          it directly, but you shouldn't evaluate a 

 2          music teacher or a dance teacher on students 

 3          that they do not teach.  And I think that is 

 4          one of the biggest problems that we've seen 

 5          in this.  It's a ludicrous system.  It should 

 6          have never been created.  And now is really 

 7          the time to take it apart and do it one time 

 8          and do it right.  

 9                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Under the law -- 

10          which right now is under the moratorium.  But 

11          under the law before the moratorium, yes, 

12          what you just said was absolutely true.  If 

13          you're a music, art, phys ed, you could 

14          actually be science or just about every 

15          subject except for math and English, you 

16          could be partially evaluated on subjects you 

17          did not teach and students that were not in 

18          your classroom.  It makes a lot of sense.  

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  And that was part 

20          of the complaint.  

21                 And just one other subject.  I've also 

22          been contacted by a lot of schools that are 

23          having trouble that don't have money in their 

24          budget, and maybe it was their own budgeting 


 1          with principals, but there's been a problem 

 2          with substitute teachers, money for 

 3          substitute teachers.  

 4                 Maybe, Mr. Mulgrew, you could comment 

 5          on that.  What would you recommend -- 

 6                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  What did the 

 7          chancellor say?  

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  She said she's 

 9          been contacted by other people that have 

10          complained about it as well, and you have to 

11          be creative in your budgeting, is what she 

12          said.  

13                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  To me, when -- 

14          look, with any large system, or without, in 

15          the end education has to be about the 

16          classroom and the school itself.  If 

17          somebody's out for the day, you have to 

18          get -- somebody has to be inside that 

19          classroom, period, end of story.  And no 

20          parent nor another teacher in that building 

21          wants to hear that, oh, we don't have the 

22          money to hire someone today to do that.  

23          That's just absurd.  

24                 And so there shouldn't be a system in 


 1          place where anyone is allowed to say, Well, 

 2          they weren't creative with their budget.  No, 

 3          that's ridiculous.  There are no rules that 

 4          we have that say you can't bring in that sub.  

 5          We encourage and we consider that what's 

 6          called an emergency situation, that there 

 7          must be someone inside of that classroom.  

 8                 So this is always the frustration at 

 9          times, or the agitation, is when you have 

10          people running a school system, no matter 

11          where it is, and they're saying:  Well, you 

12          don't understand the budgeting process.  I 

13          don't want to understand your budgeting 

14          process.  There's a classroom that needs a 

15          teacher in it today.  And if you don't 

16          understand the education system and you don't 

17          understand that issue, then you shouldn't be 

18          in charge of the budget.  

19                 It's pretty simple as far as I'm 

20          concerned.  We do all of this because of the 

21          classroom and the students.  So to hear an 

22          answer as, you know, they weren't creative 

23          with their budget or they don't understand 

24          their budget, well, guess what.  There's 25 


 1          kids sitting in that classroom right now, and 

 2          they need a teacher.  And that's the only 

 3          thing that needs to be understood.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  I fully agree 

 5          with you on that.  

 6                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Sorry, I probably 

 7          went off a little on that.  

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN WEPRIN:  No, no, I think 

 9          you're on point.  

10                 Thank you, Madam Chair.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Senate.  

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

13                 Joe Addabbo, our Education ranker.  

14                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Thank you, Senator 

15          Krueger.  

16                 To this panel, thank you very much for 

17          your time and testimony today.  

18                 The previous panel with Chancellor 

19          Fariña, I mentioned that I'm concerned about 

20          the Renewal School program and obviously the 

21          teachers' jobs.  She had mentioned that there 

22          is some interaction about the future fate of 

23          the teachers, and there's some discussion 

24          about where they will go in the future.  I 


 1          wanted to hear from this panel, has there 

 2          been an interaction with the chancellor on 

 3          the future fate of those teachers that are in 

 4          the schools that are going to be merged, 

 5          consolidated, or closed under the Renewal 

 6          program?  

 7                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  When we've had 

 8          discussions with them in previous years on 

 9          those issues, we have been able to make sure 

10          that all those teachers were placed in 

11          schools.  

12                 The idea that you punish a school and 

13          you say a school is not achieving -- I 

14          understand accountability -- and then say 

15          that it -- you know, for years when I came up 

16          here the line was that the school is failing 

17          because the teachers are failing.  Right?  

18          And we would get very angry when we were here 

19          testifying about that.  

20                 For us, the Renewal program is 

21          something that is extremely important, and we 

22          want to make sure that we don't -- the last 

23          thing we want to happen is to say to a 

24          teacher, We need you in a school that's 


 1          struggling and we want you to go there and 

 2          take on this challenge -- and in the end, if 

 3          it doesn't work out, we're going to punish 

 4          you for going to that school.  That's the 

 5          last thing we want to happen.  

 6                 And that's what was happening in 

 7          New York City and in different districts 

 8          across this state.  

 9                 So now this administration has -- you 

10          know, they are in agreement.  So when a 

11          school in the Renewal program needs to close 

12          or consolidate, we have been able to work out 

13          the situation, the placement of those 

14          instructors.  

15                 And I thank those instructors for 

16          going to that school, because a lot of them 

17          -- you know, we have close to 4,000 transfers 

18          a year inside of New York City, and they 

19          choose to stay in those difficult situations 

20          because they have relationships with their 

21          students.  And that's the part that was not 

22          being recognized a couple of years ago, and I 

23          appreciate that -- I know this body did 

24          recognize it.  


 1                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  In both of your 

 2          testimonies you had mentioned the importance 

 3          of Teacher Centers.  UFT put it in your 

 4          legislative priorities.  Appreciate the 

 5          sheet.  

 6                 What are the real possible effects if 

 7          the $5 million are not restored to the 

 8          Teacher Centers?  

 9                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Right now -- just 

10          take the one issue I brought up, which was 

11          the professional hours.  If you ever hear the 

12          acronym CTLE, that's what they mean by the 

13          professional hours that are now mandated.  

14          We're supplying more of those hours than 

15          anyone else.  The Teacher Centers are doing 

16          it.  

17                 And it was not something that was in 

18          their plan, it just became that all of a 

19          sudden teachers were now -- teachers and 

20          paraprofessionals and different pedagogues 

21          who are now under this requirement, and the 

22          only people who were giving the classes, were 

23          certified to give the classes, were 

24          for-profit institutions.  And they were the 


 1          ones who started with the, you know, $300 -- 

 2          $250 for a two-hour course, $300 for a 

 3          three-hour course.  And that's -- right now, 

 4          that would be the biggest piece.  

 5                 The second thing is we really have a 

 6          plan in place to roll out the new standards 

 7          and educate people on them before they get 

 8          put into place, something we did not do with 

 9          the last standards change.  And we know how 

10          that happened.  

11                 And I give the Board of Regents and 

12          SED all the credit for coming up with the 

13          plan, and they have been meeting with the 

14          Teacher Centers and working with them on how 

15          to have this public rollout in education on 

16          all of this.  

17                 So now we're trying to not repeat the 

18          debacle of the Common Core that caused all of 

19          that craziness that happened in our state.  

20          You have this entity known as Teacher Centers 

21          that seem to be the hub, working with the 

22          agency responsible to try to roll this out 

23          and educate people.  To me, this is the 

24          easiest no-brainer of the year, because that 


 1          should be something we should be trying to 

 2          avoid, which is another disaster in terms of 

 3          a rollout of a new standards platform.

 4                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  And lastly, with 

 5          seconds remaining -- lastly, in both 

 6          testimonies you mentioned revenue-generating 

 7          ideas and suggestions.  I really appreciate 

 8          that.  It's not so much just asking for more 

 9          money, you gave ideas about 

10          revenue-generating.  

11                 But I'm going to ask another question 

12          about do you know of any cost savings or cuts 

13          that we could make?  Maybe there's wasteful 

14          spending in this portion of the budget.  Any 

15          suggestions for cost saving or 

16          wasteful-spending cuts?  

17                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  We haven't really 

18          spent too much time on cost savings, really 

19          just looking at the entire system and how the 

20          multimillionaires are basically getting the 

21          windfall of the tax cuts federally.  And I 

22          think that that would be a great place for us 

23          to look for something for this year.  

24                 I mean, we have the millionaire's tax.  


 1          I would look at the multimillionaire's or the 

 2          billionaire's tax.  That might be nice.  

 3                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  We look forward to 

 4          having any conversation both at the local 

 5          level or the state level about things.  As we 

 6          know, we are going to be facing more and more 

 7          challenges from the federal government.  And 

 8          you guys are really facing a very difficult 

 9          challenge because of what many of the 

10          residents of our state might be facing next 

11          year because of the federal legislation.  

12                 We look forward to having those 

13          conversations and working with anyone on it.  

14                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Again, thank you 

15          very much.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

17                 Assemblywoman Pellegrino.  

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  Good 

19          afternoon.  I'm looking at the time.  It's 

20          like 3 o'clock.  

21                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  It's time for the 

22          bell.  

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  It's the 

24          witching hour, right.  Waiting for the bell 


 1          to ring.  

 2                 I want to thank you for your 

 3          comprehensive testimony, President Pallotta, 

 4          President Mulgrew, and the importance of your 

 5          words here today on behalf of our great 

 6          schools, our great communities, particularly 

 7          from my district on Long Island, you know, 

 8          and the communities that I represent.  

 9                 I have two impact questions 

10          acknowledging the general and relative 

11          popularity of the tax cap, and also adding 

12          that the tax cap is inextricably tied to CPI.  

13          And even in recent years, given that it 

14          hasn't been a negative percentage, school 

15          districts have been struggling with the 

16          predictability of budgeting and have been 

17          calling for the Legislature to create 

18          exemptions.  And we've really been asking for 

19          modifications, which I think would be 

20          helpful.  

21                 But something that's been particularly 

22          concerning to me in the Executive Budget is 

23          the call for the cap on expense-based aid.  

24          So I'd like if you could just talk for a few 


 1          minutes on the impact on -- if we were to 

 2          impose a cap on expense-based aid and what 

 3          that would be like on our schools, please.  

 4                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Well, we oppose 

 5          that, the cap on expense-based aid.  And we 

 6          know that this is something that would hurt 

 7          BOCES and our school districts because we 

 8          don't know how high those costs are going to 

 9          be.  And to put a cap on it, an arbitrary cap 

10          of 2 percent or whatever, it doesn't work.  

11                 And back to the tax cap, NYSUT has 

12          stood against and we thank you for your work 

13          on the tax cap.  And we just believe it has 

14          been something that has really hurt the 

15          schools and communities around the state 

16          because they cannot raise that money.  

17                 And we're here today asking for 

18          $1.5 billion, and it's a lot more than is 

19          already in the budget with the 769.  We would 

20          love for the local school communities to be 

21          able to raise the money that they think they 

22          need to raise.  And what the state has done 

23          is said you can't do that anymore.  Well, now 

24          that burden is on the state, because it is 


 1          not allowing a local school district to raise 

 2          its taxes above that.  

 3                 We believe the number is 400 million 

 4          that local school districts will be able to 

 5          raise, and that's simply not enough.  And 

 6          also the 60 percent supermajority is just so 

 7          wrong on so many levels.  So yes, we will be 

 8          continuing and working with you to see if 

 9          there's a way of addressing the tax cap.  

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  Very 

11          unfair.  And particularly to Long Island 

12          schools, you know, that send up more money to 

13          Albany than they get back.  And the way that 

14          it's, you know, distributed in terms of its 

15          impact on our local schools.  You know, so I 

16          agree with you on that.  

17                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Thirty-eight 

18          percent of the funds come from the state; 

19          over 60 percent comes from the locality.  So, 

20          you know, obviously there now needs -- if 

21          they put this cap on and it's still there -- 

22          you know, we've heard about movements to try 

23          and make it permanent.  We think it's wrong 

24          in the first place.  So we would like to see 


 1          that changed.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  And the 

 3          other question I have is what would the 

 4          impact be on the system of two tiers of 

 5          regulations for teachers should the 

 6          regulations be kept in place for, you know, 

 7          looking at charter school teachers being 

 8          allowed to have a different set of criteria.  

 9                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Right.  NYSUT 

10          strongly opposed this ruling and we felt it 

11          was illegal, and we've brought this to -- 

12                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Taken legal 

13          action.  

14                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Right, we've 

15          taken this to court.  How could it be that 

16          one set of teachers would have one set of 

17          requirements and maybe a school down the 

18          block would have another set of requirements?  

19          It is an insult to all educators to have 

20          something like this.  We've done our 

21          protests, we're bringing them to court.  And 

22          we just believe it's wrong.  

23                 And we recognize that there's a 

24          teacher shortage and that it's getting worse 


 1          and worse.  But that is not the way to fix 

 2          this, by allowing some schools to take a 

 3          shortcut and say, Well, you don't really have 

 4          to do all that stuff, it's not really 

 5          necessary.  It is necessary.  And we believe 

 6          in having one system of licensing teachers.  

 7                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  We have a state 

 8          agency who's responsible for certification 

 9          and licensing of all professionals.  By the 

10          SUNY Charter Institute taking this action, 

11          they set a horrendous precedent, because 

12          basically -- and then grant the power for 

13          certification or licensing of any 

14          professional to a private entity.  

15                 There are states who have done this, 

16          and they have all been very, very sorry in 

17          the end for doing it.  That's all I'm going 

18          to say on it.  

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN PELLEGRINO:  Thank you.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                 Senator Savino.  

22                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, 

23          Assemblywoman Weinstein.  

24                 Hello.  


 1                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Hello.  

 2                 SENATOR SAVINO:  So I'm sure you've 

 3          answered 99 percent of the questions I would 

 4          have asked, so I'm just going to be specific.  

 5          There's a couple of things.  

 6                 First I want to thank you guys for 

 7          your partnership, especially on the 

 8          communities and the schools.  And the 

 9          Positive Learning Collaborative, I think it's 

10          a wonderful addition to the toolbox that we 

11          have.  

12                 There's a couple of things I'm 

13          concerned about, though, and I'm sure you 

14          guys are as well, with -- as labor leaders.  

15          As you know, later this month or sometime 

16          next month, the Supreme Court is going to 

17          take up what we hope -- and quickly dispose 

18          of, but, you know, we're concerned -- the 

19          case Janus versus AFSCME.  And they're still 

20          dealing with the Friedrichs case.  

21                 Can you give me a sense of what you 

22          think the effect of a bad decision would be 

23          on your membership and on the labor movement 

24          in general in New York State?  


 1                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Well, anything 

 2          that would hurt the labor movement hurts all 

 3          working people.  So we would never want to 

 4          see anything like that.  

 5                 We know that folks that would love to 

 6          diminish the voice of working people, of 

 7          educators, this is their goal.  So taking 

 8          away any power, any vote on any issue would 

 9          be the ultimate goal for them.  

10                 We have been working with our members 

11          to make sure they connect with the union, 

12          make sure that they know what the union and 

13          labor brings to the table for them, and the 

14          rights and privileges that it has.  So this 

15          is something we've been very much working on 

16          with the AFL-CIO, because it's not just 

17          teachers that will be impacted, it's all of 

18          our public workers and basically all working 

19          people throughout the state.  So this is a 

20          big concern for us.  

21                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  We've seen a 

22          diminishment in the states where things like 

23          this have happened, we've seen a major 

24          diminishment in people's ability to make a 


 1          living, and their benefits.  

 2                 Just a year after the Wisconsin 

 3          debacle, the teachers in the state of 

 4          Wisconsin had to pay an additional $10,000 

 5          out of pocket in one year.  Needless to say, 

 6          Wisconsin now is faced with a major teacher 

 7          shortage.  And their educational system -- I 

 8          know this is shocking -- has gone down 

 9          dramatically in its achievement.  

10                 So we understand why these cases are 

11          there.  It's about trying to take away 

12          workers' ability to come together, to have a 

13          voice, to stand up against powerful 

14          interests.  That's what the case is about.  

15          So we're literally forming, at this moment we 

16          are forming membership teams in every school, 

17          we are door-knocking on every member's door, 

18          going to their house and having conversations 

19          with them, because it's not what we as 

20          New Yorkers believe -- at least I hope not.  

21                 But we are preparing for this.  It's a 

22          combination of an attack on the -- you know, 

23          the states that are going to be most 

24          adversely affected by the federal tax package 


 1          as well as by Janus, to me it's not a 

 2          coincidence.  Those states also probably have 

 3          the ability to push back more against 

 4          powerful interests than any of the other 

 5          states.  And I think it is a very 

 6          well-thought-out plan by a small group of 

 7          people who really just don't believe that 

 8          working people should have any rights except 

 9          to get up every day and go to work for 

10          someone.  

11                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Well, we know the 

12          enemies of labor never sleep.  

13                 We do have a bill, though -- and I 

14          think you guys stood with us last year, 

15          Senator Alcantara and my colleagues in the 

16          IDC -- that would help address this.  Because 

17          one of the things that we've found over the 

18          years is that unions don't always have access 

19          to the information about their members.  

20          Particularly in the smaller counties where 

21          they hire a few people  a year, there's 

22          one-offs, you don't have large hiring groups.  

23                 So we moved that bill out of the Civil 

24          Service Committee two weeks ago, and we hope 


 1          to aggressively move it to the floor in an 

 2          effort to help address this.

 3                 And I just want to make a point, 

 4          Michael, you're absolutely right, this is a 

 5          concerted effort.  And in the federal tax 

 6          package that was just passed, one of the 

 7          things that they included was that teachers 

 8          would no longer be able to deduct their 

 9          out-of-pocket expenses for classroom 

10          supplies.  

11                 I know one of the things that you guys 

12          pushed for very aggressively in the City 

13          Council, because I hear it all the time from 

14          my friend Bridget, the Teacher's Choice 

15          Program, which is to backfill what teachers 

16          are paying out of their pocket.  

17                 So this would be a double hit to not 

18          just teachers, but to the labor movement in 

19          general.  So we appreciate your efforts to 

20          help us focus on that and get that 

21          legislation passed, and hopefully we'll be 

22          able to prevent that kind of a catastrophe 

23          here in New York if we get a bad decision.  

24                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Thank you, 


 1          Senator.  Thank you for the bill.  Thank you 

 2          for the press conference that you did.  And 

 3          we're hoping to work with you on this in the 

 4          future.  

 5                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  We thank Senator 

 6          Alcantara for sponsoring that bill.  And the 

 7          AFL-CIO is very thankful also.  

 8                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10                 Assemblywoman Malliotakis.  

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  How are 

12          you?  

13                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Fine, and you?  

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Great.  

15          (Mic falls.)  Much better than the microphone 

16          is doing.  

17                 (Laughter.) 


19          Unfortunately, you moved out of my district.  

20          But nonetheless -- 

21                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I moved into 

22          Senator Savino's district.  

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  You were 

24          better represented when you were in my 


 1          district.  

 2                 (Laughter.) 

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  I just 

 4          wanted -- 

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Be happy he 

 6          wasn't running against you, Nicole.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  I just 

 8          wanted to really talk about public safety in 

 9          our schools.  I think you were here when I 

10          was speaking to the chancellor, and one of 

11          the issues that had been brought to my 

12          attention by a number of teachers in my 

13          district and across the city, as well as 

14          another issue -- but first I'll start with 

15          the safety issue.  

16                 There's concerns about teachers being 

17          unable to control their classroom.  They feel 

18          that there are students that are disruptive, 

19          they cannot have those students removed from 

20          the classroom.  The reporting requirements 

21          have changed, there's no longer reporting 

22          requirements, warning cards are unlimited.  I 

23          just wanted to get from your perspective, 

24          being the leader of those teachers, what have 


 1          you been hearing from your constituency in 

 2          terms of school discipline and how it's 

 3          changed?  

 4                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  School discipline 

 5          is a major issue inside of New York City 

 6          right now in terms of the debate itself about 

 7          which is the right approach.  You have folks 

 8          who believe that there should be no 

 9          suspensions and there should be restorative 

10          circles, and you have other people who 

11          believe that it should be a zero-tolerance 

12          policy.  

13                 Both sides are misguided.  They're 

14          misguided.  There has to be an approach that 

15          everyone is in this together.  And when 

16          you're dealing with an administration at the 

17          school level who is telling teachers that 

18          they can't remove a child from their 

19          classroom, then they should be written up and 

20          disciplined for that.  Because in the end, 

21          our job is to teach children.  And I cannot 

22          teach the children if someone is disrupting 

23          my class.  

24                 Now, I know I'm responsible for 


 1          classroom management.  I taught for 12 years 

 2          at-risk students in Brooklyn, so I understand 

 3          that that's my job responsibility.  But there 

 4          are days when there are certain children who 

 5          are just -- it's never going to work.  And I 

 6          had to have the ability to remove them so 

 7          that I could continue my teaching.  

 8                 At the same time, I don't believe that 

 9          every time a child is having a bad day, they 

10          need to be suspended.  

11                 So to me, that's when I -- when I 

12          speak about our program called the Positive 

13          Learning Collaborative, that is training 

14          people to say, Stop playing games with this.  

15          We all have the child's best interest, we 

16          want them to get a good education, but we're 

17          also responsible for, you know, educating all 

18          the children in the classroom every day.  

19                 So you need a commonsense approach 

20          where people are all trained, understand 

21          this.  When a child is having a bad day, a 

22          school should have a system in place where a 

23          child, if they're disrupting the educational 

24          process, they can be taken out of the 


 1          classroom and get the proper intervention 

 2          they need.  Probably a guidance counselor at 

 3          that moment.  Or maybe there is a specific 

 4          teacher who has been designated as dealing 

 5          with children who are having issues that day.  

 6          There is SAVE legislation that is in place.  

 7          There's all sorts of tools for a school to 

 8          use.  

 9                 But then there are other incidents, as 

10          parents will rightly say, where their child 

11          was -- something happened to their child from 

12          another child, and then there becomes the 

13          issue of what do we do with that.  Is there a 

14          suspension involved or not?  In many cases 

15          there will be.  But once a child is 

16          suspended, it's not about saying you're 

17          suspended, you're out of school, you have to 

18          be put in a specific room, it's about what 

19          are we doing for that child now that they've 

20          been suspended to help them make sure that 

21          they don't get suspended again.  

22                 But everybody's playing games with 

23          this issue.  It's all political.  And I wish 

24          that people would just focus on the actual 


 1          issue of saying each school community has to 

 2          have a real plan in place to deal with all 

 3          sorts of disciplinary issues, understanding 

 4          that there's certain times where children 

 5          will have bad days.  And we don't want them 

 6          being just suspended automatically if they're 

 7          having a bad day if we can do something 

 8          different that's actually going to help them 

 9          not to have another bad day inside of a 

10          classroom.  But also recognizing at times 

11          that there will be a suspension, but then 

12          that should kick in further intervention such 

13          as a clinical intervention if needed.  

14                 So when I hear teachers tell me they 

15          can't get a child removed from the class, 

16          that's when I start going on the rampage.  

17          Because that means that that school has 

18          decided that they're going to play games with 

19          numbers for the sake of the education of all 

20          the children in the building.  Sorry.  

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Thank you.  

22          No, I agree with a lot of what you said.  

23                 The warning card system that has gone 

24          into effect in the city, what specific 


 1          changes have been seen since that has taken 

 2          effect?  It seems that there's like unlimited 

 3          warning cards issued without suspension at 

 4          all, and there's an underreporting going on.  

 5          That is one question.  

 6                 Since I'm running out of time, I'll 

 7          just ask you the second question, which was 

 8          in terms of supplies, the chancellor 

 9          testified that there are no issues with 

10          teachers having supplies in the classroom.  

11          That's not what I'm hearing from the teachers 

12          in my district.  You know, they say they have 

13          to pay out of pocket for paper, for different 

14          types of materials.  If you could just 

15          comment on that as well.  

16                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Well, I 

17          congratulate the chancellor for her service 

18          to New York City, but on that one she's dead 

19          wrong.  She's just wrong.  We do not have the 

20          proper supply budget.  Certain schools do it 

21          correctly; others don't.  There should be a 

22          centralized system that mandates there's a 

23          certain percentage put aside for supplies or 

24          that -- it's amazing to me, because our pre-K 


 1          program, all the curriculums -- the 

 2          curriculums are in place and all the 

 3          materials are bought and supplied to the 

 4          centers to begin with.  

 5                 Now, you can't do that for everything 

 6          that -- every subject or every curriculum 

 7          that we're teaching, because a lot of 

 8          teachers really customize their curriculums.  

 9          But there should be a specific set-aside for 

10          materials.  Look, it has to be looked at, we 

11          have to be accountable for the money, but it 

12          should be put in place.  

13                 In terms of the warning cards, we 

14          support the idea that children shouldn't just 

15          be getting arrested and suspended.  An arrest 

16          is a serious issue for a child.  

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Sure.  

18                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  It can affect them 

19          for the rest of their lives just because they 

20          made a silly decision at a very young age, 

21          and that is not something we -- we do not 

22          support that.  

23                 But at this stage what we've seen in 

24          New York City more or less is that the school 


 1          system as a whole is safer than it's been 

 2          before, but we are feeling the effects of -- 

 3          and this goes to what Senator Marcellino was 

 4          saying.  What else are we responsible for?  

 5          You go on social media or turn on the TV 

 6          every day and everybody's screaming at each 

 7          other and getting very aggressive and saying 

 8          nasty things to each other.  

 9                 Now, of course that behavior is 

10          starting to be reflected in our young 

11          children and inside of our schools.  So I 

12          would not -- you know, and we're doing a 

13          great job in handling it and the schools 

14          actually are behaving better than I would say 

15          a lot of the adults that I just was 

16          characterizing.  But you will see that 

17          behavior will bleed through to all elements 

18          of society.  

19                 So just to point out schools and 

20          education I think would be wrong, because we 

21          could just turn on the TV and see worse 

22          behavior than I've seen in most classrooms in 

23          New York City.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  


 1                 Senate.  

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.  I'm sorry, I 

 3          had to run out for a minute, and appreciate 

 4          all of your time.  

 5                 I just want to make sure that somebody 

 6          highlights something that was in your 

 7          testimony which we should not forget, the 

 8          section of law in the Governor's budget that 

 9          would allow him to take the money away after 

10          the budget's complete if we have some kind of 

11          revenue reduction from federal action or tax 

12          action, and why that is so critical for the 

13          children of New York State.  

14                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I disagree.  We do 

15          not support that at all.  

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  No, no, you've 

17          pointed out why you don't support it.  Yes, I 

18          wasn't disagreeing with you, I was 

19          highlighting that people are noticing that in 

20          the budget and how dangerous that could be.  

21                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Oh, yeah, we 

22          noticed that.  

23                 (Laughter.) 

24                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Thank you.  


 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblywoman 

 3          Jaffee.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Thank you.  

 5                 Just going back for a moment to the 

 6          issue of the professional hours and the 

 7          evaluation system of teachers, is that 

 8          required within the charter schools as well?  

 9                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  No.  You don't 

10          even need to go to school to be -- at this 

11          point -- 

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  No 

13          accountability.  As a matter of fact, I was 

14          very disappointed when the SUNY Charter 

15          Schools Committee actually supported the 

16          unqualified educators to be in their schools.  

17          But -- so not only are they unqualified 

18          educators, but there is no accountability in 

19          terms of an evaluation system or those 

20          professional hours that are required within 

21          the public schools.  

22                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Right.  And you 

23          think about once they're in one of those 

24          charter schools, they're stuck.  Because they 


 1          can't just say, Well, this is not a good 

 2          school or I don't want to work here anymore.  

 3          They can't just say I'm going to go to a 

 4          traditional public school, because they 

 5          wouldn't have the qualifications to go 

 6          through there.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  And if a 

 8          student has a learning disability or is not 

 9          functioning well, my understanding -- and 

10          I've heard a number of issues that people 

11          have shared with me -- is they're tossed, the 

12          kids are tossed out of the school.

13                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I think the term 

14          is counseled out.  

15                 And that is why we have always 

16          supported a rigorous, transparent 

17          accountability system.  There was a law that 

18          was put into effect that was the equivalent 

19          of Swiss cheese, and there is no way to 

20          actually hold them accountable for English 

21          language learners, children with special 

22          needs, the degree of challenges of the child 

23          and where they are on the spectrum, homeless 

24          children.  


 1                 Tomorrow I'm visiting a school in the 

 2          Bronx called ISLA, it's one of my favorite 

 3          schools, it's number one in the city for 

 4          percentage of homeless children, percentage 

 5          of ELL students, and percentage of special 

 6          ed, and they have a 76 percent graduation 

 7          rate.  It's a phenomenal school doing amazing 

 8          things with some of the most challenging 

 9          situations you would see -- and I know I will 

10          not see that in a charter school.  

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  That certainly 

12          does -- that also -- because the public 

13          schools have to provide funding for the 

14          charter schools, how does that impact the tax 

15          cap piece too?  

16                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Sure.  And then 

17          the public school has less money to spend on 

18          its students.  This is a cycle and a fight 

19          that we have here every year at the Capitol 

20          when we say, Let's fund the public schools 

21          and then let's ask for more transparency, 

22          more accountability.  And it just seems that 

23          year after year we face the same issue and we 

24          really don't come to any good resolution.  


 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  I also see it 

 2          as -- I also see that as a very real problem 

 3          and something we need to address, and I will 

 4          to continue to raise that issue.  

 5                 I also -- I happen to agree with you 

 6          that -- former teacher, I taught in a junior 

 7          high school.

 8                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Yes.  Yes.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  And the 

10          students who are having trouble within the 

11          classes -- emotionally, most of the time -- 

12          we do need more opportunities to be able to 

13          have them come out and work with social 

14          workers or counselors, because that's the 

15          real way to be able to respond to them.  

16                 So it's something I'm going to attempt 

17          to -- I have raised it today and I'm going to 

18          continue to raise that issue in terms of 

19          assuring that we have -- we can expand mental 

20          health services for our youth, because it 

21          will make a huge difference.  

22                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Thank you so much 

23          for that.

24                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Thank you.  


 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Thank you.  

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Senator Carl 

 3          Marcellino, second round.  

 4                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Just a reminder.  

 5          This year it's not such a big problem, but 

 6          next year when you no longer can deduct more 

 7          than $10,000 off your property taxes -- so, 

 8          Andy, I'm sure that's going to hit you.  I 

 9          don't know that it's going to hit UFT so 

10          badly, but it's going to hit you and your 

11          constituents' school districts alike.  But 

12          once you can no longer deduct more than 10 

13          grand off your taxes, the public is going to 

14          start looking for other ways to save money.  

15          And the other way to save money is they vote 

16          on the school budgets.  

17                 I can see it coming down the pike.  We 

18          have, on Long Island, fewer students in the 

19          schools now than we have had over the last 

20          couple of years.  The number's been 

21          declining.  Most districts are dropping.  One 

22          or two of them are going up, but most of them 

23          are going down.  The state has lost about a 

24          million people, so our population is 


 1          declining as well.  We are not considered to 

 2          be a very affordable place for people, 

 3          especially retirees, who are looking for 

 4          other locations in some cases.  

 5                 But I can see a move to what it was 

 6          years ago when school budgets were routinely 

 7          voted down.  In recent years in my district, 

 8          anyway, that has not been the case.  It's a 

 9          rare thing.  Newsday will print a story when 

10          a school budget is voted down, because it's 

11          rare now.  I can see that changing once the 

12          fact that you can no longer deduct more than 

13          that 10 grand -- I can see that happening.  

14                 So the recommendation is prepare, talk 

15          to your clients, talk to your people, because 

16          they're going to have to face this one way or 

17          another.  

18                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Thank you, 

19          Senator.  

20                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  That is a major, 

21          major issue for us because folks are feeling 

22          the squeeze on so many different levels, 

23          right.  So I will be meeting with all of the 

24          Long Island presidents from the locals out 


 1          there on Friday, and I will bring them your 

 2          concerns and we'll put our heads together and 

 3          try and come up with a good narrative of how 

 4          we win this battle.  

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I was at a 

 6          Suffolk County BOCES meeting recently, a 

 7          whole bunch of the school districts out 

 8          there, and I made the same statement, and 

 9          daggers were flying because they didn't want 

10          to hear it -- Oh, he can't say that, how is 

11          he saying that, what's he talking about?  

12                 My chief of staff, who was with me, 

13          she said "They hate you."  I said "They may, 

14          but they've got to hear the truth." 

15                 And, you know, fortunately they heard 

16          it from another speaker as well who came on 

17          after me.  But the point is, it's coming.  

18          And you need to prepare, you need to prepare 

19          your clientele for it.  I know I'm putting 

20          out notices.  I say the same thing when I go 

21          to meetings with school boards:  Just look at 

22          what you're doing and watch what's coming, 

23          because it's coming.  

24                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Thank you.  


 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 2                 Assemblyman Ortiz.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN ORTIZ:  Thank you, Madam 

 4          Chair.  

 5                 I just would like to really thank you 

 6          on behalf of the members of the Hispanic Task 

 7          Force and the people of Puerto Rico for 

 8          sending a whole army to Puerto Rico during 

 9          the most difficult time of the hurricane that 

10          just passed Puerto Rico.  

11                 Also I would like to thank you also on 

12          behalf of the president of the Teachers 

13          Association of Puerto Rico, who happens to be 

14          a friend of mine as well.  When you landed in 

15          Puerto Rico, I happened to be there.  And 

16          when I looked around, there was all these 

17          people from New York, from the UFT, carrying 

18          flashlights all over the place.  And I would 

19          like just to, from the bottom of my heart, to 

20          really thank you for that.  

21                 I had a comment that I would like to 

22          make.  And as you heard me emphasize, I have 

23          legislation bringing psychologists and social 

24          workers to the schools because I do believe 


 1          the same way that you believe on early 

 2          intervention.  

 3                 I do have my daughter teaching, I have 

 4          my niece teaching in Brooklyn, and my 

 5          other -- my daughter-in-law teaching in 

 6          Staten Island.  So we always have this 

 7          conversation.  So I have a cross-section -- 

 8          I'll probably move somebody to Queens as 

 9          well.  We always have this conversation at 

10          home about how can we best serve our kids and 

11          teach them.  

12                 One other thing is that within the 

13          conversation I can see how frustrated 

14          sometimes they are because the workload that 

15          they have.  And the other thing is that you 

16          have a lot of the kids -- not the parents, 

17          most of the kids trust more the teacher than 

18          anyone else.  So they're trying to really 

19          tell the stories of what happens at home to 

20          the teacher rather than the guidance 

21          counselor or the psychologist or someone 

22          else, because they feel more comfortable.  

23                 But I do believe that this also 

24          creates overload, if you will, to teachers, 


 1          because if you have 30 students or 32 or 25, 

 2          depending on the average, sometimes it can 

 3          overwhelm the teachers.  So that is one of 

 4          the things that I -- why I continue to push 

 5          this legislation, and I hope that we can work 

 6          together to make sure that schools in the 

 7          City of New York -- and also throughout the 

 8          state, honestly, because my bill is 

 9          statewide -- that we will be able to allow 

10          these folks to really help to unload the load 

11          that our teachers have.  

12                 Thank you.  

13                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  We thank you very 

14          much for the legislation, and we support it 

15          greatly, to recognize what we do.  

16                 And in terms of Puerto Rico, it was 

17          our pleasure, but more importantly we felt it 

18          was our responsibility.  And it wasn't just 

19          UFT; NYSUT donated a large -- did a large 

20          campaign raising money.  And we still have 

21          people going back and forth because as far as 

22          we're concerned, that's family to us.

23                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Right.  Our 

24          members throughout the state were very 


 1          generous.  And also we're taking a lot of 

 2          students in, in Buffalo and Rochester also, 

 3          from Puerto Rico.  

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  One quick 

 5          question to end this time.  What is the 

 6          impact, if any, of the Justice Center on 

 7          New York City public school teachers, 

 8          particularly those in special ed?  The long 

 9          periods of time to dispose cases, 

10          inconsistent rulings.  Of the Justice Center 

11          on New York City public school teachers.  

12                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Could you clarify 

13          that?  

14                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Yes, please.  

15                 (Discussion off the record.) 

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  The question 

17          has to do with in special ed, if there's a 

18          complaint made and it goes to the Justice 

19          Center, that you end up with different 

20          rulings, I guess, around different parts of 

21          the state?  

22                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  I don't know about 

23          different rulings in different parts of the 

24          state.  


 1                 In New York City, when -- we have a 

 2          system in place where we have what are known 

 3          as compliance officers.  Any individual has a 

 4          right to make a special ed complaint.  That 

 5          is then investigated, first by the compliance 

 6          officer, who is independent.  The compliance 

 7          officer then tells a school whether the 

 8          complaint is valid or not.  Once they 

 9          ascertain the information, there's all sorts 

10          of legalities around it because of 

11          confidentiality, obviously.  

12                 It then gives the school a short 

13          period of time in which to rectify the 

14          complaint.  If they do not rectify the 

15          complaint, it goes officially to SED at that 

16          moment.  And that's where -- that's as far as 

17          I know the complaint process goes.  It's up 

18          to SED then to rule or to give remedy to the 

19          school district, the DOE at this point.  

20                 In terms of the Justice -- I know that 

21          that was put into existence, but I don't want 

22          to give you an answer that is not correct.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

24                 And I'd like to just thank you all for 


 1          spending so much time with us.  

 2                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Thank you.  It was 

 3          our pleasure.  

 4                 PRESIDENT PALLOTTA:  Thank you.  

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

 6                 PRESIDENT MULGREW:  Have a good day.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8                 Next we'll be hearing from a panel of 

 9          the Conference of Big 5 School Districts:  

10          Dr. Kriner Cash, superintendent, Buffalo 

11          School District; Everton Sewell, CFO of 

12          Rochester School District; Jaime Alicea, 

13          superintendent, Syracuse School District; 

14          Dr. Edwin Quezada, superintendent, Yonkers 

15          Public Schools; and Georgia Asciutto, 

16          executive director of the Conference of Big 5 

17          School Districts.  

18                 Thank you all for being here.  And you 

19          know that it's shared time, so whoever goes 

20          first, be kind to the person who's last.  

21                 (Laughter.)

22                 MS. ASCIUTTO:  Thank you, Chairwoman 

23          Weinstein.  First, congratulations on your 

24          appointment.  We look forward to working with 


 1          you.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Same here.

 3                 MS. ASCIUTTO:  Chairwoman Nolan and 

 4          distinguished members of the panel, my name 

 5          is Georgia Asciutto.  I am the executive 

 6          director of the Conference of Big 5 School 

 7          Districts.  With me today are my colleagues 

 8          from the Big 4 school districts.  You have 

 9          copies of my testimony; I am not going to 

10          read it.  I think the points made in my 

11          testimony will be covered by my colleagues.  

12                 So I'm going to start with -- we're 

13          going to go from the right and right down the 

14          line -- with Mr. Jaime Alicea from the 

15          Syracuse City School District.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

17                 (Off the record discussion among panel 

18          members.) 

19                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  Yes, good 

20          afternoon, colleagues.  On behalf of my 

21          colleagues in the Big 5 and on behalf of all 

22          of our communities, we thank you for hearing 

23          us today and we're very appreciative to be 

24          here.  


 1                 We want to take -- just brief, as you 

 2          have asked.  It's been a long day, and you 

 3          have heard a lot so we're not going to go on 

 4          and on, we're going to be three minutes.  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  And 

 6          we do, just for the record, we do have all of 

 7          your testimonies.  They are the full 

 8          testimonies.  

 9                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  Right, so we 

10          don't have to.  

11                 So I'm going to make four asks and 

12          then yield to my colleague from Yonkers.  

13                 In the testimony of Buffalo, you will 

14          see the New Education Bargain for our 

15          students and parents.  It's beginning to 

16          yield exciting results, it's a comprehensive 

17          plan and it is our plan to turn around 

18          Buffalo schools after many, many years of 

19          struggle.  The good news is that parents, 

20          students and all of those constituents are 

21          fully engaged and on board with that plan.  

22          So we're asking you to continue to invest in 

23          that work in Buffalo.  It's good return on 

24          investment at this time.  


 1                 We talk about cost savings, cost 

 2          avoidance and revenue generation.  So we're 

 3          not just here to ask for more money, we're 

 4          also looking all the time, under my 

 5          leadership, at ways to save money, avoid 

 6          costs, and generate revenue.  

 7                 Second, we ask that you support 

 8          Commissioner Elia and the Board of Regents' 

 9          proposals.  Those are very sound proposals -- 

10          excellent, robust, comprehensive -- by a true 

11          educator.  And she's doing terrific work for 

12          all of us in the Big 5 districts.  Please 

13          support those proposals.  They align well 

14          with our needs in the Big 5 and certainly in 

15          Buffalo.  

16                 Our specific Foundation Aid request is 

17          $11.5 million over the Governor's proposal, 

18          $11.5 million over the Governor's proposal.  

19          That's a 3.8 percent increase over last year.  

20          We think that's reasonable, it will support 

21          the New Education Bargain well into the 

22          future, and it helps us stay on track with 

23          our four-year financial plan.  We need a 

24          consistent, reliable funding stream to keep 


 1          the good work going in Buffalo.  

 2                 And then last, we ask you at this 

 3          time -- while it doesn't correct all of the 

 4          flaws that we believe are in the charter 

 5          school formula in New York State, there are 

 6          bills being sponsored by the Assembly and by 

 7          the Senate that we ask you to support.  

 8          They're really important to help us with cash 

 9          flow and help us fund equitably our students 

10          who are in charter schools and our students 

11          who are in district schools.  And that is 

12          support for Assembly Bill A7966 and Senate 

13          Bill 6586.  Please give those bills, or that 

14          combined bill, your full support.  

15                 We really thank you for your 

16          attention.  Thank you for what we're doing 

17          and your support always for our work and what 

18          we're doing in Buffalo.  Thank you.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

20                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  Good 

21          afternoon.  My name is Jaime Alicea.  I am 

22          the superintendent of the Syracuse City 

23          School District.  

24                 And before I talk about the needs that 


 1          we have in Syracuse, because we continue to 

 2          have some needs to meet for our students and 

 3          our community, I want to say first thank you.  

 4          Thank you for advocating for education in 

 5          New York.  Thank you for the extra support 

 6          that you provided last year.  

 7                 The extra money that we received in 

 8          the Syracuse City School District, we were 

 9          able to add more academic intervention 

10          teachers, we were able to add social work 

11          assistants, we were able to add some ENL 

12          teachers because our ENL population increases 

13          every year.  So thank you for doing that for 

14          the children in Syracuse and in New York 

15          State.  

16                 We continue to have a need in Syracuse 

17          to increase student achievement, and we have 

18          five focus areas that we're working on.  The 

19          first one is early literacy.  We want to 

20          continue to increase the number of students 

21          in our pre-K programs.  We have 1900 kids in 

22          pre-K, and we want to be able to have all our 

23          students read by the end of second grade.  

24                 We are providing culturally responsive 


 1          education.  We have a very diverse student 

 2          population, and we want to make sure that we 

 3          take into consideration their background, our 

 4          staff backgrounds, and that we're working 

 5          together to support our students and our 

 6          families.  

 7                 One thing that is very important for 

 8          us in Syracuse is that increase in Career and 

 9          Technical Education.  We heard about the 

10          commissioner this morning asking for more 

11          money for CTE, we heard the chancellor for 

12          New York City, and this is very important for 

13          us in Syracuse.  We have moved from 300 

14          students in CTE programs in Syracuse, 

15          certified programs, to 1300 kids, and from 

16          six programs to 25 programs.  So we continue 

17          to provide our students with quality CTE 

18          programs.  

19                 And these are programs that are 

20          working for our kids.  Our newest school, our 

21          CTE program school has a graduation rate of 

22          90 percent.  So we know that we need more 

23          programs in Syracuse.  

24                 We also want to continue to provide 


 1          individualized learning opportunities for our 

 2          kids and to continue to provide academic and 

 3          social and emotional support for our 

 4          students.  

 5                 So thank you for your support, and 

 6          we're looking forward to continuing to work 

 7          with you to improve the education of all the 

 8          students in New York State.  

 9                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA: Distinguished 

10          members of the joint legislative fiscal and 

11          education committees, thank you once again 

12          for the opportunity to address you on behalf 

13          of the Yonkers City School District.  I am 

14          Dr. Edwin Quezada, superintendent of schools, 

15          and I am here to report that the state of 

16          Yonkers Public schools is strong.  Our 

17          commitment to provide a sound basic education 

18          to all of our children is even stronger.  

19                 Thriving networks of support are 

20          available in Yonkers that begin when a child 

21          is born and culminate once the young adult 

22          enters college, the military or the 

23          workplace.  

24                 Similarly, we have strengthened our 


 1          community school model, providing medical and 

 2          mental health services, legal assistance, and 

 3          social services in many of our schools.  

 4                 Yonkers has evolved into the 

 5          quintessential Community District Model.  The 

 6          results are tangible in the City of Yonkers.  

 7          We have instituted a My Brother's Keeper 

 8          initiative which is flourishing and 

 9          considered a model in New York State.  We 

10          have instituted Yonkers Basics, which is a 

11          nationally growing initiative which began 

12          last year with the goal to support families 

13          with infants and toddlers and their 

14          caregivers to prepare these youngsters to 

15          enter school ready to learn.  

16                 We have significantly reduced our 

17          persistently struggling schools.  We used to 

18          have seven; now we have three.  We have an 

19          86 percent graduation rate, which is above 

20          the state average of 82 percent.  Our dropout 

21          rate is 3.7 percent, which is lower than the 

22          state average of 6 percent.  And we have 

23          increased SAT scores.  Yonkers is perhaps one 

24          of the few districts that over 10 years ago 


 1          began administering a College Board exam to 

 2          each and every one of our high school 

 3          students.  

 4                 But our work is not complete.  

 5          Yonkers' young people are magnificent, and 

 6          they hold the keys to our future in their 

 7          hands -- yet too many of them have been 

 8          delayed, distracted or diverted on their 

 9          paths to success.  Eradicating conditions 

10          that limit students' social, emotional and 

11          academic progress must be everyone's goal.  

12                 Yonkers is asking all state officials 

13          to partner with us so the psychologists, 

14          social workers and school counselors are in 

15          every school; art, music and technology are 

16          an integral component of every student's 

17          educational experience; modified and junior 

18          varsity sports are offered to all students; 

19          pre-K is a state-supported mandate; and 

20          students with disabilities and English 

21          language learners funding is aligned with the 

22          additional services required to educate these 

23          children.  

24                 These services must be sustainable and 


 1          uninterrupted throughout the children's 

 2          education to accomplish our common goal -- a 

 3          sound, basic education for all New York 

 4          children.  In order to do this, Yonkers seeks 

 5          your support to address the inequities of the 

 6          Foundation Aid formula that negatively 

 7          impacts all of our districts.  

 8                 This year the impact may be even 

 9          greater.  Yonkers Public Schools is entitled 

10          to receive $243 million in Foundation Aid, 

11          yet Foundation Aid is only at $195 million 

12          and the Executive Budget only adds 

13          $4 million, so the gap in terms of Foundation 

14          Aid is $43 million.  

15                 We want everyone to consider 

16          allocating additional funding for Career and 

17          Technical Education and to consider our 

18          9th-graders to be included.  Right now 

19          Yonkers offers CTE courses to 1,200 students.  

20          If we were to be reimbursed for those 

21          dollars, we would get an additional $2.2 

22          million.  

23                 We want you to legislate 

24          pre-kindergarten in all New York State 


 1          schools so that it becomes a state 

 2          responsibility.  We want you to increase 

 3          Yonkers' aid for new school construction.  

 4          And we want to make sure that you do not 

 5          change reimbursement for the Students with 

 6          Disabilities Summer School Program from 

 7          80 percent to a combined wealth-based 

 8          income/property formula.  

 9                 Finally, I want to speak to you about 

10          rebuilding Yonkers schools.  This cannot 

11          become a topic of conversation or a problem 

12          to be analyzed.  I was very surprised that 

13          yesterday during the State of the Union, 

14          schools were not included in the 

15          infrastructure program.  Very surprised.  We 

16          in New York State cannot allow that to 

17          happen.  Yonkers schools are over 80 years 

18          old, and we need to rebuild our schools.  So 

19          I ask you to please consider a 98 percent 

20          reimbursement, the same way it is done in 

21          other cities.  Please help us rebuild our 

22          schools.  

23                 Yonkers' children are a guaranteed 

24          return on investment.  All we need are 


 1          sustainable solutions for student success in 

 2          the years to come.  Thank you.  

 3                 ROCHESTER SCHOOLS CFO SEWELL:  Good 

 4          afternoon.  My name is Everton Sewell and I'm 

 5          the CFO for the Rochester City School 

 6          District, and I'm here on behalf of our 

 7          superintendent, Barbara Deane-Williams, who 

 8          was unable to make it today.  

 9                 I wanted to talk a bit about the 

10          Rochester City School District and some of 

11          the things that we have been doing in the 

12          Rochester area.  Last year we were funded 

13          through our Foundation Aid, and we did a 

14          tremendous amount of improvement in the 

15          district.  We have added reading teachers 

16          over the years; we have intervention teachers 

17          that targeted math and ELA.  We've also 

18          looked at our Community Schools to see how we 

19          can grow those out to ensure that not only do 

20          the students who are in the school get the 

21          benefits, but also the community is able to 

22          participate in their schools.  

23                 We also want to ensure that our 

24          schools that were highlighted as persistently 


 1          struggling schools get the attention they 

 2          need.  To that effect, you know, this year we 

 3          had one school that did not make demonstrable 

 4          gains, and we are looking at that school to 

 5          see how we can change that.  

 6                 So as we go through the budget plan 

 7          this year, we are looking at -- we have seen 

 8          schools in our district that are welcoming 

 9          students from the storm-driven areas, 

10          specifically Puerto Rico, where we have 

11          refugees coming in, as well as students with 

12          disabilities.  We know that since September 

13          we have added over 500 students to our 

14          district that have come from storm-ridden 

15          areas.  So as we move forward, we are making 

16          sure that we are addressing the needs of the 

17          students who are coming into our district.  

18                 And again, as a dependent district, we 

19          want to make sure that our reliance on the 

20          city and the state gives us the funding that 

21          we need to improve the performance of our 

22          district and gives the students the resources 

23          that they need so that they can make the 

24          grade.  


 1                 As we go through, we are looking for 

 2          culturally responsive education and 

 3          restorative practices in our district.  We 

 4          are continuing to expand the CTE.  And as you 

 5          have heard from my colleagues, CTE plays a 

 6          very big part in our district.  One of the 

 7          things that we have not been getting is 

 8          reimbursement for students who are starting 

 9          out at Grade 9.  Because we as a Big 5 

10          district, we see where it is very important 

11          when the students start out earlier than just 

12          10th grade.  And we have seen in the 

13          districts where the graduation rates have 

14          been improved as a result of that.  

15                 While we do not get funding for 

16          9th grade, we still continue to fund those 

17          courses at the 9th-grade level because we 

18          think that it's very important to the success 

19          of our students, so that when they leave high 

20          school, if they decide not to go to college, 

21          they're also career-ready for the workforce.  

22          So we are looking to the commissioners and 

23          all the board, in a sense, to make sure that 

24          we get that funding.  


 1                 As it relates to our Foundation Aid, 

 2          you have heard about the challenges that we 

 3          face in not getting adequate funding from 

 4          that.  Right now Rochester is not ready -- we 

 5          know we are going to have a sizable budget 

 6          gap, and we are analyzing our budget line by 

 7          line to make sure that we have all the 

 8          efficiencies we can and looking at all cost 

 9          measures.  And as my colleagues have said, we 

10          are not just coming to you asking for funds, 

11          we are also looking at how we can do things 

12          more efficiently and effectively in the 

13          district.  

14                 We have our reports that we have 

15          submitted.  One of the things that I wanted 

16          to highlight is a reduction in the health 

17          service and professional development that was 

18          taken out of the budget, a $1.2 million 

19          decrease.  And also we noticed that the 

20          budget did not have any specific language 

21          targeting professional development.  

22                 So also the reporting requirements.  

23          Already we are strapped with ESSA, Contract 

24          for Excellence, and other reporting 


 1          requirements.  Any additional requirement 

 2          will put an undue burden on us.  So as a 

 3          group, we are looking to you to make sure 

 4          that as we go forward, these things get 

 5          addressed, because we are making sure we do 

 6          the best for our students to advance in their 

 7          education.  

 8                 Thank you very much for your time.  

 9          Thank you for listening.  Thank you for 

10          having us here.  We appreciate it.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

12                 Before we go to our Education chair, 

13          we've been joined by Assemblyman Nick Perry.  

14                 Cathy Nolan for some questions.  

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I really want to 

16          thank you for being such faithful attendees 

17          at these things.  Sometimes the New York City 

18          school district, because it's so big, kind of 

19          sucks the air out of the room and then we go 

20          on from there.  And the commissioner, of 

21          course, is always great to listen to, but it 

22          ends up taking a lot of time.  So thank you 

23          for patience.  

24                 I also want to say I feel very remiss, 


 1          I feel like I don't sit down with all of you 

 2          as much as I should, and I really -- we have 

 3          to fix that.  Georgia, you've got to fix 

 4          that.  You're going to have to find a day 

 5          when I'm here and you're here and we can have 

 6          more time to sit down.  Because inevitably, 

 7          it's a session day and then I'm over in the 

 8          Capitol and we don't get to connect the way 

 9          I'd like.  So now that my son is in college, 

10          maybe I can finally travel around a little 

11          more and not live in the dream of a public 

12          school parent anymore.  I'm a SUNY mom, so 

13          I'll have a little more time to travel.  

14                 I promised a whole bunch of 

15          colleagues -- I wanted to mention Assemblyman 

16          Bronson, Assemblyman Morelle, Assemblyman 

17          Gantt, very concerned about Rochester.  

18          Assemblywoman Mayer, who is absolutely under 

19          the weather or she would have been here.  And 

20          I know Assemblyman Pretlow was here earlier, 

21          Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes, Assemblyman 

22          Ryan, very concerned about Buffalo.  Pam 

23          Hunter, also a public school mom, I want to 

24          make sure she gets a lot of support, and Bill 


 1          Magnarelli.  

 2                 So there's a lot of interest in the 

 3          districts, a lot of interest here.  Certainly 

 4          I hear about Yonkers from them all the time, 

 5          or Buffalo, and we appreciate what you're 

 6          doing.  

 7                 I would like you to just, if you 

 8          could -- it doesn't have to be all of you, 

 9          someone just maybe kind of -- I know you 

10          talked about a lot of different things, but 

11          the 2 percent cap on the expense-based aids, 

12          if someone would like to comment on what that 

13          would do to you.  

14                 And then I just particularly want to 

15          say to Dr. Cash that Commissioner Elia keeps 

16          singing your praises in Buffalo, so we thank 

17          you for what you're doing there.  And like I 

18          said, I hope -- I'm in Syracuse all the time, 

19          but I don't get to Buffalo as much because my 

20          mom lives in Syracuse, but I hope to get out 

21          there to see you.  

22                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  The short answer 

23          is I think it's going to hurt, it's going to 

24          hurt us.  We're not supportive of it.  


 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  You're doing a 

 2          lot of good work.  

 3                 But maybe on expense-based aid, 

 4          somebody could comment.  And anything else 

 5          you want to say about -- I asked Commissioner 

 6          Elia this, I asked Chancellor Fariña this:  

 7          How important is Foundation Aid?  Because, 

 8          you know, there's kind of an ongoing 

 9          discussion now about what we can do under 

10          these new federal constraints.  And obviously 

11          it's important to the Assembly's majority, 

12          but we'd like to hear how you feel about it.  

13                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  So thank you 

14          for the question, and welcome to my esteemed 

15          Senator from Yonkers, Senator Andrea 

16          Stewart-Cousins.  

17                 Foundation Aid is the sustainable 

18          mechanism that allows us to service each and 

19          every one of our students.  And I think it's 

20          time to end the phase-in factor and to fully 

21          fund Foundation Aid.  If Foundation Aid in 

22          Yonkers were to be fully funded, I wouldn't 

23          be here telling you that I have a gap.  I 

24          would be ready to open school in September 


 1          with all of the programs that I currently 

 2          have and more.  

 3                 So let us look at that formula and let 

 4          us make sure that we are receiving the 

 5          funding that each and every one of us is 

 6          entitled to.  

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And then on 

 8          expense-based aids, on the cap, the proposed 

 9          cap on expense-based aids, how does that 

10          impact?  

11                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  That is a 

12          very -- it's going to be very problematic for 

13          Syracuse, especially in the area of 

14          transportation.  We budget every year based 

15          on the expenses that we had the year before.  

16          If we don't know exactly how much money we're 

17          going to get, that is going to be a problem 

18          for all of us -- not only Syracuse, all the 

19          Big 5 school districts.  

20                 Also the 2 percent cap is going to be 

21          a problem for us going through the Joint 

22          School Construction Board.  We're planning, 

23          endeavoring to get at this 90 percent 

24          reimbursable, and if we don't know how much 


 1          we're going to get, that's going to be very 

 2          problematic for Syracuse and all of us.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.

 4                 MS. ASCIUTTO:  Chairwoman, would you 

 5          mind if I just responded to the Foundation 

 6          Aid question for a minute?  

 7                 So for districts that are fiscally 

 8          dependent on their cities, which the Big 5 

 9          are, Foundation Aid is not only -- it is even 

10          more critical than it is in other high-need 

11          districts where they have the ability to 

12          possibly go to their voters for potential tax 

13          levy increases.  

14                 Our cities have been keeping 

15          appropriations to our school districts almost 

16          flat in 20 years, with some exceptions in 

17          some of our districts.  And those exceptions 

18          have not been keeping any pace with 

19          increasing inflation, additional pupils, 

20          additional pupils with extraordinary needs.  

21          So we can give you those numbers.  So it puts 

22          certainly a lot more pressure on our need for 

23          Foundation Aid increases.  

24                 Thank you.  


 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 3                 So I'd like to have the minority 

 4          leader in the Senate speak right at this 

 5          time, and that's Senator Andrea 

 6          Stewart-Cousins.  

 7                 SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:  Thank you, 

 8          Senator Young.  

 9                 And it's good to see the Big 5.  And 

10          certainly to my own superintendent, 

11          Dr. Quezada, thank you.  I was waiting for 

12          you because I knew that, again, as 

13          Assemblywoman Nolan mentioned, that not only 

14          are people in and out, but Shelley is under 

15          the weather and so on.  But I wanted to, as 

16          usual, commend you for the work that you are 

17          doing to move the school district forward and 

18          assure you that the fight for the Foundation 

19          Aid is really one that we have all taken 

20          very, very seriously because of the reasons 

21          that you've all expressed here.  

22                 I was wondering a little bit, because 

23          in part of your testimony you were saying 

24          that -- just shifting a little bit to the 


 1          Community Schools, you said that you'd become 

 2          a quintessential Community School model.  And 

 3          I'm just wondering, can you expand on what 

 4          kind of services our Community Schools are 

 5          giving to our kids and how many kids are 

 6          being served?  

 7                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  Absolutely.  

 8          And thank you, Senator.  And thank you to all 

 9          of the members of the state delegation.  

10                 And I think, if I can give an example 

11          of what it is that the Community School model 

12          is doing for us, it is actually bringing each 

13          and every one of us together.  The state 

14          delegation, the elected officials in Yonkers, 

15          and the entire community is coming together 

16          to devise wraparound services which are 

17          essential to young people, particularly those 

18          that are underrepresented.  

19                 Right now Yonkers has 12 percent 

20          students with disabilities, close to 

21          20 percent English language learners.  

22          Fifty-eight percent of our students are 

23          Hispanic; about 19 percent are 

24          African-American.  So the needs are 


 1          significant.  And the concept of not 

 2          addressing their needs is something that we 

 3          can no longer do.  

 4                 We have become, in many of our 

 5          schools, the center of the community.  So you 

 6          think of the MLK Jr. Academy, where we have a 

 7          health clinic that provides services.  And 

 8          then we have two agencies that are providing 

 9          social/emotional support.  And then we have 

10          the Food Bank bringing meals on a weekly 

11          basis to our families.  And the fact that a 

12          school is open till 6 p.m. every single day 

13          servicing not only the students, but 

14          servicing the parents and any of the 

15          community members that are around that 

16          particular school.  

17                 And that's what we are trying to 

18          create in many of our schools.  Most 

19          recently, you allocated additional funding 

20          with the Empire grant, and that Empire grant 

21          brought to Yonkers an additional $1.4 million 

22          which allows us to keep our schools open 

23          until about 4:30, 5 o'clock almost every 

24          single day.  And during those hours we are 


 1          not only providing academic support, but we 

 2          are providing extra enrichment activities 

 3          that our students so much need.  

 4                 So the Community School is a model 

 5          that I think we should all protect, we should 

 6          all support.  And every school in our 

 7          communities should become a Community School.  

 8          They should be open for athletics, for 

 9          sports, for the arts, for music.  And that's 

10          what we are attempting to do in Yonkers, and 

11          it's happening in almost 15 of our schools 

12          right now.  So I'd like to move to 39 schools 

13          very soon.  

14                 SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:  I'm a big 

15          proponent of that.  

16                 Yes?  

17                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  Yes, if I could 

18          amplify and extend what my colleague from 

19          Yonkers has talked about.  He did it very 

20          well, and I commend you on the work in 

21          Yonkers.  

22                 Certainly in Buffalo, as part of our 

23          New Education Bargain, which is six major 

24          efforts, initiatives going on -- one of them 


 1          is strong community schools.  And we believe 

 2          it's an epicenter for the transformational 

 3          work going on in Buffalo.  

 4                 These Community Schools we 

 5          purposefully placed in the toughest 

 6          neighborhoods in our city.  We overlaid them 

 7          with receivership schools in gang-infested 

 8          communities, because we wanted to reclaim 

 9          these communities.  We said enough is enough, 

10          and no longer are we going to give in to the 

11          politics of failure, and we are going to 

12          reinvigorate these schools.  

13                 And we're doing this very similarly.  

14          They're becoming a national model.  So we 

15          commend you for the funding for it, and we 

16          encourage you to make sure that they're being 

17          spent for the purposes.  

18                 Just a few highlights that are real 

19          specific.  Open from 7:00 to 7:00 five days a 

20          week, and on Saturday, 9:00 till 1 o'clock.  

21          Free meals served on Saturdays.  Dental care 

22          provided for our students, healthcare, mental 

23          healthcare for our students.  Health clinics 

24          in most of these high school settings for our 


 1          high schools, 11 are K through 8 elementary 

 2          schools.  And we have things that I always 

 3          thought were important in an enriched 

 4          education, we're putting them into Community 

 5          Schools.  Because poverty is not the issue 

 6          alone, the issue is what are our children 

 7          getting.  

 8                 And if you talk about suburbs, if you 

 9          talk about your best private schools, if you 

10          talk about the schools that I went to growing 

11          up, going on and graduating cum laude from 

12          Princeton University and Stanford University, 

13          it wasn't because I was so special, it was 

14          because I was getting an enriched education.  

15                 And so we have Zumba classes going on, 

16          we have chess clubs going on, we have Suzuki 

17          violin lessons going on for our young 

18          children, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, 

19          Arabic, world languages that we're 

20          introducing to our young people and they're 

21          thriving.  Coding clubs.  Computer that you 

22          take apart, learn how to take it apart, put 

23          it back together and you get to keep the 

24          computer.  These are brand-new computers.  


 1                 So our children come into the 

 2          Community Schools and go left, and they have 

 3          programming and enrichment, and their parents 

 4          come in and go right, and they have adult 

 5          courses and parent centers that they can go 

 6          into and learn how to be even more engaged 

 7          parents.  Over 50 courses are being offered 

 8          in these community schools for adults, and 

 9          42 healthcare/wellness banks.  And higher 

10          education institutions are brought in, and 

11          each are aligned to these zones.  There are 

12          four zones in which these Community Schools 

13          operate.  

14                 So it's just early.  The only 

15          difference I would make with my colleague 

16          Edwin is instead of rapidly going to more -- 

17          because it is true, everybody wants to be one 

18          now -- I want to make sure that these take 

19          root and we start to see that they're 

20          actually improving the results around 

21          attendance, academic achievement, before I 

22          grow too fast.  

23                 So I just wanted to add to what you're 

24          doing, because your investment is paying off.  


 1          Thank you.  

 2                 SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:  Well, thank 

 3          you.  It sounds like you have an extremely 

 4          enriched program.  And I know that 

 5          Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes and -- you know, 

 6          we both carry the Community Schools bill and 

 7          have for -- so I'm very happy that they are 

 8          alive and well.  

 9                 But you mentioned two things -- and 

10          I'll move on because I know my colleagues 

11          want to too.  Technology, and I want to go to 

12          Yonkers and the Smart School Bond Act.  And I 

13          know that there's a capacity to, I think, get 

14          about $24 million in and increase the 

15          technology.  And I don't know that we're 

16          where we could be.  I think right now we've 

17          maybe spent about $3.8 million or so to 

18          enhance the technological capacity.  How are 

19          we doing with that?  

20                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  Absolutely, 

21          and thank you.  Yes, Yonkers is entitled to 

22          approximately $24 million of Smart Bond.  We 

23          have been spending in stages.  We felt that 

24          instructional technology was the most 


 1          important element.  

 2                 So as you indicated, we put in the 

 3          application for instructional technology.  We 

 4          were told by the committee that we put in a 

 5          model application, which was approved very 

 6          quickly for instructional technology.  The 

 7          expenditure took place -- went on very 

 8          quickly.  And the beauty of it is that the 

 9          reimbursement was also very expeditious.  So 

10          if you guys had anything to do with that, 

11          thank you.  

12                 So right now, in each and every one of 

13          our schools, we have additional laptops, we 

14          have additional stand-alone systems, we 

15          brought in additional overhead projectors.  

16                 One of the things we wanted it to do 

17          is we very quickly wanted it to move into 

18          computer-based testing.  So for us, improving 

19          the technology was essential to the process.  

20          Yonkers will move this year into everyone 

21          taking the Grade 3 to 8 assessment online, 

22          which I think is extremely important, 

23          particularly because our young people are 

24          ready.  


 1                 So in terms of instructional 

 2          technology, we have purchased the hardware 

 3          for our schools, they are already in our 

 4          schools, and they are being utilized.  We 

 5          were approved at about $5.5 million for 

 6          instructional technology.  There's still 

 7          funding left there that we are about to 

 8          spend, and now we are preparing an 

 9          application for security.  

10                 And we are then also preparing an 

11          application to remove the modular classroom 

12          in two of our schools, so that application is 

13          about to be submitted to the committee so 

14          that we can also address pre-K space and 

15          eliminating the modular classrooms.  

16                 SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:  Okay.  And 

17          the last thing that I'm going to ask about is 

18          the -- again, there was a reference to the 

19          Joint Construction Commission, I think it's 

20          in Syracuse.  And we are, I guess, poised -- 

21          we've been moving incrementally, obviously, 

22          in rebuilding the schools.  And I know that 

23          each and every one of us believes that 

24          children deserve an environment that is 


 1          inviting to be educated in, as well as 

 2          something that makes them feel good about 

 3          being there.  So we are certainly hoping for 

 4          the rebuild process to happen.  

 5                 Is there any word on when the 

 6          commission is going to be put together?  

 7                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  Thank you for 

 8          that point.  

 9                 As I said before, I was very surprised 

10          that last night during the State of the Union 

11          there was no mention that schools need to be 

12          rebuilt.  I was very surprised and very 

13          disheartened.  

14                 Certainly I am in constant 

15          conversation with Mayor Spano.  There are 

16          names that have been submitted, and we are 

17          expecting that the Joint School Construction 

18          Board for Yonkers will be formed very 

19          quickly.  

20                 SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:  Right, okay.  

21          Well, thank you.  Thank you very much for 

22          your testimony, gentlemen, all of you.  

23                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  Thank you.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.  


 1                 Senator Addabbo.  

 2                 SENATOR ADDABBO:   Thank you very 

 3          much.  

 4                 To this panel, thank you very much for 

 5          being here today and your efforts for the 

 6          students of the Big 5.  

 7                 Previously I had asked about the 

 8          proposal in the Executive Budget about the 

 9          individual school budgets possibly being 

10          vetoed by the state if they don't give this 

11          valid report, and it has to be approved by 

12          both the State Department of Ed and the 

13          Division of the Budget.  I'd like to hear 

14          your opinion about this proposal in the 

15          Executive Budget.  

16                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  I think that's 

17          going to create a problem for the Big 5 

18          school districts.  I think we have a 

19          qualified Board of Education, we have a 

20          Common Council in Syracuse that they approve 

21          our budget.  If we have to wait for -- to 

22          submit the budget to the state, we are going 

23          to be competing even more to find qualified 

24          teachers, and we won't be able to hire 


 1          teachers in time to have the staffing that we 

 2          need in the classroom.  So I think that 

 3          that's going to be a problem for all of us in 

 4          the Big 5 school districts.  

 5                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  And last question, 

 6          do you know of any major issues regarding 

 7          school districts not getting their funding?  

 8          I'm trying to figure out why this proposal 

 9          might exist, even ahead of the federal 

10          regulations.  But the bottom line is, do you 

11          have any major impropriety about school 

12          districts not getting their funding?  

13                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  I don't know 

14          of any.  But here is the major concern for 

15          us.  First of all, we are audited by multiple 

16          agencies.  We also have internal auditors in 

17          our school districts.  So for us it's the 

18          human capital that is needed in order to 

19          ensure that these reports are submitted.  

20                 I truly appreciated Carmen Fariña's 

21          statement which -- she spoke about the fact 

22          what are we going to do, take more money from 

23          the classroom to put a group of professionals 

24          together to prepare a report that needs to be 


 1          submitted to multiple agencies for approval?  

 2                 We need to be very cognizant of the 

 3          fact that we need to respect the individuals 

 4          that are in charge of auditing all of our 

 5          systems and not putting us in a position 

 6          where we need to spend more money that should 

 7          go directly to a classroom for another layer 

 8          of approval.  

 9                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Great.  Thank you 

10          very much to you all.  

11                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

13          being here.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

15          much.  

16                 PANEL MEMBERS:  Thank you.  

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  See you soon.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So next we're 

19          going to have Dr. Bernadette Kappen, chair of 

20          the 4201 Schools Association.  

21                 And as they're coming to the table, I 

22          just wanted to announce for all of the people 

23          who will be testifying going forward now, we 

24          have your testimony, you've all followed the 


 1          instructions and emailed it to us, so we 

 2          would appreciate that you summarize.  We're 

 3          going to have five minutes on the clock for 

 4          each witness.  

 5                 Last night we went to 10:30, and 

 6          unfortunately for some of the people -- that 

 7          was after some of the people near the end of 

 8          the day had to leave because of the hour.  

 9                 We didn't say no to anybody to be here 

10          today, so we would appreciate if you could 

11          summarize your remarks.  That will give us a 

12          little time if there are questions, and we 

13          can make sure that everybody has an 

14          opportunity to be heard.  Thank you.  

15                 DR. KAPPEN:  Thank you.  Good 

16          afternoon.  My name is Bernadette Kappen.  

17          I'm the executive director at the New York 

18          Institute for Special Education and the chair 

19          of the 4201 Schools Association.  And I have 

20          with me my colleague Tim Kelly, who's the 

21          vice chair of the 4201 Schools Association 

22          and helps me every day with the 4201 

23          activities.  

24                 We want to first thank you for all 


 1          you've done to support the 4201 schools over 

 2          the past several years.  We're so grateful 

 3          for the increase that we did receive, and it 

 4          has really greatly supported the students at 

 5          our schools.  You know that we've struggled 

 6          for a number of years without any increases, 

 7          and with the increases the last few years 

 8          we've been able to really get back almost to 

 9          where we were in the 2008-2009 school year.  

10          So we have struggled, and the schools have 

11          really tried hard to look at their expenses 

12          without jeopardizing the education of the 

13          children.  

14                 And that's what I'd like to say.  We 

15          are so thrilled, Tim and I and all our other 

16          colleagues, to work with the students at the 

17          4201 schools.  They bring their challenges, 

18          but we can say that they grow and develop 

19          every day.  

20                 And that's why we're here today to 

21          request from you parity with the schools.  

22          Our students have the same academic needs in 

23          many ways, but they have special needs, 

24          particularly in the communication areas.  


 1          That would be for students that are deaf or 

 2          hard of hearing, that they have their need 

 3          for different types and modes of 

 4          communication.  We have children that are 

 5          blind and visually impaired that need 

 6          communication either through Braille, large 

 7          print.  And those children that have severe 

 8          physical disabilities need their assistance 

 9          with many assistive technology devices to 

10          make their voices heard.  

11                 So these extra expenses really are 

12          areas that we feel our children are 

13          deserving.  Our children have great 

14          potential, and we celebrate their successes 

15          each year with students that receive Regents 

16          diplomas, the students that are able to get 

17          their certificates for achievement.  So all 

18          of our children, we feel, are deserving in 

19          those areas.  

20                 So the additional investment that you 

21          would make in our students we know that we 

22          will put to good use.  And we can talk about 

23          our success rate.  Our students are coming to 

24          school, they like to be there.  I can say at 


 1          the New York Institute we have a hundred 

 2          percent graduation rate.  Last year we had 16 

 3          graduates; 14 went to college.  So the 

 4          support that you give to us, the students do 

 5          become successful in their communities.  

 6                 This morning when the commissioner 

 7          spoke, there were a couple of areas there 

 8          that we would like to really thank her for 

 9          the support, and areas that we find that we 

10          are in need as well.  This would be the 

11          teacher effectiveness area.  This is really 

12          critical for us, because our teachers have to 

13          be specialized in working with the students 

14          as well as their academic particular areas.  

15                 For us, lately it's almost like a 

16          revolving door.  We bring in a teacher, the 

17          teacher has time with us, they gain skills, 

18          and then they leave and they go to their 

19          local school district.  Because once they 

20          walk out our door, their salaries are much 

21          greater than we're able to provide for the 

22          students with us.  

23                 So any extra help that we can get 

24          there with parity will really support our 


 1          teachers and thank them for the great job 

 2          that they do with our students.  

 3                 The commissioner spoke about ELL.  

 4          Many of our schools are seeing populations of 

 5          children that are coming in that are 

 6          non-native English speakers.  So in addition 

 7          to their language barrier, they have their 

 8          disability.  I can say in the last couple of 

 9          years we've had three to five children that 

10          come every year that do not speak very much 

11          English, and we need to work with them.  So 

12          we really feel that if we were thought about 

13          just like the regular schools, then we'll be 

14          able to help the students even better.  

15                 And finally, in the transition area, 

16          we want to keep supporting our children to 

17          make sure that they can move on.  We'd like 

18          you to consider, this year, $5 million for 

19          short-term capital.  We are fortunate that we 

20          have really nice physical plants for our 

21          students, but many of our schools have been 

22          around anywhere from 50 years to 200 years.  

23          So our campuses really are in need of 

24          improvements in particular areas -- it could 


 1          be plumbing, safety, security areas, fire 

 2          alarm systems.  

 3                 And finally, on a long-term basis, we 

 4          would request the opportunity to once again 

 5          work with the Dormitory Authority for more 

 6          long-term projects where we may need to have 

 7          boiler replacements, roof replacements to 

 8          keep our schools attractive places.  I think 

 9          a parent comes in the door, they want to see 

10          a safe environment for their child and then 

11          they want to think about education.  So we 

12          would like to be able to promote that.  

13                 Again, we're most grateful for 

14          everything that you do do for us, and we want 

15          you to know that we appreciate that.  I was 

16          thinking about coming here today, and I saw a 

17          quote that I thought was appropriate for our 

18          needs.  And it's "All of us are seeking the 

19          same thing:  We share the desire to fulfill 

20          the highest, truest expression of ourselves 

21          as human beings."  And that's what we're here 

22          for, for our children at the 4201 schools.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you very 

24          much, and for the work the schools do on 


 1          behalf of our state's children.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  And I 

 3          truly appreciate the input and the testimony 

 4          and actually everything that you do.  Because 

 5          as you know, I have a special buddy, Julia, 

 6          who lives in my district, and she has just 

 7          blossomed and flourished at the 4201 school 

 8          that she attends.  So I just want to say 

 9          thank you for that, because it's great to see 

10          firsthand what's being accomplished.  

11                 So thank you so much for all that you 

12          do.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And actually we 

14          have a question from Mr. Otis.  

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Hi.  Thank you for 

16          coming, as always.  

17                 And the one question that I think 

18          would be good with maybe just a little more 

19          detail on is your schools run on very tight 

20          budgets.  Each school, it's a different 

21          situation.  But I think one thing that's 

22          always good to communicate is how tight a 

23          financial situation the schools and the 

24          association and, for that matter, the other 


 1          different Special Act school districts not in 

 2          your association, the other schools in these 

 3          categories -- anything that you can add to 

 4          that briefly to just convey that to us?  

 5          Because I think it's something that can't be 

 6          emphasized enough.  I've had some of the 

 7          conversations with you and your members in 

 8          the past.  Thank you.  

 9                 DR. KAPPEN:  That is true.  I think we 

10          really do struggle with the finances.  

11                 And as you know, when we had our 

12          funding changed several years ago, some 

13          schools struggled more than others, 

14          particularly with the cash-flow issue.  The 

15          school districts have been really very 

16          supportive in sending their money, but again, 

17          they have their issues.  So you may have a 

18          monthly payment or maybe a district can't 

19          send you for every five or six months, so you 

20          have really tight finances.  

21                 We also have increasing costs related 

22          to health insurance, other insurance that you 

23          have to pay.  In New York City, for example, 

24          I would say every month we get some kind of a 


 1          notice that you have to do and fix something.  

 2          For example, we had -- not too long ago where 

 3          we had to have the backflow preventers 

 4          replaced.  That was an expense that we didn't 

 5          know about.  That cost $200,000 to have those 

 6          backflow preventers put in.  We have 

 7          varying -- in our school, different areas 

 8          where the water is coming in.  

 9                 So you have unknown expenses.  Also, 

10          the children.  Over the years I would say 

11          that the children are more complicated.  I 

12          think medicine has really allowed children to 

13          survive that probably wouldn't have in the 

14          past.  So it's not that they're just blind or 

15          they're just deaf; many of these children 

16          have additional disabilities that require 

17          other supports so that they can be 

18          successful.

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you very 

20          much.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Again, thank 

22          you.

23                 DR. KAPPEN:  Thank you very much.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next we have 


 1          the Alliance for Quality Equation, Jasmine 

 2          Gripper, legislative director.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Just let me 

 4          thank the 4201 schools too.  We really 

 5          appreciate their being here.  She does a 

 6          great job, Ms. Kappen does a great job.  As 

 7          does Ms. Gripper.  So we have some really 

 8          great witnesses here, and I thank the chairs 

 9          for moving it along.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And somehow 

11          everybody seems to cherish the back seats.  

12          Let me just call the next few, just to let 

13          people know so you might prepare to move 

14          down.  The next after AQE will be the 

15          New York State Council of School 

16          Superintendents, followed by the Council of 

17          School Supervisors and Administrators, CSA.  

18                 MS. GRIPPER:  Thank you guys.  I will 

19          just read a brief summary of my testimony.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

21                 MS. GRIPPER:  Thank you for providing 

22          me the opportunity to testify before you 

23          today.  

24                 The Governor mentioned the word 


 1          "equity" in his budget release, yet his 

 2          proposal includes only a fraction of what is 

 3          necessary to achieve equity.  Parents and 

 4          families want our children to have access to 

 5          high-quality academic opportunities, social 

 6          and emotional supports, full access to art, 

 7          music, physical education and after-school 

 8          enrichment programs like sports and other 

 9          extracurricular activities.  

10                 For far too long, students in black, 

11          brown and low-income communities have been 

12          systematically underfunded and denied access 

13          to these opportunities.  It's time to end the 

14          record inequality of education funding in 

15          New York that perpetuates a widening 

16          opportunity gap.  

17                 In order to enact the following 

18          demands, we must fully fund our public 

19          schools using the state's Foundation Aid 

20          formula.  Parents across New York State want 

21          their children to have access to culturally 

22          responsive education, where a student's 

23          diverse history, culture and race is 

24          reflected in their education; a safe and 


 1          supportive school climate free of harassment, 

 2          bullying, and discrimination; teachers from 

 3          diverse backgrounds; engaging in challenging 

 4          curricula, programming and services through 

 5          sustainable community schools; and a strong 

 6          foundation for our youngest learners through 

 7          high-quality early childcare and full-day 

 8          pre-K programs.  

 9                 In order to achieve this, New York 

10          State must commit to a three-year phase-in of 

11          the Foundation Aid formula, with a 

12          $1.4 billion increase in Foundation Aid this 

13          year.  

14                 We support the $50 million increase of 

15          community schools funding, but we urge you to 

16          take it out of the Foundation Aid.  We 

17          support the $15 million increase in pre-K 

18          funding, but urge you to increase it further.  

19          At the current rate, it will take 57 years 

20          for New York State to fulfill its promise of 

21          universal pre-K for all 4-years-old 

22          statewide.  

23                 Governor Cuomo likes to say he 

24          increased education funding, but the numbers 


 1          tell a different story.  Year after year, he 

 2          has only kept up with inflation without 

 3          providing for the improvements needed for 

 4          equity.  

 5                 The state's final budget must fully 

 6          fund equity in 2018 by committing to the full 

 7          Foundation Aid phase-in to protect all of 

 8          New York State's children.  According to the 

 9          State Education Department, New York State 

10          owes schools $4.2 billion in Foundation Aid.  

11          Seventy-four percent of the Foundation Aid 

12          that's owed is due to districts with 40 

13          percent or more of students who are black and 

14          brown.  A generation of students has already 

15          gone with a promise unfulfilled from the 

16          Campaign for Fiscal Equity.  Education 

17          justice requires adequate and equitable 

18          distribution of funding for public schools.  

19                 And lastly, on revenues, we are 

20          heartened to see the Governor propose some 

21          revenue-raising actions, though we believe 

22          that his budget does not go far enough to 

23          capture the windfalls that big corporations 

24          and high-income-earners are getting from the 


 1          federal government.  As Martin Luther King, 

 2          Jr., said:  Justice too long delayed is 

 3          justice denied.  

 4                 New York's students been waiting for 

 5          over a decade for education justice.  New 

 6          York State has a funding formula that was 

 7          created out of the demand for equity and 

 8          adequacy.  It's time that the state fully 

 9          funds the Foundation Aid formula and fulfills 

10          its commitment to the CFE court ruling.  

11                 Thank you.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  And 

13          thank you for being so succinct.  As I said, 

14          the full testimony is part of the record.  

15          Thank you so much.

16                 MS. GRIPPER:  Thank you.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  So next we have 

19          the New York State Council of School 

20          Superintendents, followed by CSA.  Robert 

21          Lowry, deputy director.  

22                 MR. LOWRY:  Good afternoon, Chairwoman 

23          Young, Chairwoman Weinstein, and other 

24          members of the Assembly and Senate.  I am 


 1          Robert Lowry, deputy director of the New York 

 2          State Council of School Superintendents.  

 3          Thank you for the opportunity to testify and 

 4          for your past support of education.  

 5                 We know that schools have fared better 

 6          than other parts of the state budget, many 

 7          other parts, and those efforts have made a 

 8          difference.  We do see improvements in the 

 9          financial condition of many districts, but 

10          not all.  The gains are not universal and in 

11          some cases they're fragile.  

12                 What's really most striking about 

13          surveys that we've done is evidence of 

14          increasing concern about the needs of 

15          students.  One example, we found that the 

16          percentage of superintendents identifying 

17          improving mental health services for students 

18          as a top priority growing from 35 percent 

19          last year to 52 percent this year.  That's 

20          just one piece of background information for 

21          evaluating the budget and the state of 

22          schools.  

23                 The council is part of the Educational 

24          Conference Board.  Each year ECB attempts to 


 1          estimate what kind of School Aid increase 

 2          will be necessary to maintain current 

 3          services.  This year we estimated 

 4          $1.5 billion.  That's not a wish list.  We 

 5          use independent sources, including the 

 6          Division of the Budget.  

 7                 The budget School Aid increase is 

 8          advertised as $769 million.  That includes 

 9          $100 million devoted to categorical 

10          initiatives.  Many of these we would support, 

11          perhaps all of them, but that $100 million is 

12          not available to support current services.  

13                 Then the budget also proposes to shift 

14          $70 million in special education costs from 

15          the state to school districts.  That brings 

16          the amount available to support current 

17          operations down to $600 million.  So even if 

18          some of ECB's estimates are off, they're not 

19          off by two and a half times, $1.5 billion 

20          versus $600 million.  

21                 It's a positive that this budget does 

22          not repeat last year's proposal to repeal the 

23          Foundation Aid formula.  The increase is 

24          progressively distributed, generally driving 


 1          greater increases to needier districts.  But 

 2          the total increase of $338 million just 

 3          doesn't go far enough to help enough 

 4          districts.  And it does include a $50 million 

 5          set-aside for community schools.  Pull that 

 6          out, and the amount that's available to 

 7          support ongoing operations drops to 

 8          1.7 percent.  

 9                 The budget does propose to fund the 

10          expense-based aids according to current law 

11          formulas for next year, and that's a 

12          positive.  It keeps faith with districts who 

13          are incurring costs this year and the 

14          expectation that they'll be reimbursed next 

15          year.  But it proposes to cap certain 

16          expense-based aids at 2 percent, starting in 

17          2019-2020.  The cap on BOCES aids would 

18          particularly hurt poorer districts.  We see 

19          them increasing their use of BOCES services 

20          the most.  

21                 And the cap on building aid would hurt 

22          all districts.  It would ultimately ratchet 

23          down building aid reimbursement for all 

24          districts to the extent that increases 


 1          statewide exceed 2 percent.  So even if a 

 2          district restrained its own construction 

 3          spending, it could be hurt because of the 

 4          actions of other districts.  

 5                 With the tax cap, it's become even 

 6          more important for districts to plan out 

 7          their capital spending, try and even those 

 8          out.  And this would be become harder, 

 9          perhaps impossible, with the cap that's been 

10          imposed.  It would also make it impossible 

11          for districts to give their voters any 

12          assurance that the state will reimburse a 

13          consistent share of a project's costs, and 

14          that will make it harder for districts to 

15          gain voter approval.  

16                 As I mentioned, the budget proposes 

17          shifting $70 million in summer special 

18          education costs to school districts.  It 

19          would raise the local share of these costs 

20          from 20 percent to about 50 percent for an 

21          average-wealth district, and to as high as 

22          75 percent for about a fifth of the 

23          districts.  

24                 We do oppose the proposal to require 


 1          approval of building allocation plans among 

 2          15 districts.  This strikes us as applying a 

 3          blunt instrument to a complex issue, 

 4          substituting the judgment of Albany officials 

 5          for local officials, local leaders who are 

 6          closer to the schools and the students.  

 7                 At best, the proposal is premature.  

 8          The Every Student Succeeds Act will require 

 9          every district to report on its 

10          building-level funding allocations.  That 

11          will shed more light on those decisions and 

12          the complications that districts encounter in 

13          making them.  

14                 In our testimony I summarize the 

15          sustainability agenda that we shared with 

16          your offices earlier this month.  Recognizing 

17          the great challenges that we could all be 

18          facing at the state and local level chiefly 

19          because of actions coming from Washington, we 

20          put forward a series of recommendations to 

21          try and create a more financially sustainable 

22          future for districts going forward.  It 

23          starts with updating and phasing in a 

24          foundation formula, making some adjustments 


 1          to the tax cap, taking some steps to help 

 2          school districts control their spending, and 

 3          gain more impact from the resources that 

 4          taxpayers do provide.  And finally, to 

 5          provide schools with access to reserves like 

 6          those local governments have, starting with a 

 7          reserve for teachers' pension obligations.  

 8                 We emphasize the sustainability agenda 

 9          because we recognize the challenges that 

10          we're all likely to face.  We're grateful for 

11          your past support, and we'll work with you 

12          once again to construct a state budget that 

13          can preserve and improve the opportunities 

14          that all students need and deserve.  

15                 Thank you.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Mr. Oaks.  

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Yes.  Just quickly, 

19          I know your members have been in the halls 

20          this week and meeting individually with 

21          members.  And just appreciate your testimony 

22          today, but also that opportunity to have the 

23          impact individually throughout the state in 

24          our different regions, the impact of the 


 1          budget both on the themes that you've hit on 

 2          today but also ones that were brought 

 3          directly by your member districts.  So thank 

 4          you.

 5                 MR. LOWRY:  Thank you for meeting with 

 6          them.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 9                 Next we have Mark Cannizzaro, 

10          president of CSA.  He'll be followed by 

11          Cynthia Gallagher, if she can step down.  

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Let me just 

13          thank Bob Lowry again, because it's always 

14          great testimony from the superintendents, and 

15          welcome Mark.  I think this is his first 

16          time, Chairwoman.  So we really welcome the 

17          new president of this union here and 

18          appreciate his voice and appreciate the 

19          superintendents, Bob, all the expertise.  

20                 We're not asking questions just so we 

21          can move it along, but a lot of you we talk 

22          to all the time, so we'll have some further 

23          opportunity to do that.  But thank you again 

24          for everything that you're doing and for 


 1          testifying today.  

 2                 PRESIDENT CANNIZZARO:  Thank you.  

 3                 Good afternoon, Assemblymember 

 4          Weinstein, and congratulations.  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 6                 PRESIDENT CANNIZZARO:  Senator Young, 

 7          Assemblymember Nolan, and to your honorable 

 8          colleagues, especially those that have stuck 

 9          around.  So thank you so much.  I know how 

10          difficult it is.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  We just slept 

12          here from last night.  

13                 PRESIDENT CANNIZZARO:  And the 

14          reporter, she's made it through the -- she's 

15          made it through also.  

16                 My name is Mark Cannizzaro, and I'm 

17          the president of the Council of School 

18          Supervisors and Administrators, or CSA.  CSA 

19          is the labor union representing over 6100 

20          active and 10,000 retired principals, 

21          assistant principals, education 

22          administrators, and supervisors in New York 

23          City public schools and five conversion 

24          charter schools.  We are also the collective 


 1          bargaining unit for 200 early childhood 

 2          directors and assistant directors who work in 

 3          city-subsidized Early Childhood Centers.  

 4          We'd like to thank you for this opportunity 

 5          to present testimony today.  

 6                 You have our detailed written 

 7          testimony, so I'd like to just touch on a 

 8          couple of things of extreme importance to our 

 9          school leaders.  

10                 First, of course, is the School Aid 

11          and Foundation Aid.  We recognize the 

12          financial difficulties this state faces and 

13          the challenges that the projected budget 

14          deficit now present.  Nevertheless, the 

15          Executive Budget proposal for School Aid 

16          falls far short from what our schools 

17          desperately need and what the Foundation Aid 

18          formula otherwise requires.  

19                 The Executive Budget calls for an 

20          increase of $769 million in state aid, which 

21          includes a Foundation Aid increase of only 

22          $338 million.  That is less than one-half of 

23          the $1.6 billion increase the State Board of 

24          Regents, fully aware of the fiscal climate, 


 1          recommended as necessary.  

 2                 CSA believes that the state must 

 3          commit to fully funding the Foundation Aid 

 4          formula.  In 2007, the state enacted the 

 5          Foundation Aid formula to support all school 

 6          districts across New York State -- most 

 7          importantly, low-wealth school districts.  We 

 8          once again request, on behalf of the young 

 9          people we serve, your support in the full 

10          phase-in of the Foundation Aid formula over 

11          the next three years.  

12                 We also feel it's incredibly important 

13          today to speak to you about school leader 

14          professional development.  Our motto at CSA 

15          is that great schools begin with great 

16          leaders.  We know, and research confirms, 

17          that the complexity of our jobs requires 

18          ongoing professional development that is of 

19          extremely high quality.  

20                 To that end, CSA has established the 

21          Executive Leadership Institute, and we did so 

22          several years ago.  The Executive Leadership 

23          Institute, or ELI, is a not-for-profit 

24          organization that delivers practical, 


 1          relevant and essential professional 

 2          development for school leaders.  We need to 

 3          invest in more of this kind of support, and 

 4          we are extremely grateful to this Legislature 

 5          for your support of ELI in the past.  This 

 6          $475,000 yearly allocation you have given us 

 7          has sustained our work to provide the 

 8          much-needed professional development services 

 9          and mentoring for school leaders working in 

10          New York City public schools.  

11                 Now, ELI, along with other 

12          professional organizations, provides 

13          professional development for school leaders 

14          in Long Island and upstate as well.  With 

15          your help and support, ELI's programs can 

16          grow, providing standards-based, 

17          high-quality, results-driven training for 

18          school administrators.  We respectfully ask 

19          you for your continued support of this 

20          important initiative.  

21                 We also would like to add our 

22          disagreement with the Executive Budget 

23          proposal requiring New York City and other 

24          large districts to have school-level funding 


 1          plans approved by the state.  Our objection 

 2          is maybe a little bit different than others; 

 3          we feel that this will cause a delay in 

 4          schools receiving their school budgets, which 

 5          are already delayed beyond what is acceptable 

 6          for schools in the planning process.  

 7                 If such a proposal is considered, we 

 8          ask that an audit of the previous years' 

 9          increases be implemented instead.  Of course, 

10          we know you agree that our students deserve 

11          the best -- they deserve the best programs, 

12          services and supports that are necessary to 

13          prepare them for college, careers and, 

14          perhaps most importantly, for life as 

15          productive and taxpaying citizens of this 

16          state.  They depend on us, but the success of 

17          our state ultimately will depend on them.  

18                 So during this upcoming budget 

19          negotiation, we urge the Legislature to 

20          continue to advocate for our students, 

21          teachers and school leaders as passionately 

22          as you have done in the past.  And we thank 

23          you for that passion, and I thank you for the 

24          opportunity to be here today.  


 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  And 

 2          right on the five-minute mark.  Perfect.

 3                 PRESIDENT CANNIZZARO:  I know.  I had 

 4          more, but I was sort of -- I was watching the 

 5          clock.  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you so 

 7          much for that.  As I mentioned, we do have 

 8          all of the testimony, and it actually has 

 9          been circulated in advance to members.  I 

10          think there's actually an opportunity for 

11          more attention under this system.  

12                 So thank you, and thank you for the 

13          work that all the CSA members do for our 

14          students and our city.

15                 PRESIDENT CANNIZZARO:  Thank you.  

16          Appreciate your time.  

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Good luck in 

18          your tenure, Mark.  Good luck in your tenure.

19                 PRESIDENT CANNIZZARO:  Thank you.  

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And we wish 

21          Ernest the best in his retirement.  And, you 

22          know, you've come in at a very critical time, 

23          so we know it's going to be a lot of 

24          pressure, but thank you very much.


 1                 PRESIDENT CANNIZZARO:  My pleasure.  

 2          Thank you.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 4                 Next, the New York State School Boards 

 5          Association, Julie Marlette.  She'll be 

 6          followed by the New York State Association of 

 7          School Business Officials, Michael Borges.

 8                 (Discussion off the record.) 

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Oh, I'm sorry, 

10          Cynthia Gallagher.  That's the problem with 

11          reading glasses.  

12                 (Laughter.) 

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Sorry.  

14                 MS. GALLAGHER:  Good afternoon.  

15                 And thank you for that, Julie.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  That was really 

17          quick testimony you gave.  Thank you.  

18                 (Laughter.)

19                 MS. GALLAGHER:  Good afternoon.  Thank 

20          you, Chairperson Young, Chairpersons 

21          Weinstein and Nolan.  Thank you very much for 

22          the opportunity to present this afternoon.  

23                 My name is Cindy Gallagher.  I 

24          represent the School Administrators 


 1          Association of New York State, and it is an 

 2          honor to present on behalf of our 7,000 

 3          members and our 429 school districts.  We 

 4          also have a strong consortium with the New 

 5          York State Federation of School 

 6          Administrators, and we combine forces to 

 7          collaborate professional development and 

 8          advocacy.  

 9                 I would like to reiterate or concur 

10          with many of the points that were made by my 

11          colleagues.  But what I'd like to do is set 

12          them in the context of a few comments that 

13          have been made by our members during this 

14          last couple of weeks, through conference 

15          calls as well as meetings.  I think some of 

16          their remarks will bring to life our four 

17          major goals for this next budget proposal.  

18                 "Our district is tapped out as far as 

19          going back to taxpayers with an increase -- 

20          we will not be able to address this year's 

21          budget with any thought of a tax increase, 

22          whether it be .05 percent, 1 percent, 1.2 

23          percent or 1.9 percent."  That's Comment No. 

24          1.  


 1                 Comment No. 2:  "We would love to go 

 2          out to our community partners to supplement 

 3          our programs with their staff of social 

 4          workers or mental health clinicians -- except 

 5          they too do not have the resources to tap 

 6          into them." 

 7                 "Our district is anticipating the new 

 8          federal requirements under ESSA, and any 

 9          thought of using fund balances for any kind 

10          of program expansion is just not realistic." 

11                 Two more.  "Competitive grants do not 

12          help our district.  I can demonstrate need 

13          and have data point after data point, but we 

14          cannot compete with the eligibility criteria 

15          that focus on districts labeled as 

16          high-need." 

17                 And then lastly:  "As the state moves 

18          to computer-based testing, we need to build a 

19          technology infrastructure to support the 

20          assessment program." 

21                 So with those comments as the backdrop 

22          to my stating just very briefly our four 

23          goals for talking about the budget today, I 

24          would like to just first talk about 


 1          Foundation Aid and of course reiterate many 

 2          of the points you heard this morning that we 

 3          need to increase state funding.  

 4                 When the external pressures outside of 

 5          school challenge our students and their 

 6          families, schools' only response is to expand 

 7          programs, look at additional hours, or to 

 8          intensify services.  It is expensive to do 

 9          that in order to serve over 60 percent of the 

10          students who have been identified with 

11          depression and the 80 percent of students who 

12          are still not receiving services who have 

13          been identified as having anxiety disorders.  

14          Those kinds of services are very, very 

15          challenging, as you've heard already today.  

16                 The second priority area -- and I'm 

17          going to lump three areas together:  

18          Competitive grants, incentivized funding, and 

19          updating the Foundation formula.  

20                 Competitive grants and incentivized 

21          funding have their purpose, and that's really 

22          to catalyze programming.  But they were never 

23          meant to be sustainable ways to fund 

24          programs.  So as you heard, many of our 


 1          districts are already outpaced by our 

 2          high-need districts.  But high-need students 

 3          do not live in only high-need areas.  Many of 

 4          our school districts have the same needs as 

 5          high-need school districts.  

 6                 The competitive grants are not 

 7          sustainable.  As you can see in pre-K and the 

 8          conversion to full-day K, even when we 

 9          finally meld those competitive grants we will 

10          still be left with two competitive grant 

11          processes.  

12                 So these three areas go into one of my 

13          final points, which is in terms of the need 

14          to update the formula.  By doing so, we will 

15          have a more realistic, perhaps, picture of a 

16          pre-K through 12 continuum as well as the 

17          needs of today's students.  

18                 Just very briefly, my one last area 

19          would be in regard to funding sources.  I 

20          agree with Mark; if you went down the list of 

21          the kind of funding you would see -- and we 

22          applaud these grant areas -- for the Master 

23          Teacher Program, the Excellence in Teaching 

24          Awards, Teachers of Tomorrow, and Teacher 


 1          Mentor Program, you will see in that list 

 2          that there is one area of constituency that 

 3          is missing, and that's your school 

 4          administrators, school leaders.  

 5                 So we respectfully request funding to 

 6          be allocated for the professional development 

 7          and learning for our administrators, who have 

 8          undertaken every reform initiative within the 

 9          last eight years without drama, without 

10          protestation, and have worked diligently to 

11          implement wisely and well the demands of 

12          APPR, No Child Left Behind, and now ESSA.  

13                 So I thank you for this opportunity.  

14          We'll continue to talk, I'm sure, throughout 

15          this budget season.  And I look forward to 

16          any comments or questions you may have.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

18                 MS. GALLAGHER:  You're welcome.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you very 

20          much for your presentation.  

21                 Okay, now, Julie Marlette, New York 

22          State School Boards Association.

23                 MS. MARLETTE:  Thank you.  Though I'm 

24          always happy to be mistaken for Cindy.  


 1                 Good afternoon, and thank you to all 

 2          of you who have hung in here all day with us.  

 3          You all have my written testimony, so I won't 

 4          even read a summary of it.  And I'm sure 

 5          we'll all be spending more time together than 

 6          we care to and can discuss it in the weeks to 

 7          come.  Instead, what I thought I would do is 

 8          just share a few responses and points that 

 9          occurred to me in listening to the commentary 

10          throughout the day today.  

11                 Like Bob Lowry mentioned, I'm also a 

12          member of the Educational Conference Board 

13          and would echo his support for their overall 

14          aid proposal, which my team worked on as a 

15          part of as well.  But rather than reiterating 

16          those points, I wanted to speak to some 

17          things that I heard and offer some perhaps 

18          additional perspectives that may not be 

19          reflected in our written testimony.  

20                 The first is in speaking to the 

21          Governor's proposal to require certain 

22          districts to have their building-level 

23          budgets approved by the state.  I think that 

24          my colleagues from the Big 5 did an eloquent 


 1          job of explaining how that would negatively 

 2          impact fiscally dependent districts.  So I'd 

 3          like to speak for just a moment on what I 

 4          believe the impact would be on fiscally 

 5          independent districts, specifically with 

 6          regard to circumventing the will of the 

 7          voters.  

 8                 School districts are the only 

 9          municipalities that get direct voter approval 

10          of their budgets, and I think that that 

11          should be respected.  

12                 I think it's also worth noting that in 

13          districts of smaller size that may still have 

14          nine buildings, there's a need to be nimble 

15          and responsive, and that a statewide approval 

16          plan on a single approval at a single point 

17          in time may not allow the district to be 

18          responsive to changing needs within their 

19          districts.  

20                 The second thing I wanted to speak to 

21          is the proposed cap on growth in reimbursable 

22          aids.  I've certainly heard and read the 

23          suggestion this would be a good investment 

24          strategy, that this would redirect monies 


 1          away from lower-need districts and create a 

 2          greater pool of money to be put into 

 3          Foundation Aid -- which certainly I would 

 4          support, if there were more money for 

 5          Foundation Aid -- for higher-need districts.  

 6                 However, in our ongoing analysis of 

 7          the budget and the proposed numbers, we're 

 8          finding that that simply doesn't pan out.  If 

 9          you do wish to look at any written testimony, 

10          I would suggest you start on page 4, where 

11          we've demonstrated -- the data says that 

12          high-need districts, both high-need rural and 

13          high-need urban/suburban, actually see the 

14          greater percentage of the budgets funded 

15          through these reimbursable aids.  Therefore, 

16          capping them would most directly hurt our 

17          highest-need districts.  That would be 

18          especially true with regard to capital 

19          construction, where ongoing projects -- that 

20          again have already been approved by voters, 

21          with a certain expectation and certain data 

22          points in place -- could be changed after the 

23          project has already started and debt service 

24          has been incurred.  


 1                 Beyond that, for all districts that 

 2          participate in BOCES, I think this could be 

 3          incredibly damaging.  I'm sorry she's not in 

 4          the room, because I wanted to specifically 

 5          note Senator Young's comments about 

 6          rebranding BOCES and making it cool again.  

 7                 Now, I would certainly never point to 

 8          myself or really anyone on my team if we're 

 9          trying to make someone cool again.  But I can 

10          talk about the rebranding of BOCES and what 

11          we should talk about it looking like.  And 

12          it's not the BOCES of our fathers and 

13          grandfathers or voc ed or any of the other 

14          negative connotations that can be there.  

15                 I can't give you many examples, but I 

16          can point to two persons here on my own team.  

17          My deputy director, Brian Fessler, is an 

18          alumni of a BOCES program out of Monroe-2 

19          BOCES called New Vision, which focused on law 

20          and government.  And if we want a 

21          demonstration of college and career, he went 

22          to a BOCES program to focus on college and 

23          career and he sits here the deputy director 

24          of government relations.  So I think that's a 


 1          success story.  

 2                 I would also observe that my other 

 3          colleague, sitting behind me, Caroline, 

 4          taught in the Ulster County BOCES -- not to 

 5          school-age students, but adult students.  

 6                 BOCES play a much larger role in our 

 7          communities, and we should support them and 

 8          we should honor the commitment we've made to 

 9          those programs.  

10                 Third, I know there's been a lot of 

11          talk about loss of enrollment, and I would 

12          certainly not dispute that, on the aggregate, 

13          New York has lost both population and 

14          enrollment.  But I always feel obligated to 

15          remind everyone that year over year, slightly 

16          more than a quarter of all districts see 

17          enrollment growth.  And if I'm running a 

18          district that's seeing enrollment growth, it 

19          makes very little difference to my students 

20          what the statewide aggregate is.  

21                 At the same time, even for those 

22          districts who have lost enrollment, they have 

23          seen the needs of their students grow 

24          exponentially.  They're serving more ELLs and 


 1          more students with special needs than ever 

 2          before, and all of them need support.  

 3                 And finally, again to speak to a very 

 4          specific but ongoing issue, there was a lot 

 5          of talk about aid being taken back earlier in 

 6          the day.  And I would encourage you all to 

 7          consider the inclusion of an amnesty program 

 8          to allow those districts who have made 

 9          paperwork errors to rectify the situation 

10          with the State Education Department and keep 

11          the aid they've already been awarded.  

12                 With that, I see I'm just at the cusp 

13          of time, so I'll thank you again for your 

14          time and hope to answer any questions you 

15          have in the future.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Assemblyman 

17          Murray.  

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Thank you, 

19          Chairwoman.  

20                 And thank you for coming.  And I'll 

21          echo your sentiments on BOCES.  I said it 

22          earlier, their importance can't be 

23          overstated.  Eastern Suffolk BOCES' technical 

24          facility is in my district, as is the 


 1          headquarters.  I've toured it many times, 

 2          seen what they've done with these kids and 

 3          what can be done and some of the 

 4          restrictions, some of the things holding them 

 5          back.  

 6                 So I think, again, we need to put 

 7          more, not less, emphasis and priority on 

 8          BOCES and CTE programs.  But -- that wasn't 

 9          the issue I was going to talk about, but you 

10          spoke so eloquently on it I wanted to add my 

11          two cents.  

12                 But speaking of two cents and many, 

13          many more cents and dollars, let's talk 

14          budgets.  The 2 percent tax cap.  I know none 

15          are fans.  But when it was passed, it was 

16          passed with a promise, a promise that has 

17          gone unfulfilled.  That promise was to get 

18          rid of unfunded mandates, or at the very 

19          least make a significant reduction in 

20          unfunded mandates, and I haven't seen that 

21          happen.  

22                 How much of an impact -- and I don't 

23          expect real dollars, because I'm kind of 

24          catching you off guard.  But how much of an 


 1          impact to the budgets -- because I deal with 

 2          many of my school boards and they say, you 

 3          know, they're killing us, how are we expected 

 4          to stay under the 2 percent while continuing 

 5          to fulfill the unfunded mandates that are 

 6          piled upon us?  

 7                 So what percentage would you say or 

 8          how big of an impact is unfunded mandates on 

 9          the budgets?

10                 MS. MARLETTE:  I don't think I'd feel 

11          comfortable speculating on a percentage, but 

12          I can tell you that my districts in both 

13          Eastern Suffolk and across the state say the 

14          same thing.  I think it can be hard to 

15          calculate, because there's real dollar costs, 

16          but there's also opportunity costs related to 

17          staff time that could be used for more 

18          student-based services that are directed to 

19          other services.  

20                 I would agree that perhaps the promise 

21          of mandate relief has not been kept, but I 

22          would take that a step further and say -- 

23          again, recognizing the widespread popularity 

24          of the tax cap -- it was also certainly sold, 


 1          although I would hesitate to say promised, as 

 2          a 2 percent cap.  And as we all know from 

 3          recent years, that's simply not true.  That 

 4          it is a 2 percent maximum growth factor that 

 5          in fact results in many, many districts 

 6          seeing far less than 2 percent.  Harkening 

 7          back to -- correct me, Brian, two years 

 8          ago? -- two years ago, seeing almost 90 

 9          districts with negative caps.  

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  I agree, yes, 

11          that was a bit misleading there.  

12                 And I think it's ironic to point out 

13          that as we're talking about possibly putting 

14          a 2 percent tax on reimbursable expenses, one 

15          of which is transportation, where many of the 

16          mandates are tied to.  So I think it's sadly 

17          ironic that that's being discussed right now.  

18                 But thank you very much.  I appreciate 

19          it.

20                 MS. MARLETTE:  Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Senate.  

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.

23                 MS. MARLETTE:  Senator Krueger.  

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good afternoon.  You 


 1          may have heard Senator Marcellino before ask 

 2          what do we think the impact of the new 

 3          federal 10,000 maximum combined property tax 

 4          and deductibility for state and local taxes 

 5          would have on local school districts.  

 6                 I'm wondering whether -- and he said 

 7          he suspected it will translate into more 

 8          local budgets being voted down.  Has your 

 9          association evaluated what you think the 

10          issue will become for you and when?  

11                 MS. MARLETTE:  I would say that my 

12          association shares the Senator's concern.  

13          It's unfortunately always been the case that 

14          because our budgets are voted on, that if 

15          someone is unhappy with essentially any part 

16          of their tax bill, really their only recourse 

17          is to voice that dissatisfaction with a no 

18          vote on their school budget.  And so we 

19          certainly see that.  

20                 But I also think we're going to 

21          potentially see districts being even more 

22          conservative in what they're willing to ask 

23          for, because if it goes down, you face 

24          another set of bad choices to make.  


 1                 I think that the true impact is not 

 2          going to be felt immediately, but over the 

 3          next several years will start bad and then 

 4          continue to get worse.  But we do project it 

 5          as being very bad for New York, New York 

 6          school districts.  We were actually quite 

 7          active as part of the national coalition in 

 8          trying to stop this, and plan to continue to 

 9          keep it up even though it's already been 

10          passed because we think it would be 

11          irresponsible for us to simply walk away now 

12          that it's done and not continue to remind our 

13          representatives about the long-term impact.  

14                 And I'd be happy to share any of that 

15          material with you, Senator.  

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And as follow-up on 

17          the same theme, the Governor had a task force 

18          that explored reformation of our tax policies 

19          to try to counterbalance some of the changes 

20          in Washington, and the payroll tax seems to 

21          have lots of discussion.  But the 

22          hypothetical proposal to allow local school 

23          districts to create not-for-profit streams 

24          that people can make contributions -- as 


 1          opposed to school district taxes, because 

 2          not-for-profit contribution will still be a 

 3          deduction allowed if you take that form of 

 4          tax -- you know, if you operate under a tax 

 5          filing with exclusions.  

 6                 So I'm wondering whether your 

 7          association has looked at that proposal and 

 8          explored whether you could see school 

 9          districts in New York State going that road.

10                 MS. MARLETTE:  Well, Senator, I did 

11          look at the proposal.  And what I would hope 

12          very much you'd remember about me from when I 

13          worked for the Senate is that I know what I 

14          don't know.  So I've taken that proposal and 

15          turned it over to our CFO, who happens to be 

16          a CPA, and asked her for her comments and 

17          feedback on it, which I have not yet 

18          received.  But when I do, I would also be 

19          happy to pass that on.  

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  And you 

21          can tell even the way I worded the question, 

22          I should be careful about what I think I know 

23          and don't know.  

24                 (Laughter.) 


 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  But I do think that 

 2          at least in the sort of academic tax policy 

 3          circles, there's a decent amount of interest 

 4          in doing this even though it's not clear 

 5          exactly how we'd do it to help ensure that 

 6          school districts might feel less pressure on 

 7          them as the property and other exclusions 

 8          really do probably put significant pressure 

 9          on, particularly in the higher-property-tax 

10          areas.  

11                 So I look forward to hearing more from 

12          you about what your expert said.

13                 MS. MARLETTE:  Absolutely.  

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

15                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes, thank you 

16          for being here today.

17                 MS. MARLETTE:  Thank you.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next we'll have 

19          Michael Borges, New York State Association of 

20          School Business Officials.  He'll be followed 

21          by Elliot Garcia.

22                 MR. BORGES:  Good afternoon.  Or good 

23          evening, depending on whether you're a 

24          glass-half-full or half-empty person.  


 1                 I'm Mike Borges, from the New York 

 2          State Association of School Business 

 3          Officials.  Thank you, Chair Weinstein and 

 4          members of the committee, for allowing me to 

 5          speak tonight, or this afternoon.  

 6                 I have a PowerPoint, it's very brief.  

 7          I'll just go through the main points of it.  

 8                 First thing first is that the 

 9          Governor's proposed $338 million increase of 

10          Foundation Aid is woefully inadequate.  It 

11          only represents an 8 percent reduction in the 

12          $4.2 billion that's owed in Foundation Aid.  

13          And at this rate it would take somewhere 

14          between 12 and 14 years for the phase-in to 

15          fully go into effect.  

16                 Although the distribution of the 

17          Foundation Aid is a good start, we think it's 

18          not enough.  Currently with the Governor's 

19          proposal, only 51 percent of the high-needs 

20          suburban districts would get 25 percent of 

21          their overall Foundation Aid still due.  So a 

22          lot has remained unchanged in the Foundation 

23          Aid, and we need to have it fully funded.  

24                 As you can see from the next chart, 


 1          the high-need urban and suburban school 

 2          districts are the furthest from full funding 

 3          for the Foundation Aid.  They are currently, 

 4          with the Governor's proposal, still only at 

 5          68 percent of their Foundation Aid and are 

 6          owed the most.  

 7                 And you can see from the next chart 

 8          the 23 school districts in the state that are 

 9          owed a combined $766 million in Foundation 

10          Aid, which is 35 percent of the overall 

11          Foundation Aid still due to school districts 

12          outside the Big 5.  And that's a pretty 

13          substantial amount of money that's owed.  

14          Many of them are small city school districts 

15          as well.  

16                 One of the reasons why the Governor's 

17          proposed Foundation Aid increase is 

18          inadequate is that we have increasing student 

19          need.  Some of our colleagues have mentioned 

20          in the past today, this evening, that we've 

21          had increases in high-need students.  Our 

22          association released three different reports 

23          over the fall documenting the growth of 

24          poverty in students, documenting the growth 


 1          of special-need students, and documenting the 

 2          growth of English language learners -- all 

 3          high-need students which cost school 

 4          districts more money to educate.  

 5                 So that's one good reason why the 

 6          Governor's proposal is inadequate.  The other 

 7          one, as you can see from the chart there, you 

 8          can see the increases percentage-wise in 

 9          terms of students with disabilities and 

10          English language learners.  But our costs 

11          continue to rise.  

12                 On page 8, you see that our teacher 

13          retirement costs have increased by 47 percent 

14          over the five years, our healthcare costs 

15          have increased by 21 percent, fringe benefits 

16          by 9.  And all the state aid has increased by 

17          21 percent.  So you can see how our costs are 

18          actually rising higher than the state aid 

19          increases.  

20                 And just today TRS came out confirming 

21          that the rate increase for the 2018-2019 

22          school year will be 10.63 percent.  That will 

23          cost school districts approximately 

24          $170 million in that school year, which 


 1          amounts to 50 percent of the Governor's 

 2          proposed Foundation Aid.  So you can just lop 

 3          off 170 off the 338, and you're not left with 

 4          very much.  

 5                 The other problem is that the 

 6          Governor's proposal not only is inadequate 

 7          but shifts costs to local school districts.  

 8          As you can see from the pie chart on page 10, 

 9          10 years ago local property taxes represented 

10          51 percent of school revenue.  Now it's 

11          55 percent.  The state has shifted more and 

12          more of our costs to local property 

13          taxpayers.  

14                 And I know Assemblyman Murray had 

15          talked about mandate relief and how we can 

16          address that with the tax cap, and I'll get 

17          to that.  

18                 As you can see, the Governor's 

19          proposal also shifts a lot of the categorical 

20          aids, the expense-based aids, to localities 

21          by putting a 2 percent cap on building aid, 

22          transportation, BOCES, and also reconfiguring 

23          the summer special education program.  We 

24          estimate that the total cost shift will be 


 1          $184 million.  So that is significant.  

 2          Between inadequate aid and cost shifting, 

 3          this is a very costly budget for local 

 4          taxpayers.  

 5                 And, you know, the Governor is on this 

 6          path -- on a slippery path, I think -- in 

 7          overreaching Albany's control over what 

 8          school districts do.  Not only does he 

 9          increase community schools funding from 

10          $150 million to $200 million, basically what 

11          he's doing, he's carving out Foundation Aid 

12          and then telling school districts how to 

13          spend what was typically unrestricted aid.  

14          School districts want more flexibility, not 

15          less, in how they allocate and how they 

16          distribute their funding.  

17                 And again, the Governor's proposal 

18          lacks any kind of mandate relief or 

19          flexibility in how we spend our money.  So 

20          it's woefully inadequate in the sense of the 

21          amount of money and not recognizing our 

22          increasing costs or providing us ways to 

23          reduce our costs.  

24                 So we have a bunch of suggestions 


 1          about how to do it better in terms of 

 2          realizing the promise of Foundation Aid, 

 3          fully funding Foundation aid over a set 

 4          period of time, using better information, 

 5          using more updated information, removing the 

 6          caps.  Our Foundation Aid Task Force in 2016 

 7          had a bunch of recommendations about how to 

 8          make the Foundation Aid more workable.  

 9                 Again, on page 16, we list a whole 

10          bunch of ideas about how to make our costs 

11          less, how to reduce expenses for school 

12          districts.  Because if you can't give us a 

13          sufficient amount of money, then perhaps 

14          there are ways you can reduce our expenses.  

15          Either way, that will save taxpayers 

16          additional taxes.  

17                 And then one of the other things we 

18          wanted to point out also -- and I think that 

19          Julie pointed out as well, from School 

20          Boards -- was that we're working with about 

21          12 school districts looking for Building Aid 

22          amnesty.  For various reasons -- you know, 

23          errors in reporting or errors in 

24          documentation -- they're losing out on 


 1          approximately $76 million in Building Aid due 

 2          to penalties that have been imposed by the 

 3          State Education Department.  We're looking 

 4          both for the Senate and the Assembly to deal 

 5          with that in their budget proposals.  

 6                 Also, the Governor eliminates 

 7          prior-year adjustments.  For those of you who 

 8          don't know, prior-year adjustments are money 

 9          that's already owed to school districts from 

10          previous years.  As far as we can tell, 

11          there's about $334 million owed in prior-year 

12          adjustments.  The Governor plans on wiping 

13          that out going forward.  We think that's a 

14          major mistake.  Again, it's a big cost shift 

15          for school districts.  At the rate we're 

16          going now, it would take about, what, 

17          19 years to pay off the $334 million.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Can you --

19                 MR. BORGES:  I'm wrapping up, yeah.  

20                 And one last thing, Farm to School.  

21          One of the good things in the Governor's 

22          budget is he proposes more funding for school 

23          districts to buy locally produced goods from 

24          farmers.  We want 25 cents; he proposes 


 1          30 cents.  We want to include dairy.  So I 

 2          think that's one of the good things.  

 3                 And overall, I think that in 

 4          summation, the Executive Budget fails to 

 5          provide adequate funding to meet our rising 

 6          costs and the growth of high-need students, 

 7          fails to deliver on any mandate relief or 

 8          cost-saving measures that will reduce the 

 9          property tax burden, and instead shifts costs 

10          from the state to local property taxpayers 

11          and continues a troubling trend in 

12          micromanaging school spending.  Thank you.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

14                 Next we have Elliot Garcia, New York 

15          School Facilities Association.  He'll be 

16          followed by David Little. 

17                 MR. GARCIA:  Good afternoon.  Thank 

18          you for having me.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good afternoon.

20                 MR. GARCIA:  So I'll try to brief; I 

21          know you already have our testimony on file.  

22                 Again, my name is Elliot Garcia, I'm 

23          the director of facilities and operations for 

24          Hyde Park Central School District, the 3rd 


 1          vice president of the New York State State 

 2          School Facilities Association, and the 

 3          association's legislative committee chair.  

 4          I'd like to thank you all for the opportunity 

 5          to represent our over 600 school facilities 

 6          professionals, to share our recommendations 

 7          regarding the 2018-2019 Executive Budget and 

 8          present SFA's priorities.  

 9                 In reviewing each recommendation we 

10          ask ourselves, Does this proposal help to 

11          improve the educational experience, and does 

12          it lead to safer, cleaner, more accessible 

13          learning environments?  

14                 The Governor's Executive Budget 

15          includes support for the Breakfast After the 

16          Bell program.  This program seeks to increase 

17          opportunities for students to eat breakfasts 

18          by making healthy food options more 

19          accessible.  Now, as facilities professionals 

20          we are committed to working with our 

21          education partners to increase student 

22          achievement, and we do this by balancing 

23          programmatic design with implementation 

24          requirements.  


 1                 What we realize is that as more food 

 2          enters our classrooms, there is an increased 

 3          risk of unhealthy environments unless those 

 4          spaces are properly cleaned and maintained.  

 5          We are indeed grateful that the Executive 

 6          Budget includes $7 million for equipment 

 7          funds and another $5 million for increased 

 8          costs associated with serving those meals.  

 9          What FSA recommends is the addition of 

10          clarifying language to ensure that school 

11          districts may use some of the $5 million for 

12          costs related to the increased maintenance 

13          needed to keep our educational spaces healthy 

14          and pest-free.  

15                 I will echo some of my colleagues on 

16          the discussion of Building Aid, but from a 

17          building management perspective the Executive 

18          Budget includes language that limits growth 

19          of expense-based aids such as construction, 

20          transportation, and BOCES aid to 2 percent.  

21          SFA is significantly concerned about this 

22          proposal.  It is our understanding that for 

23          the Building Aid, the cap would be 2 percent 

24          on total statewide aid and, if statewide 


 1          Building Aid calculations exceeded 2 percent, 

 2          each school district other than New York City 

 3          would be dialed back accordingly.  

 4                 This proposal makes planning extremely 

 5          challenging and eliminates voter transparency 

 6          in making building project decisions.  

 7          Currently, a school district is able to 

 8          present a building construction project 

 9          proposal to its voters and say with 

10          confidence how much the state will be 

11          reimbursing for the project and how much the 

12          local taxpayers will need to support that 

13          project.  However, under this proposal that 

14          certainty is eliminated, since the amount of 

15          aid will be contingent on total Building Aid 

16          calculations and the amount a school district 

17          may receive will fluctuate year to year.  

18                 While we do not have the capacity to 

19          calculate the total impact this proposal will 

20          have on each of our school districts, we are 

21          very concerned about how this will impact our 

22          relationships with our respective communities 

23          and our ability to maintain and provide a 

24          comprehensive learning environment for our 


 1          students over time.  

 2                 SFA also supports legislation proposed 

 3          by Assemblymember Thiele and Senator Seward 

 4          to increase cost thresholds from $100,000 to 

 5          $250,000 for school construction projects.  

 6          Projects wholly funded through capital outlay 

 7          can be reimbursed through Building Aid.  This 

 8          allows districts to avoid being subject to 

 9          lengthy assumed amortization schedules of 10, 

10          15, and 20 years and instead receive the 

11          amount they spend as they spend it.  This is 

12          helpful for districts, as they receive 

13          funding when they need it, and for the state, 

14          which then avoids paying interest on the 

15          reimbursement.  

16                 The increase to $250,000 does reflect 

17          more realistic current costs.  SFA strongly 

18          supports this proposal and recommends that it 

19          is added to the enacted budget.  

20                 We appreciate the passage of 

21          legislation last year to resolve issues with 

22          the property tax cap regarding capital 

23          expenses within the BOCES budget.  However, 

24          we are disappointed that the legislation was 


 1          vetoed.  We will continue to work with our 

 2          education partners to try and find a solution 

 3          and appreciate your ongoing support.  

 4                 In terms of maintenance funding, 

 5          building and grounds maintenance is essential 

 6          to protecting the state's infrastructure 

 7          investment.  However, competing priorities -- 

 8          again, compounded by the property tax cap -- 

 9          have resulted in a reduction in maintenance 

10          funding.  In addition, since there are 

11          currently no minimum standards for funding 

12          maintenance, many of our structures, 

13          equipment, and grounds are aging faster than 

14          necessary.  

15                 SFA is grateful to Senator Valesky and 

16          Assemblymember Englebright for supporting 

17          legislation to establish a minimum standard 

18          for maintenance funding and allow school 

19          districts to make these investments outside 

20          of the restrictions of the property tax cap.  

21          We encourage this in the enacted budget.  

22                 In conclusion, we are pleased that 

23          conversations about school facilities have 

24          moved beyond square footage and into the 


 1          development of spaces that allow teachers to 

 2          facilitate student-driven instruction.  

 3          New York State invests tremendously in our 

 4          school facilities and grounds, and while we 

 5          are discovering and planning for innovations 

 6          in tomorrow’s classrooms, it is also our 

 7          responsibility to respect the investments we 

 8          have and maintain the facilities currently in 

 9          our care.  This balance is necessary to meet 

10          the needs of our students today and in the 

11          years to come.  

12                 On any given day, a school facilities 

13          professional may be working to create new 

14          infrastructure, maintain quality spaces, or 

15          repair complex equipment.  In truth, nothing 

16          occurs in a school building without a school 

17          facilities professional.  Our members pride 

18          themselves on solving problems, and we impart 

19          that logic in our advocacy.  

20                 On behalf of the New York State School 

21          Facilities Association, I thank you for your 

22          continued support of clean, healthy, 

23          well-maintained school facilities and the 

24          opportunity to offer our professional 


 1          insight.  Thank you.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 3          Thank you so much for being here today.  And 

 4          as I said, we have your full testimony as 

 5          part of -- it's been emailed and it's part of 

 6          the record.

 7                 MR. GARCIA:  Yes, ma'am.  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

 9          being here.  

10                 David Little, executive director, 

11          Rural Schools Association of New York State.  

12          He will be followed by Rabbi Yeruchim Silber.

13                 MR. LITTLE:  Thank you, Madam 

14          Chairman.  

15                 On any given month, I will travel from 

16          Senator Young's district to Mr. Murray's 

17          district, and I can tell you that the 325 

18          school districts that we represent -- almost 

19          half of the school districts in the state -- 

20          are in much different circumstances than 

21          you've heard about throughout today, as we've 

22          heard about how people are building on 

23          progress that's being made.  

24                 Why don't I take about 30 seconds and 


 1          literally talk about the elephant in the 

 2          room.  If this elephant that costs more than 

 3          $60 billion in New York State to maintain 

 4          that we've asked to build the future of 

 5          New York State, this Executive Budget has 

 6          approached the elephant and rubbed its sides 

 7          and scratched its ears and put a couple of 

 8          peanuts in front of the elephant, all in the 

 9          hope that the elephant doesn't notice that 

10          the amount of food that's been placed in 

11          front of it is about half of what it takes to 

12          continue doing the work that the elephant did 

13          this year.  

14                 And then if that wasn't bad enough, 

15          then we've said that the cost of housing the 

16          elephant or transporting the elephant is 

17          going to be capped and shifted to someone 

18          else who I can tell you, on behalf of those 

19          324 school districts, flat out can't afford 

20          it.  

21                 What that builds between the cap on 

22          the local property tax levy and the 

23          insufficient state aid is simply an inability 

24          of half of the school districts in this state 


 1          to do the job that you've required of them 

 2          and which the State Constitution requires of 

 3          them.  

 4                 So having been out there, not only to 

 5          the middle of nowhere but the far side of 

 6          nowhere, I can tell you that over the past 

 7          five years, New York City has gained in 

 8          population, the islands and the suburbs have 

 9          either gained or stayed stable in population, 

10          the upstate cities have stayed stable in 

11          population, and yet the State of New York has 

12          lost 175,000 people per year for each of 

13          those five years.  So they've come from those 

14          rural communities.  

15                 They've come from those rural 

16          communities because people have been leaving 

17          for jobs.  It's a simple jobs exodus that the 

18          Great Recession caused.  And so when we talk 

19          about raising a tax cap of even 2 percent, 

20          you're talking about people having taxes with 

21          fewer people and fewer businesses than ever 

22          before to try and create that.  

23                 Now, think about what's happened 

24          within 40 years.  Within the past 40 years 


 1          we've gone from that same community, that 

 2          upstate rural community that successfully 

 3          bailed out New York City from its financial 

 4          bankruptcy and is now in its own similar 

 5          circumstances and is asking for the same type 

 6          of response from the State of New York.  This 

 7          amount is not only insufficient, but once 

 8          more we've passed on the opportunity to try 

 9          and make this thing right.  

10                 We've passed on the opportunity to 

11          adequately assess poverty within a community.  

12          We haven't figured out how much a community 

13          can actually afford to pay for the education 

14          of its children and have the state make up 

15          the difference, as is required in the State 

16          Constitution.  We do none of that.  

17                 The Senator talked about the 

18          mandates -- I could really retire in style 

19          after 35 years of either working in this 

20          building or addressing the people in this 

21          building if I had a buck for every time 

22          somebody asked me for that list of mandates, 

23          which are the mandates that you want to get 

24          rid of, you know, and how much would they 


 1          cost.  

 2                 Well, I can tell you that the only one 

 3          that you've sincerely addressed in all of 

 4          that time has been the new retirement tier.  

 5          And that is significant over time, but it's 

 6          dramatically insufficient.  New York State 

 7          layers on requirement over requirement 

 8          without ever having a section of either the 

 9          Executive Budget or the final State Budget 

10          that says:  And here are the things that you 

11          don't have to do anymore.  

12                 As long as you continue to layer on, 

13          you continue to layer on costs.  And we 

14          haven't provided a sufficient amount to even 

15          cover, in this Executive Budget, even the 

16          amount of the current costs, let alone 

17          anything in addition that's going to be 

18          required in the future.  

19                 So I guess what I bring to you is a 

20          plea to recognize what's really happening out 

21          there.  These are communities that are 

22          dramatically underserved.  

23                 I listened with great appreciation to 

24          the Big 5 talk about the impact that 


 1          community schools has had on them, and the 

 2          plethora of new programs that are being 

 3          provided, and I will tell you that rural 

 4          communities without Police Athletic Leagues 

 5          and without YMCAs and without Boys and Girls 

 6          Clubs are desperately trying to do those 

 7          things, and community schools are a 

 8          transformative institution in those areas.  

 9          And yet, just like preschool and just like 

10          after-school programs, we haven't provided a 

11          means for public education to pull that off 

12          in our rural areas.  

13                 You can't have a preschool if you 

14          don't have the transportation aid to get the 

15          kids to and from; they're in a rural area.  

16          It just can't work.  You can't have it if you 

17          expect the communities that are so poor that 

18          they can't pull off what they're doing right 

19          now to front the state the money to be able 

20          to start a new preschool program and expect 

21          to get the money back later.  

22                 So my time's up, and I'll stop my 

23          bludgeoning of you, but I appreciate the 

24          interest and the support that you given us 


 1          through the years.  You've done a wonderful 

 2          thing in allocating 70 percent of the money 

 3          to districts of high need in the past few 

 4          years, and I'd hope you'd keep that up.  

 5                 Thank you very much.  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 8          Mr. Little.

 9                 MR. LITTLE:  Sure.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  It's always good to 

11          see you, and I appreciate you being such a 

12          strong voice for rural schools.  And there 

13          are several things in the budget obviously 

14          that we have to tackle.  And we need to make 

15          sure that we're doing the right thing for 

16          every student in New York.  So I appreciate 

17          your advocacy.

18                 MR. LITTLE:  Well, thank you.  Same 

19          here.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next, from 

24          Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi Yeruchim 


 1          Silber, director of government relations.  

 2          And he'll be followed by Jacob Adler from the 

 3          Orthodox Union.  

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And I just want 

 5          to -- I too want to thank Dave Little and all 

 6          the work -- you know, we have some people 

 7          that are faithfully at these things every 

 8          year, no matter how late they go.  They 

 9          testify, they enlighten us, and we appreciate 

10          it.  And the work he does on the rural 

11          schools is very helpful to me, since I'm not 

12          from a rural community.  I always appreciate 

13          the information very much.  Thank you.  

14                 And it's good to see Rabbi Silber 

15          here -- I think your second time?  Or perhaps 

16          first time.  

17                 RABBI SILBER:  Sorry?  

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Is this your 

19          first time?

20                 RABBI SILBER:  Actually, my debut.  

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  That's right, it 

22          is your debut.

23                 RABBI SILBER:  So you treat me nicely.  

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  So we want to 


 1          welcome you.  You've already made a big 

 2          impression in the Capitol.  I thought this 

 3          might even be your second, because you've 

 4          been around so much.  

 5                 But we really want to thank you for 

 6          being here today and waiting so patiently.  I 

 7          saw you in the back the entire time, and I 

 8          know Helene and I and all of our colleagues 

 9          appreciate it.

10                 RABBI SILBER:  Yes, thank you.  

11                 And Chairs Weinstein, Young, Nolan, 

12          and members of the committee, I really admire 

13          your perseverance for staying through this 

14          all day.  

15                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Right.  So 

16          you'll summarize.

17                 RABBI SILBER:  I will.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

19                 RABBI SILBER:  I'll be brief.  

20                 Just for some background, Agudath 

21          Israel is a national organization, 

22          headquarters in Manhattan, a full-time office 

23          in Washington, D.C., eight regional offices 

24          across the country, and our prime areas are 


 1          advocacy in education and religious 

 2          liberties.  

 3                 For almost 60 years our organization 

 4          has been in the forefront advocating for the 

 5          nonpublic school community, specifically for 

 6          yeshivas and day schools in the orthodox 

 7          Jewish community.  In addition to our 

 8          advocacy, our education affairs department 

 9          helps our schools navigate the maze of 

10          applicable laws, regulations, and 

11          government-sponsored programs. This is done 

12          through workshops, seminars, webinars, in 

13          addition to over 100 informational memos 

14          emailed annually to our member schools.  

15                 Our staff fields hundreds of calls and 

16          emails monthly for guidance on these issues. 

17          Last October, we held our first Yeshiva expo, 

18          an all-day conclave attended by nearly 

19          300 school administrators, which covered a 

20          myriad of compliance topics and was addressed 

21          by Commissioner Elia as well as other 

22          personnel from the State Education Department 

23          and other government entities.  

24                 Now, according to the latest numbers 


 1          available, there are over 410,000 K-12 

 2          nonpublic school students in over 400 schools 

 3          in New York State.  They're about 

 4          13.4 percent -- do the math -- of the total 

 5          number of students statewide.  Of that 

 6          number, over 150,000 are in Jewish day 

 7          schools and yeshivas.  The vast majority are 

 8          represented by Agudath Israel and by my 

 9          colleagues from the Orthodox Union, who we'll 

10          hear from momentarily.  

11                 Now, to understand the budgetary 

12          impact, if all those students attended local 

13          public schools, the total cost -- between 

14          federal, state, and local governments -- 

15          would be enormous, with a conservative 

16          estimate being over $8 billion annually, 

17          based on the number of students and the 

18          average cost per child of education in 

19          New York State.  And this number excludes the 

20          capital costs involved in school 

21          construction, which would easily be in the 

22          area of $4 to $5 billion.  

23                 So simply put, the nonpublic school 

24          community, besides offering high-quality 


 1          education, also saves the state billions and 

 2          billions of dollars.  

 3                 Last year, New York State allocated 

 4          about $300 million to the nonpublic school 

 5          community, primarily for various mandated 

 6          services.  It is certainly appreciated, but 

 7          obviously the costs are enormous.  Parents of 

 8          schoolchildren, a good deal of them with 

 9          large family size, many low- and 

10          middle-income working families struggle 

11          mightily to pay their tuition.  In most 

12          families where public school is not an 

13          option -- in religious families -- school 

14          tuition is often the largest household 

15          expense after housing.  Many times parents 

16          are forced to make a choice between tuition 

17          payments and a new pair of shoes for a child, 

18          and sometimes even between tuition and an 

19          electric bill.  And so of course we turn to 

20          our friends in government, to whom we are 

21          saving many billions of dollars, to help us 

22          ease this crushing burden.  

23                 There are a number of proposals that 

24          have been advanced.  Agudath Israel will 


 1          always be in support of education tax 

 2          credits, as introduced by Senator Golden and 

 3          Assemblymember Cusick.  We also support an 

 4          individual tax credit based on family size 

 5          and income.  These proposals have passed the 

 6          Senate numerous times in the past and have 

 7          had the support of many Assemblymembers, 

 8          perhaps a majority.  However, due to intense 

 9          vocal opposition from certain interests, 

10          these measures were unfortunately never 

11          brought to the floor for a vote.  

12                 This year an exciting opportunity 

13          presents itself in the form of the 529 tax 

14          deduction.  529 accounts are specialized 

15          accounts set up to encourage savings for 

16          college education by making withdrawals from 

17          those accounts tax free.  The recent federal 

18          tax bill enacted expanded 529 accounts to 

19          cover K-12 as well.  In New York State, the 

20          principal contributed to the plan is also 

21          deductible for state income taxes.  

22                 Many tax experts are under the opinion 

23          that the statute as written automatically 

24          includes New York's expansion to K-12.  We 


 1          believe this should be the law of the state.  

 2          This would be a huge opportunity for working 

 3          families in New York who send their children 

 4          to nonpublic schools to earn a well-deserved 

 5          tax deduction.  

 6                 This is all the more beneficial when 

 7          New York State residents are no longer able 

 8          to deduct state and local taxes on their 

 9          federal tax returns.  Let's provide them with 

10          other options for tax deductibility to recoup 

11          those lost with the recent federal tax law.  

12                 And on this topic, let me take a 

13          moment to refute two common misconceptions 

14          about 529.  One is that this is a giveaway to 

15          the rich. In truth, it is completely the 

16          opposite.  We are not talking about interest 

17          earned after many years of monies being 

18          invested and put away in an account.  The 

19          state allows the principal deposits to be 

20          tax-deductible.  Any working family who pays 

21          tuition can use a 529 account and receive 

22          their deduction.  

23                 Second, there have been press reports 

24          that enacting 529s in New York can cost the 


 1          State Treasury up to $3 billion.  This is an 

 2          absolute fallacy and, in our opinion, a scare 

 3          tactic.  My colleague Avrohom Weinstock, our 

 4          associate director for education affairs -- 

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Rabbi?

 6                 RABBI SILBER:  Yes?  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  You know, I 

 8          think if you want to email us that report, we 

 9          can include it --

10                 RABBI SILBER:  I did.  It's emailed -- 

11          it hasn't even been emailed, it's included in 

12          my written -- 

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay.  Then 

14          maybe you could just move on to the other -- 

15          make sure --

16                 RABBI SILBER:  Okay.  Sure.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  I want to make 

18          sure you have an opportunity to mention the 

19          other three issues that are so important.

20                 RABBI SILBER:  I got it.  I want to 

21          just mention a couple other things quickly.  

22                 Immunization mandate.  Last year, the 

23          New York State Budget allocated $7.7 million 

24          dollars to reimburse schools in New York 


 1          City, Rochester, and Buffalo the actual cost 

 2          of complying with a state mandate requiring 

 3          extensive immunization.  This was long 

 4          overdue for many years, as you know.  The 

 5          state was paying 60 cents per child.  The 

 6          budget mandated that State Ed calculate the 

 7          actual cost per pupil up to the amount 

 8          allocated.  

 9                 To our dismay, the current Executive 

10          Budget did not appropriate the cost, which 

11          essentially means that the department would 

12          be forced to reimburse schools at the old 

13          rate of 60 cents.  We ask the Legislature to 

14          please restore the funding for this 

15          immunization mandate.  

16                 I see two more things, quickly.  

17          Security.  Last year the Legislature 

18          allocated $15 million.  We know how important 

19          security is -- the rise in hate crimes, our 

20          schools are more vulnerable.  Our belief is 

21          that every child, whether they attend public 

22          or nonpublic schools, is entitled to basic 

23          security.  In New Jersey, the state has 

24          increased allocations to $75.  We ask our 


 1          state to be in line with our neighbors.  

 2                 Finally, on the CAP debt, as you know, 

 3          for years there was an underreporting in the 

 4          formula in the Comprehensive Attendance 

 5          Policy, in the CAP.  Over the years the state 

 6          allocated almost $300 million to cover this 

 7          debt.  According to our calculations, there's 

 8          another $20 million outstanding.  Let 2018 be 

 9          the year that this debt is finally retired 

10          and pay the last $20 million.  

11                 And so I appreciate working together 

12          with everyone here.  I look forward to 

13          working down through this legislative session 

14          and to achieve positive resolutions.  

15                 Thank you.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Rabbi.  

18                 Senator Krueger has a question.  

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

20                 Thank you, Rabbi, very much.

21                 It wasn't brought up in your 

22          testimony, but I'm curious.  Is there any 

23          reason you wouldn't support a mandate on 

24          private schools to be mandatory reporters, as 


 1          all other not-for-profits and schools in 

 2          New York State are for children?

 3                 RABBI SILBER:  Yes.  You're talking 

 4          about the current bill, the current bill 

 5          that's before the -- 

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I don't think 

 7          there's necessarily -- oh, excuse me.  There 

 8          is a bill.

 9                 RABBI SILBER:  Yeah, I believe it's 

10          a -- 

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Senator John Brooks?  

12                 RABBI SILBER:  Senator Brooks' bill, 

13          yes.  

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yes.

15                 RABBI SILBER:  We have studied it.  We 

16          do not see any reason to oppose that bill, 

17          no.  

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

19                 RABBI SILBER:  Okay.  We haven't 

20          {inaudible} ...  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

22          being here.  I'm sure we'll be having 

23          continued conversations about some of the 

24          issues that you raised in your remarks.


 1                 RABBI SILBER:  Thank you.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Rabbi 

 3          Silber.  Always great to see you.

 4                 RABBI SILBER:  Likewise, Senator.  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next, Jake 

 6          Adler, director of community affairs for the 

 7          Orthodox Union.  To be followed by Jim 

 8          Cultrara, director for education for the 

 9          New York State Catholic Conference.

10                 MR. ADLER:  Good evening, Chair Young, 

11          Chair Weinstein, Chair Nolan, members of the 

12          committees.  Thank you for once again 

13          allowing me to testify here.  And I apologize 

14          at the outset for my voice.  It's that time 

15          of year.  

16                 I will not read from my testimony, 

17          I'll just summarize quickly.  I just want to 

18          say at the outset I know there's often an 

19          us-versus-them attitude about nonpublic 

20          schools and public schools.  I've been 

21          listening to the hearing the whole day -- 

22          haven't been in the room, but I've been 

23          listening online.  

24                 I just want to say at the outset I am 


 1          a very proud nonpublic school parent.  I am a 

 2          very proud nonpublic school advocate, and I 

 3          am the very proud husband of a UFT public 

 4          schoolteacher in New York City.  And I think 

 5          that we have to -- number one, I think there 

 6          is a way, and number two, I think we have to 

 7          find a way to work together and to change the 

 8          rhetoric on both sides that's been 

 9          commonplace in these halls in the last, I'd 

10          say, decade or two.  I do not see a reason 

11          why we can't all succeed and why all of our 

12          children can't get good opportunities.  

13                 That being said, just running through 

14          some of the economic data of our schools -- 

15          as Yeruchim stated before, there's over 

16          400,000 students in this state.  My number is 

17          a little less conservative than the Agudath 

18          Israel of America number.  We had an economic 

19          study done by John Dunham, who's a noted 

20          economist; he counts $11 billion in the 

21          savings to New York State and its 

22          municipalities.  In addition, that's 70,000 

23          direct jobs employed by nonpublic schools, 

24          another 15,000 jobs for other -- bus drivers, 


 1          other custodial support staff, things like 

 2          that -- and a total tax yield of over 

 3          $537 million.  

 4                 So that's kind of the economic yield 

 5          of the nonpublic schools.  Clearly, 

 6          15 percent of the students in New York State, 

 7          $11 billion in savings, $537 million in tax 

 8          yield, those are large numbers.  Not as large 

 9          as the public schools, but I think we need to 

10          find a way to make sure that we can 

11          find avenues to help those students, the 

12          15 percent of students that are in nonpublic 

13          schools, succeed.  

14                 I'm encouraged that last year the 

15          Legislature and the Governor came together 

16          and passed a science, technology, engineering 

17          and math bill for instruction in nonpublic 

18          schools.  I'm encouraged that's again in the 

19          Executive Budget proposal.  I'd like to see 

20          that increased -- obviously, as we know, this 

21          is a deficit year.  So I'd love to work 

22          together with all of you to help move that 

23          forward.  

24                 I think this is the single best option 


 1          we have for, number one, alleviating some of 

 2          the burden on those parents; number two, 

 3          improving quality of education in all of our 

 4          schools and keeping our kids viable in the 

 5          21st century.  

 6                 That's all I've got.  Thank you.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  The -- oh, do 

 9          you want to -- 

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Senator Krueger.  

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Did you hear my 

12          question for the rabbi?

13                 MR. ADLER:  Mandatory reporting?  

14          Again, I think that's something that everyone 

15          should be able to get behind.  

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

17                 MR. ADLER:  Thank you.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Director 

19          Adler.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Nice to see you 

22          too.  

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I just want 

24          to -- 


 1                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Jake, can you 

 2          sit for one minute?  

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I know we're 

 4          going to move on -- I just -- if you have a 

 5          minute -- no, no, not a question.  I'll just 

 6          chat with you on the side for a minute.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Oh, okay.  

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I don't want to 

 9          stop the hearing.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay, we're 

11          rolling along.  Thank you.  

12                 Jim Cultrara, to be followed by 

13          Christopher Goeken.  Hopefully I didn't 

14          mispronounce that.

15                 MR. CULTRARA:  Good evening, honorable 

16          members.  I too am going to suspend reading 

17          the testimony and I'm going to hit several 

18          points.  

19                 The first of which, the greatest need 

20          is providing some assistance to our 

21          tuition-paying families.  And as Yeruchim 

22          acknowledged, the expansion of 529 plans by 

23          the federal government for K-12 tuition -- in 

24          effect, New York is penalizing families for 


 1          taking advantage of it for K-12.  It's 

 2          really, in effect, even though it's a 

 3          clawback of -- a recapturing of tax money, 

 4          New York is actually penalizing families by 

 5          not allowing those contributions to be 

 6          tax-deductible.  That needs to be fixed.  

 7                 And although Yeruchim and Jake focused 

 8          on the number of the billions of dollars that 

 9          we save New York, I think an equally 

10          important number is to recognize if we don't 

11          help tuition-paying families, what is the 

12          cost to New York?  Just the closing of the 

13          320 Catholic schools since I've been doing 

14          this for 22 years -- the closing of 300 

15          Catholic schools, we estimate conservatively, 

16          is costing the State of New York $2 billion 

17          that could have been avoided.  

18                 Second issue, mandated services and 

19          CAP.  The Governor acknowledged that he's 

20          giving those appropriations a 3 percent 

21          increase, which in fact he does.  However, he 

22          does two things to mitigate against that 

23          increase.  He eliminates, as Yeruchim said, 

24          $7 million for immunization reimbursement as 


 1          well as the instructional time formula that I 

 2          want to thank you for supporting.  

 3                 Last year both houses included in your 

 4          one-house budget proposals -- as well as 

 5          having passed separate legislation, you tried 

 6          twice to restore that formula.  The Governor 

 7          vetoed it in December.  Without restoration 

 8          of that formula, despite the Governor's 

 9          3 percent increase in the appropriation, many 

10          of our schools actually face an average 

11          4 percent cut.  

12                 So again, we appreciate your efforts, 

13          but we're asking you again to try to restore 

14          that formula in this coming budget and to 

15          restore the immunization reimbursement.  

16                 The State Office of Religious and 

17          Independent Schools, this is the third year 

18          of funding at $800,000.  I just want to 

19          reiterate our appreciation for that, but also 

20          acknowledge the importance of that work.  

21          They are able to basically clean up an 

22          unforgivable backlog of work.  

23                 But I want to point out that the 

24          $800,000, while helpful and has hired a 


 1          number of staff, it may not be sufficient for 

 2          that office to do the type of work in 

 3          overseeing the substantial equivalency of 

 4          private schools.  So we're actually asking 

 5          for a slight increase, not even up to 

 6          $1 million, so that that office can do that 

 7          work.  

 8                 The fourth item.  Senator Marcellino 

 9          asked Michael Mulgrew this question about the 

10          flexibility that the State Education 

11          Department and school districts are seeking 

12          for meeting their instructional time 

13          mandates, the 900 hours a year, 990 hours a 

14          year, and giving them greater time to do 

15          that.  

16                 While we don't regret -- and support 

17          public schools having that flexibility, know 

18          that students who come to our schools come 

19          from multiple school districts, in some cases 

20          15 different school districts, and they have 

21          divergent calendars.  The greater flexibility 

22          you give to school districts, the more 

23          fragmented services will be to our students, 

24          especially transportation services.  We're 


 1          asking, if you are going to give that 

 2          flexibility, to make sure that those services 

 3          are not disrupted.  

 4                 The last item I'm going to mention is 

 5          something that doesn't cost anything.  We're 

 6          asking you for Article VII language that 

 7          authorizes the State Education Department to 

 8          enter into an agreement with the Commission 

 9          on Independent Colleges and Universities to 

10          help spend down some federal money for that.  

11          So I'll advance that to you.  

12                 And Mr. Murray, you've mentioned a 

13          number of times about mandate relief.  David 

14          Little was very articulate about it.  We've 

15          got some constructive ideas about how we can 

16          provide some mandate relief for school 

17          districts and how they administer services to 

18          our schools, give them some administrative 

19          relief, save some money, and give better 

20          services to us.  I'll also forward some 

21          language to you.  

22                 Thank you very much.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you very 

24          much, Jim.  


 1                 Senator Krueger.  

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi, Jim.  

 3                 The same question I just asked the 

 4          last two testifiers, your association's 

 5          position on all private schools having the 

 6          same mandatory reporting of abuse that public 

 7          schools have.

 8                 MR. CULTRARA:  We support the Brooks 

 9          bill.  We support the Gallivan-Nolan bill.  

10                 But I want to point out in the Nolan 

11          bill, if I read it correctly, they also pull 

12          in the City of New York.  The definition of 

13          "child" under the current law excludes 

14          children living within the City of New York.  

15          If my reading is correct, the City School 

16          District of New York has been exempt.  If my 

17          reading is correct.  

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Like many 

19          things, I just want to respond, although we 

20          shouldn't because the hour is late.  We can 

21          have a separate conversation on that.  

22                 There are a lot of things that the 

23          City of New York pioneered in doing standards 

24          on, many, many different things.  So 


 1          sometimes the state came after the fact, and 

 2          then the city would be exempted.  We are 

 3          talking to all of our of colleagues about 

 4          something that would include everyone.  But 

 5          that will be, I think, a subject for another 

 6          conversation.  You're correct, but the 

 7          reality is -- it's not a fault of the city.  

 8          It was actually being ahead of the curve from 

 9          everybody else.  But we can talk about it 

10          again another time.

11                 MR. CULTRARA:  That's good.  So we 

12          support a plan to protect all children.  

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And we 

16          appreciate -- really, I appreciate, Jim, the 

17          great -- you're always available and 

18          accessible to the Education Committee, and a 

19          really outstanding advocate for the nonpublic 

20          schools.  

21                 So thank you very much.

22                 MR. CULTRARA:  Thank you.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next is 

24          Christopher Goeken, executive director, 


 1          Association of Public Broadcasting Stations 

 2          of New York.  And he'll be followed by Randi 

 3          Levine, Advocates for Children.

 4                 MR. GOEKEN:  Good afternoon, and thank 

 5          you very much.  You all have my testimony 

 6          already, so I'll actually -- I won't even so 

 7          much as summarize as make a couple of 

 8          points -- 

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Actually, I 

10          don't, so somebody's got to get me a copy.

11                 MR. GOEKEN:  I'm so sorry.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  All of the 

13          testimony has been submitted, just for 

14          everybody's clarification.  It was submitted 

15          by email yesterday.  Thank you all for doing 

16          that.  It was emailed to all members of the 

17          Ways and Means Committee and the relevant 

18          committees.  

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  We 

20          have it now, too.

21                 MR. GOEKEN:  Terrific.  

22                 So my name is Christopher Goeken, and 

23          I represent all nine public television 

24          stations throughout New York State.  We have 


 1          small stations like the Watertown station, we 

 2          have large national flagship stations like 

 3          WNET Channel 13 in New York, and every type 

 4          of station in between.  And each station is 

 5          unique, and they're each a part of their 

 6          local community and respond to their local 

 7          community.  

 8                 One of the things that I heard several 

 9          times today was about technology in schools 

10          and in relation to the bond act in 

11          particular.  And a lot of schools have made 

12          great advancements in putting in SMART Boards 

13          and projectors and laptops and whatnot.  

14                 While the content that the teachers 

15          use on that is equally important to the 

16          technology itself, and it's something that 

17          PBS has been providing for free to New York 

18          State teachers for several years -- and I 

19          want to just highlight that.  It's in my 

20          testimony.  But what we have is called PBS 

21          LearningMedia, and this is a tool that allows 

22          teachers in New York State to use digital 

23          content in their classrooms for free and 

24          very, very easily.  


 1                 It's plug and play.  If a teacher 

 2          wants incorporate a video, incorporate an 

 3          audio from a speech or even original 

 4          documents from throughout U.S. or New York 

 5          history, they can go to PBS LearningMedia and 

 6          do a simple search and they get lots of 

 7          options right away.  It's a very simple 

 8          interface.  

 9                 More than that, we create lesson plans 

10          that are aligned to national and state 

11          standards.  We have over 6,000 lesson plans 

12          on there that are aligned to national and 

13          state standards that run the gamut, not only 

14          STEM subjects but over to arts, over to 

15          culture.  And this is something special for 

16          New York State teachers.  About a third of 

17          the teachers in New York State use PBS 

18          LearningMedia right now, and we'd love to see 

19          that number go up even higher.  

20                 The best way I can describe it is 

21          this.  If I'm a teacher and I want to teach 

22          about the Vietnam War, well, I know that Ken 

23          Burns just did this amazing 17-hour 

24          miniseries which was very moving -- I 


 1          recommend it to everybody.  But I can't go 

 2          through the 17 hours as a teacher, I'm way 

 3          too busy to find the five or 10 minutes that 

 4          are appropriate for what I want to teach my 

 5          students that day.  

 6                 So what we do at PBS and the public 

 7          media stations in New York is we go through 

 8          our content and we find clips -- five, 

 9          10 minutes from Ken Burns, from Nature, from 

10          Wild Kratts, from Curious George, from 

11          American Experience.  And we take those 

12          clips, we make them available for free in an 

13          easy way for teachers to use, build a lesson 

14          plan around it.  And that includes classroom 

15          discussions, it includes things that the 

16          students can do at home.  

17                 And what's great about our system is 

18          that you can send students home to watch the 

19          videos with their families, get them engaged 

20          at home, and you're not sending them to 

21          YouTube or other some other place where 

22          there's crazy stuff and bad language.  

23                 So I wanted to highlight that, that 

24          the technology in schools really fits hand in 


 1          glove with what we've been doing.  We want to 

 2          do even more of that.  You'll see a chart in 

 3          here; our funding has been flat for a very, 

 4          very long time.  We are requesting a slight 

 5          increase this year of $1.5 million, and with 

 6          those additional funds we'd not only be able 

 7          to create more standards-aligned lesson 

 8          plans, but we'd be able to do much greater 

 9          outreach to the teachers in New York State to 

10          let them know about this great free resource 

11          that's available because of your support for 

12          your public broadcasting stations here in 

13          New York.  

14                 So thank you very much for this 

15          opportunity.  Actually, I did it in two 

16          minutes, so if you have any questions -- 

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  You get extra 

18          points for that.  

19                 (Laughter.) 

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Not necessarily 

21          extra dollars, but extra points.

22                 MR. GOEKEN:  Fair enough.  Thank you 

23          very much.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Randi Levine, 


 1          Advocates for Children of New York.

 2                 MS. LEVINE:  Good afternoon.  Thank 

 3          you for the opportunity to speak with you 

 4          today.  

 5                 My name is Randi Levine, and I am 

 6          policy director at Advocates for Children of 

 7          New York.  AFC works to ensure a high-quality 

 8          education for students who face barriers to 

 9          academic success, focusing on students from 

10          low-income backgrounds.  Every year, we help 

11          thousands of New York families navigate the 

12          education system.  

13                 You have our written testimony which 

14          details our budget priorities.  I'll 

15          summarize now.  

16                 First, safe and supportive schools. 

17          Every child deserves to attend a safe, high 

18          quality school where students, teachers, and 

19          staff are treated with dignity and respect.  

20          However, without the training and tools 

21          teachers need to support students, schools 

22          too often resort to exclusionary discipline 

23          like suspensions, even though evidence shows 

24          that suspensions simply do not work.  


 1                 We recommend that the budget include 

 2          at least $50 million to provide schools with 

 3          the assistance and training needed to adopt 

 4          positive, age-appropriate approaches to 

 5          discipline that keep students in school and 

 6          on a positive track, such as training for 

 7          school staff and administrators and 

 8          restorative practices, and additional social 

 9          workers and school psychologists.  

10                 Second, pre-K.  We appreciate that the 

11          Executive Budget sustains the recent 

12          increases in pre-kindergarten funding and 

13          includes an additional increase of 

14          $15 million.  However, this funding falls far 

15          short of the amount needed to reach universal 

16          access.  We urge the Legislature to keep the 

17          promise of universal pre-K by investing at 

18          least an additional $150 million in pre-K for 

19          3-year-olds and 4-years-olds.  

20                 In addition, we're pleased that the 

21          Board of Regents included in their 2018-2019 

22          state budget priorities $6 million for 

23          inclusion pre-kindergarten programs.  

24                 Preschoolers with disabilities have a 


 1          legal right to participate in early childhood 

 2          programs alongside their typically developing 

 3          peers whenever possible.  However, the state 

 4          has a shortage of preschool special classes 

 5          in integrated settings, and we're seeing 

 6          these classes close due to the state's low 

 7          reimbursement rate.  We urge the Legislature 

 8          in this budget to increase the reimbursement 

 9          rate for these important programs and invest 

10          funding in these classes.  

11                 Third, English language learners.  

12          Given the growing number of ELLs, a 

13          significant investment is needed to serve 

14          them through a variety of approaches outlined 

15          in our written testimony.  The Board of 

16          Regents for the past few years has 

17          recommended a significant influx of resources 

18          for English language learners, but the 

19          Executive Budget does not include any new 

20          funding for this population.  We urge the 

21          Legislature to negotiate a budget that 

22          includes an additional $100 million to 

23          provide increased support to English language 

24          learners.  


 1                 In addition, we urge the Legislature 

 2          to negotiate a budget that includes the Board 

 3          of Regents recommendation for $4.43 million 

 4          for the translation of assessments in the 

 5          eight most common home languages spoken in 

 6          New York, and the development of a Spanish 

 7          language arts test in order to help schools 

 8          meaningfully determine the progress and 

 9          achievement of English language learners.  

10          Currently, teachers and schools do not have 

11          all the necessary tools needed to accurately 

12          understand how ELLs are performing.  

13                 Fourth, the special education waiver.  

14          Advocates for Children opposes the Executive 

15          Budget proposal to allow school districts, 

16          approved private schools, and BOCES to seek 

17          waivers from important protections contained 

18          in New York State law for students with 

19          disabilities.  A waiver provision as broad as 

20          the one proposed in the Executive Budget 

21          would erode the rights of the students with 

22          disabilities and have an adverse impact on 

23          them, particularly on students from 

24          low-income backgrounds.  


 1                 There's been no showing that this 

 2          provision will result in significant cost 

 3          savings for districts or actually remove any 

 4          barriers to serving students with 

 5          disabilities more effectively.  

 6                 The Legislature has rejected this 

 7          proposal multiple times in the past, and 

 8          we're urging the Legislature once again to 

 9          protect the rights of students with 

10          disabilities by rejecting the special 

11          education waiver proposal once again this 

12          year.  

13                 Fifth, we're very concerned that the 

14          Executive Budget proposes to reduce funding 

15          for summer school programs for students with 

16          disabilities through a change in the 

17          reimbursement methodology.  This proposal is 

18          estimated to reduce funding to New York City 

19          by $40 million and reduce funding to school 

20          districts in the rest of the state by 

21          $30 million.  

22                 Certain students with disabilities 

23          have a legal right to receive special 

24          education services over the summer so that 


 1          they can avoid substantial regression in 

 2          between the school years.  Without these 

 3          services, much of the progress these students 

 4          made during the school year would be lost.  

 5          We urge the Legislature to reject the 

 6          Executive Budget proposal to change the way 

 7          school districts are reimbursed for summer 

 8          special education programs and ensure that 

 9          the state does not reduce its contribution to 

10          these important programs.  

11                 Sixth, we're concerned about the 

12          proposed 2 percent cap on the growth of each 

13          school district's transportation and BOCES 

14          aid.  You have heard a lot about that today.  

15          We have some statistics in our written 

16          testimony about the growing number of 

17          students in temporary housing who have the 

18          right to transportation and the difficulty 

19          that school districts will face in providing 

20          this transportation should this cap go 

21          through.  We urge you to reject that.  

22                 And finally, Foundation Aid.  We echo 

23          those who have spoken today and have urged 

24          the Legislature to fulfill its commitment to 


 1          our schools by negotiating a budget that 

 2          includes an increase of at least $1.4 billion 

 3          dollars in Foundation Aid.  

 4                 We look forward to working with you 

 5          throughout the budget process.  Thank you for 

 6          the opportunity to testify, and I'm happy to 

 7          answer any questions.  

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 9                 Mr. Murray has a question for you.  

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Yes.  Thank you, 

11          Chairwoman.  

12                 Just for clarification purposes, 

13          regarding the first issue and the $50 million 

14          to promote safe and supportive schools.  When 

15          you're talking about suspension or 

16          expulsions, are you talking -- are you saying 

17          that you do not in any case, shape or form 

18          support suspensions or expulsions?  

19                 MS. LEVINE:  What we're asking for at 

20          this point is funding to help train schools 

21          in alternatives.  We want to promote positive 

22          school climate, and we know the research 

23          shows that school districts, both in New York 

24          and throughout the nation, that have 


 1          implemented practices such as restorative 

 2          practices have seen dramatic decreases in 

 3          school suspensions and increases in student 

 4          achievement.  

 5                 So we think right now the important 

 6          step for the state to take in this budget 

 7          process is increasing funding for these 

 8          approaches for schools.  

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  But to clarify, 

10          would it prohibit suspensions in any way?

11                 MS. LEVINE:  There is nothing in this 

12          budget proposal that would prohibit 

13          suspensions.  

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Okay.

15                 MS. LEVINE:  We're working on an 

16          effort legislatively to help curb the use of 

17          suspensions and ensure that they are not used 

18          for minor infractions -- 

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Sure, sure.

20                 MS. LEVINE:  -- and try to address the 

21          disproportionality we see when it comes to 

22          suspensions being used much more frequently 

23          for students with disabilities and students 

24          who are black.  


 1                 But this budget proposal would not 

 2          impact when a school can give a suspension.  

 3          It's to help support schools so that they 

 4          have the tools they need to employ 

 5          alternatives and, whenever possible, use 

 6          those alternatives as a way to avoid problems 

 7          in the first place and then, working 

 8          collaboratively with students and staff to 

 9          resolve the problems, to address the 

10          underlying behavior so that they don't 

11          repeat.  

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Okay, and I agree 

13          with the direction you are going, I was just 

14          making sure.  Because in some cases there may 

15          be a child that is being so disruptive that 

16          it's unfair for the rest of the children, 

17          they're not getting their appropriate 

18          attention or education.  I want to make sure 

19          that that option in a case like that would 

20          still be available.  So thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

22                 Anyone here from the Long Island Pre-K 

23          Initiative?  You haven't checked in.  

24                 We will move on to Lindsay Miller, 


 1          executive director, New York Association on 

 2          Independent Living, and Chad Underwood, 

 3          executive director.  And then next would be 

 4          QUALITYstarsNY, Helga Yuan Larsen, director.

 5                 MS. MILLER:  Hello.  Thank you, 

 6          Assemblymembers and Senators, for your time 

 7          tonight.  My name is Lindsay Miller.  I am 

 8          the executive director of the New York 

 9          Association on Independent Living, and I'm 

10          joined here today by Chad Underwood.  And we 

11          are here seeking the Legislature's support 

12          for our request of an increase to funding 

13          of -- 

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Are both of you 

15          going to be speaking?

16                 MS. MILLER:  Yes.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Okay.  So just 

18          speak --

19                 MS. MILLER:  Quickly, yes.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  -- my fault.  

21          Fine.  We'll give you back a few seconds.

22                 MS. MILLER:  We're seeking an increase 

23          in independent living funding to $18 million 

24          in the state budget.  This funding increase 


 1          was recommended as part of the Board of 

 2          Regents recommendations for the second year 

 3          in a row.  

 4                 This year, however, it was not 

 5          included in the Governor's budget.  The 

 6          Governor yet again proposed level funding for 

 7          Independent Living Centers, which is now 

 8          going on over a decade of level funding.  

 9                 This much-needed increase of only 

10          $5 million is long overdue and is essential 

11          to sustaining IL services.  There are 41 

12          state-funded centers, and they've been 

13          woefully underfunded for many years.  They 

14          are cross-disability nonprofits run by and 

15          for people with disabilities, providing a 

16          range of services that are all focused on 

17          helping individuals live independently in the 

18          community and addressing the social 

19          determinants of health -- so services related 

20          to health, employment, housing, 

21          transportation, et cetera.  

22                 In 2016 and 2017, the network served 

23          over a 100,000 people with disabilities, 

24          their family members, and others -- an 


 1          increase of close to 20,000 over the last 

 2          five years, clearly demonstrating the need 

 3          for IL services.  However, you know, had the 

 4          funding kept up, obviously the ability to 

 5          serve more would be there.  

 6                 The only other point I want to make, 

 7          and then I'm going to turn it over to Chad, 

 8          is that ILCs also are a dedicated resource to 

 9          ACCES-VR, they help ACCES-VR meet their 

10          mission by providing consumer-driven and 

11          community-based wraparound services that 

12          complement voc-rehab services.  

13                 And in addition, Independent Living 

14          Centers save the state money.  Data from 

15          ACCES-VR shows that the work that ILCs do to 

16          help transition people out of nursing 

17          facilities and other institutions have saved 

18          the state over $2 billion since 2001.  

19                 I'm going to turn to it over Chad to 

20          speak about the direct impact locally.

21                 MR. UNDERWOOD:  Thanks again.  My name 

22          is Chad Underwood, and I'm the chief 

23          executive officer of Access to Independence, 

24          one of the 41 Independent Living Centers that 


 1          Lindsay mentioned.  We're located in Central 

 2          New York, the City of Cortland, the Crown 

 3          City.  

 4                 I'm here to share with you that there 

 5          is a rising demand for our services that 

 6          we're not able to meet for people with all 

 7          sorts of disabilities -- mental health, 

 8          physical, blind, visually impaired.  Over the 

 9          past 10 years, we've provided services to 

10          over 4,000 people.  We've helped youth and 

11          adults secure competitive employment rather 

12          than automatically enrolling youth with 

13          disabilities into public assistance and 

14          benefits as they transition to adulthood -- 

15          something, by the way, which banishes them to 

16          a life of poverty.  

17                 We're providing the tools and 

18          resources to help them access training, we're 

19          work with the businesses to open their eyes 

20          to the benefits of diversity and to the low 

21          cost of certain accommodations.  We 

22          collaborate with ACCES-VR to work with adults 

23          on benefits advisement, supportive 

24          employment.  


 1                 On behalf of our board of directors, I 

 2          want you to know that we are at a breaking 

 3          point.  Last year my organization received 

 4          $272,590 from the New York State Education 

 5          Department to provide independent living 

 6          services to people with disabilities, 

 7          disability resources to the community, and to 

 8          facilitate systems changes to help eliminate 

 9          physical and attitudinal barriers.  

10                 This is just 4 percent more than we 

11          received 10 years ago.  Over the past 

12          10 years, inflation -- I'm sure you're all 

13          aware of this --  has exceeded 16 percent.  

14          Our health insurance costs have gone up 

15          350 percent; disability, property, liability 

16          insurances grew by 45 percent; our rent up 

17          30 percent; and our independent living 

18          specific payroll was up 25 percent.  

19                 Now, compound that with the current 

20          tightening of the job market, minimum wage 

21          increases the past few years -- and more that 

22          are set to take place over the next couple of 

23          years -- reduced local government capacity to 

24          serve the most vulnerable people because of 


 1          increased mandates and tax caps.  Other area 

 2          small nonprofits are being squeezed in much 

 3          the same way.  Some have had to close their 

 4          doors or merge with regional organizations.  

 5          All of these factors are contributing to an 

 6          increase in unmet need for many people with 

 7          disabilities who in the past have relied on 

 8          such resources to survive and even thrive.  

 9          All of these factors are contributing to the 

10          development of a perfect storm, and it 

11          threatens our sustainability, all while we 

12          embark on another 20 years of service to our 

13          community.  

14                 Consider the math.  People with 

15          disabilities are being left behind -- our 

16          sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers, 

17          even our grandparents.  Please support our 

18          effort to stop this from getting worse.  

19          Thank you.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you both 

21          for being here.  And your full testimony is 

22          part of the record.  

23                 Any questions?  

24                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.  


 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next, Helga 

 4          Yuan Larsen, director of QUALITYstarsNY.  And 

 5          next after that is Mike Neppl, director of 

 6          government relations for the New York Library 

 7          Association.  

 8                 If you could -- and quite frankly, 

 9          anybody who's going to be testifying, if you 

10          can just be in the bottom few rows, it will 

11          help us move along and get people able to 

12          have dinner tonight.

13                 MS. YUAN LARSEN:  Thank you.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.

15                 MS. YUAN LARSEN:  Thank you, 

16          Chairwoman Weinstein and Chairwoman Young, 

17          members of the committee, for the opportunity 

18          to testify before this joint legislative 

19          public hearing.  

20                 My name is Helga Yuan Larsen, and I am 

21          the director for QUALITYstarsNY.  Apologies 

22          for my testimony, it will not be as succinct 

23          as I would like it to be.  However, I want to 

24          stress the importance of QUALITYstarsNY and 


 1          the critical role that it plays in the 

 2          Governor's expansion of pre-K.  

 3                 I'm here to request that the 

 4          $5 million allotted to QUALITYstarsNY in 

 5          Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget be 

 6          increased by $3 million, as per the Board of 

 7          Regents, which recognizes QUALITYstarsNY's 

 8          value to elementary and secondary education 

 9          as a statewide quality assurance system that 

10          safeguards high-quality early care and 

11          education for our youngest children.  

12                 As New York State's quality rating and 

13          improvement system, under the governance of 

14          the New York State Early Childhood Advisory 

15          Council, QUALITYstarsNY rates programs on a 

16          five-star rating scale and provides targeted 

17          supports for pre-K programs, Head Start 

18          programs, community-based childcare centers, 

19          and family childcare homes.  

20                 Every early childhood provider wants 

21          to do their best to foster an optimal 

22          learning environment for the children in 

23          their care, yet this is incredible 

24          challenging in a fragmented system governed 


 1          by independent sectors subjected to 

 2          inefficiencies and compounded by an industry 

 3          that continues to pay providers subpar wages. 

 4          QUALITYstarsNY is the state's best chance at 

 5          leveling the playing field and mitigating the 

 6          challenges these providers experience, 

 7          ensuring that every child thrives from 

 8          quality teaching and learning and securing 

 9          their trajectory for success in K through 12.  

10                 While we applaud Governor Cuomo's 

11          commitment to continue our state's investment 

12          in pre-K expansion, this growth must come 

13          hand in hand with a mechanism for 

14          accountability and a systematic effort to 

15          improve coordination and alignment between 

16          childcare, pre-K, and the K-12 systems.  

17                 We understand the state faces the 

18          additional challenge of balancing a steep 

19          budget deficit.  However, building a 

20          coherent, aligned birth-through-third-grade 

21          system is critical to sustaining the positive 

22          impacts of pre-K on children's academic and 

23          social development, positive impacts which 

24          more than pay for themselves from better 


 1          lifetime outcomes.  Children from underserved 

 2          and impoverished communities in particular 

 3          flourish in early childhood programs with 

 4          responsive caregivers in creative and 

 5          stimulating learning environments.  These 

 6          children are often enrolled in 

 7          community-based organizations and family 

 8          childcare homes because their families need 

 9          the extended or non-traditional hours of care 

10          and value the continuity of care their child 

11          has received since infancy.  

12                 These children benefit the most from 

13          the supports offered by QUALITYstarsNY to 

14          their teachers and family childcare 

15          providers.  It is these underserved 

16          communities facing economic hardships where 

17          QUALITYstarsNY prioritizes our resources.  As 

18          a result of our intervention, these children 

19          who have special needs, who experience 

20          greater risks to their social and emotional 

21          development, or who are English language 

22          learners enter kindergarten as confident and 

23          competent learners ready to succeed in life.  

24                 One of the unique features of 


 1          QUALITYstarsNY is its inclusion of family 

 2          childcare providers.  Across New York State, 

 3          a significant portion of our children, often 

 4          infants and toddlers from low-income families 

 5          who live in minority or rural neighborhoods, 

 6          are served in these home-based settings.  Of 

 7          the providers that have been re-rated, 

 8          64 percent of them increased their star 

 9          rating.  The ongoing professional development 

10          and resources offered to family childcare 

11          providers has been a hallmark of 

12          QUALITYstarsNY as an intervention for the 

13          most marginalized in the industry.  

14                 What's more, QUALITYstarsNY has been 

15          proven to work across the board:  84 percent 

16          of all of our programs increased their 

17          quality rating scores; the number of four- 

18          and five-star programs increased by 

19          80 percent; 31 percent of all initially rated 

20          one- and two-star programs raised their level 

21          of quality to four stars within three years; 

22          and all of the initially rated star programs 

23          that rated four- and five-stars sustained 

24          their high levels of quality.  


 1                 An investment in QUALITYstarsNY is an 

 2          investment in the state's workforce.  We have 

 3          provided scholarships to thousands of 

 4          teachers and providers to build their 

 5          competencies in curriculum and assessment, 

 6          designing learning environments, and engaging 

 7          families as partners in their child's 

 8          education.  Many of these teachers and 

 9          providers were able to obtain necessary 

10          credentials or a degree in early childhood 

11          education which they would not have been able 

12          to afford.  

13                 Since our inception in 2012, 

14          QUALITYstarsNY has expanded across all 10 

15          economic regions.  Our services are no less 

16          necessary downstate than they are upstate.  

17          From the city's need to satisfy thousands of 

18          UPK seats with trained educators, to the 

19          upstate family childcare providers, every 

20          region of New York benefits from an increased 

21          investment in quality improvement for early 

22          care in education.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Can you wrap 

24          up?  Your time has expired.


 1                 MS. YUAN LARSEN:  Yes, sure.  

 2                 Our last funding increase in fiscal 

 3          year 2017 from $3 million to $5 million 

 4          allowed us to increase our capacity by 

 5          roughly 200 programs, a 33 percent increase 

 6          in enrollment totaling 740 early learning 

 7          programs.  Despite this increase, this still 

 8          represents less than 5 percent of all 

 9          eligible programs in New York.  While other 

10          state QRISs have grown their participation 

11          rates to at least 60 percent of all eligible 

12          programs, New York continues to fall behind.  

13          We have programs on a wait list eager to 

14          enroll, waiting for the state to increase 

15          investment so that we can provide the 

16          necessary supports.  

17                 Providing this increase amounts to 

18          less than $300 per child to ensure 

19          independent oversight of the $3.2 billion 

20          annual state investment in education.  

21                 Every year in which New York allows 

22          QUALITYstarsNY to be flat-funded is a missed 

23          opportunity for the state to champion quality 

24          education for all of New York's students.  


 1          New York can and should position itself as a 

 2          national leader by establishing a 

 3          high-quality education system from birth 

 4          onwards that raises all learning programs to 

 5          four- and five-star levels for the tens of 

 6          thousands of our youngest learners.  

 7                 Thank you for your time this 

 8          afternoon.  

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

10          Thank you very much for your testimony here 

11          today.  Thank you.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Next, the 

14          New York Library Association, Mike Neppl, 

15          director of governmental relations, followed 

16          by Mark Bordeau.

17                 MR. NEPPL:  Good evening.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good evening.

19                 MR. NEPPL:  I'm going to be very 

20          brief, in the spirit of librarians who curate 

21          and direct the most important information.  

22          I'm going to represent them well, I hope.  

23                 So you have my written testimony; I 

24          just want to highlight a few points here.  


 1                 This year, once again, the Governor's 

 2          Executive Budget aggressively attacks local 

 3          libraries and library services.  He proposes 

 4          year-2000-level funding for State Library 

 5          Aid.  He slashed the Library Construction Aid 

 6          program by 40 percent.  This approach is not 

 7          just inequitable, it's improvident, 

 8          incongruous, and just incompatible with how 

 9          New Yorkers view libraries.  

10                 So Education Law contemplates 

11          $102.6 million in funding for State Library 

12          Aid.  We ask that you fully fund Library Aid 

13          under the law.  But in the alternative, 

14          Library Aid should at least increase every 

15          year in proportion with increases in 

16          education spending generally.  

17                 In the last decade alone, $117 million 

18          has been withheld from the State Library Aid 

19          program.  This program specifically funds 

20          library systems.  SED estimates that $7 in 

21          local services are realized for every dollar 

22          in state investment, so this $117 million 

23          withheld over the last decade has cost 

24          $800 million in local library services.  


 1                 I just want to highlight a few numbers 

 2          from a recent Siena poll:  97 percent of 

 3          households making less than $50,000 a year 

 4          say their local public library is an 

 5          important part of their local educational 

 6          system; 60 percent of New Yorkers have used 

 7          the library in the last six months; 

 8          10 million New Yorkers hold library cards; 

 9          25 percent of households earning less than 

10          $50,000 annually rely on the local public 

11          library as their primary point of internet 

12          access.  

13                 I'll bring up very quickly a tangent 

14          there.  I've been talking to everybody that 

15          will listen about the 2020 census.  The 

16          federal government is hoping for a 55 percent 

17          response rate online.  The hard-to-count 

18          populations are the exact same populations 

19          that rely on the local public library for 

20          internet access.  So if we are defunding the 

21          State Library Aid program, we are essentially 

22          investing in our own status as a net donor to 

23          the federal government.  If we do not have an 

24          accurate count here in New York, this will 


 1          cost us hundreds of billions of dollars over 

 2          the next decade.  

 3                 The best way to combat this and ensure 

 4          that the most New Yorkers are counted is to 

 5          fully fund Library Aid so we can provide the 

 6          technology services that these hard-to-count 

 7          populations rely on -- and, of course, help 

 8          educate those people that come in to fill out 

 9          and complete the census.  

10                 I appreciate the committee's time 

11          tonight, and we'll be talking in the coming 

12          weeks.  I hope you guys get some dinner and 

13          have a good evening.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you so much.  

15                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

16          being here.  But before you leave, 

17          Assemblyman Murray has a question.

18                 MR. NEPPL:  Sure, of course.  

19                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Thank you, 

20          Chairwoman.  

21                 Just quickly, you mentioned the 

22          statutory levels and that we are far under 

23          it -- I believe about $11 million below the 

24          statutory level right now?


 1                 MR. NEPPL:  That's correct.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Okay.  

 3                 MR. NEPPL:  It's year-2000-level 

 4          funding.  

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Now, are we 

 6          seeing an increase or decrease in the number 

 7          of patrons who are coming to the libraries 

 8          over the past few years?  

 9                 MR. NEPPL:  You know, interestingly, 

10          it has held steady.  But people are using the 

11          library much differently than they used to.  

12          It's less focused on the circulating library 

13          of materials, although that's certainly part 

14          of the core mission and always will be.  But 

15          people are using the library as a meeting 

16          place.  You know, community groups can come 

17          in and use the space, and people do, of 

18          course, come in to avail themselves of 

19          internet connections and technology 

20          instruction.  

21                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  The reason I'm 

22          bringing it up is we have issues with gangs, 

23          we have issues with drugs, and many of the 

24          times we hear from the kids, "Well, there's 


 1          nothing else to do."  

 2                 Libraries are no longer buildings with 

 3          books.  They are like community centers with 

 4          quite a bit of great services offered and 

 5          things like this -- and as you said, with the 

 6          internet and with programs.  

 7                 Are we drawing more kids in, or do you 

 8          think we could draw more kids in if we had 

 9          more funding and more building aid and 

10          expansion and things of that nature?  Could 

11          that be something that might help in the 

12          effort to get these kids, you know, something 

13          to do to keep them from the gangs, the drugs, 

14          and things like this?  

15                 MR. NEPPL:  Of course.  But I don't 

16          think -- and please don't take me the wrong 

17          way, I don't think it's just about funding.  

18                 If I could reference a question that 

19          Senator Marcellino asked earlier today:  Are 

20          we asking schools to do too much?  I am the 

21          child of two public school teachers, and I 

22          will say yes, we are.  And we're 

23          simultaneously underfunding libraries and 

24          preventing them from stepping in and 


 1          providing a place for instruction that may 

 2          best be done outside the classroom.  

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Okay.  I just 

 4          want to thank you for all you do.  I really 

 5          am a very big supporter of libraries, and 

 6          anything I can do to help -- you know, I 

 7          think you deserve it and need it for all the 

 8          good you do for our communities, so thank 

 9          you.

10                 MR. NEPPL:  I appreciate that.  And I 

11          know I can always rely on the members of this 

12          panel and our friends in the Legislature to 

13          fight on our behalf.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

15                 Senator Addabbo has a question.  

16                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  It's never one.  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  You're not out of 

18          here yet, so --

19                 MR. NEPPL:  I was just trying to 

20          accommodate, I'm sorry.  

21                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  What would a 

22          $4 million cut mean in terms of the 

23          libraries?  Would it mean a reduction in 

24          staff, a reduction in services?  In your 


 1          opinion, what would the $4 million reduction 

 2          mean?

 3                 MR. NEPPL:  Well, according to SED 

 4          statistics, this would cost New York State 

 5          $28 million this year in local library 

 6          services.  Of course, you know these services 

 7          would be lost in the communities that most 

 8          rely on their local public library.  

 9                 And I would be remiss if I didn't also 

10          reference the Library Construction Aid 

11          program; the Governor cut it by 41.5 percent.  

12          The Legislature fought so hard to address the 

13          need in this area.  There's a $1.7 billion 

14          statewide capital need.  More than half of 

15          the state's libraries are 60 years old or 

16          older.  They were built when IT 

17          infrastructure wasn't a priority.  There's a 

18          dramatic need for capital money in libraries 

19          across the estate.  

20                 SENATOR ADDABBO:  Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

22                 And I just want to say thank you so 

23          much to our libraries.  They are our 

24          treasures across the state, they provide so 


 1          many services.  And as you pointed out, their 

 2          role and their mission actually has evolved 

 3          with the times, and they are making sure that 

 4          we have the resources in the community, 

 5          whether it's people having access to the 

 6          internet and computers, applying for jobs, 

 7          having after-school programs and other 

 8          programming for kids.  

 9                 So you truly are phenomenal, and I 

10          just wanted to say thank you.

11                 MR. NEPPL:  Thank you.  We have great 

12          advocates in the Legislature.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Take care.  

15                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

16                 Mark Bordeau, New York School 

17          Nutrition Association.

18                 MR. BORDEAU:  Good evening.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Good evening.

20                 MR. BORDEAU:  Thank you, Senator 

21          Young, Assemblywoman Weinstein, and members 

22          of the committee for the opportunity to 

23          testify today.  My name is Mark Bordeau, and 

24          I am the current senior food service director 


 1          for Broome Tioga BOCES, as well as the 

 2          current vice president of the New York School 

 3          Nutrition Association.  

 4                 I am here today on behalf of the 

 5          4,400-plus members of the New York School 

 6          Nutrition Association to discuss a proposal 

 7          we have that would increase the per-meal 

 8          reimbursement rate for the first time in 

 9          almost 40 years, while also incentivizing 

10          school nutrition programs to purchase local 

11          New York food products.  

12                 Our goal as child nutrition 

13          professionals is to ensure that every hungry 

14          child has access to the healthiest, most 

15          nutritional food possible.  Why?  Because 

16          they are hungry.  If we have one hungry child 

17          in a classroom trying to learn, that's one 

18          child too many.  We thank the Governor for 

19          his No Student Goes Hungry Program proposal.  

20          The program's goal is the same as NYSNA's 

21          goal of ensuring that every hungry child has 

22          access to the healthiest, most nutritious 

23          foods possible.  

24                 Today I would like to address 


 1          proposals for increasing the use of 

 2          farm-fresh, locally grown foods at school.  

 3          This proposal incentivizes schools to 

 4          purchase more New York-grown, produced, or 

 5          processed foods for school meals.  The 

 6          proposal states that a district will be 

 7          reimbursed approximately 19 cents for a free- 

 8          or full-priced meal and approximately 5 cents 

 9          for a reduced-price meal if 30 percent of the 

10          total food purchase comes from New 

11          York-grown, produced, or processed foods.  

12                 The Governor has appropriated 

13          $10 million in the education portion of his 

14          Executive Budget for this purpose.  Again, 

15          NYSNA supports the proposal, knowing that it 

16          will have very positive outcomes for 

17          students' health, for farmers, and for local 

18          schools.  

19                 NYSNA kindly asks for one minor tweak.  

20          Instead of saying 30 percent of total food 

21          purchased, we'd like it to say 30 percent of 

22          total lunch purchases for the previous school 

23          year's reimbursable lunches sold.  Lunch 

24          purchases for lunches sold.  We believe this 


 1          is a minor oversight that could discourage 

 2          districts of high needs from taking advantage 

 3          of incentive programs.  

 4                 In New York State, half the children 

 5          are eligible to eat free meals because their 

 6          districts participate in a community 

 7          eligibility provision, or CEP.  Because those 

 8          districts participate in CEP, they are more 

 9          apt to offer Breakfast After the Bell, 

10          after-school snacks, and summer meals.  These 

11          are programs that districts with a low 

12          percentage of free-lunch students may not 

13          qualify for or offer.  As a result, a 

14          district of high needs may potentially have 

15          to purchase double the amount of food, 

16          New York food, as districts of low needs of 

17          similar size, and receive the same amount in 

18          reimbursement from the incentive.  

19                 Because New York product is simply 

20          more expensive, the incentive would end up 

21          costing the districts of high needs more 

22          money, and then they would not be able to 

23          afford to participate.  We urge the 

24          Legislature to make the small correction to 


 1          the current language to prevent this 

 2          unforeseen circumstance from occurring.  

 3                 One final point I would like to make.  

 4          In my hands I have an empty milk carton.  

 5          This milk carton costs 6 cents, the same 

 6          amount of money we received for the last 

 7          40 years in reimbursement, unchanged.  It 

 8          costs about 19 cents to fill this with milk.  

 9          I urge the legislators to leave the 

10          $10 million in the proposed budget and make 

11          one minor tweak so that every district that 

12          wants to fill this milk carton with New York 

13          milk, that they have the chance to qualify 

14          for the extra 19 cents in reimbursement.  

15          This is better for our students' health, our 

16          farmers, and our economy.  

17                 Thank you, and I'd be happy to answer 

18          any questions at all.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  No?  Thank you.  

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

21                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you for 

22          being here.

23                 MR. BORDEAU:  Thank you.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And thank you 


 1          for being so succinct.  

 2                 Next, Peter Mannella, New York 

 3          Association for Pupil Transportation.

 4                 MR. MANNELLA:  Good evening.  Having 

 5          never run a marathon, I feel like those last 

 6          couple of people who run in -- now I know how 

 7          they feel when they run in at the tail end of 

 8          the race.  Somebody got it -- thank you, 

 9          Senator.  

10                 Senator Young, Assemblywoman 

11          Weinstein -- congratulations on your new 

12          chairperson role -- 

13                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.

14                 MR. MANNELLA:  -- and other members of 

15          the committee, I'm Peter Mannella.  Pardon 

16          my -- the remnants of my flu here.  I'm proud 

17          to serve as the executive director for NYAPT 

18          and to serve our more than 600 members across 

19          the state.  

20                 This year is one of the more 

21          significant budget proposals that we've 

22          experienced in many years.  In the interests 

23          of your time, I will simply highlight several 

24          of our common areas -- you have it in full 


 1          print -- and I'll also focus on a couple of 

 2          key items.  

 3                 First, in terms of Transportation Aid 

 4          for 2018-2019, we support the appropriation 

 5          of $19.09 billion and urge the Legislature to 

 6          adopt that full funding for Transportation 

 7          Aid, which is important to our ability to 

 8          sustain our overall safety efforts for our 

 9          children.  

10                 Two, the Executive Budget includes an 

11          appropriation of $400,000 to continue the 

12          benefits of the SED school bus driver 

13          training program.  We support this 

14          appropriation and are proud of the work it 

15          does, the Education Department in concert 

16          with the school transportation industry.  

17                 Three, we support the proposal in the 

18          Governor's budget to significantly increase 

19          the fines that are charged to motorists 

20          convicted of passing our school buses, which 

21          is an epidemic issue in New York State.  We 

22          have supported bills in the State Legislature 

23          that would accomplish that objective, and we 

24          thank the legislators who sponsored those 


 1          bills, but we urge you to include that in 

 2          this year's budget as well.  

 3                 We'd also like to just briefly call 

 4          your attention to two areas that are not in 

 5          the budget and not being discussed at this 

 6          point, and that would be, first, the cost of 

 7          school bus monitors.  I won't spend a lot of 

 8          time because it's fleshed out in our 

 9          testimony, but monitors are being called on 

10          more and more for behavioral problems on the 

11          bus, security and safety for intruders who 

12          come on the bus, as well as for pre-K, 2-, 

13          3-, and 4-year-old children coming on our 

14          school buses.  The cost for those individuals 

15          are not reimbursable under Transportation 

16          Aid.  

17                 So before we start talking about caps 

18          on aid, we need to look at what the real 

19          costs are that schools are incurring for 

20          those people.  

21                 And the second kind of quick point to 

22          bring up is under ESSA, foster care children 

23          are being treated differently for their 

24          needs.  This is something that has actually 


 1          been brought to our attention by SED.  To the 

 2          extent that child welfare agencies can help 

 3          in paying for the transportation of foster 

 4          care students to their home -- to their 

 5          school of choice -- that's wonderful, but 

 6          that won't cover all the costs.  And we're 

 7          hoping that foster care transportation can be 

 8          aidable under Transportation Aid, which it is 

 9          not today.  

10                 Our three larger issues I'd like to 

11          touch on quickly.  One is Transportation Aid 

12          for pre-K.  Yet again, the pre-kindergarten 

13          program which is doing so many good things 

14          for kids is not reaching some children 

15          because school districts are not offering the 

16          program or parents can't get the children 

17          there because there's no bus.  It's not an 

18          aidable expense, and we would really request 

19          that the Legislature attend to that issue and 

20          allow us to bill for transportation that's 

21          being provided to pre-K kids across the 

22          state.  It is currently prohibitive for 

23          school districts.  

24                 Second of three key issues is the 


 1          Governor's proposal for -- I'm going to wet 

 2          my whistle before I said it -- stop-arm 

 3          cameras on school buses.  Senator Young and 

 4          Assemblyman Magnarelli have worked 

 5          wonderfully with us for the past seven or 

 6          eight years to pass legislation like that.  I 

 7          know Assemblyman Murray's spoken to us.  

 8                 The Governor introduced a piece in his 

 9          budget that would allow for stop-arm cameras 

10          to help us apprehend our estimate of between 

11          40,000 and 50,000 people who pass a school 

12          bus every day.  The revenues from that alone 

13          are significant for the state to consider.  

14          The safety factors for our children are even 

15          more important.  So we would urge you, with 

16          some tweaks in the language of the Governor's 

17          bill, to enact that provision of his 

18          proposal.  

19                 And lastly -- it's been brought up 

20          here several times, so I won't go too long -- 

21          probably the most important thing I will 

22          share is the 2 percent cap on expense-based 

23          aid is not kind for transportation.  We put 

24          our budgets together tightly.  Nobody -- and 


 1          no superintendent goes to a transportation 

 2          director and says, "Hey, spend another half a 

 3          million dollars."  They're looked to for 

 4          cuts.  

 5                 We're there when a homeless child 

 6          needs to be transported 50 miles to go to 

 7          their school, or a foster child, or a 

 8          special-needs child, or any child who needs 

 9          to get where they have to go.  And that comes 

10          with weather and traffic and other kinds of 

11          issues that we come up with.  

12                 The issue here is not capping our 

13          expenses.  We have advocated in past years 

14          for mandate relief.  The proposals we put out 

15          about six years ago, and that was the hot 

16          topic, estimated about $120 million a year we 

17          could save on a recurring basis.  We would 

18          love to revisit that list of mandates that 

19          could be moderated or eliminated so that we 

20          can save the state and our localities money 

21          over the years.  

22                 We're proud of the role that school 

23          buses play in getting our children to school 

24          every day safely.  Our safety record is 


 1          second to none in the country, and that is 

 2          because of the hard work of our members.  

 3          Probably more importantly, the school bus 

 4          drivers who sit behind the wheel and get 

 5          those kids to school on our roads and 

 6          highways every day.  

 7                 We thank you for the support that this 

 8          committee and the Legislature have provided 

 9          to us over the years and look forward to more 

10          this year.  Thank you very much.  

11                 Questions I'll take, certainly.  

12                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Actually -- hi, 

14          Peter.  How are you?

15                 MR. MANNELLA:  Hi, there.  Good.  How 

16          are you?  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Great job on 

18          advocating for a lot of different important 

19          issues.  

20                 I wanted to talk about the stop-arm 

21          camera.  And as you pointed out, Assemblyman 

22          Magnarelli and I have had a bill for several 

23          years that we've tried to get done, and it is 

24          wonderful to see the Governor's proposal.  


 1          Could you comment just briefly on the 

 2          differences between the legislation that we 

 3          have and what the Governor's proposing?  And, 

 4          you know, are there things that we should be 

 5          doing to make sure that we get to a final 

 6          result?

 7                 MR. MANNELLA:  I think a couple of key 

 8          points.  One is -- and this is something 

 9          we've grappled with in drafting the 

10          legislation we've worked on together -- he 

11          does have the fines going to school 

12          districts, who would then be able to work 

13          with municipalities on sharing those in some 

14          way.  

15                 That's not something we've seen 

16          before.  I'm not clear on how that is going 

17          to work, so we need to dig that through.  

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right, there's some 

19          barriers that we need to check -- I think 

20          there's some barriers in the law right now to 

21          doing that, so we need to figure that out for 

22          sure.

23                 MR. MANNELLA:  Yeah.  And the second 

24          is because the fines are going to the 


 1          districts in the proposal, he eliminates the 

 2          ability to do Transportation Aid to pay for 

 3          cameras.  

 4                 We're thinking -- and again, this is 

 5          new to us too.  Our take on it is that 

 6          smaller rural districts will likely purchase 

 7          cameras, they may have one or two buses they 

 8          want to put them on, and we're not sure that 

 9          the fines they collect from the cameras, how 

10          important they are -- despite how important 

11          they are, will pay for the cost of the 

12          camera.  

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.

14                 MR. MANNELLA:  Larger school districts 

15          in New York, some in Long Island, may hire 

16          with some of the companies who will do all 

17          the work for them, put the cameras on for 

18          free.  There's not really a profit margin in 

19          it for some of those companies to do a small, 

20          say, Chautauqua County school district that's 

21          got only a few buses.  

22                 So we're not sure the mechanics of 

23          that work.  We're thrilled it's there, so we 

24          want to work to kind of tighten a couple of 


 1          those pieces down so that we can get that 

 2          done.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.  So I do 

 4          think --

 5                 MR. MANNELLA:  But I think the 

 6          groundwork is there to do it.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  -- the right 

 8          incentives need to be in place and the 

 9          economics have to work, the financing has to 

10          work in order for the schools to be 

11          incentivized to actually get these stop-arm 

12          cameras in place.  

13                 Now, there was a pilot program, I 

14          believe, on Long Island.  Could you just 

15          comment on that briefly?

16                 MR. MANNELLA:  There was a -- there 

17          were two districts in Suffolk County 

18          particularly that participated in a pilot 

19          with one of the camera companies.  And I 

20          can't give you both districts, but there 

21          was -- one of the districts, I believe, was 

22          Bay Shore -- one that was looking at about 

23          95 passes a day, and they only had it on two 

24          buses.  That's a lot of passes.  


 1                 And when you're looking at a tight 

 2          budget, that's also a lot of revenue on the 

 3          other side if you can collect the tickets on 

 4          all those passes at $250 a ticket.  Not to be 

 5          that kind of person.  But that's real, that's 

 6          real money.  At the end of the day we'll have 

 7          safer kids because people will stop.  But 

 8          that 95 on two buses is a lot of passes and 

 9          way exceeds any numbers from our 40,000 or 

10          50,000 estimate statewide.  

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right, I agree it's 

12          a staggering figure.  And it's a very 

13          frightening figure, and I believe that's why 

14          we do need to take action this year.

15                 MR. MANNELLA:  Right.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I think this is the 

17          year to do it.  And we've had several -- 

18          we've had some tragedies, and we've had 

19          several near misses, and the fact that those 

20          were only two buses in New York State -- and 

21          you multiply it by how many buses?

22                 MR. MANNELLA:  Fifty thousand.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Fifty thousand.  It 

24          is just incredible.


 1                 MR. MANNELLA:  I can't do math that 

 2          fast.  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  A mind-blowing 

 4          thing to think about.  So we do have to take 

 5          action, and I appreciate all of your efforts.

 6                 MR. MANNELLA:  Thank you very much.  

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Thank you.  

 8                 Next, New York State Parent Teacher 

 9          Association, Kyle Belokopitsky, executive 

10          director.

11                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  Thank you, and 

12          congratulations, Chairwoman.  And thank you, 

13          Senator.  Thank you, Assemblywoman Nolan and 

14          the rest of this wonderful -- Assemblymen, 

15          Assemblywomen and Senators here.  

16                 From outstanding arts and music 

17          programs -- I'm not going to read my 

18          testimony, I'm going to summarize because 

19          it's so late -- 

20                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Yes.  And --

21                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  Lateness of the 

22          day.  

23                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  Well, we -- as 

24          I said earlier, we have all of the testimony.  


 1                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  Sure.  

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN WEINSTEIN:  And the email 

 3          was circulated to members.

 4                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  Yes.  

 5                 From outstanding art and music 

 6          programs to broader pathways to graduation, 

 7          to increases in community schools and 

 8          supports for our English language learners, 

 9          New York’s children, educators, and schools 

10          continue to succeed.  However, we have real 

11          challenges.  According to the latest New York 

12          State School Report Card, 55 percent of our 

13          students are economically disadvantaged and 

14          50 percent live in some level of poverty, 

15          qualifying for free or reduced-priced lunch.  

16          Childrens' needs don't disappear from year to 

17          year, and we cannot fund schools as if they 

18          do.  

19                 While we acknowledge the predicted 

20          state deficit and challenges posed by federal 

21          uncertainties, the constitutional obligation 

22          to fund a high-quality education for each and 

23          every New York student continues.  State aid, 

24          as allocated in the Executive Budget 


 1          proposal, is insufficient to address current 

 2          student need -- especially when considering 

 3          deferred maintenance and program cuts from 

 4          previous years stemming from the Gap 

 5          Elimination Adjustment and low tax-cap 

 6          levies.  

 7                 Preserving current services for our 

 8          students must remain a state priority, and a 

 9          $1.5 billion increase is needed just to keep 

10          our schools at the same level of programs and 

11          services as last year.  We, alongside the 

12          Educational Conference Board, call for a 

13          $2 billion increase in school aid this year.  

14                 We also strongly support a commitment 

15          to fully phase-in the previously promised 

16          Foundation Aid amount of $4.2 billion, where 

17          the overwhelming majority of these funds, 

18          $3.03 billion, are due to our high-needs 

19          school districts and students.  

20                 We strongly oppose the proposed cap on 

21          expense-based aids.  Expense-based aids are a 

22          critical and necessary funding stream for 

23          many schools, especially since school 

24          buildings are old, in dire need of repair, 


 1          and  replacing outdated buses, plumbing and 

 2          heating, and updating equipment is absolutely 

 3          necessary, as schools have deferred these 

 4          expenses for many years.  

 5                 And we must continue to support 

 6          families.  Meaningful family engagement 

 7          increases student achievement, improves 

 8          school and community relations, and increases 

 9          public support for our schools.  We are 

10          pleased that the state has invested in the 

11          My Brother’s Keeper program, and are 

12          encouraged by the new Office of Family 

13          Engagement.  However, this work is just 

14          beginning, and we ask for increased support 

15          for all schools and districts to improve 

16          their family-engagement initiatives.  

17                 On English language learners, New York 

18          State has long been the gateway of immigrant 

19          success where economic and social success 

20          relies on an educated, globally aware 

21          citizenry, prepared to address the issues of 

22          an ever-changing world.  Therefore, we ask 

23          you to consider a number of proposals in our 

24          testimony.  


 1                 Community Schools are an effective 

 2          strategy for student and family success, and 

 3          often address the health, social, and 

 4          socio-emotional needs of students and their 

 5          families.  I could not say it any better than 

 6          the Big 5 city school districts said it today 

 7          in explaining their Community Schools.  We 

 8          support those proposals.  

 9                 We also support the $10 million 

10          allocation to fund the Empire State 

11          After-School Program.  We also want to talk 

12          about funding for transportation for both 

13          after-care and for pre-K.  Our youngest 

14          children must continue to be supported.  One 

15          district that is without full-day 

16          kindergarten is too many.  Therefore, we 

17          fully support the proposal for full-day 

18          kindergarten conversion aid for all school 

19          districts.  And New York State PTA continues 

20          to call for a true universal pre-kindergarten 

21          for all public school students, with 

22          necessary transportation.  

23                 On mental health, we fully support 

24          increased commitments to the Dignity for All 


 1          Students Act and mental health support grants 

 2          for Community Schools.  We must do more with 

 3          these two support services for our students.  

 4                 It is of particular importance to have 

 5          sufficient supports for children in schools. 

 6          These critical support personnel include 

 7          guidance counselors, health professionals -- 

 8          such as school nurses, licensed clinical 

 9          social workers -- and others who not only 

10          work to address mental health and other 

11          concerns, but also identify behavioral issues 

12          and can be a positive support system for the 

13          academic system, family and community.  

14                 Importantly, no child should ever go 

15          hungry, and we fully support the proposals to 

16          expand access to food for children.  

17          Breakfast After the Bell is a critical 

18          initiative for many students in high-needs 

19          schools.  No child should ever be shamed for 

20          not having enough lunch money for lunch.  

21                 We fully support legislation to ban 

22          lunch-shaming practices in school, 

23          prohibiting schools from serving an 

24          alternative cold lunch --  often a piece of 


 1          cheese on a white bread -- to children.  

 2                 We also support Farm to School 

 3          programs and support increases in 

 4          reimbursements for schools in any district 

 5          that purchases at least 30 percent of its 

 6          food from New York farmers.  One concern, 

 7          however -- and I'm almost done -- is that 

 8          schools would be required to purchase 

 9          30 percent of their food from New York 

10          farmers, but the reimbursement rate is only 

11          increased for the lunch program.  

12                 On Recovery High Schools, we fully 

13          support expanded access, as substance abuse 

14          disorders continue to be a real and critical