Joint Legislative Public Hearing on 2017-2018 Executive Budget Proposal: Topic "Elementary and Secondary Education" - Testimonies

February 15, 2017

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Hearing Event Notice:
https://www.nysenate.gov/calendar/public-hearings/february-14-2017/joint-legislative-public-hearing-2017-2018-executive

Archived Video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffacmfQx2zk

__________________________

                                                                   1

 1  BEFORE THE NEW YORK STATE SENATE FINANCE
    AND ASSEMBLY WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEES
 2  ------------------------------------------------------

 3          JOINT LEGISLATIVE HEARING

 4             In the Matter of the
          2017-2018 EXECUTIVE BUDGET ON
 5      ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
    
 6  ------------------------------------------------------

 7                             Hearing Room B                                                    
                               Legislative Office Building
 8                             Albany, New York
    
 9                             February 14, 2017
                               9:39 a.m.
10  
    
11  PRESIDING:

12          Senator Catharine M. Young
            Chair, Senate Finance Committee
13  
            Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell, Jr.
14          Chair, Assembly Ways & Means Committee
    
15  PRESENT:

16          Senator Liz Krueger 
            Senate Finance Committee (RM)
17  
            Assemblyman Bob Oaks 
18          Assembly Ways & Means Committee (RM)
    
19          Assemblywoman Catherine T. Nolan
            Chair, Assembly Education Committee
20  
            Senator Carl L. Marcellino
21          Chair, Senate Education Committee 
    
22          Senator Diane J. Savino
            Vice Chair, Senate Finance Committee
23  
            Assemblyman Peter D. Lopez
24  
    

                                                                  2

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  2-14-17
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Senator George S. Latimer
    
 5           Assemblyman Steven F. McLaughlin
    
 6           Senator Simcha Felder
    
 7           Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer
    
 8           Assemblyman Edward P. Ra
    
 9           Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon 
    
10           Senator Michael H. Ranzenhofer
    
11           Assemblyman Al Graf
    
12           Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee
    
13           Assemblyman Matthew Titone
    
14           Senator Velmanette Montgomery
    
15           Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton
    
16           Assemblyman Steven Otis
    
17           Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi
    
18           Senator Todd Kaminsky
    
19           Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis
    
20           Senator Gustavo Rivera
    
21           Assemblyman L. Dean Murray
    
22           Senator Patrick M. Gallivan
    
23           Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh
    
24           Senator Elizabeth O'C. Little
    

                                                                  3

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  2-14-17
    
 3  PRESENT:  (Continued)
    
 4           Assemblywoman Rebecca A. Seawright
    
 5           Senator Leroy Comrie 
    
 6           Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy
    
 7           Assemblyman Carmen E. Arroyo
    
 8           Senator Elaine Phillips
    
 9  
    
10  
    
11                   LIST OF SPEAKERS
    
12                                     STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
13  MaryEllen Elia
    Commissioner 
14  NYS Education Department                10      23
    
15  Carmen FariÒa 
    Chancellor
16  NYC Department of Education            151     173
    
17  Andy Pallotta
    Executive Vice President
18  Christopher Black
    Director of Legislation
19  New York State United Teachers        
         -and-
20  Michael Mulgrew
    President 
21  Cassie Prugh
    Assistant to President 
22  United Federation of Teachers          245      261
    
23  

24

                                                                  4

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  2-14-17
    
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                    STATEMENT   QUESTIONS
    
 5  Dr. Kriner Cash
    Superintendent
 6  Buffalo School District
    Dr. Edwin M. Quezada
 7  Superintendent
    Yonkers City School District           
 8  Ms. Barbara Deane-Williams
    Superintendent
 9  Rochester City School District
    Mr. Jaime Alicea
10  Interim Superintendent
    Syracuse City School District
11  Mr. Bruce Karam
    Superintendent
12  Utica City School District
          -for-
13  Conference of Big 5
     School Districts                      286     311
14  
    Jasmine Gripper 
15  Legislative Director
    Alliance for Quality Education         324     329
16  
    Robert Lowry
17  Deputy Director
    New York State Council of 
18   School Superintendents                334     339
    
19  Mark Cannizzaro
    Executive Vice President
20  Council of School Supervisors 
      and Administrators (CSA)             344       
21  
    Cynthia E. Gallgher 
22  Director, Government Relations
    School Administrators Association 
23    of New York State (SAANYS)           351
    
24  
    

                                                                  5

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  2-14-17
    
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                     STATEMENT  QUESTIONS
    
 5  Bernadette Kappen
    Executive Director and Chair
 6  4201 Schools Association               356      363
    
 7  Julie Marlette
    Director, Governmental Relations 
 8  NYS School Boards Association          366
    
 9  Michael Borges
    Executive Director
10  NYS Association of School
     Business Officials                    372     377
11  
    Fred Koelbel
12  Chair, Legislative Committee
    NYS School Facilities Assn.            382     388
13  
    Dan White
14  District Superintendent
    Monroe #1 BOCES
15      -for-
    BOCES Educational Consortium           391
16  
    David A. Little
17  Executive Director
    Rural Schools Association
18    of New York State                    394     402
    
19  James D. Cultrara
    Director for Education
20  New York State Catholic
     Conference                            410     416
21  
    Jake Adler
22  Director of Government
     Affairs
23  Teach NYS
    Orthodox Union                         423     425
24  
    

                                                                  6

 1  2017-2018 Executive Budget
    Elementary & Secondary Education
 2  2-14-17
    
 3                LIST OF SPEAKERS, Continued

 4                                     STATEMENT  QUESTIONS 
    
 5  Steven Sanders
    Executive Director 
 6  Agencies for Children's 
     Therapy Services (ACTS)               430
 7  
    Michael Martucci
 8  President
    New York School Bus 
 9   Contractors Association
        -and-
10  Michael Cordiello
    President 
11  ATU Local 1181                         435
    
12  Peter F. Mannella
    Executive Director
13  New York Association for 
     Pupil Transportation                  444
14  
    Randi Levine
15  Policy Director
    Advocates for Children of NY           450     456
16  
    Todd Vaarwerk
17  Director, Advocacy &
     Public Policy
18  WNY Independent Living
    New York Association on 
19   Independent Living                    459     463
    
20  Dr. Mary Lagnado
    Superintendent
21  Westbury Union Free
     School District                       469     476
22  
    Kyle McCauley Belokopitsky 
23  Executive Director 
    NYS Congress of Parents &
24    Teachers (NYS PTA)                   479
    

                                                                  7

 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Good morning.  Good 

 2          morning -- it's not a good morning.

 3                 Today we begin the 10th in the series 

 4          of hearings conducted by the joint fiscal 

 5          committees of the Legislature regarding the 

 6          Governor's proposed budget for fiscal year 

 7          2017-2018.  The hearings are conducted 

 8          pursuant to Article VII, Section 3 of the 

 9          Constitution, and Article 2, Sections 31 and 

10          32A of the Legislative Law.  

11                 Today the Assembly Ways and Means 

12          Committee and the Senate Finance Committee 

13          will hear testimony concerning the budget 

14          proposals for elementary and secondary 

15          education.  

16                 I will now introduce members from the 

17          Assembly, and Senator Young, chair of the 

18          Senate Finance Committee, will give us her 

19          members.

20                 I have with us the chair of the 

21          Education Committee, Cathy Nolan, and Rebecca 

22          Seawright is with us.

23                 Mr. Oaks.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Yes, we've been 

                                                                  8

 1          joined by Assemblymembers Nicole Malliotakis, 

 2          Al Graf, Steve McLaughlin, and Peter Lopez.

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  But before I 

 4          introduce the first witness, I would like 

 5          to --

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Wait, don't forget 

 7          about the Senate.

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Oh, I'm sorry.  Oh, 

 9          my God, what did I do?

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Don't forget about 

11          the Senate.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  The bright red got 

13          my mind -- yes, Senator.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

15          much.  

16                 Good morning, and Happy Valentine's 

17          Day.  I'm Senator Catharine Young, and I'm 

18          chair of the Senate Standing Committee on 

19          Finance.  

20                 And I'm joined by my colleagues from 

21          the Senate.  We have Senator Diane Savino, 

22          who is vice chair of the Senate Finance 

23          Committee.  We have Senator Liz Krueger, who 

24          is ranking member.  We have Senator Carl 

                                                                  9

 1          Marcellino, who is chair of the Senate 

 2          Standing Committee on Education.  And we also 

 3          have Senator George Latimer, who is ranking 

 4          member on the Education Committee.  

 5                 So thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 6                 Oh, and Senator Michael Ranzenhofer, 

 7          who is a great Senator who hails from Western 

 8          New York.  There's a little plug there, 

 9          Michael.

10                 Thank you.  

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  And we've been 

12          joined also by Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and 

13          Assemblyman Otis.

14                 But before introducing the first 

15          witness, I would like to remind all of the 

16          witnesses testifying today to keep your 

17          statements within your allotted time limit so 

18          that everyone is afforded the opportunity to 

19          speak.  And the clocks are on the side.  And 

20          if you can keep your eyes on that, it will 

21          help.

22                 I will now call the first witness, 

23          which is MaryEllen Elia, commissioner of the 

24          New York State Education Department.  

                                                                  10

 1                 Good morning.

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning, 

 3          Chairs Young, Farrell, Nolan and Marcellino, 

 4          and members of the Senate and Assembly here 

 5          today.

 6                 My name is MaryEllen Elia, and I am 

 7          the Commissioner of Education.  I am joined 

 8          by Executive Deputy Commissioner Beth Berlin 

 9          and Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education 

10          Policy Jhone Ebert.

11                 You have my full testimony before you.  

12          I'll speak to a few slides, and then we'll be 

13          happy to address your questions.

14                 Before I begin, I also want to welcome 

15          several members of the Board of Regents who 

16          are in the audience with us today, including 

17          Chancellor Betty Rosa and Regents Young, 

18          Cashin and Mead.  Our board members are 

19          dedicated people who care deeply about 

20          creating and sustaining an education system 

21          that works for all New Yorkers.  I want to 

22          thank them all for the work they do and for 

23          being here today.

24                 Our first priority in this budget is 

                                                                  11

 1          to ensure that our schools are fairly funded 

 2          through significant investments in Foundation 

 3          Aid.  As you can see on Slides 2 and 3, the 

 4          Regents have proposed a 2.1 billion increase 

 5          in school aid, consisting of a $1.4 billion 

 6          increase in Foundation Aid, $335 million to 

 7          cover formula-based expenses, and 

 8          $290 million in investments that we believe 

 9          are critical to address areas where gaps 

10          exist and where educational resources need to 

11          make a difference for our students.

12                 Furthermore, the Regents and I urge 

13          you to sustain the Foundation Aid phase-in.  

14          We recommend a three year phase-in of the 

15          full amount.

16                 Slides 4 through 9 highlight the 

17          investments we recommend.  We urge you to 

18          make a significant down payment on universal 

19          pre-kindergarten by investing $100 million 

20          for full-day seats.  

21                 By just about every measure, we know 

22          that high-quality early childhood education 

23          opportunities put students on a path to 

24          educational success, reduce special education 

                                                                  12

 1          placements, and even increase the chances of 

 2          a student eventually attending college.  This 

 3          is one of the best investments that you can 

 4          make in this budget, and I look forward to 

 5          working with you to make it a reality.

 6                 We commend the recent investments that 

 7          have been made in pre-K.  However, those 

 8          investments have resulted in a siloed, 

 9          fragmented system of seven separate 

10          pre-kindergarten programs.  If you take a 

11          look at Slide 5, you can see the web of pre-K 

12          programs and their various requirements and 

13          parameters.  If we were starting from 

14          scratch, this is not the system that we would 

15          have built, so let's work together to get 

16          this right.  

17                 We are pleased to see that the 

18          Executive Budget proposes a solution to this 

19          problem, and we urge you to align the 

20          existing state-funded pre-K programs into one 

21          allocational streamlined system so that 

22          communities do not have to compete against 

23          each other for this funding.

24                 While efforts to expand pre-K to 

                                                                  13

 1          3-year-olds are laudable, the state should 

 2          first ensure that all 4-year-olds have a 

 3          high-quality full-day pre-K seat before we 

 4          further expand to 3-year-olds.  

 5                 I also urge you to reject a provision 

 6          in the budget that would cause school 

 7          districts to lose pre-K funding if they 

 8          convert full-day seats to half-day seats, or 

 9          if they lose a full-day seat.  This punitive 

10          approach benefits no one.

11                 On Slide 7, we describe our request 

12          for dedicated funding to support English 

13          language learners.  New York has a remarkably 

14          diverse student population.  About 8 percent 

15          of the state's public school students are 

16          English language learners, and they speak 

17          over 200 different languages.  While we have 

18          made progress serving the unique learning 

19          needs of these students, we know that much 

20          work remains.  "Ever ELLs," a term we use to 

21          refer to students who at one point received 

22          ELL services, have just about eliminated the 

23          achievement gaps with their non-ELL peers on 

24          various measures, including meeting the 

                                                                  14

 1          state's 80 percent graduation rate goal.

 2                 However, the graduation rate for 

 3          current English language learners dropped 

 4          this year to 26.6 percent, and we are focused 

 5          on helping districts turn around these 

 6          results.  We've laid a good foundation with 

 7          the modernization of Part 51 regulations that 

 8          govern requirements for the education of 

 9          ELLs.

10                 This year we will focus on efforts to 

11          better support the inclusion of English 

12          language learners into general education and 

13          helping districts better support SIFE 

14          students -- that is students with interrupted 

15          formal education -- as they transition to 

16          schools in New York.

17                 The Regents and I are firmly committed 

18          to these students, and we seek your support 

19          of our budget priorities aimed at making sure 

20          districts have the resources they need to 

21          help these students succeed.

22                 On Slide 8, the Regents and I once 

23          again are requesting significant investments 

24          to expand Career and Technical Education 

                                                                  15

 1          pathways.  We recommend a $60 million 

 2          investment through changes to reimbursements 

 3          for CTE programs that would support the 

 4          creation of high-quality pathway 

 5          opportunities.  

 6                 Several years ago the Regents approved 

 7          a 4+1 multiple pathways model which allows 

 8          all students to substitute one of the social 

 9          studies Regents exams with approved 

10          alternatives.  Districts and BOCES need 

11          support so that their programming can catch 

12          up to the demands of the economic development 

13          in each community.

14                 We have taken administrative actions 

15          to support the development of CTE programs 

16          by, for example, modifying certification 

17          requirements so that experts in fields from 

18          various trades can teach these classes.  

19          However, efforts to expand these programs 

20          will depend on additional support and 

21          funding.  

22                 As I travel the state, I have 

23          uniformly heard positive feedback about the 

24          multiple pathways model.  Your one-house 

                                                                  16

 1          budgets have included versions of those 

 2          proposals recently, so let's work together to 

 3          make sure this is the year these investments 

 4          come to fruition.

 5                 As you can see on Slide 9, the Regents 

 6          state aid proposal also requests $30 million 

 7          to create a Professional Development Fund.  

 8          So let me point out to you there is no 

 9          predictor as important to the students 

10          success as the quality of the teacher in 

11          front of them.  As you know, we are moving 

12          forward with new learning standards.  We need 

13          to avoid the mistakes of the past to make 

14          sure that teachers have the professional 

15          development support and resources to 

16          understand the standards so that they know 

17          how to deliver them in their classrooms.  

18                 During my travels around the state, 

19          many teachers have directly told me that they 

20          would like to have more and better 

21          professional development opportunities.

22                 Slides 10 through 24 describe our 

23          agency budget priorities.  I'll speak briefly 

24          to a few of the priorities and ask that you 

                                                                  17

 1          take some time to review the rest.

 2                 On Slide 11, we highlight a $2 million 

 3          budget request to update and modernize two 

 4          important systems within the department.  One 

 5          is our state aid modeling system that 

 6          produces the school aid runs and is written 

 7          in the COBOL language.  It is so outdated 

 8          that only one person in the department is 

 9          fully trained to operate it.  

10                 The second is our DOS platform-based 

11          facilities planning system, which we use to 

12          receive, track, review and approve all 

13          building and facility projects that require 

14          department approval -- which now also 

15          includes the Smart Schools Bond Act projects.

16                 Both of these systems are outdated and 

17          the question is not if they will fail, really 

18          the question is when they will fail.  

19                 On Slide 12, we are requesting 

20          $700,000 to create a special education 

21          provider data system.  As you know, the 

22          department regulates and sets reimbursement 

23          rates for a large system of public and 

24          private providers that educate students with 

                                                                  18

 1          the most severe disabilities.  While we have 

 2          several systems collecting data related to 

 3          these programs, the systems were developed 

 4          separately, and they cannot share information 

 5          with each other.  

 6                 We believe that with a uniform system 

 7          we will not only be able to better serve the 

 8          programs, but also enhance reporting about 

 9          special education services.  This is a 

10          relatively small investment that would help 

11          us improve both the service delivery for 

12          students with disabilities and our 

13          rate-setting process, which I know is very 

14          important to many of you.

15                 As I mentioned earlier, the department 

16          is focused on the needs of ELL students, and 

17          our state aid proposal includes a funding 

18          request to help districts better serve these 

19          students.  On Slide 16 we request funding to 

20          make improvements to our testing program to 

21          better serve English language learners.  

22                 I'd like to bring to your attention 

23          that as part of this budget proposal, we are 

24          requesting $1 million to translate all the 

                                                                  19

 1          required state assessments into the state's 

 2          eight most common home foreign languages.

 3                 The final issue I would like to 

 4          mention relates to the department's lack of 

 5          operating resources from the state.  SED is 

 6          the most staff-deprived state education 

 7          agency in the country, based on the broad 

 8          scope of responsibilities that we have.  

 9          Quite simply, the department's funding levels 

10          and our inability to fill positions that have 

11          been approved by the Legislature is no longer 

12          sustainable.  We are at a point in too many 

13          offices where we simply cannot keep up with 

14          the work of serving districts, teachers, and 

15          your constituents.

16                 On Slide 20 we request that you 

17          implement a 5 percent set-aside for 

18          administration and oversight within new 

19          programs.  This is a common practice across 

20          the federal government and would allow us to 

21          keep up as our responsibilities grow.  

22                 I also request your assistance in 

23          helping us fill authorized but unfilled 

24          positions within the department.  Every year, 

                                                                  20

 1          as part of the state operations budget, you 

 2          vote and approve an FTE level for state 

 3          agencies.  For several years now, our fill 

 4          level has been flat at 2692 positions across 

 5          all program offices and locations.  

 6                 However, we require approval from the 

 7          Division of Budget before we can fill 

 8          positions even though we are well below our 

 9          authorized FTE level.  For several months we 

10          did not have approval to fill 280 of those 

11          positions, representing over 10 percent of 

12          our workforce, and that equates to about 

13          42,000 work hours per month.  Although we 

14          appreciate the approval of 150 positions late 

15          yesterday, this is a problem that is not 

16          going away, and we need your assistance to 

17          make sure the department has timely access to 

18          the resources that you have approved.

19                 We have a very committed staff that 

20          have worked diligently to keep up as best 

21          they can.  Despite their efforts, the lack of 

22          staffing is a real problem that affects 

23          everyday New Yorkers, including pre-K 

24          students, disabled adults, and aspiring 

                                                                  21

 1          teachers.  In our Teacher Certification 

 2          Office, for example, we had eight positions 

 3          to fill.  It takes us longer to review and 

 4          approve certification requests for teachers, 

 5          who are your constituents, that are waiting 

 6          to start their jobs.  Even with yesterday's 

 7          approvals, two waivers were left unapproved, 

 8          preventing us from bringing the office to 

 9          full capacity.  

10                 Another example, the Office of 

11          Facilities Planning, which has significant 

12          and growing responsibilities related to the 

13          Smart Schools Bond Act.  There are two 

14          positions in that office that we have not 

15          been authorized to fill.

16                 In 2010, when our Early Learning 

17          Office oversaw $399 million of UPK funding, 

18          we had 13 state-funded staff.  Today we are 

19          overseeing $828 million in pre-K programming, 

20          and the number of state-funded staff has 

21          dropped to 10.  We need your help.  And by 

22          supporting the department, you will be 

23          supporting your constituents in your 

24          communities.  

                                                                  22

 1                 In closing, I want to bring your 

 2          attention to Slides 26 to 30, which puts in 

 3          focus the urgency of work we do everyday at 

 4          the department.  Our students compete for 

 5          jobs not only with their peers in New York 

 6          and in other states, they compete globally.  

 7          And objective results show that we are 

 8          falling behind other nations in science, 

 9          reading and math.  

10                 I want to draw your attention to 

11          Slide 29.  In reviewing PISA results, there 

12          is a roadmap to address these challenges.  As 

13          Amanda Ripley wrote about the results:  

14          "Generally speaking, the smartest countries 

15          tend to be those that have acted to make 

16          teaching more prestigious and selective; 

17          directed more resources to their neediest 

18          children; enrolled most children in 

19          high-quality preschools; helped schools 

20          establish cultures of constant improvement; 

21          and applied rigorous, consistent standards 

22          across all classrooms."

23                 The path forward parallels the agenda 

24          we've laid out today and includes supporting 

                                                                  23

 1          and developing teachers and principals, 

 2          providing resources to our high-needs 

 3          communities, and investing in early childhood 

 4          education.  I'm very proud of the teaching 

 5          and learning I see in schools throughout the 

 6          state.  I trust that our educators and 

 7          students can continue to rise to the 

 8          challenge.  They need your help to do so.  As 

 9          I've mentioned before, our K-12 schools are 

10          our most important infrastructure to develop 

11          our workforce and workforce pipeline.  And 

12          ultimately, great schools are our best 

13          economic development strategy.  

14                 So let's work together to make sure 

15          this budget provides the resources and 

16          supports our students' need to succeed.  

17                 Thank you, and I look forward to your 

18          questions.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

20                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

21          much.

22                 Mr. Oaks, you have someone?

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Just to let you 

24          know that we've been joined by Assemblyman Ra 

                                                                  24

 1          and Assemblywoman Walsh.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator?  

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  We've 

 4          been joined by Senator Simcha Felder, Senator 

 5          Todd Kaminsky, and Senator Gustavo Rivera.

 6                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Now to begin, Cathy 

 7          Nolan, Assemblywoman and chair of Education.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you, 

 9          Mr. Farrell and my colleagues.  I just want 

10          to say briefly, as a -- I have some 

11          questions, but I just want to thank 

12          Commissioner Elia.  And I really believe I 

13          speak for many members, I hope most members 

14          if not all the members of the Legislature, 

15          that, you know, your accessibility, your high 

16          visibility, your going around the state, your 

17          listening to teachers and families and 

18          students has made such a key difference in I 

19          think generating support for education but 

20          also taking down the temperature a little.  

21          It's been a very contentious couple of years.  

22          And the fact that Chancellor Rosa is here 

23          today, with a number of members of the Board 

24          of Regents -- Regent Mead, Regent Cashin, 

                                                                  25

 1          Regent Young -- makes I think a very positive 

 2          statement to everybody here in the 

 3          Legislature.

 4                 You know, these hearings, my 

 5          colleagues, are very unique because the rest 

 6          of the Article VII finance hearings review 

 7          the executive agencies and the performance of 

 8          the executive agencies.  Education is very 

 9          unique in our state because -- because we 

10          appoint the members of the Board of Regents, 

11          who then appoint the Commissioner of 

12          Education -- you have a slightly different 

13          relationship both with the Legislature, we 

14          need to take more ownership of that, and also 

15          with the executive agencies.  

16                 So I just want to say, on behalf I 

17          think of many, what a real great high-energy 

18          performance you've had and we're glad to have 

19          you back again this year.

20                 I do have a question that -- but I 

21          want to talk a little bit about Foundation 

22          Aid first off.  I want to make it clear that 

23          any repeal of Foundation Aid in this budget 

24          by the Executive is entirely -- it's just 

                                                                  26

 1          completely unacceptable.  We cannot go 

 2          forward after a court case, after 20 years of 

 3          work and effort, to have a system of 

 4          education funding that is about wheeling and 

 5          dealing and not about aligning funding with 

 6          need, letting the funding go to the children 

 7          that have the most needs.  And we cannot walk 

 8          away from that.  And I'm sorry to say there 

 9          are portions of this proposed Executive 

10          Budget that very much do that.

11                 But I want to focus on what the 

12          Regents have proposed, which is the 

13          Foundation Aid formula moving forward.  The 

14          amount you're looking at for this year would 

15          be a phase-in of $1.47 billion, is that 

16          correct?

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes, that's 

18          correct.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  All right.  And 

20          then of that, it would be -- the formula that 

21          we are currently using that the Regents and 

22          the State Ed department -- prior to your 

23          tenure, obviously -- developed focuses on 

24          what?  Maybe you can just enlighten all of us 

                                                                  27

 1          a little bit about why that formula follows 

 2          need and just talk a little bit about the 

 3          component parts.

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So there are 

 5          several factors included in the formula.  And 

 6          I think the important thing is that in fact 

 7          as we're doing the formula work, we know that 

 8          it's important to make sure that the formula 

 9          itself is relevant.  We suggested and the 

10          Executive Budget included some shifts in the 

11          formula that we think would update it.  

12                 Number one, we looked at the way we 

13          would determine the students that are at most 

14          high need, and so that has been updated based 

15          on the requirements of the free and reduced 

16          lunch programs and the data that we have 

17          related to that.  We also have looked at and 

18          said that there are other formula pieces that 

19          can be shifted, and we're doing that.  The 

20          Executive Budget also included those, and I 

21          think it's noteworthy to know that.  

22                 But the basis for the Foundation Aid 

23          and that formula itself is included as a 

24          portion of the way that we have developed the 

                                                                  28

 1          structure for the Regents budget.  So the 1.4 

 2          that you mentioned that specifically is the 

 3          Foundation Aid, we made a suggestion and our 

 4          budget reflects a three-year phase-in of 

 5          Foundation Aid.  And we think that that is an 

 6          appropriate way to look at the growth as we 

 7          move forward -- understanding constraints 

 8          that might be part of this budget, but as we 

 9          move forward, a three-year phase-in of full 

10          Foundation Aid was what was suggested by the 

11          Regents.  

12                 And the portion that we have is the 

13          expense-based aid for $335 million.  

14          Certainly we know expense-based aid gets paid 

15          to the districts after the fact.  And we 

16          believe that it's important to include that 

17          as well.  

18                 And what you heard about the key 

19          investments that the Regents and the State Ed 

20          Department have identified is very critical 

21          in moving education forward here.  But we are 

22          supportive of maintaining the Foundation Aid, 

23          and our suggested budget includes a 

24          three-year phase-in of that.

                                                                  29

 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I want to also 

 2          ask -- and it's funny, as she's just coming 

 3          in, Assemblywoman Arroyo -- but I do want to 

 4          ask about the Regents' very strong 

 5          recommendation, which certainly has my 

 6          support, as do your other Engage NY budget 

 7          recommendations, for $100 million for English 

 8          language learners.  I think it's such a 

 9          critical part of what we're doing.  I don't 

10          know if every colleague has -- you know, I 

11          have the privilege, as chair of the 

12          committee, of reading everything you guys 

13          send me, those telephone-directory-sized 

14          books that we get in the mail and online.  

15                 But you might want to talk a little 

16          bit about why that's so critical, because I 

17          think people have to realize in a global 

18          world, and our globalized state, children are 

19          coming in from all over the world.  And to 

20          me, it's such a marvelous, wonderful thing, 

21          because it's an opportunity for children to 

22          interact together.  I always say my own son, 

23          who is a student in a public school, has 

24          received a wonderful education just in his 

                                                                  30

 1          social maturity, you know, as a person 

 2          because he knows people from everywhere.  And 

 3          he can -- when he goes into business one 

 4          day -- hopefully he will not go into 

 5          politics, he'll go into business -- he will 

 6          be able to work and deal with everyone.  So, 

 7          you know, to me it's so wonderful.  

 8                 But maybe you can talk a little bit 

 9          about English language learners.

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Absolutely.  

11                 I think there's a number of data 

12          points that are extremely important that are 

13          the basis for this recommendation to you as 

14          well as to the Executive.  So if you look at 

15          the 3-8 assessment data that we had, 

16          specifically the group of English language 

17          learners are those students that need to have 

18          the most support.  

19                 In 2014, the Regents approved changes 

20          in the regulations that updated the 

21          regulations related to supporting students 

22          who were English language learners or SIFE 

23          students -- that is, students with 

24          interrupted education who come to this 

                                                                  31

 1          country --

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I don't mean to 

 3          interrupt, but I also just want like a 

 4          number.  Like we have 3 million students in 

 5          public schools.  How many English language 

 6          learners do we have in our state?  

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  We have 8 percent 

 8          of our public school students across the 

 9          state speaking 200 languages.  And so as they 

10          come in and they're working with our teachers 

11          across the state, it's absolutely critical 

12          that we address the needs that they have.  We 

13          have the 3-8 assessments that show that they 

14          need specifically that support in English 

15          language as well as in mathematics.  

16                 But also I want to point out to you 

17          our recent graduation rate.  We had wonderful 

18          success with students who had been in the 

19          English Language Learner Program and exited; 

20          that is, the Ever ELLs.  They had been in it, 

21          but they are out, and they were one of the 

22          groups that had the highest graduation 

23          rates -- in fact, above 80 percent.  

24                 However, those students that are still 

                                                                  32

 1          in the English Language Learner Program 

 2          across the state have much work to be done to 

 3          support them.  And I think it's absolutely 

 4          critical.  The two data points that we have 

 5          clearly point to the needs of that particular 

 6          population, and it's absolutely critical that 

 7          we work to support them.

 8                 So our work does include opportunities 

 9          for the $100 million to be used for 

10          supporting teachers in strategies that will 

11          support those students better, to include 

12          family engagement programs, to provide 

13          services to our ELL students, particularly 

14          our new ELL students, and the SIFE students 

15          that come that have had interrupted education 

16          and need to catch up even further.

17                 So we feel that's an extremely 

18          important investment.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you very 

20          much.  I just want to pledge again our 

21          support, my support, for trying to get you 

22          the resources you need to run the department.  

23          I certainly feel, over my tenure, very, very 

24          bad that we have not.  I said it to 

                                                                  33

 1          Chancellor Tisch, I said it to Chancellor 

 2          Bennett, I'm saying it now to Chancellor 

 3          Rosa:  We will try to do better by this 

 4          important department so that you can provide 

 5          the services that you need.  It's been a 

 6          frustrating thing.  We've not been as 

 7          successful as I would like.  But I just want 

 8          to pledge again our support, my support, to 

 9          try to get you the resources you need to run 

10          the State Education Department, such an 

11          important and historic branch of our state 

12          government.  

13                 And you should not be unfairly 

14          penalized because you're not an executive 

15          agency, the way some others are, which 

16          receive, say, 50 percent, 60 percent, 

17          80 percent of their funding from state levy 

18          dollars.  And you're our State Education 

19          Department, and what is it, 8 percent of your 

20          staff is paid --

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I mean, it's 

23          terrible.  Terrible.  It shouldn't be.  So we 

24          have to work to better that.

                                                                  34

 1                 And my last quick thing with my last 

 2          seconds, I just want to reinforce -- we 

 3          didn't get a chance to talk about it today -- 

 4          my support for adult education.  Sometimes 

 5          it's a little bit forgotten in terms of all 

 6          that big elementary/secondary money, but you 

 7          also have such responsibilities for that and 

 8          for getting people a high school diploma at 

 9          any stage of life.  

10                 And, you know, we were able to tour 

11          some facilities that are literally teaching 

12          adults to read.  You know, we take it for 

13          granted, those of us who read all the time 

14          for a living, but there are people that -- 

15          and people born in this country who cannot, 

16          as adults, read, and it always breaks my 

17          heart.  

18                 So I appreciate -- I know your deputy 

19          is here from that department as well, and we 

20          appreciate your leadership on that.

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I think it's 

22          particularly important when one of the 

23          proposals that we have in front of you is for 

24          the Bridge program.  The bridge program is 

                                                                  35

 1          paralleled off of LaGuardia High School in 

 2          New York City that has done a magnificent job 

 3          of supporting students who don't have a high 

 4          school diploma but want to come back and 

 5          further their education.  And the program 

 6          that we're suggesting would allow that to 

 7          occur.  We want to put in some pilots around 

 8          the state and support that population who did 

 9          not end up with a diploma, whether they were 

10          English language learners or whether they 

11          were from other states or whether they were 

12          from New York State, but they want to become 

13          part of our workforce now.  And the Bridge 

14          program that we've modeled off of LaGuardia 

15          is a great program that I think would help 

16          whatever communities were able to put that in 

17          as a pilot.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you. 

20                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

21                 We've been joined by Assemblywoman 

22          Carmen Arroyo.  

23                 And Senator?  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

                                                                  36

 1                 Senator Carl Marcellino, chair of the 

 2          Senate Education Committee.

 3                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thank you very 

 4          much, Senator.

 5                 Commissioner Elia, I wanted to 

 6          congratulate you and thank you very much for 

 7          the cooperation that you and your staff over 

 8          at State Ed have certainly supplied myself 

 9          and my staff.  Whenever we've asked questions 

10          and whenever we've had information that 

11          required calling over there, we've always 

12          gotten a response and it's been prompt and 

13          it's always been accurate.  

14                 So I thank you for that.  You do and 

15          are doing an excellent job, in my opinion.

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

17                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Some years ago -- 

18          some of you may know that Cathy was a former 

19          student of mine at Grover Cleveland High 

20          School.  And our old principal had said to 

21          me, you know -- 

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Hard to believe, 

23          but true.  

24                 (Laughter.)

                                                                  37

 1                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  My old principal, 

 2          who was the longest-serving principal in the 

 3          history of the city, said to me one day, he 

 4          says, "You know, that Nolan kid, she's going 

 5          to go into politics."  And I said, "Nah, 

 6          she's too smart for that."

 7                 (Laughter.)

 8                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I'm not sure 

 9          which one of us turned out to be correct, but 

10          the working relationship has been a good one.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

12          Thank you so much.  Thank you.

13                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  You've made a 

14          presentation here and you've made a case for 

15          about 2-plus billion dollars in aid to the 

16          schools.  The Governor is offering, in his 

17          budget, about a billion dollars, give or 

18          take.  Why isn't the Governor's number 

19          enough?

20                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I think, you 

21          know, I've tried to point out some of 

22          the voids that we have in the particular --

23                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Could you hit the 

24          really salient points?  I know you did.  But 

                                                                  38

 1          can you hit the really salient points, the 

 2          key ones that make the fact that the billion 

 3          is not enough?

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay.  So if you 

 5          look at the budget that we've proposed, we're 

 6          actually saying that not only is a phase-in 

 7          of the Foundation Aid a necessary thing -- so 

 8          we took the amount of Foundation Aid that 

 9          is -- right now can be calculated, which is 

10          done through our systems, and we divided that 

11          in three.  And that's a portion of what we're 

12          talking about for Foundation Aid.  

13                 And when you look at the investments 

14          that we see in the Executive Budget, there 

15          are some very -- I think some major voids 

16          that are existing, first of all.  If we're 

17          going to push for quality pre-K across the 

18          state, the Governor's budget calls for a $5 

19          million investment in that.  We have already 

20          seen across the state that those children who 

21          come into a quality pre-K program and have 

22          that, they have experienced more success in 

23          our elementary grades, in 1 through 3.  And 

24          we saw this past year that we had a 

                                                                  39

 1          substantive growth in our third grade in 

 2          their assessments.  

 3                 So the point of saying that we're 

 4          going to put $5 million in is an investment, 

 5          but it is not enough.  And across the 

 6          state -- if you look at page 5, you can see 

 7          the vast array of programs -- with the 

 8          $5 million, the Executive Budget calls for 

 9          that to go out in an RFP.  Even though there 

10          are some shifts that are made to give that 

11          initially to those students who are most in 

12          need, it's really a critical thing to put 

13          funding into that program.  

14                 The other thing I want to point out is 

15          specifically the Governor's budget doesn't 

16          address some of the other key things that we 

17          think are extremely important, driven by data 

18          that we have, and that is English language 

19          learners and the work that we have to do with 

20          English language learners.  Let me say that 

21          that is affecting districts all over the 

22          state, the supports and the help that they 

23          need to make sure that those students can be 

24          successful.  

                                                                  40

 1                 It is an important opportunity, and I 

 2          want to laud Cathy Nolan's point about the 

 3          fact that we ought to celebrate the fact that 

 4          we have diversity in this state, and support 

 5          those students and families to the best 

 6          extent that we can.  And his budget does not 

 7          address that, and we believe that's a very 

 8          critical point.  

 9                 And let me point out one of the other 

10          key things -- and you and I, Senator 

11          Marcellino, have had these conversations, 

12          individually and in groups that you've put 

13          together out on Long Island and here in 

14          Albany.  Specifically, there were some errors 

15          made in the speed with which we moved out new 

16          standards and new assessments in New York 

17          State.  And one of the key areas that was not 

18          addressed in that previous rollout was the 

19          work that needs to done with teachers and 

20          with principals in training them to be ready 

21          to deliver new standards.  

22                 You and I were also, with 

23          Assemblywoman Nolan, we were on the 

24          Governor's Task Force on Common Core, with 

                                                                  41

 1          the recommendations that came out of that, 

 2          and specifically those recommendations called 

 3          for some changes that we at the State Ed 

 4          Department are working to develop.  But one 

 5          of the key things in there was the constant 

 6          discussion that we heard across the state 

 7          from teachers and principals of the great 

 8          need to support teachers in their classrooms 

 9          every day.  

10                 The Governor's budget does not include 

11          that.  And I think it is an extremely 

12          important factor if we are to do the things 

13          that are necessary to right this ship of 

14          New York State's education and the quality 

15          reforms that have been put in place, the 

16          supports that we need for separate 

17          populations, to help our teachers and 

18          principals get to be where they need to be.  

19                 And I think you can see that when they 

20          are given support, we have in those 

21          particular districts seen great supports for 

22          students.  

23                 So I think those are some key areas 

24          that are not included in the Governor's 

                                                                  42

 1          budget that are important for all of us in 

 2          New York.

 3                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The English 

 4          language learners, the kids that have been 

 5          coming in, over the past three years, the 

 6          statistics that I've seen, approximately 

 7          200,000 a year over the last three, and I 

 8          think about 220,000 in this past year 

 9          alone -- how many of those young people 

10          require what I would call significant 

11          remedial work?  I can't believe they're all 

12          coming in on grade level with abilities.

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I mean, 

14          let's face it, no matter where a student 

15          comes from and no matter what their past 

16          education has been, if they don't speak 

17          English, they're at a disadvantage in 

18          learning in our classrooms.  And we need to 

19          support them as they develop their skills in 

20          English but also in their content area.  

21                 And so as we're doing this, I think 

22          it's critical to make sure that the kinds of 

23          regulations -- like Regulation 154 that 

24          supports English language learners in many 

                                                                  43

 1          areas relating to teacher certification, 

 2          relating to teacher supports in the 

 3          classroom, to connections to their families 

 4          and their communities -- making sure -- and 

 5          one of our requests is to make sure that we 

 6          have translations of our exams so that 

 7          students who have knowledge in their own 

 8          language can translate that to our systems.  

 9          All of those things are necessary.  

10                 And as you pointed out, a number of 

11          districts that I've talked to in your area 

12          have students that come in with interrupted 

13          language and education.  Those students need 

14          to have intense support in classrooms, but 

15          they also need -- besides learning English, 

16          they need to keep -- they need to move 

17          forward in content area subjects.  

18                 So the kinds of supports that are 

19          necessary require us to support districts 

20          across the state to do that.  

21                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Finally -- thank 

22          you.  And if I may jump quickly to a slightly 

23          different topic, the Smart Schools Bond Act 

24          funding.  

                                                                  44

 1                 It's my understanding there are 

 2          approximately 168 school districts that have 

 3          not received an answer to their proposal and 

 4          are awaiting their funding.  I'm assuming, 

 5          from what I heard before when you opened your 

 6          statement, manpower -- or person power -- 

 7          I've got to be careful -- people power is 

 8          your problem, or one of your problems.  What 

 9          else is a problem there that's holding us 

10          back?  

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, let me point 

12          out -- I just want to give you the numbers as 

13          of now.

14                 So we have 118 projects that are in 

15          State Ed waiting for the reviews to be done 

16          to move forward.  We have 26 projects that 

17          were moved out of State Ed that now are in a 

18          position of being reviewed in other agencies.  

19          As you well know, the Division of Budget as 

20          well as SUNY have a role in a supporting 

21          movement forward on the bonds -- on the 

22          approval of the bond program.

23                 We have 19 that are ready to be 

24          approved by the committee when the next 

                                                                  45

 1          meeting is held by that committee.  We do not 

 2          schedule that, that's scheduled by the 

 3          Division of Budget.  There was a period of 

 4          time where there were no meetings.  They now 

 5          have started again, and we had a number of -- 

 6          that were approved.  

 7                 So the total number of approved 

 8          projects is 144, or 47 percent of the 

 9          projects that have been submitted to us 

10          actually have been approved.

11                 So I think it's -- you know, one of 

12          the things that we want -- and I know that 

13          you can understand this -- we have programs 

14          that have been put in place with much thought 

15          and support for education.  One of them is 

16          the Smart Schools Bond Act.  There is no 

17          other state that I know of that has been 

18          thoughtful enough to put funding in place to 

19          get schools across their state up to the 

20          point where they need to be to deliver 

21          instruction using technology to the point 

22          that we have.

23                 However, we have a very antiquated 

24          facilities tracking system which requires an 

                                                                  46

 1          enormous amount of opportunities for our 

 2          staff to track, as opposed to approve.  So if 

 3          we were able to get funding to support an 

 4          updated system that spoke to each other, that 

 5          could give constant feedback on issues that 

 6          need to be cleared by the districts before we 

 7          can move forward on a project, it would be 

 8          very helpful not only for our construction 

 9          projects but for the Smart Schools Bond 

10          projects.

11                 So the work that we're doing is moving 

12          them forward.  And yes, as I gave you those 

13          numbers, 47 percent of those that have been 

14          submitted to us have been approved and have 

15          moved forward; 38 percent are still with us 

16          and we're moving them forward, but we have 

17          work to do to improve that.

18                 The same department that approves all 

19          the construction projects going on in your 

20          districts across the state is the same -- 

21          that's the same department that does the 

22          Smart Schools Bond.  So it's important for us 

23          to get as efficient as we can.  We have 

24          decreased by half the time that it took for 

                                                                  47

 1          us to get approvals for all of those 

 2          projects.  But we still have too long of a 

 3          wait.  And we want to get better at that, but 

 4          it requires your support.

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Well, thank you 

 6          very much for your time.  I know my time is 

 7          up.  But I would just state that if my office 

 8          can be of any assistance in, for lack of a 

 9          better word, goosing the system to get things 

10          out of other agencies that are being held up 

11          for whatever reason, give us a call.

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

14          much.  

15                 We've been joined by Assemblywoman 

16          Jo Anne Simon.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  And 

18          we've been joined by Senator Patrick 

19          Gallivan.

20                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Next to question, 

21          Mr. Lopez.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

23          Chairman.  

24                 Commissioner, welcome.  Glad to see 

                                                                  48

 1          you again.  And actually we have -- our 

 2          Windham students are here.  My wife is back, 

 3          and she's taking in your testimony as well.  

 4          So glad you're here.

 5                 Commissioner, a couple of things 

 6          quickly.  In the Foundation Aid -- and I know 

 7          we had a conversation about fully funding it 

 8          and the issue of projecting, carrying on with 

 9          the multiyear.  My honest observation is that 

10          even within the formula, there are certain 

11          key areas where schools are struggling.  And 

12          even fully funded, I'm concerned that not all 

13          schools will be -- still will be created 

14          equal, particularly high need, low wealth, 

15          inner city and rural, in particular.  

16                 And I see the drivers, cost drivers.  

17          You mentioned English language, second 

18          language learners as a cost driver.  I would 

19          add to that poverty and special education 

20          needs.  

21                 And my question for you is, do you 

22          see, in the budget as proposed, the 

23          opportunity for every student to have the 

24          same access to a quality education?  Open 

                                                                  49

 1          question.

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I think that 

 3          you've hit on something that's very 

 4          important.  The Foundation Aid, it's 

 5          important to make sure that it's been updated 

 6          and that we're using data and numbers that 

 7          are current as it's calculated.  

 8                 And also, I think that as we move 

 9          forward, we have to look at ways that we can 

10          make sure that those districts and schools 

11          are getting the resources that they need to 

12          be able to support students in their 

13          districts.  

14                 And you have identified, I think, 

15          Member Lopez, a critical need to make sure 

16          that the distribution of the funding is done 

17          based on great need.  And at this point in 

18          time, I think that the budget has been -- the 

19          proposal for the budget has supported, in 

20          fact, doing that.  We've updated the budget, 

21          and the Executive office and their 

22          departments have included some of those 

23          suggested changes.  I think there's more work 

24          to be done.  

                                                                  50

 1                 And as you've pointed out, we have 

 2          many places in the state that need more 

 3          resources, and they are not receiving the 

 4          resources that they need.  The Foundation Aid 

 5          phase-in will help those districts, but we 

 6          have to constantly be looking at ways to 

 7          improve the distribution of the funds.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  And again, 

 9          that's -- my concern is, particularly on 

10          those three cost drivers, I'm not sure if 

11          we're heading in that direction.  And that's 

12          why I'm looking for your guidance and 

13          experience there.

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, there is no 

15          question that the Regents have been focused 

16          on equity and making sure that those 

17          districts and schools within large districts 

18          that have great need are receiving the 

19          resources that they need.  And so that is 

20          something that I think, as you pointed out, 

21          is very important for us to do.  And we are 

22          certainly not there yet.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  I'm going to shift 

24          gears quickly.  Again, we've had some 

                                                                  51

 1          conversation about the loss of the local 

 2          diploma and about the issue of getting people 

 3          to work right from school.  And the concern 

 4          many of us have remains with the issue of not 

 5          having a diploma if someone is not in the 

 6          Regents track, having certification.  And the 

 7          real world employability -- my concern is how 

 8          do we work towards using the term "diploma" 

 9          as one aspect.  

10                 The other aspect is, even within the 

11          Regents, is there an opportunity to 

12          strengthen the career and technical aspect so 

13          that someone can be job-ready and still get 

14          through the Regents program if they do pursue 

15          the Regents track?  

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So in our 

17          conversations I know you're aware of the 

18          changes that the Regents have approved and 

19          that we have made to allow students to have 

20          access to opportunities towards receiving a 

21          diploma.  

22                 And let me say that I think that we 

23          have opened up the opportunities for students 

24          with disabilities to do that.  And the 

                                                                  52

 1          suggestions in the proposal that's in front 

 2          of you that relate specifically to the 

 3          expansion of CTE programming is very 

 4          important.  And so that will open up 

 5          opportunities for that 4+1 option that we 

 6          have.

 7                 And last year, as we discussed, the 

 8          Regents opened up the superintendent's 

 9          determination for students who had taken 

10          coursework and were unable to pass a Regent 

11          in that coursework -- specifically, a student 

12          with disabilities.  However, they had passed 

13          the course and they had content knowledge 

14          enough that they could sign off as a 

15          superintendent that they determined that they 

16          should receive a local diploma.  

17                 Statewide, we had 418 of the students 

18          across the state that received a local 

19          diploma under a superintendent's 

20          determination.

21                 So we believe that by looking 

22          carefully at the options that we make 

23          available to our students with disabilities 

24          particularly, or students who want to make 

                                                                  53

 1          sure -- and maybe they are not focused on the 

 2          Regents exams as such, but want the 

 3          opportunities to become certified in a 

 4          particular career -- those have also been 

 5          offered as the 4+1 option.

 6                 So right now, we have approved 

 7          assessments that can be used for students to 

 8          graduate with a Regents diploma and allowing 

 9          them to have a career and technical external 

10          assessment that then puts them right in line 

11          to be able to have a job as they leave high 

12          school.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

14          Commissioner.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

16                 Senator?  

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

18          much.  

19                 And Commissioner, it's always great to 

20          see you.  And I too want to sincerely thank 

21          you for everything that you do for the 

22          students in New York.  And it's great to see 

23          you travel about the state.  And I know 

24          you've been to Western New York many, many 

                                                                  54

 1          times.  In fact, you hail from there.  So 

 2          it's great.

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  That's it.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So I did want to 

 5          follow up on a couple of things.  And we've 

 6          had quite a discussion today on the ELL 

 7          students, and you mentioned Part 54 in the 

 8          regulations that were created by the State Ed 

 9          Department.  

10                 I just want to give you a little bit 

11          of feedback that we're getting from some of 

12          the districts.  This was an unfunded mandate, 

13          because it's very difficult, according to the 

14          districts, to find teachers who are 

15          dual-certified in foreign languages and in a 

16          particular topic area.  So in many cases, 

17          what they're having to do is hire a foreign 

18          language teacher and they're having to hire a 

19          social studies teacher, a math teacher, 

20          whatever it is, so they have two teachers in 

21          one classroom.  These additional 

22          positions are not funded by the state.  

23                 You mentioned in your testimony that 

24          you're asking for $100 million.  My question 

                                                                  55

 1          is, is that what the school districts are 

 2          losing right now because of this unfunded 

 3          mandate?  So could you give us a little bit 

 4          more information on that?  

 5                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure.  I think the 

 6          point that you've made is extremely 

 7          important.  And a number of districts across 

 8          the state have faced the issue of getting 

 9          certified teachers into those classrooms to 

10          support students who speak another language 

11          but are in our classrooms.  

12                 One of the things that we've done -- 

13          and we know that this is an issue, and it 

14          relates to this certification.  So there are 

15          places across the state in higher ed that 

16          have opened up opportunities for teachers to 

17          get certified as an add-on to their existing 

18          certification.  

19                 So if you take the example that you 

20          used, you have a social studies teacher and 

21          they have not been certified, but they have 

22          students that are ELL students in their 

23          classroom.  If that social studies teacher 

24          goes through the training and does an add-on 

                                                                  56

 1          of a certification, they become certified.

 2                 So these are some of the activities 

 3          that I think are absolutely critical for us 

 4          to expand and make available.  

 5                 We're also looking at putting online 

 6          programming together so that a portion of 

 7          their training for that add-on can be not 

 8          only in a classroom, having to go somewhere, 

 9          but actually have the availability of it 

10          online so that they can get that 

11          certification.

12                 The thing that I think is important to 

13          realize is we've got to make the 

14          certifications available for the great 

15          teachers we have in New York.  And what 

16          happens is to think that we only can do a 

17          certification for an ELL teacher in one way 

18          is not reasonable.  We have so many different 

19          types of school districts -- large, small, 

20          rural, urban, suburban -- we have to make 

21          that programming available.

22                 We actually have put programs together 

23          that are allowing that certification, and we 

24          are encouraging institutions of higher 

                                                                  57

 1          learning and our teacher prep programs to put 

 2          in place English language learner training 

 3          programs so that their graduates can graduate 

 4          dually certified and/or that someone that's 

 5          coming back can get that certification early.  

 6                 So it has to be in multiple modes and 

 7          not just one way to get a certification.  But 

 8          it is an issue, and it clearly has been a 

 9          problem.  Some of our BOCES have stepped up 

10          and are putting in place training for them as 

11          well.

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I think it shows a 

13          need for the Blended Learning Program that we 

14          tried to get off the ground.  You're talking 

15          about technology and using technology in the 

16          classroom, and I'm not sure where that's at 

17          either.

18                 I wanted to talk about Foundation Aid 

19          and the formula.  Assemblyman Lopez brought 

20          that up.  But it was unfrozen in 2011-2012.  

21          And the majority of the data factors used in 

22          the calculations are updated annually, is 

23          that correct?  

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  The majority of -- 

                                                                  58

 1          they are updated this year.  We put in a 

 2          proposal to update them.  And as we've 

 3          updated them, we see that that will change 

 4          the formula somewhat because it will shift on 

 5          the poverty indicator as one area.  And also 

 6          the base amount of .65, which the Executive 

 7          Budget has taken out of the formula and 

 8          dropped to zero, we think that will help.  

 9                 But it has not been, up to this point, 

10          included in the runs that we have given to 

11          districts in the past years that we have an 

12          updated formula particularly for poverty.  So 

13          we have updated it for this year, and that's 

14          included in the runs out of the Executive 

15          Budget.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So you've updated 

17          it with the ELLs and that sort of thing, 

18          enrollment?  

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, that data is 

20          updated each year, so you know exactly how 

21          many students are ELL in a district.  And 

22          there is a factor in the formula that allows 

23          for ELL to be a calculation of that.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I wanted to talk to 

                                                                  59

 1          you -- because you just touched on it -- 

 2          about the direct certification data versus 

 3          the free and reduced-price lunches.  And I 

 4          wanted to get your thoughts on that, because 

 5          there are two schools of thought -- no pun 

 6          intended.  But for example, in my district -- 

 7          very rural, as you know, a lot of poor 

 8          people -- and there are two factors that 

 9          sometimes get in the way of people signing up 

10          for free and reduced-price lunches for their 

11          children.  One is maybe some apathy on the 

12          part of the parents, they don't return the 

13          information back to the school, which is a 

14          big problem.  Or they may be embarrassed 

15          because they see it as a handout and they're 

16          proud.

17                 So, you know, there are questions out 

18          there.  The direct certification data, do you 

19          think that would be a more accurate way of 

20          assessing poverty, or -- I just want to hear 

21          your thoughts on it, Commissioner.

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, actually 

23          this used to be a major problem.  And as some 

24          of the shifts occurred in the federal 

                                                                  60

 1          nutrition programs, we have districts that 

 2          because of prior years' poverty levels, they 

 3          were given -- they were allowed to directly 

 4          certify that they had students who were in 

 5          poverty, and therefore parents did not have 

 6          to return those forms.  So in one way, that 

 7          took away a problem there.  But when that 

 8          happened, then you couldn't use that data as 

 9          the percentage of a -- in a formula for 

10          certification of funding.  

11                 The direct certification would be, I 

12          believe, a better approach to take in the 

13          fact that you would be able to access other 

14          factors that include things like social 

15          service programs that provide funding to 

16          families who are in need.  And you'd be able 

17          to get that information and share that across 

18          agencies.  We believe that would be very 

19          helpful.  

20                 But whatever you do, you'd have to use 

21          a two or three year roll-in of that, which is 

22          one of the things that we suggested.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So this is really 

24          designed to get funding to the poorest 

                                                                  61

 1          districts.  And you would agree that the 

 2          Foundation Aid formula is designed to do 

 3          that, right?  

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes, I think it 

 5          is.  I think there are some factors that you 

 6          could look at that would require legislation.  

 7                 But I think each one of the 

 8          characteristics of the Foundation Aid formula 

 9          should be reviewed and regularly updated.  

10          And the most important thing is to look at 

11          the equity points that have been brought up 

12          by other people in questions already, the 

13          fact that we know that there are some 

14          districts that do not get the same amount of 

15          money per child as other districts in 

16          New York State.  

17                 That exists, and I think that's 

18          something that constantly needs to be 

19          reviewed to see what you could better do to 

20          distribute funding across the state for 

21          education.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

23                 So I want to talk about a topic that 

24          I'd rather not have to talk about, but that 

                                                                  62

 1          has to do with cost reports.  And as you 

 2          know, in the 2012-2013 enacted budget there 

 3          was an amnesty program that was authorized 

 4          for school districts that had not yet filed 

 5          their cost reports for building projects that 

 6          were approved by SED prior to July 1, 2010.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.  So under 

 9          the legislation districts had until 

10          December 31, 2012, to file such final cost 

11          reports, and then they were eligible for a 

12          prorated amnesty program.  

13                 So prior to that time, the penalty for 

14          a late-filed final cost report was a total 

15          loss of state aid on a project, even if all 

16          the aid had been previously paid.  I just 

17          recently learned from a school district that 

18          SED will be taking back, in this school year, 

19          almost $19.2 million in state aid from just 

20          one school district based on a late-filed 

21          final cost report for projects that were 

22          approved prior to July 1, 2010.  And most of 

23          these projects date back to 1995, 1996, 1997.  

24                 And as you know, I have two separate 

                                                                  63

 1          school districts right now -- I've had others 

 2          in the past in my Senate district -- that are 

 3          currently having state aid recovered in the 

 4          amount of approximately half a million 

 5          dollars a year, which these are little teeny 

 6          tiny school districts.  Their entire budgets 

 7          are not that large.  It's a huge hit.  We've 

 8          worked to try to address that in the 

 9          State Budget.  But this clawback seems to be 

10          unfair.  

11                 We used to be able to just pass 

12          legislation to grant some kind of amnesty for 

13          these districts.  Because I don't believe in 

14          any of these cases this failure to file the 

15          cost reporting is malicious.  You know, it 

16          wasn't intended.  

17                 So the question I have is, why didn't 

18          the department make every effort to notify 

19          these and other districts in 2012, when the 

20          window was open?  Because now these districts 

21          apparently didn't realize that they didn't 

22          have the cost report filed and now they're 

23          getting hit by the department.  And I want to 

24          really stress that these clawbacks that 

                                                                  64

 1          you're getting, these huge fines that you're 

 2          taking from the school districts, are not in 

 3          the financial plan.  This is extra money 

 4          that's coming back.  So the budget doesn't 

 5          contemplate that this money would be coming 

 6          back to the state.  

 7                 So why didn't the districts get 

 8          notified by the department?  That's my first 

 9          question.

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So let me -- first 

11          of all, let me clear up that.  That's a 

12          misconception that you have.  They were 

13          notified.  They were notified multiple times.  

14          And so we have gone back on several districts 

15          that have been part of this and identified 

16          the fact that they had been notified.  So 

17          that is not necessarily the case.

18                 But here's where I want to --

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Commissioner, I 

20          will tell you, in Panama they saw it pop up 

21          on a website right before -- it was at the 

22          end of the year, past when the window was 

23          closed.  So I do not believe that they were 

24          notified.  They don't have any record of 

                                                                  65

 1          being notified.  So I don't know what 

 2          happened there, but I will tell you that my 

 3          districts -- and another one was 

 4          self-reporting.  Fredonia, for example, 

 5          self-reporting.  The new superintendent 

 6          uncovered something that happened 10 years 

 7          prior, reported it, and they got dinged for a 

 8          lot of money over that.

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay, so I have no 

10          problem going back, Senator Young, and 

11          verifying when your districts were 

12          identified.  And we'll get with you and get 

13          the exact names, and they'll go back in the 

14          file and get that for you.

15                 All I can tell you is every time that 

16          I have gone back and done it, every one of 

17          the districts that said they hadn't received 

18          notification had changes in staff, had people 

19          that may have been in there that didn't -- 

20          hadn't had enough training to realize the 

21          seriousness of some of these issues.  And I 

22          can tell you that I absolutely understand 

23          some of the situations that have occurred, 

24          and we in fact are supporting, with some of 

                                                                  66

 1          our partner groups, having training for the 

 2          financial staff members in districts across 

 3          the state so they're fully aware of some of 

 4          the issues that can be raised here.

 5                 And you're right.  I mean, these are 

 6          things that would be absolutely catastrophic 

 7          for districts, and that should not occur.  

 8                 SED is not the one that is, in fact, 

 9          taking the money away.  Let me point out that 

10          these are legislative decisions that have 

11          been made here.  And we are following the 

12          law, which is a problem in some cases for 

13          some districts because of the situations that 

14          may have occurred there.  But it's not 

15          something that we would not want your relief 

16          over, because we'd be very happy to not to 

17          ding these districts for what may not have 

18          been anybody's problem.

19                 So any of the districts that you're 

20          talking about, we will give you the full 

21          response that was made to those districts 

22          over the period of time that we're 

23          discussing.

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

                                                                  67

 1          Commissioner.

 2                 And how many districts are left out 

 3          there?  Because, you know, I reference the 

 4          new one, a $19.2 million hit on that 

 5          particular school district.  They keep 

 6          surfacing.  So do you have a handle on how 

 7          many districts are out there that are facing 

 8          these types of situations?

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I don't have 

10          the full number, but I will get that for you 

11          and make sure that it's available to you for 

12          you to share with anyone else.

13                 We have had meetings with other 

14          legislators, and specifically talking about a 

15          district in a similar situation.  And it's 

16          not something that in fact we are driven to 

17          do.  And if legislation in any way was 

18          changed or revised where we had the 

19          opportunity to address these issues in a more 

20          reasonable way, we would certainly want to do 

21          it.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

23          Commissioner.

24                 And finally, I referenced the Blended 

                                                                  68

 1          Learning Program.  The Legislature passed 

 2          that legislation --

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I'm sorry, which 

 4          program?

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  The Blended 

 6          Learning Program.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

 8                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  The Legislature 

 9          passed that bill, it was signed by the 

10          Governor.  We worked to get together a 

11          program for the blended learning statewide 

12          initiative.  And could you give a briefing as 

13          to where that's at?

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I have to tell 

15          you, I'll have to check.  I don't know.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You know that it 

18          was one of the things that you and I talked 

19          about last year, particularly that we come 

20          forward with a way that we could do virtual 

21          education across the state for some of the 

22          districts, particularly the small rural 

23          districts.  

24                 And so I can't tell you where it is 

                                                                  69

 1          right now, but I will get it for you.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Because 

 3          as you know, there was a task force, they put 

 4          together a plan, they submitted it to SED, 

 5          and I believe it was supposed to be 

 6          implemented by SED.  So if you could let me 

 7          know, that would be great.  

 8                 Thank you.

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

11                 We've been joined by Assemblywoman 

12          Shelley Mayer.  

13                 Next to question, Assemblyman 

14          McLaughlin.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Thank you, 

16          Chairman.  

17                 Thanks, Commissioner, for being here.

18                 A lot of my colleagues asked what I 

19          was going to ask, so I'll be probably brief.  

20          But a couple questions that I touched on with 

21          you just a little bit earlier.  I'm hearing 

22          from some school districts about opt-outs 

23          that continue on testing.  And one school in 

24          particular that I got word from, the 

                                                                  70

 1          principal was telling his teachers that any 

 2          student that opts out is marked a "1."  I'm 

 3          not sure whether that's true, or -- can you 

 4          speak to that for me, so we can get some 

 5          clarity for our school districts out there?

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So a student 

 7          doesn't receive a "1" for a test they didn't 

 8          take.  As I mentioned to you earlier, there 

 9          may be confusion over the issues.  

10                 Some of the legislation and/or initial 

11          rulemaking that came out of the ESSA, the 

12          Every Student Succeeds Act, in Washington had 

13          some rules that would be more detrimental to 

14          schools that had high opt-out rates.  That 

15          may be what they're talking about.  But 

16          obviously that law has -- we haven't 

17          submitted our New York State plan, and we 

18          haven't done anything on that, and certainly 

19          feel like that would be very problematic.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Sure, 

21          definitely.  And so you're not getting any 

22          word from any schools out there as far as 

23          feedback of -- you know, we haven't submitted 

24          the plan.  When do we plan on submitting the 

                                                                  71

 1          plan to Washington?

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  The plan -- the 

 3          due date right now, and this obviously is 

 4          subject to change, the due date right now is 

 5          September.  

 6                 And so we've been working on getting 

 7          feedback across the state, the Regents have 

 8          had several sessions with experts from around 

 9          the country, as well as the feedback that 

10          we've received.  So our plan is in the 

11          development stage, but I can assure you that 

12          that was not something that we were 

13          interested in, and we're going to work very 

14          hard to make sure that those things were not 

15          included in New York's plan.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Is there 

17          clarity out there, you think, among all of 

18          the administrators throughout the state?  

19          Because maybe it seems there isn't, if this 

20          is the feedback that I'm getting.

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I've 

22          communicated with the superintendents.  We've 

23          also had communications out with principals 

24          specifically relating to where we are in the 

                                                                  72

 1          development of plans.  So if in fact the 

 2          principal may have said something to a 

 3          teacher about what possibly was in the 

 4          outlines coming from Washington related to 

 5          the plan, and the teacher thought that's 

 6          exactly what is true, that's the only thing I 

 7          can identify.  It could have happened, but 

 8          that is not part of where we're going.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Great.  Thank 

10          you.  

11                 The Governor is proposing a round of 

12          grants totaling $50 million.  And typically 

13          grants are used to spur competition, which is 

14          not necessarily what we want to do when it 

15          comes to funding education.  So a lot of our 

16          school districts are saying they're not even 

17          applying for it because they don't think that 

18          they would qualify for that grant anyway.  

19                 So I just want to get your feedback on 

20          that, whether you agree with that proposal by 

21          the Governor or not.

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, his 

23          $50 million grants include things like 

24          after-school programs, Early College High 

                                                                  73

 1          Schools, expanding pre-K -- that was the 

 2          $5 million that I pointed out before -- AP 

 3          fees for low-income students, Computer 

 4          Science Master Teacher awards, the Empire 

 5          State Excellence in Teaching awards, and the 

 6          Prevent Cyberbullying Initiative.  

 7                 So one of the things that I -- and 

 8          I've mentioned this before when I've talked 

 9          to several of you, I think it's very 

10          problematic when we have competitive grants 

11          that pit students against students when you 

12          have students in multiple places across the 

13          state that need to have supports.  

14                 In some of these situations -- and let 

15          me give you an example with the expanded 

16          pre-K program.  For $5 million going out for 

17          another opportunity for someone to apply for 

18          funding for what would be a relatively small 

19          amount of money, $5 million, and having 

20          resources in districts -- and you talk about 

21          small districts or you talk about urban 

22          districts, they may not have the same level 

23          of grant writer that others do, so 

24          competitive grants can be problematic.  

                                                                  74

 1                 I would say if you're going to have 

 2          competitive grants, they should be in the 

 3          fewest areas possible.  But we would 

 4          certainly hope that as we're working with 

 5          these that we could put in place those things 

 6          that would allow districts to know ahead of 

 7          time whether they fit the criteria or not.  

 8                 But let me give you an example.  We 

 9          had, for the after-school 21st Century grant 

10          programs, we had over 500 applicants.  We're 

11          not going to be able to give anywhere near 

12          500 applications -- and give them funding.  

13          So people are spending their time writing 

14          those grants.  It's important for the RFP to 

15          be very clear and for people to make a 

16          decision about whether that is something that 

17          they really feel like they've got an 

18          opportunity to get.  

19                 Clearly the AP fees for low-income 

20          students is something, by the percentage of 

21          students that they'd have in their district, 

22          they may be able to know that that would be a 

23          good thing for them to write for.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN McLAUGHLIN:  Thank you, 

                                                                  75

 1          Commissioner.

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 4                 Our next speaker is Senator Kaminsky.

 5                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Good morning, 

 6          Commissioner.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

 8                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  I just want to 

 9          acknowledge and thank the presence of 

10          Chancellor Rosa.  She came out to my district 

11          last week for a forum on graduation and 

12          diplomas that we heard of a minute ago.  Over 

13          350 parents were there, and it was a really 

14          great dialogue, and we've discussed this.  

15          But there was still -- there was a great 

16          appreciation for the steps you have taken 

17          last spring.  You know, when you talk about 

18          400-plus lives being improved by your 

19          measures, that's great.  

20                 I just want to let you know people are 

21          now hoping for a next step or a follow-up 

22          step this year as a way to recognize the 

23          potential of all students, and it was just a 

24          really great moment to have our state 

                                                                  76

 1          officials there listening to parents.  And I 

 2          think everyone appreciated it and came out of 

 3          it feeling hopeful.  And we hope that hope 

 4          will be realized this year with some further 

 5          steps you could take that will get students 

 6          to the next level.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

 8                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Sure.

 9                 I just want to talk to you about a 

10          waiver that we in the state have been asking 

11          from Washington for students with special 

12          needs from taking some of the state testing 

13          that has obviously caused a lot of distress 

14          for some of those students.  

15                 You know, I hear from special ed 

16          teachers and from parents of students with 

17          special needs that undergoing such testing is 

18          really sometimes tantamount to child abuse, 

19          that knowing that what the results will be 

20          and making them go through it anyway is just 

21          a very tough thing.  And I talk to teachers 

22          who look at me and say, "I look at the 

23          students and say 'I'm sorry, there's nothing 

24          I can do for you,' and watch them struggle 

                                                                  77

 1          through that."

 2                 I'm just wondering where we are in 

 3          that process with the new administration and 

 4          whether we're going to be pushing for a 

 5          waiver for such students going forward.

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, so let me 

 7          point out that the ESSA, the new law that has 

 8          been passed, at this point in time it looks 

 9          as though any of the particular directives, 

10          the guidance that came out with that, is not 

11          moving forward.  So we have, specifically, 

12          the law in place -- the law does not give 

13          exceptions to students with disabilities, and 

14          I think that there clearly are some things 

15          that we can look at.  

16                 We are very committed to make sure 

17          that we can provide an appropriate assessment 

18          for students no matter who they are and what 

19          groups that they're included in.  And 

20          certainly our students with disabilities is a 

21          big part of that.  

22                 One of the things that I think will, 

23          as we move forward, help us substantially, 

24          given the fact that there is no exclusion for 

                                                                  78

 1          them in the law at this point in time, is the 

 2          opportunity with computer-based assessments 

 3          where, as the student takes the test after a 

 4          number of questions that they're not at the 

 5          instructional level of that particular grade 

 6          level, the computer automatically drops it to 

 7          a level where they would be able to answer 

 8          some of the questions.  So the frustration 

 9          they feel in not having the ability to answer 

10          any of the questions may then be able to be 

11          taken away as they're using computers to do 

12          that.

13                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Are we close to 

14          doing that?

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, we have 

16          started the investment in having that.  As a 

17          matter of fact, there are districts across 

18          the state right now that are doing 

19          computer-based assessments.  They did it last 

20          year in the field testing, and some this year 

21          are actually doing it in the operational 

22          testing.  We're working very hard and 

23          encouraging districts to get themselves ready 

24          for that.  That really will open up an 

                                                                  79

 1          enormous number of opportunities as we're 

 2          doing testing with different groups of 

 3          students.  

 4                 So let me point out to you, as I have 

 5          a number of times, the importance that I 

 6          myself think that providing opportunities for 

 7          our students who are students with an IEP to 

 8          be in traditional classrooms, to have access 

 9          to the kinds of coursework that would allow 

10          them to be successful.  As they move forward, 

11          the importance of a diploma is certainly 

12          underscored.  We've worked to make sure that 

13          those students have options.  And as you and 

14          I had conversations, and I know it came up at 

15          your meeting last week, the opportunities 

16          have been opened up.  

17                 And I myself was at a meeting at 

18          Staten Island with a student who was given -- 

19          who was able to take the Regents exam, passed 

20          the algebra after a few tests.  However, 

21          ultimately she got the superintendent's 

22          determination in hand, a local diploma, and 

23          she's now going on to art school.

24                 So I think we have opened it up, we 

                                                                  80

 1          are looking for opportunities to obviously 

 2          have a meaningful approach to giving diplomas 

 3          in the State of New York, and making sure 

 4          that when that diploma is given that it means 

 5          something for all students, and making sure 

 6          that those agencies that might hire our 

 7          students are aware of the work that they've 

 8          done that contributes to the diploma they 

 9          have in hand.

10                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Thanks.

11                 Let me ask one final thing while we're 

12          talking about ESSA.  I also believe that ESSA 

13          is the foundation for sort of a sword that 

14          hangs over districts' heads about their 

15          opt-out rates.  And I have some districts 

16          that have 60 percent opt-out rates, and ESSA 

17          is used for the "Well, then your school could 

18          have its federal funding cut unless a certain 

19          percentage of students are there."  

20                 Is that also a waiver that we're 

21          continuing to seek from Washington?

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, we never saw 

23          the waiver for those students who had opted 

24          out.  I can tell you now that still in the 

                                                                  81

 1          law -- not in regulation, but in the law -- 

 2          there are requirements for participation 

 3          rates.  

 4                 I've also mentioned to you last year 

 5          when I was here, and to many of you 

 6          personally at various meetings that I've had 

 7          with you and your constituents, I don't 

 8          support in any way, nor do the Regents, 

 9          punishing children for the determination of 

10          whether or not we're going to have an opt-out 

11          situation or not.  

12                 But the law does require participation 

13          rate.  It's in the law.  And I think we have 

14          to work with our state ultimately so that we 

15          all can have students and parents and 

16          teachers understand the importance of giving 

17          feedback on how well their students are 

18          doing.  It is a part of the transparency that 

19          we have, and accountability, and I think as 

20          we kind of move back and reset where we are 

21          in New York with teachers who are integrally 

22          involved in the development of the 

23          assessments, I think you will have a 

24          different approach to the assessments in 

                                                                  82

 1          New York.

 2                 SENATOR KAMINSKY:  Well, thank you, 

 3          and I hope so.  And Senator Latimer and I 

 4          are -- I've joined him in writing a letter to 

 5          the administration in Washington asking them 

 6          that they change that requirement.  I think 

 7          if, well, he's all about getting government 

 8          out of our lives, I think this would be a 

 9          great place to do it.  

10                 You know, we have parents that really 

11          make very difficult choices about opting 

12          their kids out.  They believe it's the best 

13          for them.  

14                 I hope we all have buy-ins so that 

15          will change and everyone will agree with what 

16          we have going forward, and I look forward to 

17          working with you on creating that.  But I 

18          think this threat scares them.  And I'm glad 

19          to hear that you agree with it, but I do 

20          understand the law in front of us.  So thank 

21          you.

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

24          much.  

                                                                  83

 1                 Assemblywoman Jaffee.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Good morning.

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Thank you, 

 5          Commissioner, for your ongoing commitment, 

 6          the strength of your work on behalf of our 

 7          youth and, you know, the education system.

 8                 I wanted to also just begin by 

 9          thanking you for your focus on East Ramapo 

10          and working with the community to certainly 

11          provide the quality education that the 

12          students deserve in East Ramapo, in a very 

13          high-need district in particular.  So I want 

14          to thank you and the monitors for providing 

15          that kind of enlightenment and support in the 

16          district.

17                 I wanted to also ask a question 

18          regarding the Community Schools, and what 

19          progress is being made with these -- in these 

20          areas, in the Community Schools, in 

21          implementing the needs of the community and 

22          the model that has been created in each of 

23          these schools.

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So last year in 

                                                                  84

 1          the budget there was $100 million that was 

 2          included in Foundation Aid that went to all 

 3          districts across the state related to 

 4          Community Schools.  And we put out guidance 

 5          on that funding, and we know that districts 

 6          that have previously had grants or had 

 7          instituted Community Schools expanded those 

 8          options in their communities.  

 9                 In my experience being across the 

10          state, I have seen a number of the Community 

11          Schools' expansions and the introductions of 

12          the concept of Community Schools, and I can 

13          tell you I think that it's making a 

14          difference, particularly for our high-needs 

15          students.  But we have a ways to go.  

16                 As you're aware, under the grant that 

17          was provided by the Legislature and signed 

18          off by the Governor, we established an Office 

19          of Community and Parent Involvement.  That 

20          office is almost staffed, not quite, but we 

21          are expanding our work out into the -- across 

22          the state to support districts in making sure 

23          that they're targeting not only the students 

24          that have the greatest need, but their 

                                                                  85

 1          families, and connecting them.  

 2                 There is nothing besides the teacher, 

 3          the support of family and an involvement of 

 4          the family, and the work that's being done at 

 5          schools is absolutely critical.  And with so 

 6          many of our families in need, the Community 

 7          School provides great opportunities for them.  

 8          And as a strategy to support improvement and 

 9          success for students, we feel it's a really 

10          great one, and we've been expanding our 

11          opportunities there across the state.  

12                 So the funding has been there for 

13          that.  We have, for our struggling and 

14          persistently struggling schools, an amount of 

15          money that was put aside, and we have yet to 

16          get that out to those schools.  But we are in 

17          the process of doing that as well.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Well, thank 

19          you.  I think -- I truly believe it is 

20          essential.  As a former educator of special 

21          education in East Ramapo, I felt many years 

22          ago that we should have put a Community 

23          School into East Ramapo, and I know that in 

24          various areas they've been seeing quite a bit 

                                                                  86

 1          of success, especially in engaging parents.  

 2          That is so essential.  

 3                 And we have to continue to move 

 4          forward with that initiative in many areas, 

 5          and so I thank you for your really focusing 

 6          on that and assuring that we are moving 

 7          forward on that.

 8                 With special education also, the 

 9          options that you noted in terms of tests -- I 

10          sat for hours with these young junior high 

11          school students who sat for several hours to 

12          take a test and -- with special needs.  And 

13          while they were intellectually capable, some 

14          of them had dyslexia, some of them really had 

15          fallen back in education because of their 

16          learning disabilities, and they weren't being 

17          provided with the support -- they struggled 

18          so, hour after hour, trying to take these 

19          tests.  

20                 If there are ways to be able to 

21          provide options for them, it is so -- I know 

22          Massachusetts does some of that as well, 

23          provides a variety of options for students 

24          with learning special needs, and I believe 

                                                                  87

 1          that it's a way to support them, a way for 

 2          them to continue feeling success, which then 

 3          gives them even more self-confidence and an 

 4          ability to move forward.  So it is something 

 5          that I think we need to focus on, as you 

 6          continue to focus on it, and I thank you for 

 7          mentioning that.

 8                 Is there anything else that is being 

 9          done to support them?

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, as you 

11          noticed, the severely disabled students in 

12          the new law, the reflection on assessments 

13          for those students, the only group that is 

14          excluded from having to take the regular 

15          assessment is those students that right now 

16          the law reflects a 1 percent cap on the 

17          number of students.  And we believe that in 

18          fact in New York we have to look at that 

19          carefully, because we're just not sure that 

20          the federal government's singling out one 

21          single percentage for every state across the 

22          country is a reasonable approach.  So we're 

23          looking at that carefully as well.  

24                 We've had a number of teachers give us 

                                                                  88

 1          feedback on their students with severe 

 2          disabilities who are, based on the 

 3          requirements in the federal law, still going 

 4          to be required to take the assessments. 

 5                 So those are all issues that we have 

 6          to face.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  Yes.  It's a 

 8          major issue.

 9                 I had a student who I actually was 

10          dealing with privately because his mom had 

11          reached out to me, and he was quite bright 

12          but was -- really had difficulty with 

13          dyslexia, and it included the reading.  He -- 

14          we worked together for many years in terms of 

15          assisting him.  Even in my classroom, I got 

16          the Lighthouse for the Blind to tape their 

17          textbooks so that they could actually have 

18          the opportunity to listen to some of their 

19          textbooks rather than struggle when they can 

20          do both at the same time, actually.  And he 

21          actually became a physician.

22                 But we need to continue to provide 

23          that kind of support for children with 

24          learning disabilities so that they can 

                                                                  89

 1          continue to move forward, have the confidence 

 2          and the strength to move forward in terms of 

 3          their academics.

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Absolutely.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN JAFFEE:  And I just -- I 

 7          want to -- oh, my time is up.  Okay.  I'll 

 8          continue at another time.  

 9                 But thank you very much for your focus 

10          and really intense engagement in our schools.

11                 Thank you.

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

14                 Just to give the members a sense of 

15          the order, next is George Latimer, Senator 

16          Latimer, who is ranking member on Education.  

17          Following him will be Senator Ranzenhofer, 

18          and after that Senator Krueger.

19                 SENATOR LATIMER:  Thank you, Senator.

20                 And good morning, Commissioner.  Thank 

21          you for being here.

22                 Since time is limited and there's many 

23          other speakers, I'll just ask one area of 

24          questions, and that relates to the new 

                                                                  90

 1          federal administration.  The fiscal year in 

 2          the federal government ends -- fiscal year 

 3          2017 ends on September 30th, meaning that the 

 4          new federal fiscal year will begin 

 5          October 1st, which is halfway through our 

 6          state fiscal year.  And I'm wondering if you 

 7          can describe, in general terms, the level of 

 8          federal support that we receive in New York 

 9          from the federal government, and on the 

10          assumption that we're going to see some major 

11          changes in the way the federal government 

12          intends to fund education, both the level and 

13          the policies of education, if you had an 

14          opportunity with your team to look at how 

15          New York might respond to those changes if 

16          they come as expected.

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So you're 

18          absolutely right, Senator.  We are watching 

19          closely some of the things that we think may 

20          be affecting decisions that are made 

21          regarding education.  

22                 As you are well aware, I'm sure, there 

23          were some statements made during the -- or 

24          prior to the actual election that would 

                                                                  91

 1          indicate that some funding may be taken off 

 2          of education programs nationally, which would 

 3          certainly affect New York State.  If in fact, 

 4          for instance, the $20 billion amount of money 

 5          was taken off the top to distribute for 

 6          specific agendas, then that -- and it 

 7          certainly would affect New York in the fact 

 8          that we receive billions of dollars to 

 9          support our programming in many areas within 

10          the state, and that funding is distributed to 

11          school districts, so it would ultimately 

12          affect the school districts.  

13                 At this point in time we don't know 

14          where any of those things are going to go.  

15          There's been no indication other than the 

16          action that was taken in the house a week and 

17          a half ago to no longer have the regulations 

18          that have come out of the Obama 

19          administration's Department of Education be 

20          part of what comes out in directives on the 

21          new ESSA.  That has not been taken up in the 

22          Senate yet, so it may be that those rules in 

23          fact are put in place, we're not sure.  

24                 However, it would seem that they're 

                                                                  92

 1          probably going to get that passed through the 

 2          Senate as well.  And so that would mean that 

 3          the law that was passed -- specifically the 

 4          law only, not any of the regulations relating 

 5          to it -- would move forward.  And remember, 

 6          that was a bipartisan law passed to take over 

 7          from No Child Left Behind.  

 8                 So in that law, it specifically talks 

 9          about the programs that we -- that I think 

10          you're alluding to -- are Title I programs, 

11          or Title III and Title IV.  Those programs 

12          are still in place, and unless a change would 

13          be made in how they would be funded, then it 

14          wouldn't affect New York unless a 

15          determination was made to take funding off 

16          the top for another agenda.  And at that 

17          point it would affect us, and it would be 

18          relative to the percentage that we would 

19          receive, that we receive now, from the 

20          federal dollars spent in education.  

21                 And it is a large budget, but it's 

22          also a very large budget in New York, so a 

23          percentage off the top would affect us.

24                 SENATOR LATIMER:  I would just -- just 

                                                                  93

 1          in closing ask the obvious, which is as soon 

 2          as the department has any hard indication of 

 3          what those changes may be -- and it may come 

 4          when the Legislature, our Legislature, is out 

 5          of session.  But I'm sure that the leaders of 

 6          our respective houses and those of us who 

 7          track these issues would like to know as much 

 8          as we can about the direct impact as it 

 9          affects the state.  Obviously it will affect 

10          our school districts in particular, because 

11          there are policy elements which the Board of 

12          Regents will want to analyze, but also our 

13          Legislature will want to analyze.  

14                 And since, again, we do go out of 

15          session at the end of June, some of these 

16          things may play our in the summertime, in 

17          which case we I think would all want to know 

18          in real time what those impacts would be.  

19                 And I appreciate your answer, and 

20          hopefully we'll have a chance to dialogue 

21          further.

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Absolutely.  And I 

23          would say I would hope that as any changes 

24          are rolling out, that we become partners in 

                                                                  94

 1          addressing what is best for New York State.

 2                 SENATOR LATIMER:  Thank you.

 3                 Thank you, Madam Senator.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Senator.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 Next, we've been joined by Assemblyman 

 7          Matthew Titone.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  And Assemblyman 

 9          Murray.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  And next, Mr. Ra.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, Chairman 

12          Farrell.

13                 Good morning, Commissioner.

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Good to see you.

16                 Just a couple of questions.  One, just 

17          going back to Foundation Aid.  And just like 

18          I guess we saw the last few years when we 

19          were talking about the GEA, that there were,  

20          you know, districts that were kind of pretty 

21          much back to zero on that, and there were 

22          districts that were -- you know, still had 

23          huge sums that were outstanding, so to speak, 

24          when you looked at that.  

                                                                  95

 1                 And it's the same way with Foundation 

 2          Aid.  Obviously we have ones that are up 

 3          close or at their full phase-in and ones that 

 4          are well below.  So I know that the Governor 

 5          has his proposal, which there's been 

 6          opposition to in the Legislature.  How would 

 7          you guys in your proposal prioritize doing 

 8          that phase-in?  I noticed like a handful of 

 9          districts that are even below 50 percent 

10          still at this point.  So how would we 

11          prioritize doing that phase-in for districts?

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So the Regents' 

13          proposal calls for one-third each year for 

14          the next three years, for a three-year 

15          proposal.  Now, based on the calculations, of 

16          course, that is -- it's not frozen at the 

17          amount that we have calculated right now for 

18          what would be the Foundation Aid.  So every 

19          year it would change, but at this point in 

20          time our Regents' proposal of $1.4 billion 

21          reflects one-third of the current amount 

22          that's owed to districts.  

23                 If that were done, then the formula 

24          would roll out as to each -- the amount that 

                                                                  96

 1          each district would receive.  And so that 

 2          calculation is available, and certainly we 

 3          could let you know for any of the specific 

 4          districts for you -- we could let you know 

 5          exactly what that would be.  

 6                 But the bottom line is, as we phase 

 7          out the Foundation Aid, then ultimately you 

 8          would have that played out depending on the 

 9          number of years that was included in law.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Yeah.  Because 

11          obviously, like any formula, you're always 

12          going to have maybe kind of outliers or 

13          districts that may reflect, you know, a 

14          different reality than necessarily what the 

15          numbers may show.  

16                 So maybe I'll follow up with your 

17          staff just to see how that would run through 

18          for some of the districts that I represent.

19                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure.

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  The other thing I 

21          wanted to bring up -- and I'm very supportive 

22          of your request for the Excess Teacher 

23          Turnover Prevention program, and that 

24          funding.  I think it's very important in 

                                                                  97

 1          particular to Special Act schools and 853s.  

 2          And I was just wondering what your thoughts 

 3          are (a) whether the Department would be 

 4          supportive of trying to really come up 

 5          with -- you know, we'd put a little more 

 6          money in, obviously I know the rates get set 

 7          outside of the budget, but so what, you 

 8          know -- would the Department be supportive of 

 9          looking at some way of legislatively or 

10          otherwise to really make that more 

11          predictable for those institutions?  And how 

12          could the Legislature, or at least those that 

13          are interested in doing so, work with you to 

14          help make something like that a reality and 

15          push for that?

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So yes, I have 

17          visited a number of the Special Act schools, 

18          and these are schools that I think are 

19          absolutely critical for us to support.  The 

20          idea of the Excessive Teacher Turnover 

21          Prevention, we've asked for funding to expand 

22          that opportunity for those teachers because 

23          in reality they don't have the same access to 

24          the increasing funds.  And they have not kept 

                                                                  98

 1          up with that period of time where they didn't 

 2          have any increases at all, and what we've 

 3          done since then has not brought them back to 

 4          whole.  

 5                 And I think that's an extremely 

 6          important area for us to address, both the 

 7          853 and the Special Act schools.  So to make 

 8          sure that those teachers that are there don't 

 9          get -- aren't in a position to leave those 

10          programs that so desperately need the 

11          certified teachers and go somewhere else, we 

12          think it's a really important opportunity.  

13          The special education providers for those 

14          programs can serve either our early childhood 

15          programming or our other programs that are 

16          serving students that have special needs that 

17          actually are attending those schools as 

18          opposed to their district schools.  

19                 One of the things that we've requested 

20          is the provider data system that will allow 

21          us to be able to know exactly what providers 

22          are providing what services in each area 

23          geographically, so that as funding issues 

24          come up, we can look at that and from that 

                                                                  99

 1          perspective determine what's the best 

 2          approach for us to take in supporting those 

 3          districts.  

 4                 So I would suggest to you that 

 5          Special Act schools are very important.  The 

 6          board has asked us to look at how we can 

 7          support the tuition and school-age and 

 8          preschool education for these children to 

 9          have a more inclusive approach so that 

10          students, special needs students, are 

11          included in our population of pre-K 

12          programming and they receive supports to do 

13          that inclusion work, because many times that 

14          will help children to quickly move off of 

15          some of the difficulties they may have by 

16          being with their chronological peers in those 

17          programs.  

18                 So there's a number of areas that I 

19          think, particularly with Special Acts and 

20          with the pre-K program, that would be 

21          improved by providing the opportunity for us 

22          to have the data at our fingertips.  Right 

23          now there are multiple places where 

24          information is kept, and they are not 

                                                                  100

 1          together, and I think that's going to really 

 2          give us more factual information to make 

 3          determinations.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Okay.  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 Senator?

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Our next speaker is 

 8          Senator Krueger.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Good morning.  I 

10          think it's still morning.

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Mm, yes.

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Yup.  Still morning.

13                 I also want to thank you for all the 

14          hard work and dedication of your department.  

15          Such an enormous assignment to get one's arms 

16          around, all education for the State of 

17          New York.  Plus.

18                 So, from your testimony today, you 

19          referenced both the Governor's proposal to 

20          merge the UPK funding stream --

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- and, I think, 

23          your explanation of all the different 

24          categories of UPK and the importance, I 

                                                                  101

 1          think -- you agree with him on merging them.  

 2          But you also said you want to include the 

 3          half-day UPK --

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.

 5                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- in the category.  

 6          So since we're very focused on making sure 

 7          UPK guarantees the kind of quality 

 8          educational childhood development 

 9          curriculum --

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- like we know from 

12          research makes a big difference, how do we 

13          make sure that we're building in the same 

14          standards in a half-day model if we're going 

15          to support half-day as well as full-day?

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Okay, so I think 

17          my comments specifically on the half-day and 

18          taking funding away from districts -- so let 

19          me give you an example.  There are some 

20          districts where they provide the full-day 

21          program, but there are parents that don't 

22          want their child in a full-day program, so 

23          they provide a half-day program.  

24                 I would suggest to you that the 

                                                                  102

 1          half-day program, if it's focused on the key 

 2          areas of the instruction or of instruction 

 3          and activity for early childhood, is as 

 4          good -- it's better than not having any 

 5          program, if you will.  

 6                 So if a parent is deciding that they 

 7          want to have a half-day program and the 

 8          district wants to provide that, or if 

 9          midstream a child leaves the program and they 

10          transfer that position that was a full-day 

11          into a half-day, in the proposal it calls for 

12          taking the funding away from districts.  I 

13          think that's a mistake.  I think that there 

14          are opportunities in most of the programs -- 

15          we've talked with providers, there are 

16          waiting lists for children to get in, 

17          children can be started in those programs at 

18          different times in the year.  And I think 

19          it's a benefit to school districts to have 

20          the flexibility to do that and not lose the 

21          money if that child leaves for whatever 

22          reason.

23                 So half-day programs can be helpful.  

24          I would suggest to you that a full-day 

                                                                  103

 1          program is the better approach, but I think 

 2          that's one of those things that in various 

 3          communities you have numbers of parents who 

 4          either decide or not to have their child in a 

 5          full-day.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  At some private 

 7          education -- they have a model of blended 4- 

 8          and 5-year-olds together --

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Mm-hmm.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- so it would be, 

11          by our definition, UPK and K.  Is that a 

12          model that might help some school districts 

13          with the limitations of only X number of 

14          students, only Y number of classrooms and 

15          teachers?  Have you looked into that?

16                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure.  But I think 

17          one of the issues really becomes if you 

18          have -- for the most part, districts have 

19          waiting lists for kids to go into their pre-K 

20          program.  If you did have a kindergarten -- 

21          as opposed to pre-K -- that had spaces, 

22          that's a possibility, certainly.  But we 

23          haven't seen that happening a lot.  Most of 

24          the kindergarten programs are pretty full and 

                                                                  104

 1          people -- after school begins, they're ending 

 2          up opening additional programs.  So what -- 

 3          we aren't really seeing if they could be 

 4          blended well.  

 5                 I think to get back to your point 

 6          about the quality, the QUALITYstars program 

 7          is a way that we, in our department, are 

 8          looking to make sure that children have the 

 9          ability and are getting the kinds of 

10          programming that's really supportive of 

11          expanding their vocabulary, et cetera.  And 

12          with a combination of both private and public 

13          opportunities, I think it's very important 

14          for us to make sure that that quality is 

15          there in all of the cases.

16                 One of the issues that you brought 

17          up -- and this is on page 5 in your deck.  

18          But if you look at the issues relating to 

19          different grades or different age levels, 

20          when you provide a 3-year-old with a program 

21          and then the 4-year-old program gets cut or 

22          there's a reason that the child can't get in, 

23          you'll end up having a 3-year-old go for a 

24          program, then have a void in that 4-year age, 

                                                                  105

 1          and then they go into the kindergarten at 5.  

 2          So it really can create an issue.  

 3                 Our focus needs to be on one age 

 4          group, get that done, and then where 

 5          necessary, and where there's support, put a 

 6          3-year-old to roll into a 4-year-old program.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 8                 You talk about the project-based 

 9          alternative pathways to high school degrees 

10          that you put into -- I guess that rolled out 

11          last year -- this year -- last current year.

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I think -- are 

13          you talking about the CDOS program?

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  All right, we're 

15          back to -- the model that you described that 

16          can be used by children with disabilities --

17                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- and English 

19          language learners to -- sorry, I thought you 

20          described it and I wrote it down as 

21          project-based alternative pathways.

22                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

23                 Okay, so the program that we have 

24          known as the CDOS program -- it is a program 

                                                                  106

 1          that focuses on the skills level that a 

 2          student would need to be successful in the 

 3          workplace.  It actually has as an exit 

 4          criteria, either the assessment of pretty 

 5          much well-accepted-across-the-board CTE 

 6          assessments that are standardized across the 

 7          country so that a student has those skills 

 8          that they then can take to the workplace.  

 9                 One of the things that we've done that 

10          was initially put in place two or three years 

11          ago by the Regents -- and at the time when it 

12          first was instituted, it does take time for 

13          them, the school districts, to move to that 

14          model.  We're not sure that we have had as 

15          many districts move to the model as perhaps 

16          need to.  

17                 And so providing the opportunities for 

18          career and technical programming is 

19          important, and also to know whether or not 

20          the students themselves actually end up with 

21          a credential that is helping them to get into 

22          some workforce.  We contacted the Civil 

23          Service and we have, from them, the assurance 

24          that in fact that CDOS can allow -- or will 

                                                                  107

 1          allow students to go into the beginning 

 2          levels of civil service.  

 3                 And we also contacted the military, 

 4          because a number of our parents said that 

 5          that wasn't providing their students with 

 6          what they needed there.  And there is a 

 7          program that does allow for students who have 

 8          not -- don't have a regular diploma but have 

 9          a certification, to be able to access some 

10          positions in the military.  It's not as open 

11          as it would be if they had a diploma, but it 

12          is providing some opportunities.  So we're 

13          looking at that as an option.  

14                 But I do think that some of the other 

15          work that has been done specifically for 

16          those students who take Regents-level 

17          coursework but are unable to pass the Regents 

18          exams, those 418 students that their 

19          superintendent determined that they had done 

20          the coursework, they had passed the course, 

21          and they were unable to pass the Regents 

22          exam, they received a local diploma.  

23                 So that is, I think, an opening up to 

24          see how well we can move forward and provide 

                                                                  108

 1          for them.

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And that's where I 

 3          really wanted to go with the question, that 

 4          there is X number of students who just don't 

 5          test well and are never going to test well, 

 6          even though they did the work and are 

 7          accomplishing -- and you heard a number of my 

 8          colleagues point to examples of that.  And I 

 9          was curious whether the department was going 

10          further down the road of exploring 

11          alternative definitions of success for being 

12          awarded an actual high school degree.  

13                 I know that I'm a big fan of portfolio 

14          high school programs.   I have actually four 

15          of those high schools in my district that are 

16          phenomenal, and actually have I think over a 

17          90 percent -- over 95 percent graduate on 

18          time, and over 90 percent go to college.  But 

19          these were kids who, based on the 8th-grade 

20          tests, were not going to be successful in 

21          high school at all, and many of them struggle 

22          to pass even the lesser number of Regents.  

23                 And I wonder whether SED is exploring 

24          expanding on those kinds of models so that we 

                                                                  109

 1          are not putting children through our school 

 2          system, creating an enormous amount of 

 3          frustration and panic, when an awful lot of 

 4          them actually are very talented and educated 

 5          and accomplished, but they just don't fit in 

 6          the box of Regents Exams.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I think 

 8          it's -- I think the opportunities to look at 

 9          different approaches to graduation are 

10          important.  And let me say, I think taking 

11          the concept of the portfolio and using that 

12          as a basis for some pilots is something we 

13          are very interested in doing.  

14                 That of course takes funding to be 

15          able to do that.  If we're going to do a 

16          tracking of how well students are doing in 

17          those programs, we do have the history -- as 

18          you pointed out, you have some of those 

19          programs in your area of New York.  And I 

20          think it's important for us to have that data 

21          available so we can look at it and also 

22          across the state to try to provide as many 

23          opportunities for students.  

24                 For instance, in the science 

                                                                  110

 1          assessment that we have, can we look at other 

 2          ways to assess students in science rather 

 3          than the straight assessment that's given -- 

 4          every student takes it on the same day 

 5          everywhere -- but rather, embedded in the 

 6          instruction in their programs, opportunities 

 7          for them to do and prove that they are able 

 8          to do the science that's necessary.  

 9                 So opportunities I think are extremely 

10          important.  One of the ones that we have had 

11          some success or we want to continue to track 

12          that is the P-TECH program.  If you look at 

13          the students that are accepted into the 

14          P-TECH program, that actually ends up being 

15          students who, as you pointed out, might not 

16          necessarily be the ones that people would say 

17          automatically they're going to do great.  And 

18          we have some great results that actually gets 

19          them a two-year associate's degree and a 

20          certification in one of the areas that 

21          they're training for.  

22                 And as we -- each year we'll get more 

23          data on that particular cohort, since it's a 

24          long-drawn cohort.  But we're seeing that 

                                                                  111

 1          they're passing the Regents exams because 

 2          much of the content from the Regents exams is 

 3          actually embedded into their integrated 

 4          curriculums.  So I think there's lots of 

 5          opportunities for us to look at programs that 

 6          can provide ways for students to be 

 7          successful.

 8                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

10                 Assemblywoman Walsh.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALSH:  Good morning.  

12          Thank you very much for being here.  

13                 I just want to follow up on that 

14          conversation that was started.  It's been 

15          very interesting to me to hear about some of 

16          the alternatives for those students for whom 

17          the Regents diploma is not really an option 

18          for them.  I have one of those children.  I 

19          have a 24-year-old who was able to, through a 

20          combination of Regents and RCTs, was able to 

21          walk across the stage with his local diploma.  

22                 Now that the local diploma -- it 

23          sounds like it's not available except for 

24          these 418 that you mentioned are done through 

                                                                  112

 1          the superintendent --

 2                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  No, there's more 

 3          students than 418 that have received the 

 4          local diploma.

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALSH:  Okay.  And so -- 

 6          can you explain to me how that -- under what 

 7          circumstances that's done?

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure.  We provided 

 9          safety nets for students so that if they took 

10          the Regents exam but they didn't pass it with 

11          a 65, they actually passed it with a 55 or 

12          higher, they could request an appeal off of 

13          that, and then they would be able to graduate 

14          with a local diploma.  They could do that for 

15          two of their exams.  

16                 We also provided an appeals process 

17          for students to look at their scores that are 

18          up to three points below the 55 in two 

19          Regents exams in order to graduate with a 

20          local diploma.  We have a compensatory 

21          safety-net option with students with 

22          disabilities who have earned a score between 

23          45 and 54 on one or more of the Regents exams 

24          other than math and English to graduate with 

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 1          a local diploma.  

 2                 And then that superintendent's 

 3          determination, we also opened up the CDOS 

 4          certification now -- it's not a diploma, but 

 5          then with that certification we did check 

 6          with Civil Service and the services, and 

 7          there are options for them with that CDOS.  

 8                 But I think that it's important for us 

 9          to look at what kinds of opportunities can we 

10          present for those students.  Number one, when 

11          they're in their coursework starting in 

12          elementary school, to make sure that they 

13          have access to the content with supports that 

14          will help them to be successful.  

15                 More and more students -- and we had 

16          an increase in our graduation rate this year 

17          for students with disabilities, up 

18          3 percentage points.  Which was an increase 

19          that we think is moving in the right 

20          direction, but we still have a long ways to 

21          go.  And across the state I think we have to 

22          start looking at those options as well.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALSH:  And I'm glad you 

24          brought that up, because I was going to ask 

                                                                  114

 1          you about the graduation rate.  

 2                 So my question was, how many students 

 3          have IEPs in our state?

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  It's 

 5          approximately -- we'll get the exact number 

 6          for you.  But it's approximately 15 percent 

 7          of our population have IEPs, and they could 

 8          be anywhere on a range.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALSH:  Oh, understood.

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALSH:  But out of that, 

12          say, 15 percent, how many have been able, 

13          have been successful in achieving a Regents 

14          diploma?

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I think the 

16          graduation rates show that we went up to a 

17          57 percent graduation rate.  We'll get that 

18          specific number for you.  But that was an 

19          increase from where we were, and so we're 

20          moving in the right direction.  But it's 

21          certainly not enough.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALSH:  And without a 

23          Regents diploma, if they -- you mentioned 

24          CDOS, which is new to me, because I've 

                                                                  115

 1          just -- I have a child that's that much 

 2          older.  But without a local diploma option, 

 3          or a Regents diploma, are those students who 

 4          are not able to achieve either one of those 

 5          able to continue their education, either at 

 6          community college or in some other setting?

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So they can stay 

 8          with the school districts up through 

 9          age 21 --

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALSH:  Right.

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  -- and then beyond 

12          that, if they go out earlier or not, they can 

13          access a GED and/or a TASC certificate at a 

14          community college.  Once they get that, they 

15          can matriculate at the community college.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN WALSH:  Okay.  Thank 

17          you.

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You're welcome.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

20                 Senator?

21                 Assemblyman Otis.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you, 

23          Commissioner.  

24                 I just wanted to follow up on the 

                                                                  116

 1          English language learner question in a little 

 2          more detail.  Appreciate very much what the 

 3          Regents put in the budget proposal, and 

 4          appreciate Chairwoman Nolan's comments 

 5          earlier.

 6                 Specifically, could you speak to the 

 7          issue of why the Regents and SED feel it's 

 8          important to add English language learner 

 9          funding outside of the Foundation Aid 

10          formula, that the importance of driving this 

11          funding to districts more effectively is by 

12          doing it outside of the formula?  

13                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Yes.  So I think 

14          it's extremely important for us to target 

15          those districts that have high populations, 

16          and as was pointed out, the 154 regulations 

17          were changed.  And for many districts the 

18          requirements of doing the 154 has been a 

19          challenge to them.  It relates to teacher 

20          training, it relates to teacher 

21          certification -- and Senator Young brought 

22          that up -- it relates to how we can support 

23          them with both instructional materials and an 

24          approach that infuses them in content 

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 1          classrooms with supports.  

 2                 So the whole idea of making sure that 

 3          the districts receive funding -- yes, it's in 

 4          the formula, but from the perspective of 

 5          districts that are doing these shifts to a 

 6          full compliance with 154, it's a challenge 

 7          for them.  And the extra funding will allow 

 8          us to do supports for the teachers and the 

 9          families through family/community engagement, 

10          through resources for those students.  All of 

11          those are specific to English language 

12          learners.  

13                 The other issue that I want to bring 

14          up is that issue of the translation of the 

15          assessments.  I think that's an important 

16          point.  So understand, we have 200 languages 

17          that are spoken by students who are in our 

18          schools that are not English, and I think 

19          it's important for us to make sure that the 

20          eight -- at least the eight languages that 

21          are most used by those families as their 

22          native languages, that we provide those 

23          resources for them.

24                 The whole idea of students coming into 

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 1          our state, having interrupted educations, 

 2          puts another challenge on school districts.  

 3          Because not only do the students need to 

 4          learn English and be able to function with 

 5          content courses, but you have students that 

 6          are behind because they've not been in school 

 7          for a very long time.  So they might not have 

 8          the basics of language themselves in their 

 9          own language, let alone in English.  So those 

10          students need special, very intense supports.  

11                 We really believe that to do it on an 

12          equal basis for all students in all 

13          districts, it's not getting to where we need 

14          to really infuse funding to support them.  

15          And both of our -- both our 3 through 8 

16          assessments as well as the assessment -- you 

17          know, the graduation data that we have on 

18          students who have had involvement in the ELL 

19          program and then exit that program, which 

20          means that they have tested out, they have 

21          levels of English that are sufficient, those 

22          students are really much more successful 

23          because they had those interventions.  So 

24          that's the basis for our request.

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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  And I think the 

 2          request also reflects a sense of urgency for 

 3          these kids, that we get resources to them and 

 4          to the schools as quickly as possible so that 

 5          they don't progress in a non-satisfactory way 

 6          any longer than they have to.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, absolutely.  

 8          And just now you can see our graduation rate 

 9          was 26.6 percent for our English language 

10          learners who are still in the program 

11          statewide.  So there is intense need to 

12          intervene to support those students and get 

13          them in a position where, when they leave our 

14          schools with a diploma -- and let me say one 

15          other thing that I think is extremely 

16          important.  We also have data that shows that 

17          if students stay in our ELL programs, they 

18          have a much higher rate each year that they 

19          stay.  So we're doing a four-year graduation 

20          rate, then we do a five-year graduation rate 

21          and a six-year graduation rate, because 

22          students who have to learn English and then 

23          the content -- if they stay with us in our 

24          schools, they have a much higher rate of 

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 1          graduation.  

 2                 So those are all increases that are 

 3          indicators that if we put the supports into 

 4          school districts, it really will make a 

 5          difference.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you very 

 7          much.  And thank you -- also I'll add to the 

 8          compliments about your traveling all over the 

 9          state and visiting schools.  It's much 

10          appreciated, your visibility has been great.

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Your access to 

13          educators is great.

14                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Oaks.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Yes.  Thank you, 

18          Commissioner.  

19                 Just in the state legislative 

20          priorities, I looked through on your handout 

21          and I did see the mandate relief and 

22          flexibility.  So just checking with you, I 

23          know you talked some about reporting there.  

24          But is this legislation you have or 

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 1          legislation you're looking to have proposed 

 2          or --

 3                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, so --

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  It just said one of 

 5          your priorities is to have legislation to do 

 6          that.  So just looking at your thoughts.

 7                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, let me say I 

 8          come from a superintendency in a large 

 9          district, and it's always critical to know 

10          from superintendents what's causing them 

11          indigestion, if you will, making it difficult 

12          for them to function.

13                 And I think Senator Young brought up 

14          some issues that are really critical.  I 

15          mean, we have things that are in place that 

16          put our schools that have gone through some 

17          tremendous shifts and changes and difficult 

18          budgets over the years to have to face things 

19          that we think there should be some relief 

20          from.  So I think those are some of the 

21          things.  

22                 We also have an issue related to 

23          contracting, so -- for transportation, for 

24          food service.  And some of the contracts 

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 1          districts have, sometimes we make it 

 2          difficult for them to get a contract that's a 

 3          good contract for them, that they know -- 

 4          they may have to pass up some when they think 

 5          we've given them a better service and be able 

 6          to provide more efficiency in that contract.  

 7                 So we just want to look at what we 

 8          believe would be best for our districts to be 

 9          the most efficient and the most supportive of 

10          students as they can be.  So, you know, you 

11          have all sorts of -- as we talked about 

12          earlier -- some unfunded mandates, right, 

13          that relate to issues all over the page for 

14          districts.  I think it's important for us to 

15          listen to them when they say, you know, "We 

16          need some relief on this" or "If you change 

17          it this way, it would be better for us."  

18                 Let me also mention the issue related 

19          to the Smart Growth regulations for 

20          construction, renovations, and addition 

21          projects.  Sometimes the regulations that we 

22          put on districts cause additional expenses.  

23          Another thing that helps districts is when 

24          they can get their projects through our 

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 1          system for approval, which I think is a good 

 2          system, but once they can get those through, 

 3          ultimately they save money.  

 4                 If they get held up with us, then the 

 5          costs that were projected for those projects 

 6          have probably gone up.  So there's just a 

 7          number of areas where we feel that it would 

 8          be helpful to have those kinds of reliefs.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Well, certainly 

10          from my perspective, you know, I hear that a 

11          lot in my local district as well.  And your 

12          perspective from superintendency to 

13          commissioner, and the sensitivity -- it's 

14          nice to hear from the department that 

15          recognition, and certainly I think 

16          legislatively I'm very interested, and I'm 

17          sure a number of our legislators would be, in 

18          working with you on trying to do things that 

19          are both frustrating, time-sensitive, but 

20          also costly mandates to lift some of those 

21          burdens as we go forward and look at tough 

22          budget times.  But if we can lessen some of 

23          those other costs, perhaps that puts us in 

24          better stead.  

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 1                 But my other thing, I did see within 

 2          this -- the transition from school to the 

 3          workforce issues along that bridge to college 

 4          careers.  I'm glad you highlighted some of 

 5          those things.  I am very interested in that 

 6          whole issue of giving as many experiences as 

 7          we can to -- even to middle school, to high 

 8          school students, exposure to careers, 

 9          experiences.  I know we had some of our local 

10          businesses in our areas trying to challenge 

11          others to do up to 5 percent of their 

12          workforce, or about 100 employees, try to get 

13          five students who are high school or 

14          college-age, to bring them in to give them 

15          work experiences.  I think all of those are 

16          very positive.  

17                 But the more that we can do at the 

18          middle and high school level to get kids 

19          those experiences, I'm hopeful that the State 

20          Education Department can be a force to help 

21          move schools along in that way and encourage 

22          them so more of those can happen.

23                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I think the 

24          opportunities certainly are there.  I've had 

                                                                  125

 1          the opportunity to also to speak to the 

 2          business community in many areas across the 

 3          state, and I think that the opportunity there 

 4          is to get businesses, as you pointed out, if 

 5          they open their doors and let students come 

 6          in and experience some of the things that it 

 7          means to be in a business environment -- how 

 8          to behave, how to talk, how to dress, 

 9          experiences that they might not have -- and 

10          take the opportunity to mentor those 

11          students, then the opportunity for them to 

12          have better employees, I think, is there.  

13                 And that all plays into the 

14          development of a strong economy in New York.  

15          We have so many different areas that have 

16          economics that are really specific to that 

17          area, companies and industries that could 

18          build themselves.  They need to have workers, 

19          and the way to build those workers is to 

20          develop the people in the high schools -- 

21          and, as she pointed out, middle schools -- to 

22          say, I want to stay in this place and I want 

23          to work for that company, because they took 

24          me in and they gave me experiences that I 

                                                                  126

 1          wouldn't have.  

 2                 So I think you're right on track to 

 3          say that those are great opportunities for us 

 4          to support, and we certainly are interested 

 5          in doing that.  That does play back to our 

 6          request for additional funding to support 

 7          career and technical programs, because when 

 8          you talk to businesses across the state, we 

 9          need to connect what they need with the 

10          schools and develop curricula around that and 

11          experiences around that for our students.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Also, as it was 

13          mentioned, Assemblywoman Walsh mentioned the 

14          issue of those who may have a local diploma, 

15          may not reach all of the levels academically 

16          that we have, but we may know in high school 

17          that there also, though, might be work 

18          opportunities -- maybe not going on to 

19          college, but receiving some specific training 

20          for types of jobs, connecting them at an 

21          early time, giving a sense of hope that there 

22          are jobs out there for them even if they 

23          might not be the highest academic achievers.  

24          I think is also something that should be part 

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 1          of our focus.  

 2                 So thank you for your efforts and 

 3          ideas around this area.

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 6                 Senator Gustavo Rivera, please.

 7                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Thank you, Madam 

 8          Chairwoman.

 9                 Commissioner, thank you so much for 

10          being here.  I know it's been a long day.  I 

11          will be quick.

12                 I particularly wanted to just thank 

13          you and the department as well as Lester 

14          Young for your efforts at making sure that we 

15          fund My Brother's Keeper.  We are -- after 

16          the program was created, as you know, we're 

17          the only state that actually funded it, and 

18          we both thank the Governor as well as the 

19          department for putting the money in there.  

20                 I wanted to see if you could give us a 

21          little update of where things are.  I wanted 

22          to make sure that we keep it -- that we keep 

23          it rolling.

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, I appreciate 

                                                                  128

 1          it.  And all of you that are here, thank you 

 2          very much for your support.  We all know that 

 3          that is -- if you think about the full scope 

 4          of the work that we're doing there in 

 5          providing not only the opportunities for 

 6          students in our schools to ultimately become 

 7          teachers in our schools and classrooms, but 

 8          also the work that we're doing to target 

 9          schools and support through community 

10          engagement, their parents, and what happens 

11          in those schools.

12                 I think the agenda of equity is a huge 

13          approach that -- a focus that needs to be 

14          shared by all of us as partners in this.  And 

15          I really laud the efforts that have been made 

16          by the Legislature and the Governor's office 

17          to support My Brother's Keeper here in 

18          New York State.  More and more of our schools 

19          are becoming involved in that, and we really 

20          want to focus on it.  And I appreciate your 

21          support -- as I know the Regents chancellor, 

22          vice chancellor, and certainly Regent Young 

23          do.

24                 SENATOR RIVERA:  Thank you so much, 

                                                                  129

 1          Madam Commissioner.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Assemblyman Titone.

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Thank you.

 5                 Good morning -- or good afternoon, 

 6          Chancellor.  And I just want to publicly -- 

 7          you've been to Staten Island so many times 

 8          and, from my heart, we are so appreciative, 

 9          the parents are so appreciative.  So thank 

10          you for coming and listening to us.

11                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  You know, I'm 

12          sorry, last -- last week -- 

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  And of course --

14                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  -- when I was 

15          there I couldn't mention, but Staten Island 

16          has the highest percent of graduation rate of 

17          the boroughs.  And it would have been a great 

18          thing to mention to that family, and the 

19          parents --

20                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Sure.  Sure.

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  -- progressed.

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  And you know, I 

23          really just wanted, you know, your 

24          reassurances of our safety against bear 

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 1          attacks in our school.  It's certainly 

 2          appreciated as well.

 3                 (Laughter.)

 4                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  On page 15 of the 

 5          report that you handed to us, you speak to 

 6          Excessive Teacher Turnover Prevention.  And 

 7          one of the things that we know is that, you 

 8          know, vacancy of special ed teachers as of 

 9          September is around that 15 percent, whereas 

10          with certified teacher assistants it's 

11          probably around 18 percent.  

12                 And that we know with reimbursements, 

13          you know, the state reimburses our 853 

14          schools approximately -- a little bit over 

15          $50,000 per year per child.  With our 

16          New York City District 75 schools, it's 

17          nearly $90,000 per year per child.  A charter 

18          school, it could be close to $100,000 per 

19          year per child.  And if a child is out of 

20          state, that reimbursement rate could exceed 

21          over $109,000 per year.  

22                 So these are the things that kind of 

23          impact how an 853 school has the ability to 

24          retain its teachers.  You know, certainly 

                                                                  131

 1          there's a real competition -- the 853 school 

 2          will basically train a teacher and that 

 3          teacher then has a better opportunity, in 

 4          particular in New York City, to then go into 

 5          the District 75 system.  

 6                 I'm heartened that the state is asking 

 7          for an increase of $4 million to address 

 8          these issues, which would bring us to 

 9          approximately $8 million.  But I'm curious 

10          because when I look at the numbers, if we 

11          truly want parity and if we really want to 

12          keep our special ed teachers in our 

13          853 schools, in our 4410 schools, it seems to 

14          me that we need closer to $18 million.  

15                 So my numbers and State Ed's 

16          numbers -- and again, I'm really grateful 

17          that you're asking for the increase.  But 

18          where does the $4 million increase come from?  

19          How do you reckon that within your budget 

20          proposal?

21                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, so let me 

22          say that for a period of time, as you are 

23          well aware, there was no increases at all.  

24          And so in the context of the entire budget, 

                                                                  132

 1          we believe that doubling that amount of 

 2          money -- and we've had conversations with 

 3          those schools, really anecdotally, to say if 

 4          we double this fund that is specifically for 

 5          teacher turnover, it will help in that way.  

 6                 But clearly we need to look at the 

 7          rate setting for those schools, because that 

 8          also will affect ultimately the salary 

 9          levels, et cetera, for teachers there.  And 

10          we had, for four years, it was zero growth.  

11          And then, although we've started to come 

12          back, those schools have not made up for the 

13          period of time when they didn't have growth.  

14                 And it's been particularly difficult.  

15          So that's one of the areas.  So can I say 

16          that we have asked for what we think would be 

17          the full amount of making sure?  No, we 

18          haven't.  But in the context of we really 

19          know that we need to address the rates, we 

20          felt like the doubling the amount of money 

21          that we were supporting, particularly for 

22          teacher turnover, would help there.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Sure, and I 

24          couldn't agree more with you, and appreciate 

                                                                  133

 1          you saying that, that we really do need to 

 2          address the inequities in the rates.  

 3                 But I also believe that there are 

 4          certain things that we can be doing at 

 5          State Ed, with the Legislature as partners, 

 6          when it comes to policy.  For example, you 

 7          know, if a child shows up -- well, if a -- 

 8          let's just, for example, say that the 

 9          occupational therapist shows up to the school 

10          but the child for whatever reason doesn't.  

11          Maybe he or she has the flu and doesn't show 

12          up.  Well, the 853 school still has to pay 

13          the occupational therapist for his or her 

14          time, but there's no reimbursement.  

15                 So then what happens is that the 

16          occupational therapist is asked to come back 

17          in two days when the child is there.  There 

18          are anecdotal instances where there's still 

19          no reimbursement to the 853 school, because 

20          the services were not provided when they were 

21          supposed to have been provided or when they 

22          said that they were supposed to be provided.  

23                 Additionally, you know, let's just say 

24          Monday the child was sick and then is 

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 1          supposed to have OT and did not; there's no 

 2          reimbursement.  Wednesday the child is in, 

 3          the OT is there, the 853 school has to pay 

 4          that occupational therapist twice, but is 

 5          only being reimbursed once.  

 6                 So I think there are certain policies 

 7          that we can do if we can't get their rates 

 8          increased for them, that we can at least come 

 9          up with policies so that they're saving 

10          money.  And this is one of those areas that I 

11          hope we can explore.  If we can't give them 

12          money, how do we help make them save money?  

13                 And by having them have to fight tooth 

14          and nail with us and our lawyers, it seems 

15          counterproductive, counterintuitive to what 

16          we truly want to do, keeping our 853 and 4410 

17          schools open.  And our teachers --

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So we believe that 

19          creating a statutory index for establishing a 

20          growth in the 853 schools would be extremely 

21          helpful, and that is a solution that would 

22          have to come from the Legislature.  

23                 Also providing a general reserve fund 

24          for those schools would also be helpful, and 

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 1          that would have to come from the Legislature.  

 2                 And I can tell you that we believe -- 

 3          and I know many of you have called our office 

 4          because of specific schools that are facing 

 5          these difficulties, and if in fact they were 

 6          to close, that is a crisis for those families 

 7          and all.  We believe that there needs to be 

 8          changes in the rate setting and the 

 9          approaches that we take in that.  That isn't 

10          going to happen overnight, because it has to 

11          be well thought out.  And we should be really 

12          developing something like the Foundation 

13          formula for the 853 schools, so that there're 

14          increases, so that we know that the needs are 

15          being met.  

16                 And you're correct that there are some 

17          challenges particularly for private providers 

18          in the 853, and in the fact that if they have 

19          specific contracted individuals come to 

20          support a child who's ill who's not there, 

21          then in fact they get caught in that.  But 

22          there needs to be the ability to have some 

23          kind of a system set up so that it isn't that 

24          they are constantly in a serious -- in 

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 1          serious constraints over their budget.  

 2                 We agree with you, and this has been 

 3          something that the Regents, for a very long 

 4          time, have --

 5                 ASSEMBLYMAN TITONE:  Sure, and I --

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.  Thank 

 7          you.  I'm sorry, time's up.

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Next is Murray -- 

11          I'm sorry, you were --

12                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I was just going to 

13          ask one quick thing.

14                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Sure, Senator.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Commissioner, I 

16          just had one quick issue to discuss.

17                 The State Office of Religious and 

18          Independent Schools was funded at $2 million 

19          in the 2016-'17 budget, and out of that money 

20          there's approximately $700,000 that would be 

21          used within State Ed itself to staff the 

22          office.  But the other part is available for 

23          initiatives -- 

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  -- that are related 

 2          to the office.  

 3                 So first of all, what is your timeline 

 4          for fully staffing and operating the State 

 5          Office of Religious and Independent Schools?

 6                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So I believe we 

 7          have one of the positions fully staffed -- 

 8          one position is staffed.  We have several 

 9          others that are waiting approval.  We have 

10          one position that is with Civil Service and, 

11          because it was a change in that position, 

12          we're anxious to move forward on that.  And I 

13          have an advisory meeting with individuals who 

14          represent the nonpublic schools to see 

15          exactly what the issues are and how we can 

16          move that funding forward.  

17                 As you're well aware, $2 million was 

18          initially awarded to the State Ed office.  We 

19          had the ongoing cost of the office staff, 

20          which was about 700, but the rest of that 

21          funding was, in my understanding, not in the 

22          Executive Budget.  So the funding that you're 

23          talking about is a -- at this point was from 

24          last year.  We are moving forward to have 

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 1          that go out, specifically to the non-publics.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I think it is in 

 3          the reappropriation language in the 

 4          Governor's budget proposal.  So, I guess, 

 5          what would your definition or your 

 6          interpretation of initiatives be for the 

 7          remaining $1.3 million?

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, as I said, I 

 9          have an advisory group that is supportive of 

10          using those resources to address a number of 

11          issues they have.  Some of it is training 

12          issues, conferences that they want to hold 

13          for their teachers, we've had other requests 

14          that specifically relate to facilities-type 

15          things.  And we're in a position -- I'm 

16          anxious to meet with them to make sure that 

17          we get that money out, and they are anxious 

18          to have our office staffed.  

19                 So that was one of the points that I 

20          brought up earlier.  We don't control when we 

21          get the approval to put those positions in.  

22          I wish they were in today.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, great.  So 

24          anything you could do to expedite that --

                                                                  139

 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Absolutely.  Thank 

 2          you.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  We have to help 

 4          her expedite it, that's the issue.  She can't 

 5          do it if she can't fill the spot.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yeah.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Assemblyman Murray.

 8                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Thank you, 

 9          Mr. Chairman.

10                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Good morning.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Good morning, 

12          Commissioner.  

13                 So getting back to the alternative 

14          pathways to graduation.

15                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Right.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  So --

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Hit your mic.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  The button.  

19          Yeah, it did.  Let's try a different one.  

20          Okay, we'll slide over.  There we go.

21                 So getting back to the alternative 

22          pathways to graduation, it just feels like we 

23          may be overcomplicating it.  I have a lot of 

24          parents that come to me and say, Why don't we 

                                                                  140

 1          have the general diploma, or go back to it?  

 2                 Now, you mentioned certain things, 

 3          such as the exceptions, where someone can get 

 4          a local diploma.  Some of those exceptions, 

 5          again, were based on test scores.  It seems 

 6          we're basing graduation, in many people's 

 7          opinions, including myself, too much on test 

 8          scores.  

 9                 So we've got a situation where we have 

10          CDOS, we have P-TECH.  Then we talked about 

11          the portfolio-based graduations, you said you 

12          might want to look into a pilot program -- 

13          but that already exists with the consortium 

14          schools.  But there's a cap on that, they're 

15          not letting any other schools participate in 

16          that.  

17                 I know many schools have approached us 

18          and said, Why can't we participate in that 

19          consortium?  And it's not happening.  Why 

20          won't we just open that up and get -- and try 

21          and allow more of these schools to get to a 

22          portfolio-based-type graduation?

23                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  So let's be very 

24          open about the fact that we want to have the 

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 1          diploma in New York have standards associated 

 2          with it.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  Sure.

 4                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  I think we all 

 5          want that.

 6                 We are right now looking at ways that 

 7          we can open that up to support students who 

 8          might, for many reasons, have ability but 

 9          not have been successful in school up to this 

10          point, and not be targeted in what we're 

11          doing to support them to be successful.  

12                 The Career and Technical programs, you 

13          didn't mention that, but we have opened up, 

14          in my short tenure in the department, we've 

15          opened up approximately nine or 10 pathways 

16          to graduation, up to close to 40.  

17                 So certification for a student that 

18          comes out of school, where they could go 

19          immediately into a job market with an 

20          external certification, I think is an 

21          important thing for us to make sure students 

22          know they have options there and that in fact 

23          that there's equity across the state in 

24          providing those at all different schools, 

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 1          which we don't have right now.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  And I appreciate 

 3          that as far as the CTE and BOCES and -- but 

 4          my question is, why wouldn't we then kind of 

 5          combine that?  Because right now, under those 

 6          pathways you're mentioning, those are not 

 7          diplomas.  Why don't we make a general 

 8          diploma?

 9                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, in fact the 

10          pathways I'm mentioning are, they lead to a 

11          regular Regents diploma.  And so opening up 

12          opportunities for students to have that 

13          involvement is going to allow them to have a 

14          regular Regents diploma.  

15                 It is -- it's important to have 

16          standards in the state so that a diploma in 

17          New York State means that in fact a student 

18          is ready to do something.  We already have 

19          too many students leaving our school 

20          districts not having the background necessary 

21          to go into and matriculate into our colleges 

22          and universities.  Right now, 40 percent of 

23          the students are having to face doing 

24          remedial work before they can go in and 

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 1          matriculate towards college.  

 2                 So we are opening up, as we've done 

 3          over the last two years, we've opened up a 

 4          number of opportunities, and you have 

 5          students taking advantage of those 

 6          opportunities.  Our graduation rate is going 

 7          up, and so is every student -- they're not 

 8          all going to pass the Regents exams in all of 

 9          those courses, I understand that, but we've 

10          given them a number of options.  And one of 

11          the things that will hook students into 

12          working harder and being successful and 

13          getting a Regents diploma will be connecting 

14          them to something that they think is 

15          relevant.  And very often, that has to do 

16          with what was talked about earlier -- 

17          businesses being involved with them, 

18          providing opportunities, and knowing that 

19          when they leave us, they have something in 

20          their hand that will allow them to move 

21          forward.  

22                 And I would say to you, making sure 

23          that everyone walks away with a diploma is 

24          not necessarily preparing them for the next 

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 1          point in their life.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  And I agree with 

 3          that.  I was first going on the assumption 

 4          that the fact that we are allowing them to 

 5          matriculate and go up from K all the way up 

 6          through 12 and passing these grades and 

 7          moving on, that they are already meeting 

 8          certain standards, that we're not just 

 9          sending them to the next grade level just 

10          because.  So I would think that they already 

11          do have -- there is a value to the diploma.  

12          I'm hoping that we wouldn't be just handing 

13          them out.  

14                 But with what you were saying with the 

15          program, I agree with you completely.  I 

16          think career readiness is so important right 

17          now, which again is why I'm wondering why we 

18          don't go with the local diploma option with 

19          giving these kids an option of having the 

20          special certification or recognition with 

21          that diploma in a particular field, such as 

22          carpentry or cosmetology or electronics or 

23          something like this.

24                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Well, that's what 

                                                                  145

 1          we're doing.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  But it isn't a 

 3          diploma.  It's a possibility of a diploma, 

 4          but it's still going to be based on test 

 5          scores, right?  I mean, aren't they going to 

 6          go -- we could still offer the Regents and 

 7          give kids an opportunity to graduate with a 

 8          Regents diploma, which would hold much value.  

 9          It would show that they've exceeded, as we 

10          had done in the past -- but it seems like 

11          we're trying to meld everyone together to fit 

12          that one mold, and we're basing a lot of it 

13          on test scores, which is very frustrating for 

14          those kids who've done everything to go K 

15          through 12 but just can't pass those tests.  

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN MURRAY:  And thank you.

18                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  We've been joined 

20          by Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton.  

21                 And to close, Assemblywoman Fahy.

22                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you, 

23          Mr. Chairman.

24                 Thank you, Commissioner.  It's a 

                                                                  146

 1          pleasure to have you here again.  I'm sorry I 

 2          missed your earlier testimony; too many 

 3          things going on.

 4                 I have one question, and I just want 

 5          to make one comment as an intro to that.  I 

 6          appreciate your comment the other day when 

 7          the updated graduation rates were sent out 

 8          and you noted the lagging, the tremendous 

 9          lagging of English language learners or the 

10          ESL students, or previous ESL students.  

11                 And I shared your concern.  As you 

12          know, right here in Albany, one small, small 

13          school district, 8,000 children, and we have 

14          over 57 languages taught now in just that 

15          small school district.  Sorry, over 57 

16          languages spoken, not taught.

17                 So I am concerned.  And I was just at 

18          an upstate caucus meeting this morning where 

19          we talked about the lack of ESL teachers, and 

20          I know you've addressed it as well in your 

21          testimony.  That said, could you -- so 

22          knowing that, and knowing the background 

23          along with a host of other turnover issues 

24          that you've also addressed and raised today, 

                                                                  147

 1          can you give us an update on the teacher 

 2          preparation program and tell us where we are 

 3          now?  

 4                 As you know, there was lots of turmoil 

 5          with that as well, which may have fueled some 

 6          of the loss of numbers in the profession.  

 7          But are there any updates in terms of how we 

 8          are doing there with hanging on to the 

 9          students entering teaching and then their 

10          graduation or completion rates as well?

11                 Thank you, Commissioner.  

12                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Sure.  So I know 

13          you're aware -- we have been working jointly 

14          with SUNY, so I think it's exciting that 

15          Nancy Zimpher and I, as the SUNY chancellor 

16          working together with the commissioner of 

17          State Ed, are together looking at these 

18          issues.  Our Regents -- and Regent Cashin is 

19          here -- have been very involved in becoming 

20          very knowledgeable on what are some of the 

21          issues.  

22                 We have, in fact -- she was part of 

23          the reinstatement of the edTPA workgroup that 

24          came up with initially the recommendations 

                                                                  148

 1          specific to those -- the exams for -- that 

 2          lead to certification.  Unfortunately, the 

 3          weather didn't support yesterday's meeting 

 4          for us to be together and make some of those 

 5          changes occur and present them to the public.  

 6          But we have changes that are coming with some 

 7          of the exams and with looking at how a 

 8          teacher moves out of becoming a teacher in 

 9          preparation and a teacher that's in a 

10          classroom.  We think that there's some work 

11          that needs to be done in the teachers' 

12          opportunities to learn in schools prior to 

13          their leaving their teacher ed program.  

14                 So those are all things that are on 

15          the docket for us, if you will, and some will 

16          be happening much more quickly than others.

17                 Related to the issue of why we have 

18          concerns about teachers -- if you look 

19          specifically, we have two or three areas that 

20          we are really behind, and one of them you've 

21          mentioned is the English language learners 

22          certified teachers as well as our students 

23          with disabilities teachers.  Both of those 

24          are areas that are national problems, not 

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 1          just New York, but it doesn't make it any 

 2          better for us, because we have that issue.

 3                 So we are addressing those issues with 

 4          our teacher ed programs.  We're working with 

 5          them to understand that if they give us 

 6          teachers that are certified in those areas, 

 7          they will be in great demand.  And in terms 

 8          of that, we're also looking at ways that we 

 9          can make sure that districts can support 

10          teachers that are currently certified in an 

11          area to get that add-on certification and 

12          then support those students within their 

13          classrooms.  

14                 So those are the agendas that we have.  

15          We are expanding the options and 

16          opportunities for those certifications.  

17          We've also done some things to allow 

18          districts to make us aware of issues that 

19          they have specific to certification areas, 

20          and provided opportunities and waivers for 

21          them for a short period of time until they 

22          can get their people certified.  

23                 So those are all things that are 

24          happening in the department.  And there's no 

                                                                  150

 1          question that the issue of having qualified 

 2          teachers in every classroom is what will make 

 3          the difference for our students, so it's got 

 4          to be a major agenda for the department as 

 5          well as for SUNY and CUNY and the 

 6          independents, all of who in fact are 

 7          preparing their teachers to go into our 

 8          classrooms.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN FAHY:  Thank you, 

10          Commissioner.  And I also appreciate your 

11          comments on pre-K.  

12                 Thank you, Mr. Chair.  Thank you.  

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

14          much.

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.  

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

17          Commissioner.  We appreciate the opportunity.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  We did it in 

19          less than three hours.

20                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Wasn't that a fast 

21          half hour?

22                 (Laughter.)

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  That's a record.  

24          Rick Mills was here for five hours once.

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 1                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  And we will follow 

 2          up with information.  Several of you, I 

 3          know -- we'll get the information to you as 

 4          soon as --

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Next will be the 

 6          New York City Department of Education, Carmen 

 7          FariÒa, chancellor.

 8                 COMMISSIONER ELIA:  Thank you.  

 9                 (Pause.) 

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  If we could have 

11          people take their conversations, please, out 

12          in the hall so that we can start with our 

13          next presenter.  If we could have people in 

14          discussions, please take them out in the 

15          hall.  

16                 Our next presenter, Carmen FariÒa, 

17          chancellor, New York City Department of 

18          Education.  

19                 Chancellor.

20                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Good morning.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Just a big 

22          welcome.  We're so happy you're here today.

23                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, Happy 

24          Valentine's Day.  

                                                                  152

 1                 And this is also a great day to 

 2          announce that New York City is actually 

 3          introducing today a hashtag, 

 4          #PSILoveMySchool.  And as of last night, we 

 5          have 400 entries from schools all around the 

 6          city.  So I encourage, if you have a school 

 7          in your community that you love, join our 

 8          hashtag and tell us why you love us.

 9                 Good morning, Senate Finance Committee 

10          Chair Young, Assembly Ways and Means 

11          Committee Chair Farrell, ranking members 

12          Senator Krueger and Assemblyman Oaks, 

13          Education Chairs Marcellino and Nolan, and 

14          all the members of the State Senate and State 

15          Assembly here today.

16                 I want to thank you for the 

17          opportunity to testify today on behalf of 

18          New York City's public school system and its 

19          students.  I would also like to thank you for 

20          your continued partnership.

21                 With me is Raymond Orlando, chief 

22          financial officer for the New York City 

23          Department of Education.

24                 As chancellor, I'm not satisfied till 

                                                                  153

 1          every single public school student in 

 2          New York City is getting a high-quality 

 3          education.  I am proud, however, of what we 

 4          have accomplished so far on behalf of the 

 5          city's students.  Last year's graduation rate 

 6          is the highest it has ever been, with 

 7          72.6 percent of high school students 

 8          graduating in four years.  Our dropout rate 

 9          is 8.5 percent, the lowest it has ever been. 

10          We are also pleased with the results from 

11          last year's New York State tests in 

12          English -- ELA -- and math, where New York 

13          City outperformed the rest of the state in 

14          ELA results for the first time.  

15                 This year we have also achieved the 

16          highest-ever post-secondary enrollment 

17          rate -- 55 percent of the Class of 2015, with 

18          77 percent of graduates enrolling in 

19          college -- the highest-ever number of 

20          New York City students taking and passing 

21          Advanced Placement exams, with an 8 percent 

22          increase in both; the highest-ever college 

23          readiness rate -- which is actually a New 

24          York City standard that says it's not about 

                                                                  154

 1          graduating but it's about how you succeed, 

 2          particularly in your freshman year in 

 3          college -- 37 percent of all students, and 

 4          51 percent of graduates in the Class of 2016 

 5          graduated high school on time and met CUNY's 

 6          standards for college readiness in English 

 7          and math.  

 8                 Our schools are starting earlier, with 

 9          70,000 free, full-day, high-quality pre-K 

10          seats.  This would not have been possible 

11          without the financial support you've 

12          provided, and continue to provide, and I want 

13          to thank you for that.  

14                 While we are pleased with our 

15          progress, we know there is more to be done. 

16          This is why Mayor de Blasio and I announced 

17          the Equity and Excellence for All initiative, 

18          with ambitious goals for New York City.  By 

19          2026, 80 percent of our students will 

20          graduate high school on time, and two-thirds 

21          of our graduates will be college-ready.  

22                 This school year marks the first full 

23          year of implementation of these Equity and 

24          Excellence initiatives, which will be rolled 

                                                                  155

 1          out to schools citywide over the next several 

 2          years.  There are over 800 schools with at 

 3          least one Equity and Excellence program this 

 4          year, a number which will continue to grow 

 5          over the course of the year.  

 6                 Some of the highlights.  Our Universal 

 7          Literacy Initiative is taking off, with over 

 8          100 reading coaches in elementary schools to 

 9          ensure that, by the end of second grade, all 

10          students will be reading on grade level.  

11          These are coaches that work in schools with 

12          all the teachers in kindergarten to second 

13          grade.  They go into classrooms, they do 

14          demonstration lessons, they do training for 

15          the teachers -- because one of the things 

16          that we've learned is that it's important, in 

17          order to keep your teachers, to keep offering 

18          them professional development.  And this has 

19          been done for four districts and will be 

20          rolled out to even more districts next year.

21                 Our Algebra for All initiative is 

22          improving math instruction in over 200 

23          elementary, middle, and high schools.  We're 

24          starting this work in the fifth grade in a 

                                                                  156

 1          departmentalized way which was started in 

 2          many of our Renewal Schools, because teachers 

 3          who are trained specifically to teach math 

 4          tend to be a lot more excited about it than a 

 5          teacher who teaches an entire grade, of fifth 

 6          grade.  And we have 100 elementary schools 

 7          that are piloting that this year, and we 

 8          expect to grow that next year.  

 9                 Our College Access for All initiative 

10          is making college an achievable expectation 

11          for our students.  We have eliminated the 

12          CUNY application fee for our low-income 

13          students, and all high school juniors will 

14          take the SAT for free during the school day, 

15          in their own schools, on April 5th of this 

16          year.  

17                 This is very important because when we 

18          did some research on who took the SATs in the 

19          past, many students, because they had to go 

20          to a different school, it was always on 

21          Saturdays, told us that just leaving their 

22          communities was a hassle.  Many of our 

23          students have part-time jobs.  Many students, 

24          if they had to travel more than a bus and a 

                                                                  157

 1          train, were not showing up at the SATs.  So 

 2          having it in their schools, all on the same 

 3          day, with the teachers proctoring, is making 

 4          it much more accessible.

 5                 Twenty thousand middle-schoolers are 

 6          visiting colleges, and we're giving their 

 7          families support along the way.  I was just 

 8          at Brooklyn College, where we had some 

 9          middle-schoolers coming to visit, and their 

10          mouths dropped open because they didn't 

11          realize that colleges have things like pools.  

12          One of the big stars of the visit was 

13          cafeterias where you could pick your own food 

14          and they could choose what they wanted to 

15          eat.  

16                 And I think for many of our students, 

17          what you don't see, what you can't imagine, 

18          you can't believe in for yourself.  So being 

19          on a campus and seeing what it's like -- and 

20          we invite their parents to come with them so 

21          we can also talk to parents about having 

22          higher expectations for the students.  This 

23          year we also increased our Parents 

24          Information Centers for middle-school parents 

                                                                  158

 1          on how to start working in middle school to 

 2          get their children into college.  

 3                 Last year, we saw a record number of 

 4          students who took at least one AP exam.  

 5          Participation and performance gains were 

 6          largest for black and Hispanic students, with 

 7          an 18 percent increase in the number of black 

 8          students passing at least one AP exam, and a 

 9          10.8 percent increase in the number of 

10          Hispanic students passing at least one AP. 

11          Our AP for All initiative, which is bringing 

12          new AP courses to 63 high schools this year, 

13          will eventually bring every high school 

14          student access to at least five AP courses. 

15          This is unprecedented in New York City.  

16          Expanding access to these courses is 

17          critical, and I applaud Governor Cuomo's 

18          proposal to increase the amount of state 

19          funding to assist with exam fees.

20                 An example of this is also that we 

21          have 12 collocated high school campuses which 

22          have a total of 54 schools.  And on these 

23          campuses alone, we have now opened AP classes 

24          to students in each others' schools on the 

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 1          same campus.  So if you're attending, for 

 2          example, Lehman High School campus, you can 

 3          take AP courses in other classes in other 

 4          courses.  

 5                 So for example, in the Bronx, only one 

 6          of the schools had an AP course.  And now one 

 7          of the students said he's actually going to 

 8          be graduating by having taken I think nine AP 

 9          courses, because he took them outside of his 

10          own school in the other schools in the same 

11          building.  And that's something we're doing 

12          in all the boroughs.  

13                 The Single Shepherd initiative in 

14          District 7 in the Bronx and District 23 in 

15          Brooklyn is showing promise.  These are our 

16          neediest districts in terms of demographics, 

17          poverty, and by any measure that you can 

18          imagine.  This initiative is going to serve 

19          16,000 students.  This initiative very simply 

20          gives each family -- it's not just for the 

21          students -- a dedicated either social worker 

22          or guidance counselor that's going to follow 

23          the student for seven years.  And everything 

24          is their job.

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 1                 For example, if a family is being 

 2          threatened with eviction, if a family has 

 3          some other kind of crisis -- a mental health 

 4          problem -- this particular Single Shepherd 

 5          follows the family and helps the family.  And 

 6          this does not supplant existing guidance 

 7          counselors; this is in addition to the 

 8          guidance counselors.

 9                 I'll give you an anecdote.  In 

10          District 7, a family went to the school to 

11          ask the principal to help them assign their 

12          child to a residency, they wanted to put 

13          their child in a residence because they 

14          couldn't handle him anymore at home.  And the 

15          Single Shepherd was able to work with the 

16          family and meets with them once a week now.  

17          And because of that, to me, a child's life 

18          has been saved.

19                 So we're looking at Single Shepherds 

20          as a way to help entire families and 

21          communities, and we see this as a really 

22          important initiative.  

23                 We are constantly working with 

24          nonprofit and private partners to meet the 

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 1          shared goal to provide every single New York 

 2          City student with a quality education.  This 

 3          is true of our Computer Science for All 

 4          initiative, made possible by a public-private 

 5          partnership.  This program is intended to 

 6          develop a plan to work with underserved 

 7          students, including female, African-American, 

 8          and Latino students.  Our work with 

 9          elementary schools is intended to expose 

10          underrepresented students to computer science 

11          at a younger age so they gain the skills and 

12          confidence to pursue pathways in computer 

13          science and technology.  

14                 We also have a very special 

15          partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation 

16          and the musical Hamilton -- and the Miranda 

17          family has been particularly helpful in 

18          supporting this -- where we are enabling 

19          20,000 New York City 11th graders to attend 

20          Hamilton.  I was just there this past week, 

21          because the students actually get on the 

22          stage in the morning and perform something 

23          from Hamilton's life.  And to have them have 

24          their peers -- which is 1300 students in the 

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 1          audience -- cheer them on is not just about 

 2          bringing social studies alive, which is one 

 3          of my passions for our schools, but building 

 4          students' self-confidence.  

 5                 It ties in also with the fact that we 

 6          this year came out with a social studies 

 7          program that has just been designated by the 

 8          United States Defense Department as one that 

 9          they want in all their schools around the 

10          world.  

11                 And for all our schools, there's 

12          always an opportunity to learn and grow, 

13          particularly from each other.  Through the 

14          District-Charter Partnerships, district and 

15          charter schools are coming together -- and 

16          about two Saturdays ago I attended 

17          professional development that was led by the 

18          Uncommon Schools Network for teachers and 

19          principals in two of our districts in 

20          central Brooklyn.  

21                 In addition to the programs that I've 

22          mentioned, we've expanded access to physical 

23          education and sports programs, particularly 

24          for female students and those that attend 

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 1          smaller schools.  We created 150 community 

 2          schools providing access to mental health, 

 3          health and vision services.  We're working 

 4          towards changing school climate and 

 5          implementing restorative practices in our 

 6          schools.  For the first time, our summer 

 7          programs are serving high-need 

 8          second-graders, and we plan to serve 4,400 

 9          more second-graders this coming spring.  And 

10          all of them will have a program that is an 

11          enrichment program rather than a remedial 

12          program, and we're very excited about that.  

13                 I am particularly proud of our work to 

14          better serve students who are English 

15          language learners, our ELLs.  As a former ELL 

16          student myself, this work is very personal.  

17          We currently have 434 bilingual programs in 

18          every borough in the city and will continue 

19          to open more.  We are holding, for the first 

20          time ever in New York City, Saturday parent 

21          conferences in their native language.  We've 

22          had them in Spanish, we've had them in 

23          Mandarin.  I attended one -- again, 

24          recently -- in Bengali, and we're having one 

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 1          in Arabic.  And the entire conference is held 

 2          in that language; I'm the only one who has to 

 3          get translated.  

 4                 Our former ELL students who placed out 

 5          of being an ELL in the two years prior to 

 6          graduation posted great gains in graduation 

 7          rates -- 84.1 percent, up from 78.9 percent 

 8          last year.  We still have a lot more to do in 

 9          this area, and that's why we've partnered 

10          with Dr. Nonie Lesaux from the Harvard 

11          Graduate School of Education's Language 

12          Diversity and Literacy Development to design 

13          an institute to equip schools with tools and 

14          knowledge to independently deepen their work 

15          with ELLs.  I thank the Assembly Education 

16          Committee for holding a hearing on ELLs last 

17          December, and the leadership exhibited from 

18          legislators on this important issue.  

19                 Additionally, since I became an 

20          educator 51 years ago, involving parents has 

21          been a central focus.  This continues each 

22          and every day across the DOE.  We are pleased 

23          that our increased emphasis on parent 

24          engagement has resulted in significantly more 

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 1          parents attending parent-teacher conferences.  

 2          We instituted something in New York City 

 3          called student-led conferences, where 

 4          students actually attend, with their parents, 

 5          and lead the conferences.  And what we're 

 6          finding -- one district in the city in 

 7          particular had almost 100 percent parent 

 8          attendance at parent-teacher conferences 

 9          because their students lead the conference.

10                 We have more parents participating and 

11          running for local Community Education 

12          Councils, our CECs.  In fact, CEC elections 

13          are happening right now, and to learn more 

14          about CEC elections this year and to apply, 

15          parents should visit NYCparentleaders.org. 

16          And I certainly encourage all of you to get 

17          out to your constituencies, those in New York 

18          City, to apply for these seats.  The last CEC 

19          and citywide council elections in 2015 had 

20          1,290 parents apply, and that was up from 729 

21          in 2013 and 511 in 2011.  We are hoping for 

22          even greater numbers.  

23                 And this is a group that I now meet 

24          with on Saturdays to give them more time.  I 

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 1          meet with the CEC presidents one Saturday a 

 2          month to talk about the issues that we now 

 3          feel that they have a major role to play in, 

 4          and one of them is rezoning.  And any of you 

 5          who have kept in touch with what's happening 

 6          in New York City, City Council District 3 has 

 7          really played a very important role in what 

 8          is evolving there.

 9                 The DOE also continues to focus on 

10          increasing diversity through systemwide and 

11          localized approaches, and I have asked my 

12          senior leadership team to work on these 

13          important efforts through operations, 

14          programming, instruction and policy.  Last 

15          year, we implemented our first-ever diversity 

16          in admissions pilot, encouraging principals 

17          to develop admissions priorities to increase 

18          diversity.  I am pleased to report that we 

19          will expand this program to 19 schools this 

20          year, I want to thank the Legislature for the 

21          funding in last year's budget to support 

22          initiatives to help increase diversity in our 

23          specialized high schools.  This funding 

24          supports several initiatives, including 

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 1          outreach, teacher training, and tutoring and 

 2          preparation programs, all targeted toward 

 3          students underrepresented at our specialized 

 4          high schools.  

 5                 I am also grateful for the funding the 

 6          DOE received last year under the My Brother's 

 7          Keeper Initiative, and I am pleased to see 

 8          funding included in the proposed budget for 

 9          this year as well.  We look forward to 

10          continuing to work with you to support New 

11          York City students with funding.  This 

12          funding has been done very locally, it has 

13          been with the engagement of the 

14          superintendents, based on the needs.  And one 

15          of the major focuses on a lot of this has 

16          been in terms of college preparation, college 

17          work, and also mentoring, particularly young 

18          men of color, partnering them with people who 

19          will help them see all the possibilities out 

20          there.  

21                 I also want to thank the Legislature 

22          for the Smart Schools Bond Act.  Although our 

23          proposal has not yet been approved by the 

24          state, that funding will go a long way toward 

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 1          bolstering our efforts to modernize our 

 2          schools, including supporting our Computer 

 3          Science for All effort, and to fully remove 

 4          and replace TCUs.  This administration has 

 5          committed to prioritizing the removal of all 

 6          352 TCUs in place when the mayor took office. 

 7          There is a $405 million ask in the city's 

 8          capital plan for the removal of TCUs, 

 9          $300 million of which is Smart Schools Bond 

10          Act funding.  Ninety-four have already been 

11          removed, and plans are underway to remove 104 

12          more.  We are actively creating plans to 

13          remove the remaining ones.  And it goes 

14          hand-in-hand with funding for over 44,000 new 

15          school seats in the current five-year capital 

16          plan.  And in January, we committed to 

17          funding 38,000 more in the next five-year 

18          capital plan.  

19                 More broadly, I would like to thank 

20          the Legislature for always supporting 

21          additional funding for our public schools.  

22          Additional state funding has allowed us to do 

23          more for students, including addressing 

24          inequity in funding to our schools through 

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 1          Fair Student Funding.  Over two years, we 

 2          raised the citywide average from 88 percent 

 3          to 91 percent.  We are funding all Renewal 

 4          and Community Schools at 100 percent of their 

 5          Fair Student Funding level, and no school in 

 6          the city is below 87 percent.  Next year we 

 7          intend to raise the citywide average to 

 8          92.5 percent, with no school below 90 percent 

 9          of their Fair Student Funding, a plan that is 

10          contingent on a similar level of growth in 

11          Foundation Aid as we've received in the past 

12          two years.  

13                 We are committed to getting to 

14          100 percent for all schools by the year 2021, 

15          an accomplishment that can be realized if the 

16          state continues its commitment to fulfill the 

17          Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement.  I 

18          know this is a priority for many of you as 

19          well, and I deeply appreciate your 

20          commitment.  The phase-in of Foundation Aid 

21          is critical to ensuring funding levels that 

22          will enable the city to provide a 

23          constitutionally guaranteed sound, basic 

24          education to our students.  The state's 

                                                                  170

 1          commitment to satisfying the shortfall must 

 2          remain intact.  

 3                 Similarly, I want to voice my support 

 4          for State Ed's request for additional funding 

 5          for Career and Technical Education, CTE 

 6          programs.  I know MaryEllen and I are totally 

 7          in agreement in this.  And we need not only 

 8          your support financially, but also in terms 

 9          of changing some of the legal language, 

10          through the State Legislature, to ensure that 

11          we can graduate more students with a CTE 

12          diploma.  

13                 CTE programs provide a unique 

14          opportunity to prepare students with the 

15          skills and rigorous academics to both 

16          graduate with a career skill and be 

17          college-ready.  We are investing in 40 new 

18          high-quality CTE programs over the next three 

19          school years and strengthening our numerous 

20          existing programs.  

21                 For example, I went to visit Co-op 

22          Tech recently, visited the carpentry program.  

23          And one of the discoveries is that the 

24          carpentry program -- I know, Velmanette, 

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 1          you're particularly interested in this -- 

 2          that the carpenters union is also the union 

 3          that represents the divers of New York City.  

 4          Because divers are considered carpenters 

 5          underwater.  So we're also looking to how we 

 6          create more CTE programs for maritime, 

 7          particularly in Brooklyn and Staten Island.  

 8          So we're working on that.

 9                 We want to help improve CTEs through 

10          changing regulations around licensing for CTE 

11          teachers to allow more individuals with 

12          relevant field experience the opportunity to 

13          teach some of the harder-to-staff CTE 

14          programs, including computer science.

15                 The budget also makes several changes 

16          to the charter school landscape that come at 

17          the expense of the Department of Education.  

18          It is important that this be balanced with 

19          continued improvement in our public schools.  

20          In order to maintain that balance, the state 

21          must fund any increased support to charter 

22          schools, not New York City.  

23                 All of the progress I have described 

24          would not have been possible without mayoral 

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 1          control of the New York City school system.  

 2          I have worked in three different governance 

 3          systems, in many different capacities -- 

 4          teacher, staff developer, principal, 

 5          superintendent, deputy chancellor and now 

 6          chancellor -- and I can say without a doubt 

 7          that this governance system is the most 

 8          efficient, the most transparent, and most 

 9          capable of getting results for students.  I 

10          might also say the most accountable.  What we 

11          do is public, it's out there, the press sees 

12          it, and the evaluation is done by the public 

13          at large.  

14                 With hard work and appropriate 

15          resources, New York City's students are 

16          capable of anything.  I know you feel the 

17          same way, and I am grateful for your hard 

18          work on behalf of your communities and their 

19          students.  We have a lot of work ahead of us. 

20                 And I thank you for your time and want 

21          to remind everyone that as far as I'm 

22          concerned, #PSILoveAllMySchools.  And I also 

23          know that this is the best way to have a 

24          democracy that works for all of this country.

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 1                 So thank you, and I look forward to 

 2          your questions. 

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 4          much.

 5                 First to ask questions, Chair Nolan.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you, 

 7          Mr. Farrell and my colleagues.  I just want 

 8          to remind everyone again what a lifelong 

 9          educator Chancellor FariÒa is, because I 

10          always think I know everything about New York 

11          City, and she tells me now that divers are 

12          carpenters underwater.  So she's always 

13          educating, even when she's giving testimony.  

14                 I just want to say quickly I 

15          appreciate your support for Foundation Aid.  

16          I appreciate your reminding the committee how 

17          important it is, because we do feel that it's 

18          under some threat.  So I appreciate that.  

19                 I appreciate your comments about the 

20          trailers, which as you know has been a 

21          concern of mine for a very, very long time 

22          and one of the reasons so many years ago I 

23          asked to chair this committee.  And we are 

24          finally, under your leadership, making some 

                                                                  174

 1          progress.  But I want to remind you and my 

 2          colleagues that the number of trailers means 

 3          that we still have almost 10,000 children in 

 4          trailers.  And for many of my colleagues from 

 5          other parts of the state, that would be a 

 6          very large-sized school district for them.  

 7          So we are talking about thousands of children 

 8          still receiving their education in what is 

 9          essentially a firetrap.  

10                 So I want to -- you know, I appreciate 

11          the movement, but I want to continue to 

12          support pressure for it and want to express 

13          my concern that the Smart Schools Bond Act 

14          has not yet been released, that money for the 

15          city.  And I was so glad Senator Marcellino 

16          brought it up earlier with Commissioner Elia.  

17          So we're going to continue to work on that 

18          and give you the support you need to remove 

19          trailers.

20                 I appreciate the comments on CTE.  

21          Would like you to perhaps elaborate a little 

22          bit, though, on after-school.  The Governor 

23          did put some money, the Executive put some 

24          after-school money in there.  The mayor had 

                                                                  175

 1          announced an initiative last year about 

 2          after-school in all middle schools, and I 

 3          think -- I'd like to hear you speak about 

 4          that.

 5                 And then just two other quick things 

 6          and I'm done.  Renewal Schools, as you know, 

 7          continue to be the subject of a great deal of 

 8          conversation and scrutiny.  We had a hearing 

 9          well over a year ago now on the Community 

10          School concept.  I have a Renewal School, 

11          PS 111.  And I think you know, you know, many 

12          vociferous and upset issues and many, many -- 

13          a lot of angst about it.  But I will say, 

14          finally, finally there has been some true 

15          progress.  And I think in my own mind one of 

16          the reasons is that you've been able to be 

17          flexible about children with IEPs and getting 

18          a team-teaching approach, et cetera, 

19          et cetera.  So I'd like for you to talk a 

20          little bit more about what you're doing at 

21          Renewal Schools.  

22                 So after-school, Renewal Schools, and 

23          then I'd like you to elaborate a little bit 

24          more about how those charter proposals take 

                                                                  176

 1          money from New York City public school 

 2          students to give them to other New York City 

 3          public school students who you have no real 

 4          authority over.  So, you know, that's an 

 5          issue for us, obviously.  You know, I have 

 6          good working relationships with charter 

 7          schools in my district, but we have to sort 

 8          of realize taking money from one student and 

 9          giving it to another, as the Governor's 

10          proposals -- you know, I guess that's their 

11          proposals -- is not going to be the answer.

12                 So after-school, Renewal Schools, and 

13          charter schools, maybe you could elaborate a 

14          little bit.

15                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Let me take them 

16          in kind of --

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And thanks for 

18          telling me about the divers.

19                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Okay.  No, I was 

20          very impressed when I learned that too.

21                 Well, first of all, I think I want to 

22          start with Renewal Schools.  Because Senator 

23          Comrie, August Martin -- who would have 

24          thought that what was happening there could 

                                                                  177

 1          happen?  Senator Montgomery, PS 67, 

 2          unbelievable stuff happening there.  They 

 3          actually just came out in the papers.  And 

 4          obviously 111.  

 5                 So very specifically, what is 

 6          happening in Renewal Schools is that we have 

 7          many of them -- 34 of them, to be exact, and, 

 8          I don't remember -- more as we speak.  We 

 9          have created a new leadership.  One of the 

10          first things we know about what makes a 

11          school work is the principal.  So we make 

12          sure that the right principal is in charge of 

13          a school.  

14                 The other thing, we have community- 

15          based organizations in all these schools and 

16          the community-based organizations have 

17          wraparound programs -- but different than in 

18          the past, they're embedded in the school 

19          during the school day.  So they are not 

20          coming as an after-school program, they have 

21          to be in the classrooms, working along with 

22          the teachers, and providing things like 

23          mental health, parent supports.  Whatever it 

24          takes in that specific school, that's what 

                                                                  178

 1          they're there for.  And that's made a major 

 2          difference, particularly in our high schools.

 3                 The other thing about renewal schools, 

 4          we now have highly trained, what we call 

 5          district school renewal directors who work in 

 6          the schools and work alongside all the 

 7          teachers with professional development.  We 

 8          now have a data system that is working in 

 9          every single Renewal School, i-Ready, and 

10          something called ISSP, which actually starts 

11          analyzing everything that's happening in the 

12          schools, from the rate of suspensions, 

13          attendance, teacher retention -- all the 

14          benchmarks that we feel are important to make 

15          for a successful school, and we evaluate them 

16          on a regular basis.  

17                 So I think the Renewal Schools we now 

18          have -- and the commissioner and I have just 

19          discussed this.  Only one school that's still 

20          very struggling.  We have one school that as 

21          of last night is going to be closing, the 

22          building is closing and reopening.  And we 

23          have several that are doing really quite 

24          well.  And this past Friday we hosted, for 

                                                                  179

 1          the rest of the state -- and I've met several 

 2          of the superintendents here today -- an open 

 3          house for promising practices to visit the 

 4          schools that have shown the biggest results.  

 5                 But results are only going to happen 

 6          over time, it's not going to -- miracles 

 7          don't happen immediately.  But for the first 

 8          time ever, particularly in the borough of the 

 9          Bronx, you have teachers that are rated 

10          effective and highly effective in schools 

11          that never had that.  Because we have 

12          teachers -- over 200 teachers applied to go 

13          teach in these schools rather than come out 

14          of these schools.  

15                 So I think we're on the move.  We have 

16          a curriculum that everyone is expected to 

17          follow, but more importantly to me, great 

18          leadership, teachers with lots of training, 

19          and also this sense of energy and hope.  It's 

20          one thing to close a school; it's another 

21          thing to say to a school -- and, you know, 

22          Boys and Girls High, another school, new 

23          principal, energy in that building is 

24          palpable.  People are excited.  So to me, to 

                                                                  180

 1          do something and to say to them, we believe 

 2          in you, we're going to give you the 

 3          resources, I think is crucial.

 4                 In terms of after-school programs, all 

 5          the middle schools in the City of New York 

 6          have -- all stand-alone middle schools have 

 7          after-school programs.  We've been very clear 

 8          that we want the after-school programs to 

 9          encourage the arts, to encourage some kind of 

10          academics, and also to have some kind of 

11          sports component.  But who is in what school 

12          was very much left up to the principal and to 

13          the CBO.  And that means that there is a 

14          communication, and there's a need for a CBO 

15          to kind of tailor-make their program for 

16          whatever the school needs or thinks that, 

17          based on their data, they would want more of.

18                 And I think also for a lot of parents, 

19          it's a point of relief.  And the reason we 

20          did it in middle schools is because I think 

21          that one of the most difficult grades to 

22          teach -- and one of the most difficult ages, 

23          period -- are 7th-graders.  They have 

24          everything on their plate and then some.  So 

                                                                  181

 1          by having a safe place for them to be after 

 2          school is really, really crucial.  

 3                 The CBOs that are working with our 

 4          Renewal Schools are also being asked to train 

 5          more people so that we can expand in the 

 6          future.  But I do think after-school programs 

 7          by and large have really enriched many of our 

 8          communities, and we continue to work with 

 9          outside partners to bring them into the fold.

10                 The one thing I want to say about the 

11          TCUs, one of the reasons it's hard to move 

12          more quickly on this is that when you have 

13          TCUs -- I'm thinking of PS 19 in Corona, for 

14          example -- you have all these kids you have 

15          to put somewhere while you're removing the 

16          TCUs and building a school on that location.

17                 Same thing in Brooklyn.  We now have 

18          TCUs -- PS 32, in Carroll Gardens -- but 

19          where are we going to put the kids?  So we 

20          had to move kids from one building to another 

21          to get the kids from the TCUs so the schools 

22          can be built.  

23                 So that's really the only reason that 

24          some of this is being held up.

                                                                  182

 1                 And public charters, the one thing I 

 2          have to say about working with the charter 

 3          schools is that there are schools -- and in 

 4          many cases -- you know, it's parent choice.  

 5          I have been working much more closely with 

 6          charters and even I just did an art lesson in 

 7          a charter school, the Ascend Charter Schools, 

 8          because I had gone to visit them and I loved 

 9          what they had on the walls, but I wanted to 

10          make sure they were using the arts more 

11          fully.  And we're working to different 

12          degrees with different ones of them, 

13          depending on what their skills are, but also 

14          opening our schools to them for some of the 

15          things that they can learn from us.

16                 We have now something called Showcase 

17          Schools where we're asking schools that are 

18          working well together, where a collocated 

19          campus is working well together, and in one 

20          particular campus there's a District 75, 

21          which is special education, a charter school, 

22          and one of our district schools all working 

23          together.  And we want to show other people 

24          how that can be done.

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 1                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  But my question 

 2          was, what would the money aspect be if the 

 3          Governor's proposals on those charters -- how 

 4          does that affect you?

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  New York has to 

 6          get their fair share.  And I believe strongly 

 7          that public education, as I see it, is 

 8          crucial to this democracy, and we have to 

 9          make that a priority.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  It's always a 

11          pleasure.  We kept it to the time.  And I 

12          really thank you always for the tremendous, 

13          tremendous dedication, commitment and just -- 

14          it's always exciting to be around you, 

15          Carmen, because you're moving and you're 

16          making things happen.  I'm sorry my son is 

17          graduating, because he really was part of 

18          that sort-and-select era and isn't going to 

19          be part of all these wonderful initiatives 

20          like the computer science --

21                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Be happy he 

22          graduated, Cathy.  This is a good thing.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Well, that's 

24          true.  Yes, yes, yes.  And he's doing very 

                                                                  184

 1          beautifully.  But I am a little sorry.  He 

 2          was there at the height of the testing mania, 

 3          and I myself didn't see the damage that it 

 4          did until much later.  It makes kids way too 

 5          anxious.  And I think your approach is -- you 

 6          know, you know how I feel, and my colleagues 

 7          know how I feel.  Like, you know, just a big 

 8          soldier in your army, a big fan.  There's 

 9          always things we could do better, always 

10          places that need attention --

11                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Absolutely.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  -- but, you 

13          know, I think you've given such positive 

14          leadership.  And it's been a pleasure, a 

15          pleasure, to work with you these past few 

16          years.

17                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Thank you.

18                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

19                 Thank you, Chair. 

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

21                 Senator Carl Marcellino, who's chair 

22          of the Senate Education Committee.

23                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Good afternoon, 

24          Chancellor.

                                                                  185

 1                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Good afternoon.

 2                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  First, I want to 

 3          congratulate you.  In my mind, you're doing a 

 4          hell of a job in the city.  I taught in the 

 5          city, as you well know, for 20 years, and the 

 6          changes that have occurred over there over 

 7          the years with different mayors and different 

 8          philosophies, frankly I find your changes and 

 9          your philosophy more in line with what I 

10          believe and what I think is positive and good 

11          promotion for the schools and a good aspect 

12          to the schools.  

13                 So I congratulate you and your staff 

14          for doing an excellent job.  

15                 Now let me throw a hardball at you.  

16          Some time ago, about maybe a year and a half 

17          ago, Chancellor Zimpher of SUNY came to the 

18          Education Committee and spoke -- I believe 

19          you were there that day as well, and so was 

20          Commissioner Elia.  She mentioned the fact 

21          that she spends about $70 million annually on 

22          remedial classes for incoming freshmen.  

23          That's time that these young people have to 

24          spend not taking courses to move ahead but 

                                                                  186

 1          just to catch up to where they are.

 2                 I listened and heard all your 

 3          statistics, and they sound great, but that 

 4          number still sticks in the back of my mind.  

 5          Are we addressing that number?  Are we 

 6          reducing the cost of remedial education?  

 7          Because frankly I don't like the fact that 

 8          there is so much in the SUNY system that 

 9          exists.  I don't think there should be 

10          anything, frankly.  But you've got to do what 

11          you've got to do.  

12                 What are we doing to work on that 

13          number and bring it down?  

14                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, I absolutely 

15          share the same concerns.  And I will tell you 

16          that several of the initiatives we put in 

17          place are really for that specifically.  

18                 New York City is one of the few places 

19          that has a college-readiness strategy, and 

20          that is that we put an extra benchmark in 

21          there, what do we think makes kids 

22          college-ready.  And that means that they are 

23          able to do rigorous work, that they have 

24          organizational skills -- which is one of the 

                                                                  187

 1          biggest failing things that kids have when 

 2          they go to college, they don't know how to 

 3          work independently, they don't know how to 

 4          write.

 5                 So the things that we did in -- not 

 6          necessarily in the right order, but the first 

 7          thing we did -- in fact, it was the first 

 8          thing I asked my department to do -- was to 

 9          put together a high school Writing Scope and 

10          Sequence, which we now institute in every 

11          single high school in the City of New York, 

12          because I thought writing was one of the 

13          worst subjects that was being taught.  And if 

14          you can't write and you can't write in 

15          different subject areas, then you can't be 

16          successful in college.

17                 So I do think that improving our 

18          writing -- and when I go to high schools, 

19          it's the first thing I look at -- is step 

20          number one.  

21                 Step number two is part of the reason 

22          why we've invested so much time and energy in 

23          the AP courses.  If you take AP courses in 

24          high schools, you are more prepared to do the 

                                                                  188

 1          rigorous work that college demands.  It also 

 2          means, with the AP courses, it's not just 

 3          about a syllabus or a curriculum, it means 

 4          that all the teachers who teach AP courses 

 5          have to go back to school and be retrained.  

 6                 Last year I went to the summer 

 7          training for the teachers who were going to 

 8          teach AP courses, and for many of them, they 

 9          haven't gone back to do this kind of work in 

10          many, many years.  So being able to be in a 

11          school where those courses are being 

12          offered -- and in many of our high-need 

13          neighborhoods there were no AP courses at 

14          all.  So what is the expectation that these 

15          kids can't do it?  

16                 So I think that's another thing that 

17          we put in place.  I think emphasizing 

18          algebra, to me, is one of the things that -- 

19          I did some research, as did my team, 

20          obviously, on what we found was going to be 

21          the biggest indicator of success in college.  

22          And we found that, again, organizational 

23          skills, the ability to write -- the ability 

24          to do well in algebra, so then you can have a 

                                                                  189

 1          math sequence, was really one of the 

 2          important things.  So that those are the 

 3          things that we put in place earlier on.  

 4                 It's also part of the reason why we 

 5          think you need to read by the end of the 

 6          second grade.  Third grade is not the right 

 7          benchmark, in my opinion, for reading, 

 8          because by the time you get into third grade 

 9          you have much harder content-area work.  You 

10          have to be able to read at the end of second 

11          grade.  

12                 I think the other piece for college 

13          success is that we have to educate families 

14          as well as students of what's expected when 

15          you get to college.  And we've been doing a 

16          lot more work starting in middle school about 

17          what college can look like, should look 

18          like -- like I said, including parents 

19          letting students go on college tours so they 

20          have an expectation that this is not just fun 

21          and games.  Often many parents whose 

22          students are qualified, well, then they don't 

23          go to college because their parents don't 

24          want them to leave home.  There's a lot of 

                                                                  190

 1          work that has to be done on college-ready.  

 2                 But also we've been meeting with the 

 3          colleges themselves and what is the 

 4          coursework that they also have to offer in a 

 5          way that's palatable so students, when they 

 6          go there, they have a wide range of topics, 

 7          but also taught in a way that also continues 

 8          the kind of teaching that we're doing in our 

 9          schools.

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

11          done here, but I do think having a 

12          college-ready benchmark -- when I visit 

13          high schools, I'm not looking to see how many 

14          kids are getting As, but how many kids are 

15          getting As in very deep work, and I think 

16          that's part of the work that we're trying to 

17          do.

18                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The other morning 

19          I was given a -- I know we met recently, but 

20          it was subsequent to that -- I was given a 

21          copy of an article that appeared in the 

22          Daily News, January 29, 2017.  I don't read 

23          the Daily News, I read another paper called 

24          Newsday.  I don't believe that one either.

                                                                  191

 1                 (Laughter.)

 2                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  But this 

 3          particular article talked about "Mayor de 

 4          Blasio's pre-kindergarten programs match lack 

 5          of diversity of New York City's highly 

 6          segregated school system."  And the author, a 

 7          Ben Chapman, talks about data from the 

 8          2015-2016 school year analyzed by the 

 9          Daily News shows that 854 of the city's 1,861 

10          pre-K programs were dominated -- the 

11          statistic he uses is 70 percent or more -- by 

12          a single race.

13                 Now, we went through an awful lot and 

14          I was -- it was major, when I was teaching, 

15          about desegregating the schools and making 

16          sure that there was diversity and every kid 

17          got exposed to as many different groups and 

18          individuals as they possibly could.  

19                 Are we going backwards here?  Is 

20          something going on here that we can deal 

21          with?  

22                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Absolutely -- 

23          absolutely not.  Let me get my teacher voice 

24          on this a little bit.

                                                                  192

 1                 First and foremost, the pre-K parents, 

 2          rightly so, want whatever pre-K program is 

 3          closest to home.  They're in a rush to get to 

 4          work, they have to do whatever they have to 

 5          do.  

 6                 And the one thing I can say, that all 

 7          our pre-K programs are of the same quality.  

 8          All our teachers are being trained the same 

 9          way.  Every teacher that teaches in a pre-K 

10          program has to be retrained over the summer, 

11          and all of them have been trained by us with 

12          the same curriculum.  They have a choice of 

13          three curriculums.  So whether you're taking 

14          a pre-K in Harlem or you're taking a pre-K in 

15          Carroll Gardens, you're going to have the 

16          exact same curriculum with teachers who have 

17          been trained the exact same way.  

18                 But I as a parent am not going to be 

19          running to another part.  So it's a matter of 

20          applying.  Parents apply -- this is parent 

21          choice, the same way you can go to a private 

22          public, parochial school, charter school, you 

23          can go to any pre-K.  You have an application 

24          process, you fill it out, and generally -- 

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 1          this year I think people got one of their 

 2          first top choices pretty much across the 

 3          city.  So this is about parent choice.  

 4                 Then what happens after pre-K, 

 5          depending on the seat availability, if that's 

 6          your zone school, you stay in that school.  

 7          But if you want to go to another school, then 

 8          if there's space available -- if you want to 

 9          stay in the school that you're in pre-K but 

10          you're not zoned, you can apply for space 

11          availability.  

12                 So I actually do not agree with this.  

13          I think if you're counting faces, then it's 

14          true.  If you're counting parent choice, it's 

15          totally different.

16                 So I think, to me, the diversity is 

17          also -- we are now taking more students with 

18          IEPs in our pre-K programs, we're taking more 

19          students who are English language learners in 

20          our pre-K programs.  Diversity has many 

21          faces.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I just want to jump 

23          in.  This is exactly what I told Carl when he 

24          showed me the article.

                                                                  194

 1                 (Laughter.)

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you, Liz. 

 3                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  So we can get rid 

 4          of this piece of paper.

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  No, and Carl just 

 6          wants to get a rise out of me, I know.  So 

 7          that's it.  

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  He ran a school 

 9          with 6,000 kids and not pick up a few --

10                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, he was a 

11          high school person, so we'll forgive him for 

12          that.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  There was 6,000 

14          of us there, in one building.  

15                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  We had 6600 kids 

16          in that school, and we ran a program from 

17          6:00 in the morning till 6:00 at night.  So 

18          it was an interesting time frame.  

19                 But again, I thank you for your 

20          efforts.  And if you would do me -- I know 

21          your husband is going to get mad at me, but 

22          I'm one who would be wishing that you would 

23          not be retiring, that you'd be hanging 

24          around, because the -- and I don't mean just 

                                                                  195

 1          hanging around.  You do a great job, and you 

 2          do a good job.  And the parents and the 

 3          children of the City of New York are better 

 4          for your attendance and better for your work.  

 5          So thank you very much for what you do.

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Thank you.  And my 

 7          husband thanks you too.

 8                 (Laughter.)

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

10                 We've been joined by Senator 

11          Velmanette Montgomery and Senator Leroy 

12          Comrie.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Hi, 

14          Chancellor.  Thank you for coming to Albany.  

15                 First let me say I'm very pleased to 

16          hear about the Career and Technical Education 

17          programs that you're looking to expand.  I'm 

18          even happier to hear that you're looking to 

19          bring some to Brooklyn and Staten Island.  

20          And however I can work with you to make that 

21          happen, I'd be glad to, because it's 

22          something that I truly believe in.  We need 

23          to invest in vocational training, and these 

24          are great careers that people who may not be 

                                                                  196

 1          fit for college, may not want to attend 

 2          college, have an option to get a great career 

 3          in their life based on some of these 

 4          vocational programs.  So thank you again for 

 5          thinking of Staten Island and Brooklyn for 

 6          those programs.

 7                 I have just a few short questions.  

 8          One is regarding the Contracts for Excellence 

 9          funding.  The 2016-2017 allocation for the  

10          City of New York was around $531 million.  

11          The proposal from the City DOE was to 

12          allocate about $7.5 million to Staten Island 

13          public schools, which represents only 

14          1.42 percent of the funding, despite that the 

15          population that Staten Island represents in 

16          our schools, with 60,000 students, is 

17          6 percent.  

18                 You know, this is sort of the same 

19          fight we have sometimes with the city with 

20          the hospitals funding and, you know, trying 

21          to get our fair share in terms of making it 

22          proportional to the population.  

23                 Our students in District 31 have some 

24          of the highest percentages of students with 

                                                                  197

 1          Individual Education Plans; it's actually 

 2          roughly 25 percent.  

 3                 So my question really is, can you 

 4          revisit this and see how maybe we can 

 5          increase the funding for Staten Island and 

 6          try to get closer to what the population 

 7          level would be?  

 8                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, I'm going to 

 9          let -- but I'm also going to preface it just 

10          a little bit.  We have looked -- I mean, I 

11          spend a lot of time in Staten Island, and we 

12          have looked at Staten Island from the lenses 

13          of some of the specific concerns.  So we've 

14          increased SAPAS workers out on Staten Island 

15          due to some of the specific issues.  

16                 One of the other things that Staten 

17          Island is really becoming a trend-setter for, 

18          and I thank the borough president for that, 

19          is your work with your universities is 

20          particularly meaningful.  Your three 

21          universities out there are working 

22          extensively in our high schools out there.  

23          And also you have a tremendous amount of 

24          learning partner schools out there, which 

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 1          also increase funding through different 

 2          sources.  

 3                 So it may not be all Foundation money 

 4          or categorical money, but there is a lot of 

 5          money going through other streams.  But I'll 

 6          let --

 7                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Hi.  The C for E 

 8          money --

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Could you, just 

10          for the record, reintroduce yourself, the 

11          gentleman --

12                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Oh, sure, I'm sorry.  

13          Hi.  Good afternoon, everyone.  I'm Raymond 

14          Orlando.  I'm the chief financial officer of 

15          the New York City Department of Education.  

16          And delighted to be here.  Glad it's not 

17          snowy.  

18                 The C for E money you've been asking 

19          about, there are requirements on how it gets 

20          spent.  When we look to distribute it across 

21          the system, sometimes Staten Island doesn't 

22          appear to get its fair share because the 

23          level of need based on the requirements that 

24          the funding comes with are greater in other 

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 1          areas of the city.  So that limits our 

 2          ability to super -- use it flexibly, I guess.

 3                 So we will of course be happy to 

 4          continue to look at it and work with you on 

 5          that, for sure.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  And if you 

 7          could, I guess, maybe share some of the 

 8          criteria that you're looking at or that -- 

 9          and what the numbers are, or statistics, that 

10          would be really helpful.

11                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Yeah, sure.  We'd be 

12          happy to.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Because 

14          that's one of the main issues that our CEC 

15          has brought up to us.  And we just had a 

16          legislative breakfast with them last week, 

17          and the Staten Island PTA.  It's one of the 

18          biggest issues.  

19                 The other one was also school safety.  

20          They've probably spoken to you directly -- I 

21          know you've visited Staten Island a few times 

22          and met with them -- but regarding having a 

23          school safety officer in every -- at least 

24          every elementary school having two in each 

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 1          elementary -- that's one of the requests that 

 2          they've put in.  As well as locking school 

 3          doors during the workday.  

 4                 Does the city have a position on 

 5          either of those?  

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, we really 

 7          work much more independently based on the 

 8          individual school incidents.  So there's 

 9          obviously some schools that have more 

10          incidents than others.  But again, I'm happy 

11          to discuss individual things on Staten 

12          Island.  

13                 The one thing I have to say is that 

14          we've also encouraged Staten Island in 

15          particular, but also other places, there they 

16          can apply for grants that will give them 

17          money above and beyond what they would get 

18          from us.  Because for some things they're 

19          really eligible for -- I'm working with two 

20          of your schools right now specifically.  But 

21          I'm happy to have a meeting just on 

22          Staten Island issues, because I really go out 

23          there all the time.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  That would 

                                                                  201

 1          be great.  I will follow up on that.

 2                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Yeah, okay.  Thank 

 3          you.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  Last year 

 5          I brought up the issue of penmanship and 

 6          cursive.

 7                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Yes.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  And I've 

 9          heard, actually, that you have become very 

10          supportive -- or maybe have always been 

11          supportive -- of penmanship and bringing up 

12          cursive.  I think it's something really 

13          important that our students should be 

14          learning -- how do they sign a bank check, 

15          how do they have their own signature, you 

16          know, in the world.  I mean, they need that 

17          in the -- you know, when they enter the 

18          career force, when they open up a bank 

19          account, et cetera.  

20                 I've heard that you did write a letter 

21          or that you are expressing that you would 

22          like to see this happen now.

23                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  No, no, no.  

24          There's no such thing "I'd like to see it 

                                                                  202

 1          happen."  It has to happen.  

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  It has to 

 3          happen, okay.  That's even better.

 4                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Let me be very 

 5          clear.  When I went to a town hall meeting I 

 6          guess a year and a half ago, parents brought 

 7          up that they would like to see cursive back 

 8          in schools.  And I spent a lot of years in 

 9          parochial school, so I have the Palmer method 

10          down pat.  And I don't know why it went out 

11          of favor.  But I do understand that people 

12          felt there were other things that they 

13          thought were more important.  

14                 But the reality is if you look -- the 

15          first thing you look at, if you look at a 

16          child's handwriting, and they're inventing 

17          their own script -- which is what they are -- 

18          then it doesn't look right and I worry that 

19          they won't be able to sign their pension 

20          checks at some point.

21                 So this year in September we put out a 

22          curriculum for how to teach cursive writing 

23          in all our third grades in New York City.  So 

24          it behooves parents and different schools to 

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 1          ensure that this is happening.  But the 

 2          directive is this has to happen.

 3                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  So -- but 

 4          it is up to the principal, then, to decide if 

 5          they implement it?  

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, it's up to 

 7          principals with strong urging from their 

 8          superintendents, who are getting strong 

 9          urgings from me.  And when I go to schools, I 

10          look for the cursive writing starting in 

11          third grade.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MALLIOTAKIS:  I really 

13          appreciate you doing that, and I look forward 

14          to making sure that my schools are all doing 

15          it.  Thank you.  

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  It's a big  

17          positive.  It's been very frustrating for me, 

18          another thing that Joel Klein never focused 

19          on and we're still paying the price for it 

20          years later.  But Carmen has made a big 

21          difference.

22                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  You know, there 

23          are certain things -- we brought back social 

24          studies with a vengeance.  I love social 

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 1          studies.  I don't know how we have let it go.  

 2          And in September of this year we put out a 

 3          social studies curriculum, K through eighth 

 4          grade -- the high school is coming -- and it 

 5          has a total scope and sequence, with all the 

 6          materials for teachers.  It's in every single 

 7          school in New York City.  And our expectation 

 8          is that no one will graduate fourth grade 

 9          without knowing the American Revolution.  No 

10          one will graduate fifth grade without knowing 

11          things about the Civil War.  We've done the 

12          same thing with the STEM curriculum.  It's 

13          all in writing so -- also for teachers, that 

14          they have access to what -- they shouldn't 

15          have to reinvent their world.  We should be 

16          able to help them, give them the materials, 

17          and then they can take it off from there.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

19                 Chancellor, it's so great to have you 

20          here, and I admire your energy and your 

21          enthusiasm and your passion, and I know you 

22          help so many children every day.  

23                 I did have a couple of questions, 

24          though, and the first one has to do with the 

                                                                  205

 1          city school aid.  What is the city's 

 2          contribution toward the city school aid?  

 3                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  That's why I 

 4          brought my financial expert.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  That's why you 

 6          brought him.  He's the number cruncher.

 7                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.  In the 

 8          current year, city funding for the Department 

 9          of Education is $16.8 billion.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Sixteen-point-eight 

11          billion dollars.  Does that figure include 

12          pensions and debt service?

13                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  That includes all 

14          expenses such as pension and debt service, 

15          yes.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, thank you.  

17                 So what is the city's contribution in 

18          operating aid without the pensions and debt 

19          service included?

20                 (Pause.)

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I have to think 

22          it's more than half.

23                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  I'm sorry?

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Off the top of 

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 1          my head, it has to be about half.  But it's 

 2          not for me to answer.

 3                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Cut it out, 

 4          Cathy.

 5                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  I apologize.  Please 

 6          give me a moment.  

 7                 (Pause.)

 8                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Okay, $17.6 billion, 

 9          with 11.6 -- I'm sorry, wrong year -- 

10          $11.1 billion.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Seventeen-point-six 

12          billion with 11.1 billion?

13                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  I'm sorry, that was 

14          the wrong year.  I apologize.  

15                 In the current year, the city funding 

16          is -- without the pension and the debt 

17          service, is $11.1 billion.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay, I see.  So 

19          that's quite a difference, of $5.7 billion, 

20          then, for the debt service and the pensions.

21                 What is the exact number, if you could 

22          give it to us, of the state contribution to 

23          the New York City school aid?

24                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  State funding in the 

                                                                  207

 1          current year, $10.9 billion.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Does that figure 

 3          include the $300 million for pre-K from the 

 4          state?

 5                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  I believe it 

 6          includes all state funding.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  Thank you.

 8                 The reason I ask that is when the 

 9          mayor was here, he said that the state aid 

10          portion of the New York City aid had declined 

11          to 37 percent and the city contribution had 

12          actually increased to 57 percent.  You know, 

13          and he stated that three times.  

14                 I think that he was including the 

15          pensions and the debt service, do you 

16          believe, in that figure, not operating aid?  

17                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  I believe that's the 

18          total cost of expenses at the Department of 

19          Education.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Just to 

21          really clarify and get to the nuts and bolts.  

22                 I wanted to ask -- and, Chancellor, 

23          you were talking about the Renewal Schools.  

24          It's about $400 million that the city has 

                                                                  208

 1          invested in the Renewal School program, is 

 2          that correct?  

 3                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Yes.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And I know Senator 

 5          Marcellino had asked about this somewhat.  

 6          But with Renewal Schools, I know you're very 

 7          enthusiastic about them.  But one of the 

 8          things that I find concerning -- and these 

 9          are based on your own reports that Education 

10          has put together, the Education Department.  

11          But there are many schools with college 

12          readiness in the single digits.  And we talk 

13          about students being prepared for the 

14          workforce, students being prepared to go to 

15          college.  

16                 And for example, your own reports show 

17          in 2016 a Brooklyn high school where 

18          83 percent of the kids graduate, but less 

19          than 2 percent are deemed to be 

20          college-ready.  There was another school, in 

21          the Bronx, where 76 percent of the students 

22          received a diploma, even though just 

23          4 percent are college-ready.  

24                 So one of my questions is, why is 

                                                                  209

 1          there such a disparity between the graduation 

 2          rates and the college-readiness rates in 

 3          these schools?

 4                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, first of 

 5          all, you have to understand that most of the 

 6          Renewal Schools, the rates when we started 

 7          were extremely low.  But so was, in many 

 8          cases, the teaching itself.

 9                 So what we're trying to do in these 

10          schools -- and I can certainly give you 

11          specific examples -- is make sure that the 

12          classroom instruction is done better, that 

13          the expectation is higher, and that we in 

14          New York City are one of the few places that 

15          actually evaluate our kids based on 

16          college-ready.  

17                 We could just sit back and say we have 

18          an 83 percent graduation rate -- and this was 

19          true nationally, but particularly in New York 

20          City over the past few years, what we found 

21          is we were getting kids into college and they 

22          weren't staying after freshman year in 

23          college.  The drop-out rate, first year of 

24          college, was very, very high.  

                                                                  210

 1                 So that's the evaluation that we're 

 2          doing for college-ready.  How are we ensuring 

 3          that we're getting kids not only graduating, 

 4          but once they get to college, that they're 

 5          doing much better and that they're staying 

 6          in?  

 7                 The other thing we've asked people to 

 8          start doing now is keeping cohorts 

 9          statistics.  I was just in a school that 

10          you're talking about, and they're telling us 

11          that their tenth-grade cohort and their 

12          eleventh-grade cohort is already much higher 

13          than their twelfth-year cohort, because all 

14          the initiatives that we started three years 

15          ago hopefully will start showing results, but 

16          they're not going to show results overnight.  

17          And we want to make sure that we don't also 

18          give false expectations to our students.  

19                 So there's a lot of work to be done, I 

20          totally agree.  But we are monitoring the 

21          high school grade as well as are they ready 

22          for college.  

23                 And we have now started a program in 

24          New York City, particularly in our Renewal 

                                                                  211

 1          Schools, where we're encouraging all high 

 2          schools to start having freshmen and 

 3          sophomores in college come back once a month 

 4          to their high schools to start talking about 

 5          how hard college is, what you need to know to 

 6          be able to succeed in college.  We're calling 

 7          them Mentors in Place, and this is one of the 

 8          things we hope will do it.  But you can't 

 9          undo many years of things not working 

10          overnight, so it's one step at a time.  But 

11          if you look at our Renewal Schools -- again, 

12          a lot of work to be done.  The graduation 

13          rate in our Renewal Schools this year is 

14          4 percent higher than the rest of the city.  

15          And that means they had a long way to go, but 

16          we're laser-focused on making sure that 

17          what's happening in the classrooms is what's 

18          going to get the kids ready for there.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Great.  Because we 

20          want every child to have that opportunity to 

21          be successful.

22                 You know, I keep seeing the mayor 

23          announcing he's closing more and more of the 

24          Renewal Schools.  And I'm wondering if you 

                                                                  212

 1          can assess what hasn't worked with the 

 2          Renewal School program at these schools that 

 3          are being closed, including the Bronx junior 

 4          high school that was put on SED's 

 5          receivership list.

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Look, closing the 

 7          school is never done lightly.  But there are 

 8          generally three different reasons for closing 

 9          the school.  Number one, the enrollment is 

10          too low.  

11                 For example, we have a school with 

12          67 students.  There's no way, with 67 

13          students, you're going to be able to offer a 

14          program that is good.  You're not going to 

15          have an arts program, a gym program.  It just 

16          doesn't do it financially.  So I would say 

17          the vast majority of school closures have to 

18          do with school size.  

19                 The other -- and particularly the one 

20          that you just mentioned, are there other 

21          schools in the immediate vicinity that will 

22          offer the kids a better opportunity?  And in 

23          this particular case, there are at least 

24          three middle schools -- because all parents, 

                                                                  213

 1          when we close the school -- this is not a 

 2          long, drawn-out phaseout, it's a closure -- 

 3          have a choice of three to five schools that 

 4          they can choose from to go to as parents.  We 

 5          are doing open houses in these schools so 

 6          parents will then have a choice, as well as 

 7          students, to go to a place where they will 

 8          have a better chance of success.  

 9                 So we don't close lightly.  But when 

10          we close, we close with options for parents 

11          and an opportunity for the students to have 

12          more choices of what they can do.  

13                 And I'm never sorry for having given 

14          the schools a chance to succeed.  But if you 

15          don't succeed the way we think you should, 

16          then that's what's going to happen.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

18                 Just switching to one last topic, the 

19          State Education Department in January posted 

20          its latest Violent and Disruptive Incident 

21          Report.  In the key category of serious 

22          incidents, it shows a rise of nearly 6 

23          percent, up from 15,934 incidents in 2014-'15 

24          to 16,851 in '15-'16.  

                                                                  214

 1                 So within that category, forcible sex 

 2          offenses rose 90 percent; assault with 

 3          serious physical injury, 48 percent.  So I'm  

 4          just wondering, what is the city doing to 

 5          address this situation so that it can ensure 

 6          the safety of the students?  

 7                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, first of 

 8          all, we're doing several things.  We have 

 9          really instituted restorative practices in 

10          many of our schools, and we have done it in a 

11          very programmatic way.  We started with 

12          schools that had the highest number of 

13          incidents, the highest number of suspensions.  

14                 We are also retraining teachers and 

15          administrators on how to ensure that there is 

16          a good school climate.  It also goes to the 

17          issue -- we've hired many more guidance 

18          counselors for many of our schools.  And also 

19          in working very closely with the NYPD, 

20          particularly with school safety officers, 

21          they are now receiving an additional two 

22          weeks of training beyond what they used to 

23          get on just how to deescalate issues and 

24          create a climate of trust in a building, 

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 1          versus them just being there as quasi-police 

 2          officers.  

 3                 So there's a lot of things.  We look 

 4          at those numbers on a regular basis -- I can 

 5          almost tell you the top 10 schools off the 

 6          top of my head.  But also we're making sure 

 7          that all incidences are reported.  And I 

 8          think that's part of what we're doing, and 

 9          what kind of incidents rise to the top.  And 

10          I think that is part of our job.  

11                 It's certainly something we're very 

12          much aware of, and we're working very closely 

13          on it.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  What happens to 

15          these students when they commit something 

16          like a sex offense or, you know, forcible 

17          touching, serious physical injury?  Are they 

18          suspended from school?  Or how do you handle 

19          that?

20                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  It depends on the 

21          incident, it depends on the issues, and it 

22          depends on the age.  We do still have 

23          suspensions in our schools.  We have 

24          suspension centers where students go to, they 

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 1          don't stay at home.  They have a full 

 2          curriculum in their suspension centers.  

 3                 But it very much depends on the 

 4          infraction, the severity of the infraction, 

 5          and how many incidents they've had prior to 

 6          that one.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  And what happens to 

 8          the students who are victims of such 

 9          incidents?  You know, for example, if they 

10          are assaulted somehow, what does the school 

11          do to address them?  Because I would think 

12          that they would need some kind of special 

13          attention if something bad happens to them.

14                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  I mean, we have a 

15          whole protocol in place in terms of how 

16          guidance counselors are used, social workers, 

17          if that's the key.  We also work closely, 

18          like I said, with NYPD if it's a critical 

19          activity.  

20                 But we're very much aware of the 

21          schools that need more support.  And in that 

22          case, perhaps more safety officers.  But we 

23          find what works best for us is more training 

24          of staff on deescalating issues.

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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good.  Thank you.

 2                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Can I follow up 

 3          on your question?  I know I'm not in line --

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Well, in a minute.  

 5          It's the Assembly's turn.

 6                 ASSEMBLYMAN BRINDISI:  I just want to 

 7          note that we've been joined by Assemblywoman 

 8          Rebecca Seawright and Assemblywoman Shelley 

 9          Mayer.  

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  You know, when 

11          you see that there -- some years we've had 

12          like every member here screaming.  When 

13          people aren't here and they're over in 

14          session, it's because they're happy, Carmen.  

15          So that's good.  You know, that's good.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Let's let the chair 

17          of Education follow up on your answer.

18                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Just a quickie.  

19          When I was in school, we had the NYPD 

20          assigned to the building.  We had two patrol 

21          officers, one inside and one outside.  They 

22          rotated.  But after a while, everybody knew 

23          their name, every kid in the school knew who 

24          they were, and they made it their business to 

                                                                  218

 1          know every kid in the school.  So if we had a 

 2          problem, we could deal with the -- if it 

 3          required NYPD, there was somebody there.

 4                 What is the current caseload for your 

 5          guidance counselors?  

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, it depends 

 7          on -- the two districts I talked about --

 8                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  {Unintelligible} 

 9          high school.

10                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  I can't tell you 

11          that right off the top of my head, but I will 

12          get it.

13                 But in terms of the NYPD, we work hand 

14          in hand with them on almost all issues, so --

15                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Are they assigned 

16          to the building?  Is there someone --

17                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Only if they're 

18          called.  That becomes a 911 call.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

20                 Senator Montgomery.  

21                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:   Yes, thank you.  

22                 Good afternoon, Chancellor.  It's a 

23          pleasure to see you, and thank you for your 

24          report.

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 1                 I would just like to take a minute of 

 2          my time to say to you that last Saturday I 

 3          attended one of the CEC meetings in one of 

 4          the districts -- District 13 in my district, 

 5          and it was -- the meeting was held at one of 

 6          the Urban Assembly Middle School sites where 

 7          they have the most wonderful program of 

 8          hydroponic gardens.  Absolutely amazing.  And 

 9          those young people in that program are hoping 

10          to build out to the point where they can 

11          provide produce for the entire school.  So 

12          that's so exciting.

13                 And I also visited last week Madiba, 

14          which is a middle school in District 16.  

15          Again, it was -- I was so impressed.  

16                 So I just want you to know that each 

17          time I'm in a school and I have such a 

18          wonderful experience as I did at Madiba and 

19          at the hydroponic programming, the Urban 

20          Assembly school, it just makes me so much 

21          more hopeful.  And so -- and both of those 

22          were middle schools.

23                 With the Urban Assembly, as you know, 

24          there is a group of those schools, and this 

                                                                  220

 1          one happened to have a relationship with the 

 2          Harbor School because they're in the same 

 3          group.  And so I'm looking forward, 

 4          obviously, to the Harbor Middle School 

 5          perhaps being in District 15.  That's the 

 6          dream that I have.  

 7                 But the one issue that I would raise 

 8          with you is that we still have not seemingly 

 9          been able to build a direct pipeline between 

10          the schools, especially I guess the CTE 

11          schools, as you would say, and the high 

12          schools that they would be automatically 

13          feeders for.  So I'm hopeful that you can 

14          work on that particular issue.  I've had so 

15          many problems, especially related to Harbor 

16          High School.

17                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, thank you.  

18          Because I'm particularly -- I'm proud of all 

19          our schools, but the Urban Assembly schools 

20          have done a really special job.  The Law and 

21          Justice on Adams Street is spectacular.  I 

22          feel I'm the godmother of that school.  I 

23          helped start it, with Richard Kahan.

24                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:  Yes.

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 1                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  But the other 

 2          thing you should know, with the hydroponics, 

 3          that normally there's hydroponics, and a lot 

 4          of those are affiliated with Cornell 

 5          University.  They also have tilapia 

 6          hatcheries.  They're growing their own 

 7          tilapia, because it's a good way to make the 

 8          food available.  And some of the hydroponics 

 9          have already started farm markets for their 

10          parents.  One of our Renewal Schools in the 

11          Bronx, 154, raises chickens, has eggs.  And 

12          if parents come to Saturday workshops, they 

13          get to take vegetables and eggs home.  

14                 So there's a lot of things that we're 

15          doing that are really kind of off the beaten 

16          path.  But I'm glad you found those schools.  

17          And, you know, my first six months as the 

18          chancellor, I only visited middle schools.  

19          That's all I visited because my belief system 

20          truly is that if we can make our middle 

21          schools successful, the rest is a piece of 

22          cake.  Or almost a piece of cake.

23                 SENATOR MONTGOMERY:   Thank you.  And 

24          just lastly, the Early College Program.  I'm 

                                                                  222

 1          just so concerned that very often when 

 2          something really works well, we take it for 

 3          granted and then we don't pay attention and 

 4          it goes away.  

 5                 So I really want to stress my support 

 6          for that, and hopefully we can make that more 

 7          part of what young people in our high schools 

 8          have access to.

 9                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Thank you.  Those 

10          P-TECHs, okay.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Leroy Comrie.

12                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Good afternoon, 

13          Chancellor.  Happy Valentine's.

14                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Good afternoon.

15                 SENATOR COMRIE:  I want to just concur 

16          with all of my colleagues on the praises that 

17          they have given you this morning.  It's been 

18          well deserved.  It's been a pleasure to have 

19          you as chancellor, and I have enjoyed our 

20          working relationship.  It's been honest and 

21          constructive.  And your staff has never 

22          hesitated to get back to me.  And you've been 

23          a breath of fresh air for educators all over 

24          this country, and I would hope that -- you 

                                                                  223

 1          know, I would second Senator Marcellino in 

 2          that I don't really want you to leave, but 

 3          you deserve to do whatever you want to do at 

 4          this point.  

 5                 I would hope that you have a strong 

 6          hand in picking your successor, and I would 

 7          hope that that happens as well.  And it's my 

 8          personal hope that you find someone that is 

 9          as dedicated to making sure that a very 

10          complicated system is working and better, as 

11          you have done with the system here.  And I 

12          just want to congratulate you for your work 

13          and always staying on the ground, always 

14          going to meetings, always communicating with 

15          the public and knowing directly what happens.

16                 I was honored to go to a history fair 

17          this weekend at PS 360, the new school in 

18          St. Albans that is in a former -- it's in the 

19          former PSAO building.  And the school is well 

20          done.  There was such an excitement from all 

21          over the district of participation.  And it's 

22          truly an impact from your influence in the 

23          schools.  

24                 So I want to congratulate you for the 

                                                                  224

 1          Single Shepherd Initiative.  I think that's 

 2          great.  I really want to congratulate you for 

 3          lowering the acrimony and the vitriol between 

 4          yourself and the teachers union.  I think 

 5          that's made a strong progress in making 

 6          things happen.  The Renewal School program 

 7          has been great, not only August Martin, which 

 8          is doing a lot better than anyone ever 

 9          thought.  Martin Van Buren and I.S. 8, my 

10          alma mater, are both schools that were in the 

11          Renewal program.  I.S. 8 is out of the 

12          program now and is in better shape.  And 

13          Martin Van Buren, as you know, has a 

14          principal that is dedicated to making sure 

15          that the school is well.

16                 So I just wanted to ask you for your 

17          help on one thing before you leave, and 

18          that's to congratulate you and the mayor on 

19          the TCU program to get rid of TCUs, the 

20          temporary units.  But there's one temporary 

21          unit that houses handicapped students in 

22          P.S. 134 in Hollis.  And I would hope that 

23          you have a strong hand in making sure that 

24          that difficult relocation is done or at least 

                                                                  225

 1          planned before the end of your tenure.  And I 

 2          just hope that you can make sure that you're 

 3          involved in it.  Lorraine Grillo is great.  

 4          It's really a space problem.  We're trying to 

 5          find the proper space to house them.  

 6                 But that TCU is just in terrible 

 7          shape, and it's dealing with severely 

 8          handicapped, mostly wheelchair-bound students 

 9          at P.S. 134.  So if you could please look 

10          into that.

11                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  I will certainly 

12          look into that.

13                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  

14                 And just the final thing that I wanted 

15          to talk to you about, the Brother's Keeper 

16          program, do you think that we'll be able to 

17          keep that as a sustainable program?  And how 

18          do you see that happening?

19                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, I see it 

20          happening in several ways.  You have given us 

21          funding, and we appreciate it.  I think 

22          having the decisions made locally is really 

23          important because not all superintendents in 

24          districts want to use it the same way.

                                                                  226

 1                 I do think the mentoring component to 

 2          it is crucial.  I think also the recruitment 

 3          of more men of color to work in our schools 

 4          is very important.  We've already done a lot 

 5          of that this year.

 6                 I think also My Brother's Keeper is 

 7          working to make sure that some of the 

 8          curriculum goals are met.  So I think it's a 

 9          local decision, there's a committee in each 

10          district that has decided how to use it.  I 

11          know one of the districts in the Bronx, for 

12          example, is using it to have internships with 

13          some of our cultural institutions.  

14                 But I'm happy to share with you in 

15          writing what the different districts across 

16          the city are doing and how we can do it.  And 

17          then we're also going to get them together to 

18          share it with each other, so they can take 

19          ideas from each other's work.

20                 SENATOR COMRIE:  Thank you.  And I 

21          will promise you to do everything I can to 

22          work to make sure that you get the full 

23          funding that the system needs, and hopefully 

24          we can finish the Campaign for Fiscal Equity 

                                                                  227

 1          payment to the schools so programs like 

 2          Brother's Keeper can be made sustainable.

 3                 And I just want to again thank you for 

 4          your service.  Thank you for bringing the 

 5          Department of Education to a better level and 

 6          a much more amenable level that everyone can 

 7          impact and be involved in the system.

 8                 Thank you.

 9                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Boy, you guys 

10          really got the Valentine's Day spirit here.  

11          I'm feeling very good.

12                 (Laughter.)

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  We have like 30 

14          more people testifying, so --

15                 ASSEMBLYMAN BRINDISI:  Thank you, 

16          Chancellor.  I believe we have --

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  And I should say 

18          the chancellor hasn't had -- Pete Lopez is 

19          our new ranking member on the committee and 

20          is a very knowledgeable and thoughtful 

21          member, so we're happy he's here.  

22                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Commissioner, 

23          thank you.  And thank you for your 

24          perseverance as well.  

                                                                  228

 1                 Just a quick question.  And again, 

 2          much of my region is rural, and I'm trying to 

 3          draw parallels between rural and inner city.  

 4          And as I look at demographics, high-need/low 

 5          wealth cuts across all geographic boundaries.  

 6                 I guess my question for you -- and I 

 7          saw in your testimony you spoke briefly about 

 8          the aid formula.  My main concern is around 

 9          three drivers of cost -- poverty, second 

10          language, and special ed.  And I guess my 

11          question for you is, with the formula, do you 

12          feel that the formula emphasizes those 

13          categories sufficiently to assist you with 

14          your mission?

15                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  I'm sorry --

16                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  We're talking about 

17          the state Foundation Aid formula?

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Yes.

19                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Yes, we believe that 

20          the state Foundation Aid formula, as 

21          currently composed, addressing the 

22          substantial needs that different districts 

23          have, is important to maintain.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  And so my 

                                                                  229

 1          question, again, on those three cost 

 2          drivers -- special education, second 

 3          language, poverty -- does the formula weight 

 4          need to be changed to be a little more 

 5          aggressive on those fronts?

 6                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  I guess it's -- 

 7          it's -- the funding -- the funding level 

 8          is -- it's important that additional funding 

 9          that comes gets run through the Foundation 

10          Aid formula.  To the extent that the 

11          Foundation Aid formula is better reflective 

12          of needs in special education, English 

13          language learners, and poverty, we should be 

14          using the best data available.  So any and 

15          all attempts to do that, we would of course 

16          be supportive of.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you.  

18                 Second question, quickly -- and again, 

19          this gets back to the issue of poverty in 

20          particular.  And we heard reference to the 

21          Brother's Keeper program, which I support.  I 

22          look at similar programs -- Liberty 

23          Partnership, even Head Start -- and I guess 

24          my question for you and your mission, are we 

                                                                  230

 1          putting enough emphasis financially around 

 2          wrap -- with wraparound services, and can we 

 3          do more or should we be doing more to assist 

 4          you outside of the classroom as well as 

 5          inside?

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Well, I think, for 

 7          example -- and it's not an easy answer -- but 

 8          I would say with poverty in particular, what 

 9          we have found has made a real difference 

10          certainly in New York City, and it would go 

11          to any area, is the pre-K program.  To the 

12          degree that that could be expanded across the 

13          state -- because it's not just about students 

14          being in a safe place at a younger age, it's 

15          about the ability of parents to go back to 

16          work.  

17                 I mean, one of the unexpected 

18          consequences when we've interviewed parents 

19          who have students in pre-K, many of them are 

20          now going back to work knowing that they have 

21          their children in a free situation that's 

22          done well.

23                 So I think in terms of one of the 

24          things that you might want to handle that 

                                                                  231

 1          way, that's one of them.

 2                 I think when you're talking about 

 3          special education, you know, not everything 

 4          is equal and some people need more than 

 5          others.  And if you have a special needs 

 6          child who needs occupational therapy, who 

 7          needs extra speech services, the formula to 

 8          ensure that those children have those 

 9          services I think is important.  And I think 

10          that's one of the things that we're talking 

11          about.  

12                 And I think when it comes to English 

13          language learners -- and I'm sure that the 

14          commissioner mentioned this as well -- that 

15          we have more and more students coming into 

16          our schools at an older age who may be coming 

17          from places where they don't have, for 

18          example, prior schooling.  So how do you help 

19          those children acclimate to school and give 

20          them the resources they need?  

21                 So I think any formula has to take 

22          into account, to some degree, that there are 

23          special needs for special students at special 

24          times.  And, you know, I think that's 

                                                                  232

 1          something that we'll all struggle with.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

 3          Chancellor.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Just quickly, I 

 5          think we're ready to wrap up.  Were there any 

 6          other questions?

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  No, I have a few 

 8          more, thank you.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Okay, that's 

10          fine.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi, Chancellor.  

12          Actually, most of my questions were answered.  

13          So just to clarify, you just answered the 

14          Assemblymember that the city would not 

15          support the Governor's change in education 

16          formula as he proposed it in his budget.

17                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Right.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And it would be a 

19          negative for the City of New York, as you 

20          understand it.

21                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Correct.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  The Governor also 

23          proposes a merger of the various UPK funding 

24          streams.  I assume that is a positive for the 

                                                                  233

 1          City of New York, at least in administrative 

 2          simplicity.

 3                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  We're all for 

 4          consolidation, provided that the funding 

 5          level doesn't go down.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And that was my part 

 7          two of the question, because he's already 

 8          also proposed, I believe, a reduction for ed.  

 9          Can you tell me what that impact would be?

10                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.  Approximately 

11          $35 million less, potentially, depending on 

12          how it's implemented.  But yes, you can't 

13          consolidate and then reduce.  That doesn't 

14          work for us.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  That's what I 

16          thought also.  Thank you.

17                 And you also earlier answered the 

18          question that no, you haven't received your 

19          Smart Bond money approval yet.  Do you get 

20          any sense from state SED what the timeline 

21          is?  Because you have all these goals of what 

22          you need to do with the money, but you need 

23          the money.

24                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  I am ever hopeful 

                                                                  234

 1          that it will be shortly.

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Do you have a basis 

 3          in fact for that belief?

 4                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  I do not have one at 

 5          this time.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  We're just all 

 7          optimists.

 8                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  But maybe after 

 9          today we will.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Maybe after today.  

11                 And how much was the city's money that 

12          you had put in a plan for?

13                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Approximately 

14          $783 million.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And you would need 

16          that money in order to, one, get rid of those 

17          mobile classrooms --

18                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Absolutely.

19                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- that everyone 

20          hates.

21                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  It supports the 

22          capital program of the department, including 

23          the elimination of TCUs.  The 400-odd million 

24          dollars.  

                                                                  235

 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So we all want to 

 2          lobby hard to get every school district the 

 3          money that they have requested and are no 

 4          doubt hoping for desperately.

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Yes.

 6                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  For sure.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  What's the 

 8          number-one thing we could do in the budget 

 9          this year that would help the New York City 

10          school system?

11                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  I think really 

12          listening carefully to what our priorities 

13          were today, and to ensure that we don't go 

14          backwards, that we can continue to go 

15          forwards.  And that the fair school funding 

16          that we're entitled to, that we get as much 

17          of it as possible.

18                 Want to answer that, Ray?

19                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  Sure.  I would just 

20          say that the Foundation Aid formula is vital 

21          to us, and that needs to continue.  And that 

22          the level of resources that the state 

23          provides to us needs to return to the levels 

24          that it had been at before the recession.  

                                                                  236

 1                 Historically, the state had 

 2          provided -- before the recession in 

 3          2007-2008, the state provided about 

 4          42 percent of the budget of the Department of 

 5          Education.  It's down to 37 percent.  The 

 6          city's share during the same period has grown 

 7          from 47 percent to 57 percent.  So the city 

 8          is shouldering a much larger burden and a 

 9          much larger share of the Department of 

10          Education's expenses vis-a-vis the state.  

11                 And the state itself, while we've been 

12          grateful for the increases we've seen over 

13          the last few years, they haven't made up for 

14          the cut years, ultimately.  And we're still 

15          not where we were before the recession.  So 

16          ultimately, you know, the city is investing 

17          in our students at a much greater level 

18          today, and we need the state to step up and 

19          join us and do its part.  Between fiscal year 

20          '15 and '18, the city's contribution has 

21          grown by over $3 billion to the Department of 

22          Education's budget, and the state's has only 

23          grown by a billion and a half.  

24                 If I could leave you with one thought, 

                                                                  237

 1          it would be we need more money to make this 

 2          go.

 3                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  I also want to say 

 4          that in addition to money, since I've gotten 

 5          into this job three years ago, I've been 

 6          asking for the movement on the CTE licensing.  

 7          And we really need that in order to keep that 

 8          promise that that be done sooner rather than 

 9          later.  Because we have an opportunity to 

10          graduate students into fields that are 

11          desperate for people to hire, and that is 

12          keeping us from doing that.  

13                 So to the degree that we can move that 

14          sooner rather than later, that would be very 

15          much appreciated.

16                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  And 

17          thank you for the clarification on the dollar 

18          numbers, because there are some people in 

19          this town who seem to be under the impression 

20          that New York City has been pulling out its 

21          share of public education funding in 

22          relationship to the state, and I appreciate 

23          your clarifying it.

24                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  And if you think 

                                                                  238

 1          about all our new Equity and Excellence 

 2          issues, just those alone, we have had to find 

 3          money to do it, and yet they're valuable 

 4          enough, and serve as a model for other cities 

 5          who may want to follow us, that this is 

 6          something worth doing.  So we almost see 

 7          ourselves as a research area to try new 

 8          things, and then we'll share whatever we have 

 9          with anyone else who needs it or wants it.

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

11                 (Discussion off the record.)

12                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Senator Savino.

13                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, Senator 

14          Krueger.  

15                 Thank you, Chancellor FariÒa.  I'll be 

16          brief because I'm sure you have answered just 

17          about every question under the sun with 

18          respect to the school system.  And I 

19          apologize for not being here to listen to 

20          most of it, being pulled in 15 different 

21          directions.  

22                 But I wanted to address two things 

23          that I think your agency is now being pulled 

24          into in a more traditional, formal way, which 

                                                                  239

 1          is more of the social service delivery, and 

 2          in partnership with ACS, as well as 

 3          providing, I think, more intervention in 

 4          substance abuse.  So I was hoping you could 

 5          give me a brief update as to what's happening 

 6          with the new implementation of the policy 

 7          with ACS with respect to educational neglect 

 8          and what, if anything, DOE is doing about 

 9          increasing the number of substance abuse 

10          workers, the SAPAS workers.  As you know, the 

11          opioid abuse crisis is certainly not 

12          diminishing in New York City.  You know, 

13          Staten Island is ground zero.  So if you 

14          could talk a bit about it.

15                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  First of all, no 

16          student is going to be successful in school 

17          if the home life isn't really productive.  So 

18          our work with parents is always out there.  

19          But to the degree that we now work more 

20          closely with some of our other city agencies, 

21          it's crucial.  And this is something the 

22          mayor has made one of his initiatives.  He 

23          has created something called the Children's 

24          Cabinet, which actually has people serving on 

                                                                  240

 1          it from all the agencies, including ours.

 2                 And this is something that we work 

 3          more closely at, what age do we actually 

 4          start working with families.  We are 

 5          certainly -- you know, now that we have the 

 6          4-year-olds, how do we bring Mommies and Me 

 7          to schools to talk even younger.

 8                 So I think there's a lot of work 

 9          that's being done with these agencies.  I 

10          think in terms of we're working a lot more 

11          closely with the Department of Youth Services 

12          as well, to work with our middle-school kids.  

13          The increase of guidance counselors and 

14          social workers in our schools has been 

15          substantial this year.  So I do think across 

16          the board there's a lot more collaboration 

17          that's being done.  We're also working with 

18          our commissioner of health, because you can't 

19          do families and students without that.  So 

20          with Mary Bassett we've done some new 

21          initiatives.  So I think there's a lot more 

22          cooperation across agencies.

23                 DOE CFO ORLANDO:  If I can just add, 

24          we've also, with your support, been able to 

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 1          increase the number of SAPAS workers, so 

 2          thank you for that.  And as the chancellor is 

 3          pointing out to me, a lot of that has been 

 4          focused on Staten Island, where the need is 

 5          significant.

 6                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Right.

 7                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Yeah, thank you.  

 8                 Last week the Staten Island Federation 

 9          of PTAs had their annual breakfast, and one 

10          of the issues that came up there -- which I 

11          think is somewhat controversial, because you 

12          don't have the same opinion across the 

13          city -- their concern is they want more 

14          school safety officers and they want more 

15          cameras and we had a very open discussion 

16          there.  The public advocate attended and, you 

17          know, she confirmed my opinion that there's 

18          not a unanimity of opinion about that as to 

19          how we handle security issues in school.  

20                 But there is a concern about, you 

21          know, students getting out of the schools and 

22          no one knowing where they are.  I mean, is 

23          there a way that we can, you know, assuage 

24          the concerns of the parents that children are 

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 1          not safe in the school, that there's not 

 2          enough security or that they're able to get 

 3          out of the school and there's no way to find 

 4          them?  

 5                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  I'll be honest 

 6          with you, you have to follow the incidents.  

 7          And we're not getting the incidents in 

 8          Staten Island on that issue.  We are getting 

 9          it on other issues, which is why we increased 

10          the SAPAS workers.  The opiates, those are 

11          real issues.  

12                 The other thing, working much more 

13          collaboratively with the Y, for example, on 

14          Staten Island, that has done some really good 

15          work with teenagers.  

16                 So I think in terms of students 

17          leaving buildings unattended, we haven't 

18          really seen that in Staten Island.  So I 

19          think it's about how do you deal with issues 

20          that come up rather than to anticipate ones 

21          that as of now haven't really arisen.  But 

22          I'm -- you know, anything you want to discuss 

23          specifically on Staten Island, I'm happy to 

24          do so with you.

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 1                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Yeah, and I only have 

 2          a minute left, but thank you for sharing 

 3          that.  Because there was a request made by 

 4          some of the members of the Federation of PTA 

 5          Presidents that we allocate capital money to 

 6          DOE for the purchase of additional security 

 7          cameras.  And I would not want to go down 

 8          that road of allocating funding if in fact 

 9          there's not data to support the need for 

10          that.  

11                 So if you could -- if you or anyone in 

12          administration could --

13                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Absolutely.

14                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Yeah, that would be 

15          very helpful.

16                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  The data-driven, 

17          you know, we do it for education, for 

18          academics; we should do it for everything.  

19          So definitely.

20                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you, 

21          Chancellor.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I think we're 

24          about finished.  I really want to thank you 

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 1          for being here again and spending so much 

 2          time.  I just want to point out for the 

 3          record that -- as I did last week when Mayor 

 4          de Blasio was here -- though I always 

 5          hesitate to tell people to go to the website, 

 6          you can go to the website and find out just 

 7          what is a mandated cost.  Some of our 

 8          colleagues were asking how much you pay in, 

 9          you know, pensions and how much you pay in 

10          salaries, as if we could run the system 

11          without the salaries.

12                 So I want to make it clear that all 

13          that information for 698 districts is 

14          available on the website, so that every 

15          district can be compared apples to apples to 

16          see what you spend on those kinds of mandated 

17          costs.

18                 And I want to thank you for coming 

19          today.  Thank you very much.  

20                 CHANCELLOR FARI—A:  Listen, my 

21          pleasure.  Have a great day.

22                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

23                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I think next we 

24          have people from the labor unions here.  I 

                                                                  245

 1          guess Michael Mulgrew, Andy Pallotta, maybe 

 2          you want to come down together and we'll keep 

 3          moving.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

 5          Chancellor.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Why don't you -- 

 7          maybe we can both sit at the table and then 

 8          we can -- we have 24 more witnesses.  It's 

 9          1:30.  So we're just going to try to -- if 

10          people can bring a couple of people down 

11          maybe to every table and then you can decide 

12          yourselves how you want to ... 

13                 You guys can start.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Why don't we 

15          announce who's here, though.  We have 

16          President Michael Mulgrew, from the United 

17          Federation of Teachers; Cassie Prugh, 

18          assistant to the president, from UFT; we have 

19          Andrew Pallotta, executive vice president of 

20          NYSUT; and Chris Black, legislative director 

21          of NYSUT.  

22                 So welcome.  We're so happy to have 

23          you here today.

24                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Thank you, Senator 

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 1          Young, and members of the Assembly and 

 2          Senate.  I want to talk first about the 

 3          Foundation formula.  

 4                 Last year, working with the Executive, 

 5          you eliminated the GEA.  This was something 

 6          we celebrated, and we thank you for that.  

 7          Without having to deal with the GEA this 

 8          year, the state can and should focus on 

 9          Foundation Aid.

10                 While we look at the Governor's 

11          proposal, an increase of $428 million in 

12          Foundation Aid, we believe that we should 

13          have a better proposal to counter the 

14          elimination of the Foundation formula.  The 

15          level of funding is rooted in the ability of 

16          districts to provide their students with a 

17          sound, basic education, as guaranteed by the 

18          State Constitution.  Quite simply, the repeal 

19          of the Foundation Aid formula would leave 

20          schools without any plan for additional 

21          financial support beyond 2017-'18.

22                 NYSUT fully supports fully funding the 

23          Foundation Aid formula and phasing it in 

24          within three years so that districts have the 

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 1          state school aid they need to provide the 

 2          students with the highest possible education, 

 3          which they deserve.

 4                 Speaking of school aid, while the 

 5          Executive Budget proposal is a large 

 6          increase, we know that we need an even larger 

 7          amount of money poured into the public 

 8          schools.  Again this year, school districts 

 9          will be more reliant on state aid because the 

10          tax cap is set at a mere 1.26 percent.  Under 

11          the year's tax cap, only $200 million can be 

12          raised throughout the entire state to fund 

13          schools.

14                 NYSUT concurs with the Regents' call 

15          for an overall increase of $2.1 billion in 

16          general purpose school aid.  We ask that the 

17          additional $600 million in funding should be 

18          targeted towards providing continued support 

19          for struggling schools, increasing funding 

20          for ELLs, restoring funding for Teacher 

21          Centers, expanding pre-kindergarten, 

22          expanding access and support for college and 

23          career pathways, and assisting districts that 

24          have growing enrollment.

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 1                 Also another important issue for many 

 2          members throughout the state is to fully 

 3          reimburse school districts that are affected 

 4          by the closure of power plants, such as 

 5          Indian Point, or where the full valuation of 

 6          the tax base has been reduced, such as in 

 7          North Rockland.

 8                 On impounding funds, an issue of great 

 9          concern to us in the Executive Budget is the 

10          proposal to legalize the impoundment of state 

11          funds, including school aid, should federal 

12          or state revenue fall below projections in 

13          the state's financial plan.  The action could 

14          be taken by the Director of Budget at any 

15          time without consultation or approval of the 

16          Legislature.

17                 The tax cap.  Living under the tax cap 

18          for most districts has been very, very 

19          difficult, and they have not been able to 

20          restore many of the cuts that they have 

21          suffered in the past.  This tax cap we would 

22          like to see changed.  We would, at the least, 

23          like to see the elimination of the 

24          supermajority requirement, eliminating the 

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 1          possibility of a negative tax cap, and 

 2          changing the tax levy limit to 2 percent or 

 3          CPI, whichever is greater.

 4                 On community schools.  First I want to 

 5          thank you for your leadership in building on 

 6          community schools.  The model is working, it 

 7          is working in New York City and the other 

 8          large districts statewide.  Second, we urge 

 9          you to maintain the $255 million in existing 

10          Community School funding, which includes 

11          restoration of the $75 million for continued 

12          struggling schools conversion, and add 

13          $100 million in new funding for these 

14          schools.  

15                 On receivership.  This issue has been 

16          of great concern to many schools throughout 

17          the state, and we support the collaborative 

18          Community School model to replace this 

19          current punitive statute.  Specifically, 

20          absent a full repeal of this statute, we are 

21          calling for legislation to be enacted that 

22          would automatically turn these schools into 

23          community schools.

24                 In addition, we call for a moratorium 

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 1          on this punitive law.  Students and teachers, 

 2          rightfully, have a moratorium on tests and 

 3          evaluations based on the failed 

 4          implementation of the Common Core, yet 

 5          schools are still judged on these flawed 

 6          measures.  It's not right, and it's not fair, 

 7          and we ask for your support in making this 

 8          happen.

 9                 Teacher Centers.  At a time when we 

10          are asking educators to comply with higher 

11          learning standards, we must provide educators 

12          with the resources and tools they need.  The 

13          Statewide Teacher Center Network has already 

14          developed and is offering professional 

15          learning sessions for educators who work with 

16          English language learners.  We call on the 

17          legislature to restore us to the previous 

18          levels of $40 million.  

19                 On charter schools.  In the absence of 

20          much-needed transparency and accountability 

21          measures for charter schools, NYSUT strongly 

22          opposes proposed increases in tuition 

23          payments, rental aid, and any other costs 

24          associated with charter school management 

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 1          operators.

 2                 NYSUT has analyzed the unfreezing of 

 3          basic tuition formulas, and we have concluded 

 4          that 156 districts would incur, at a minimum, 

 5          additional costs of $120 million.  If 

 6          enacted, this would create a huge unfunded 

 7          mandate on public school districts, since 

 8          funding is paid for by public school budgets.  

 9          Moreover, the property tax cap holds charter 

10          schools harmless, but public school districts 

11          must pay the increased funding.

12                 On CTE, we must continue to support 

13          and expand the access to CTE programs, and we 

14          fully support increasing the aidable salary 

15          for all CTE programs and increasing BOCES aid 

16          and special services aid.  

17                 We urge the Legislature to provide 

18          regular, predictable increases in tuition 

19          rates for the 4201, 4401, 853 and Special Act 

20          schools, and assist them in achieving funding 

21          percentage parity with surrounding school 

22          districts.

23                 On state revenue.  So we say, how do 

24          we pay for all of this?  NYSUT believes that 

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 1          the state should not only extend the 

 2          so-called millionaire's tax, but should 

 3          expand it.  NYSUT urges the Legislature to 

 4          pass the Assembly's progressive tax plan for 

 5          the state's highest earners, which would 

 6          raise $5.6 billion in new revenue annually to 

 7          support public education, healthcare, and 

 8          infrastructure improvements.

 9                 We also support closing the 

10          carried-interest loophole, which lets 

11          partners at private equity firms and hedge 

12          funds pay a greatly reduced federal tax rate 

13          on much of their income by declaring it as 

14          capital gains.  It seems only fair that this 

15          income should be funded at the proper rate.

16                 NYSUT looks forward to partnering with 

17          the Legislature to ensure our students 

18          receive the best education possible in this 

19          coming year.  

20                 Thank you, and I'll now turn it over 

21          to Michael Mulgrew.

22                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you, Mr. Pallotta.  

23                 And I'd like to start by thanking 

24          Assemblywoman Nolan, Senator Young, and 

                                                                  253

 1          Senator Marcellino -- thank you very much for 

 2          convening -- and all the other members of the 

 3          Legislature.  

 4                 I'm very happy to say at this point in 

 5          time in New York City that our graduation 

 6          rate is at an all-time high, our dropout rate 

 7          is at an all-time low, our pre-K program is 

 8          absolutely thriving.  AP for All, we've had 

 9          the biggest increase in numbers in our 

10          history.  And it is really because of a focus 

11          and a decision to make sure that we are 

12          funding education as we are meeting the needs 

13          of the students inside of our great city as 

14          well as our state.

15                 In New York City, I want to be clear, 

16          New York City has met the call for funding of 

17          education.  Our percentage of funding has 

18          gone up to 57 percent in New York City at 

19          this point in time in terms of its education, 

20          where just five years ago it was 49 percent.  

21          So I want to be clear with everyone that New 

22          York City is not only making great strides, 

23          but it is doing it by putting its money where 

24          its mouth is.  We are making a difference for 

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 1          children in education.  

 2                 So when it comes to funding itself, 

 3          the continuation and expansion of the 

 4          millionaire's tax is clear, because in the 

 5          budget proposals we have seen, there is a 

 6          budget deficit.  So we must make sure that we 

 7          are continuing to fund education as we 

 8          continue to make our positive gains.  The 

 9          only way to ensure that this is going to 

10          happen is by making sure that we are funding 

11          it.

12                 So as we also move forward, we have 

13          seen that there is a proposal for changing 

14          the way the schools right now are being 

15          funded.  We know that GEA was paid off 

16          completely last year, and it is imperative to 

17          us that we make sure that we base funding on 

18          need.  And it's a real number, and we need to 

19          make sure that we are being responsive to the 

20          changing demographics inside of each school 

21          district in our state.

22                 With that said, we do not believe that 

23          the formula that is being proposed in the 

24          Executive's budget will meet that.  We do 

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 1          believe the Foundation Aid formula that was 

 2          in place last year should continue, and if 

 3          anyone chooses to change these formulas, that 

 4          should be done in a collaborative effort 

 5          where we're looking at how these things 

 6          affect each and every district.  We know we 

 7          have changing and shifting populations 

 8          throughout the state.  We need to make sure 

 9          that we have formulas that are based upon 

10          meeting that need.

11                 In terms of the provisions that we 

12          have seen on charters, I understand and I'm 

13          very unhappy -- there is a great fear, and I 

14          have been up here a couple of times this year 

15          already speaking about it, with our new 

16          Secretary of Education.  We have brought 

17          people from the State of Michigan -- in fact, 

18          the president of the State of Michigan School 

19          Board was here and did a presentation.  

20                 We are adamantly opposed --

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  They spoke at 

22          our committee.  They were very, very -- they 

23          spoke to our committee members, as you 

24          recall, and it was very, very informative.

                                                                  256

 1                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you, yes.

 2                 We are adamantly opposed to any 

 3          expansion or any additional funding until we 

 4          have clear accountability and transparency.  

 5          Specifically, what happened in Michigan was a 

 6          step-by-step strategic scheme to defund and 

 7          get rid of neighborhood public schools.  And 

 8          we are looking at New York State to say this 

 9          is not going to happen here.  We believe that 

10          all three branches of our government believe 

11          that the neighborhood public school is the 

12          foundation to everything we do and where 

13          we're going to move our state.  

14                 And I want to be very clear, the 

15          elected officials from Michigan said, "We 

16          didn't understand each issue as it rolled 

17          out, but cumulatively they then had the 

18          effect that they wanted."  They destroyed 

19          their neighborhood public schools both in 

20          rural districts as well as the cities.  And 

21          we are very, very focused on making sure that 

22          we have real transparency and accountability, 

23          because the folks who advocated on behalf of 

24          the charter schools in Michigan actually 

                                                                  257

 1          would spend more money trying to stop any 

 2          legislation that held them accountable and 

 3          made sure they were transparent.

 4                 I cannot thank you enough for the 

 5          special projects that we have done in the 

 6          past.  There is an unintended consequence 

 7          from a law we passed two years ago on teacher 

 8          evaluation.  Something we all supported was 

 9          the professional hours that every teacher is 

10          now responsible for in the State of New York.  

11          The problem is that what we did not intend at 

12          that point was for small education 

13          corporations to make a lot of money off of 

14          that. 

15                 So what has happened is you have a lot 

16          of small for-profit education companies who 

17          are now offering courses to teachers at an 

18          average of $300 each, for three hours.  I do 

19          not believe it was ever the intention of our 

20          Legislature to put that burden upon the 

21          teachers.

22                 What we have done in New York City, 

23          when we quickly realized what was happening, 

24          we had the Teacher Center authorized as a 

                                                                  258

 1          vendor for these hours.  We have met all the 

 2          obligations of the State Education 

 3          Department.  We believe the Teacher Centers 

 4          should become a vital and pivotal part of 

 5          supplying this professional development to 

 6          all of the teachers in New York State.  And 

 7          that will require an increase -- we are 

 8          asking to go back to the original, which was 

 9          $40 million, especially since this has 

10          basically become an unintended tax upon 

11          teachers, because they are now responsible at 

12          this moment in other parts of the state for 

13          paying for these classes out of pocket.

14                 And I cannot thank the Teacher Center 

15          enough for all that they are doing in terms 

16          of taking paraprofessionals to teacher 

17          assistants, our district initiatives based on 

18          English language learners training -- all of 

19          these things are the valuable services that 

20          are being put forth by our Teacher Center.

21                 The Positive Learning Collaborative is 

22          something we are doing in New York City.  It 

23          goes into a school and absolutely trains 

24          everyone on every aspect -- not just 

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 1          restorative justice, but on each and every 

 2          element of a school that will make it a 

 3          positive culture.  And we believe that is 

 4          something we should continue, and we look to 

 5          the state to help us to do that.

 6                 Career and Technical Education, I was 

 7          very happy last night to see, on the floor of 

 8          the Congress of the United States, where 

 9          everyone got together, all the parties, and 

10          said, This is something we need to do.  So I 

11          am happy to report to you that we are working 

12          with the State Education Department to make 

13          it a streamlined proposal to the Board of 

14          Regents in terms of Career and Technical 

15          Education.  But once that is done, I would 

16          like to say that education has all of its 

17          ducks in a row, and it is now time to really 

18          look at our economic and workforce 

19          development and aligning it with the K-12 

20          education system.

21                 And last but not least, childcare.  

22          Right now we know this is a challenge.  New 

23          York City is in a crisis.  We are looking for 

24          an increase in childcare funding.  We have 

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 1          tens of thousands of families who do not have 

 2          the ability to get free or affordable 

 3          childcare, and we believe very strongly if we 

 4          want everyone to move forward, that this is 

 5          something we need to offer the families not 

 6          just of New York City, but across the entire 

 7          state.

 8                 Thank you very much.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, 

10          Mr. Mulgrew.  

11                 Mr. Pallotta and Mr. Black from NYSUT, 

12          do you have testimony too?

13                 MR. PALLOTTA:  We gave it.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Oh, okay.  So you 

15          don't have anything on top of that.  Okay, 

16          gotcha.

17                 I think Senator Marcellino had a 

18          question.  I'm sorry, you know what?  I'm 

19          sorry, you know what, it's the Assembly, so 

20          it would be Assemblywoman Nolan.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  No, that's fine.  

22          Please go.  We always have questions we can 

23          ask.  

24                 But I know Shelley Mayer had one, so 

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 1          let me just turn to her right away.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Thank you for 

 3          being here.  And a particular thank you to 

 4          NYSUT for working so collaboratively in 

 5          Yonkers to try to achieve a resolution of 

 6          some really extraordinary challenges.  Thank 

 7          you for your efforts on that.  

 8                 I had a question for you, Mr. Mulgrew, 

 9          about the percentage of funding for the 

10          school budget that the City of New York 

11          contributes.  And I know Chancellor FariÒa 

12          also mentioned this.  But you mentioned that 

13          the City of New York now contributes 

14          57 percent.  Is that of the total public 

15          school budget?  

16                 MR. MULGREW:  Yes.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  And when was it 

18          49 percent?  

19                 MR. MULGREW:  I believe five years 

20          ago.

21                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  And what do you 

22          think is the basis for their increased 

23          participation?  Is that just a collaborative 

24          effort, or is it pressure from parents --

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 1                 MR. MULGREW:  It's a combination of 

 2          many of the things that you're speaking 

 3          about.  We have many more professional 

 4          development, we're rolling out programs that 

 5          are based upon research.  All of that 

 6          obviously requires funding.  The expansion of 

 7          an entire grade in terms of pre-K.  Some of 

 8          that was supplied by the state, but portions 

 9          of it had to be from the city itself.  

10                 It really is a combination of a 

11          commitment to trying to make sure that every 

12          school is the center of its community.  So 

13          you have outreach to parents in a much more 

14          rigorous way than we had four years ago.  We 

15          have -- as I said, we have a very rigorous 

16          training regimen for all the teachers of 

17          New York City that we now have in place, as 

18          well as all of these different programs.  

19                 The literacy for every child, literacy 

20          in terms of being on the correct literacy 

21          rate by the beginning of third grade, that's 

22          required an immense amount of training and 

23          coordination between all of the schools.  

24                 So you put all of these variables 

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 1          together, we've increased the budget.  And 

 2          the state has picked up some of that, but the 

 3          city, because of this administration's belief 

 4          in so many of the programs that they have 

 5          publicly and privately just been pushing out 

 6          there, this is why we've had an increase on 

 7          the city side.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Okay.  And the 

 9          other question was about the receivership 

10          schools, to NYSUT.  Can you just describe the 

11          current state where basically the lawsuit -- 

12          the court determined that the $75 million, 

13          the amount should be allocated to those 

14          schools that came off the list of struggling 

15          and then were denied the money, I think by 

16          the Division of Budget.  Have you been able 

17          to move any of that money out the door?

18                 NYSUT EXECUTIVE VP PALLOTTA:  No.  But 

19          we do believe that that money should go to 

20          those schools, because they have been working 

21          very hard to improve the student outcomes.  

22          So we're supporting anything that can be done 

23          to move that money into the schools.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Well, as you 

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 1          know, when we passed the legislation, the 

 2          intent was that the money go to the schools 

 3          that were on the list.  And the fact that 

 4          they did well enough to come off the list 

 5          should never have been a reason to deny them 

 6          the money.  And I think we're going to 

 7          continue to need your participation in 

 8          pushing that issue.

 9                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Right, we agree.  And 

10          we celebrate that they were able to get off 

11          that list.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Thank you.  

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I just have a 

14          brief question.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Sure.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I want to first 

17          thank you both for being here.  And thank you 

18          for the team, Chris and Cassie.  You know, 

19          not new faces, but stepping up to leadership 

20          roles, both of you, and I appreciate the good 

21          working relationship we've had.  I knew Steve 

22          and Carol so well, I want to sort of give 

23          them both a shout out.  But I want to thank 

24          the new team for all the work that -- and the 

                                                                  265

 1          cooperation with our office on a really, you 

 2          know, constant level.  And I really, really 

 3          appreciate, Cassie, you getting in touch with 

 4          me even this morning.  And Chris, we really 

 5          appreciate that kind of back and forth.

 6                 I just want to read something into the 

 7          record, and then if either of you would like 

 8          to respond.  Michael Rebell, a professor at 

 9          Columbia University -- who was a cocounsel 

10          for plaintiffs in the Campaign for Fiscal 

11          Equity vs. The State of New York lawsuit -- 

12          who we've had at our committee and we intend 

13          to have him again at a breakfast to talk to 

14          our members who are interested -- but Michael 

15          Rebell, in an op-ed in the Daily News, 

16          singled out -- it was a response to an op-ed 

17          that Paul Francis, a member of the Governor's 

18          staff, wrote where he said -- Paul Francis 

19          said -- that the Court of Appeals' CFE ruling 

20          at this point is merely "symbolism" and has 

21          no lasting significance.

22                 And Professor Rebell said that 

23          actually that was not the case, that CFE was 

24          not a one-time ruling issued solely to remedy 

                                                                  266

 1          inadequate funding levels that the court had 

 2          found in New York, but that like any other 

 3          pronouncement about constitutional rights, 

 4          the opinions were definitive, enduring, and 

 5          highly significant legal proclamations for 

 6          the future of the state's children.  

 7                 And as you know, right now we're 

 8          looking to -- the Regents recommended a 

 9          larger increase in Foundation Aid than the 

10          Executive, and the Executive has come back 

11          with essentially ending Foundation Aid as 

12          well as a much smaller amount of money with a 

13          different formula overlay.  

14                 So if either of you would like to 

15          comment on that or on Professor Rebell's 

16          thoughts on the importance of CFE and -- or 

17          do you think it is a one-time-only thing that 

18          has lost its significance, or is it something 

19          that we should continue and that should be an 

20          enduring ruling?

21                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you for bringing 

22          this up.  It is not a one-time-only.  When 

23          that court case was being decided, it was 

24          clear -- and I think it was correctly 

                                                                  267

 1          identified and dealt with by the 

 2          Legislature -- that this would now lead to 

 3          additional court cases throughout the state 

 4          because the funding formula was unequal and 

 5          it was not being based upon need.  And at 

 6          that point the Legislature adopted a phase-in 

 7          period of doing the CFE and moving towards a 

 8          Foundation Aid that would become permanent.  

 9          So there was never a "it's over."  It never 

10          was ever contemplated at that point in time.  

11                 Now, people can argue because we had a 

12          severe financial crisis in the middle -- it 

13          was my first year as president of the UFT, 

14          and I came up here and it was somewhat, as 

15          you could imagine, somewhat chaotic, to say 

16          the least, because everyone was going back 

17          home and listening to all of the horrible 

18          cuts that were going to take place.

19                 So the Legislature dealt as best it 

20          could with each time the CFE thing came into 

21          question.  But it is clear now, after last 

22          year -- how do you fund the GEA and now, when 

23          it's finally time to actually start using the 

24          Foundation Aid in a more meaningful way, that 

                                                                  268

 1          there is a discussion about not doing that 

 2          anymore and it's just wrong?  

 3                 I understand that there are school 

 4          districts in this state, because of -- you 

 5          know, could quickly have a shift in student 

 6          population, the type of student population it 

 7          has.  We need to look at some of that.  It's 

 8          clear that that should be part of the 

 9          discussion of this Legislature.  There should 

10          be some fluidity in terms of having to help 

11          school districts deal with that in terms of 

12          just not having a very rigid formula.  But in 

13          the end what we were saying in CFE is, this 

14          is the way you should adequately fund your 

15          schools as a state.  And it was never 

16          intended to say, all right, this program is 

17          over, bye-bye.  

18                 So we believe very strongly that the 

19          Foundation Aid formula needs to be put in 

20          permanently.  And if the Legislature believes 

21          that there should be a process for changing 

22          it at times, based off of shifting 

23          demographics or a need that they think would 

24          help school districts in a better way, then 

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 1          fine, put that process in.  But just to say 

 2          "Get rid of it, and here's a new one," just 

 3          does not work.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

 5                 I don't know if Andy wants to -- and 

 6          then I'm done, thank you, Senator Young.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Andy, if you 

 9          want to.  

10                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Just an agreement that 

11          the current Foundation Aid formula takes into 

12          consideration so many different factors.  And 

13          this was something that we had supported for 

14          so long to make sure that we actually bring 

15          the tremendous amount of money that is 

16          necessary to run the school system.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

18                 Thank you, Senator Young.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

20                 Senator Marcellino.

21                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Good afternoon, 

22          gentlemen -- and lady.  Microphone?  Good 

23          afternoon, I'll repeat it again.  

24                 The Governor is proposing about a 

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 1          billion-dollar increase in his budget; that's 

 2          the state budget overall.  You're asking for 

 3          a 2.1 increase over the last budget.  

 4          Everything I read tells me that New York 

 5          State is the highest-taxed state, or one of 

 6          them, in the country.  Perhaps California may 

 7          be higher; I don't know.  But we certainly 

 8          are up there.  We are losing population from 

 9          our state.  I'm told that should we do the 

10          census now, we would lose potentially at 

11          least one congressional district in 

12          Washington.  That's not a good thing for us.  

13          That's where the money comes from.  So we 

14          don't want to lose that, but that's a 

15          possibility.

16                 I need to know, how do we fund this?  

17          I'm not opposed to giving you money.  I'm not 

18          opposed to funding the schools.  It's how I 

19          made my living, it's how my wife made her 

20          living.  We're education people.  We believe 

21          in schools, we believe in public schools.  

22          We're there.  But I also have constituents 

23          who are telling me they can't afford their 

24          taxes.  Property taxes is how we fund it on 

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 1          Long Island and most of the state.  They're 

 2          out of sight.  It could be 70 percent of your 

 3          property tax is school tax.  

 4                 How do we keep senior citizens, how do 

 5          we keep young people, how do we get young 

 6          people to be able to afford to buy a home so 

 7          that you get more youngsters to go to the 

 8          schools, we put more bodies in the 

 9          classrooms?  We need to be able to attract 

10          them here.  I'm not afraid or ashamed to ask 

11          for some help.  Talk to me.  Tell me some 

12          thoughts, some ideas, some concerns, some 

13          ways to deal with this problem, because 

14          it's -- it seems like it is a real issue 

15          here.  And it's an issue for my constituents.  

16          If I go back to my constituents now and I 

17          tell them I want to raise property taxes or 

18          state taxes or whatever, there will be a 

19          lynch mob outside my house.  It wouldn't take 

20          long.  And my wife might be leading it, so I 

21          don't know.  But the nature of the beast is 

22          it will be a problem.  

23                 What are your thoughts?

24                 MR. PALLOTTA:  On the increase in 

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 1          funding, just to keep school aid just where 

 2          we keep services the same, we've seen the 

 3          number $1.7 billion.  So the Regents call for 

 4          $2.1 billion.  They're the experts in 

 5          education, and we follow their lead on this.  

 6          The Educational Conference Board has also put 

 7          forward the number $2.1 billion as an 

 8          increase in education funding.

 9                 When you talk about the taxes that are 

10          paid in various parts of the state, we know 

11          that that is difficult, especially senior 

12          citizens.  We did propose a circuit breaker a 

13          few years back.  People live in districts, 

14          they love their public schools, they support 

15          them.  And the reason that they move to some 

16          of those districts is just because of the 

17          public schools.  We have --

18                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  I have just -- I 

19          don't mean to interrupt you, but I have 

20          neighbors who came from Queens.  They bought 

21          the house next door to me.  It's an Asian 

22          family.  They come from Flushing, my old 

23          stomping ground.  They bought the house, 

24          their kids are going to the public schools.  

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 1          They intend to sell -- as soon as the kids 

 2          graduate from public schools, they intend to 

 3          sell to another couple who will do pretty 

 4          much the same thing.  

 5                 Now, this is a thing that is happening 

 6          all over the Island.  People are coming into 

 7          districts, living there for the schools, as 

 8          soon as the kids no longer have to be in the 

 9          schools, they go back to wherever they 

10          were -- maybe the city, wherever -- where the 

11          property tax burden is a lot less.  Or 

12          wherever they want to move that they feel 

13          they can afford.  So, you know, it is 

14          impacting us in a lot of ways.

15                 MR. PALLOTTA:  So our proposal also 

16          includes expanding the millionaire's tax, 

17          which would bring in billions.  And if we 

18          look at it that way, we say, Well, it's not 

19          adding an additional burden on the real 

20          estate tax that folks pay.  Also the carried 

21          interest.  The folks that are the hedge 

22          funders that have been getting away without 

23          paying their fair share throughout these 

24          years, that is where the money would come 

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 1          from.

 2                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thanks.  

 3          Appreciate your thought.

 4                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Thank you.

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  And I 

 6          appreciate -- and I mean this -- I appreciate 

 7          the work you do and the work that your 

 8          members do.  It isn't easy.  It is not easy 

 9          work.  You don't always get the thank you 

10          that you deserve, nor do your members get the 

11          thank yous that they deserve.  They're 

12          standing there on the front lines, they're 

13          dealing with issues, they're dealing with 

14          youngsters who come in and they're not always 

15          in a good mood.  You know, there might have 

16          been a night in the family, there could have  

17          been something going on that night, the kid's 

18          in a bad mood and takes it out on the teacher 

19          in the classroom the next day.  So they have 

20          to maintain calmness and still teach biology.  

21          So it's not easy to do.  And I congratulate 

22          you, and I congratulate your members for the 

23          work they do for us and for our kids.

24                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you, Senator.

                                                                  275

 1                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Thank you.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Nicely said.

 3                 We're done.  I think we're done.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Oh, we're not.

 5                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  No, Savino 

 6          wanted -- go get her, will you?

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  While Diane comes 

 8          in, I just -- so, one, thank you.  

 9                 Two, I wanted to just point out -- 

10          because I'm assuming you were up in the back 

11          but I don't know -- that when the State 

12          Education Department chancellor testified, 

13          she highlighted that countries that 

14          prioritize their teachers and appreciate 

15          their teachers -- I think she meant it from 

16          both a monetary and a cultural perspective -- 

17          have the best outcomes for students.  

18                 And so to follow in on what Senator 

19          Marcellino just closed with, it continues to 

20          be apparent to many of us that there's not 

21          actually enough respect for teachers, or 

22          appreciation, and so we're not necessarily 

23          drawing people into the profession that we 

24          desperately need in the profession.  So I'd 

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 1          like both of your opinions on what we could 

 2          do better to ensure that our best and 

 3          brightest recognize that as hard as it is, 

 4          they do want to be teachers.

 5                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Well, definitely in the 

 6          SUNY system, where we have many schools that 

 7          graduate teachers, there has been a 

 8          significant drop in the amount of folks that 

 9          are going into teaching.  So throughout the 

10          last few years ago with the Common Core and 

11          the debacle of that, we've just seen folks 

12          that are discouraged from going into the 

13          profession.  So just hearing what you have 

14          said today, encouraging and showing the 

15          respect for the profession, that's important.  

16          And also making sure that each and every day 

17          we go into schools that are fully funded.  I 

18          mean, that is the key piece here.  That's why 

19          we're at the budget hearing, to make sure 

20          that the funding is sufficient for the 

21          schools.

22                 MR. MULGREW:  It's appropriate that 

23          actually today is Show Your Love for Public 

24          Schools Day.  That's what we're doing across 

                                                                  277

 1          the state today.

 2                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I saw those 

 3          valentine hearts.  I saw those valentine 

 4          hearts.  

 5                 MR. MULGREW:  This is something of 

 6          really great concern to us.  Dr. Linda 

 7          Darling-Hammond, in her research think tank 

 8          out in Stanford, just addressed a group of 

 9          leaders and she said, "We keep talking about 

10          this education teacher shortage that's about 

11          to hit," and she is clear that within the 

12          next two years, it's going to hit major 

13          league.  We have shortage areas throughout 

14          the City of New York.

15                 Now, we like to think that we can 

16          continue to attract people, but right now 

17          there are districts in New York City where we 

18          do not have all our vacancies full.  And 

19          everything that we're being told is that's 

20          actually going to get worse.  And clearly 

21          that had a lot to do with the bashing of 

22          education for over a decade.

23                 So as we move forward, it's more about 

24          celebrating what we're doing inside of the 

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 1          schools.  But addressing the actual needs, if 

 2          you're in a high-needs district, the 

 3          Community Learning School push has truly 

 4          proven to be something that's working, 

 5          solving something that's a very difficult 

 6          equation in education.  That's starting to 

 7          work.  As well as elected officials like 

 8          yourselves.  I mean, in New York City we can 

 9          tell, because we survey on a yearly basis, 

10          you know, they're definitely feeling better 

11          at this moment in time.  It does make a 

12          difference when they hear from elected 

13          officials that, you know, we understand what 

14          you do is a great thing -- because they don't 

15          hear that all the time.  But the recognition 

16          of how difficult the job is and then saying 

17          you're not going to be able to solve this by 

18          yourself, you're going to need help, we'll 

19          get you support and help, you have to go for 

20          your training, you have to really integrate 

21          all the other things, that's how we're going 

22          to move education.  

23                 But we're going to have, at the 

24          minimum, we're going to -- it's almost like 

                                                                  279

 1          global warming, I guess, at this point.  

 2          There's certain things that are just going to 

 3          happen.  And there is just not enough 

 4          teachers in the pipeline.  That's why 

 5          retention becomes a huge issue right now.  

 6          Because if you can't fill a slot, every slot 

 7          you lose is even a bigger problem.  So this 

 8          is something we're having a lot of 

 9          discussions on.  We've started a lot of 

10          things.  But it's a real problem that I am 

11          sure we'll be talking about here over the 

12          next couple of years.  

13                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

14                 I know Senator Savino did have some 

15          questions, if somebody can find her.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Otherwise I 

17          think we need to -- we have 24 other 

18          witnesses.

19                 MR. MULGREW:  Here she is.

20                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  She's coming.

21                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.  Thank 

22          you, Senator Krueger and Senator Young.  I'm 

23          doing double duty with alumni, a young group 

24          of students from St. John's.  I am in fact 

                                                                  280

 1          the only female graduate from St. John's 

 2          University in the entire legislature, so 

 3          whenever they bring up students, I have to 

 4          meet with them.

 5                 But thank you.  It's always good to 

 6          see you, President Mulgrew, and of course 

 7          Andy and all of you.  You know, President 

 8          Mulgrew is my constituent, so I have to be 

 9          nice to him.  

10                 (Laughter.)

11                 MR. MULGREW:  It would be 

12          inappropriate for me to say your sign was on 

13          my lawn, wouldn't it?

14                 (Laughter.)

15                 SENATOR SAVINO:  I want you to speak, 

16          though, about something that you briefly 

17          touched on in your comments, but I don't 

18          think you really explained well enough, and I 

19          think that they're very important programs:  

20          Community schools and the Positive Learning 

21          Collaborative.

22                 MR. MULGREW:  We came to you six years 

23          ago with the idea of Community Learning 

24          Schools.  I know everybody talks about it 

                                                                  281

 1          now, but six years ago nobody was talking 

 2          about it.  And we came to you, and the state 

 3          was the first group to actually fund 

 4          Community Learning Schools in New York City.  

 5          And I don't think that gets enough credit.  

 6                 And we were able to, at that point in 

 7          time, put together a program.  There is a lot 

 8          of different ways to do a Community Learning 

 9          School.  And what we felt, especially to the 

10          comments made -- correct comments -- by 

11          Senator Marcellino, is I said what we see out 

12          there right now requires huge amounts of 

13          funding, so we have to teach schools how to 

14          make a lot of these services 

15          self-sustainable.  We have to teach local 

16          municipalities that you're funding a lot of 

17          these services, and they're not being 

18          utilized correctly.  And we can utilize these 

19          services in a much more efficient way if you 

20          actually start to sit down and plan out with 

21          us.  

22                 You know, it's important that a 

23          hospital is connected to the clinic inside of 

24          a school, because the hospital has a way to 

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 1          bill for those services for children.  It's 

 2          important that every area of this state has 

 3          all sorts of social service supports, but why 

 4          aren't they at the place where you know the 

 5          community is going to touch every day, which 

 6          is inside of the school?  And if they are at 

 7          the school, how do you make sure they're 

 8          actually being utilized in the right way?  

 9          And then when you have a hospital who's 

10          actually where we can tell them that we can 

11          guarantee 80 percent of the children in the 

12          school will be using your clinic, then we can 

13          then go to them and say, We need you now to 

14          pay for the after-school tutoring program, 

15          which they're more than happy to do.  

16                 So we did all of that because it was 

17          just a smarter way, with the hope that we 

18          would see the academic achievement move.  And 

19          community schools can benefit any 

20          socioeconomic group.  I know it's spoken 

21          about mostly in terms of high-need areas, but 

22          it can benefit any socioeconomic group, 

23          because there's all sorts of services that 

24          every area and every school has that really 

                                                                  283

 1          could be better utilized if it was brought in 

 2          in a much more integrated way into the school 

 3          itself.  

 4                 But in New York City we now have the 

 5          28 schools that we originally offered the 

 6          program I just spoke about in New York City, 

 7          and those schools have beaten all the odds.  

 8          They are clearly performing in ways they had 

 9          not done for generations.  So I think it's a 

10          very smart way, and I think it -- and right 

11          now our resource coordinators -- that's the 

12          person we train to be in the school.  And 

13          everybody's like, well, that costs us more 

14          money.  Those resource coordinators are 

15          individually bringing in an average of over 

16          $3 million of services to the school.  So for 

17          the one position where we're doing the 

18          training, you get $3 million in additional 

19          support inside of the school.  You want to 

20          talk about smart government and how to make 

21          it work?  That's where you go.  And you also 

22          get a better result in terms of the other 

23          social services in your area, because now 

24          they're being utilized in a much better way.

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 1                 We took that same approach to school 

 2          culture, and because it became such a hot 

 3          topic -- remember No Child Left Behind?  I 

 4          remember testifying up here.  Do you know how 

 5          you make sure your school is a safe school?  

 6          Don't report the incidents.  Yeah, that made 

 7          a lot of sense.  So we had schools who didn't 

 8          have any incidents, and they were safe 

 9          schools.  But that was called No Child Left 

10          Behind.  So every school was basically told:  

11          Don't do anything until you are forced to do 

12          a suspension.  By that time, the child is 

13          really doing something egregious.  And then 

14          that led to -- just think that through -- 

15          children were being suspended in ways they 

16          should not have been, they weren't getting 

17          the services they were supposed to be.  And 

18          now people are saying no suspensions, 

19          restorative justice -- and I'm like, that's 

20          not the answer either.  You have to have an 

21          approach where the school is actually being 

22          trained on what is a welcoming environment.  

23                 So we put a lot of funding in terms 

24          of these are all union dollars, just as it 

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 1          was -- in the beginning, it was a combination 

 2          of union dues money and your money.  We did 

 3          the same thing with the Positive Learning 

 4          Collaborative.  We went in, we had people 

 5          trained at Cornell, they went in, and we have 

 6          to get one guarantee from the school:  Every 

 7          single person is trained.  If you're in 

 8          charge of the boiler, you are trained.  If 

 9          you're the security guard at the front, 

10          you're trained.  And you walk into these 

11          schools, and everyone understands it's their 

12          responsibility to have a positive place, and 

13          they case-conference and they really make 

14          sure that things are done in a smart way.  

15                 I open those programs and schools up 

16          to anyone in the Legislature who wants to see 

17          them, because I believe they are shining 

18          examples of smart, efficient ways to use 

19          government and its funding and smart 

20          approaches to actually make changes for 

21          children.

22                 SENATOR SAVINO:  Thank you.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

24          much.

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 1                 MR. MULGREW:  Thank you.

 2                 MR. PALLOTTA:  Thank you.

 3                 MR. MULGREW:  Happy Valentine's Day.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I like those 

 5          heart-shaped buttons.  Thank you very much.  

 6                 I think we have the Big 5 now.  We're 

 7          going to have all of them come down, right, 

 8          so that we can --

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes.

10                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Yeah.  It's 

11          Dr. Edwin Quezada, Dr. Kriner Cash, 

12          Ms. Barbara Deane-Williams, Mr. Jaime Alicea.  

13          Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers and Buffalo.

14                 (Discussion off the record.)

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  As I said, I 

16          don't know if you want to flip a coin, go 

17          right to left, left to right, seniority -- 

18                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  We're ready.  

19          We're ready.

20                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Okay, jump in.

21                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  Okay.  Good 

22          afternoon, everyone, and I appreciate you 

23          taking your time at the end of a long day to 

24          hear from your colleagues from the Big 5 

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 1          school districts.  

 2                 My name is Kriner Cash, and I'm the 

 3          superintendent of the Buffalo public schools.  

 4          I'd like to frame my remarks in about six or 

 5          seven minutes, as we've been requested to 

 6          keep our remarks brief so we can all have a 

 7          shared time with you.

 8                 I'd like to thank the leaders and 

 9          those of you who remain for being here to 

10          listen to us.  

11                 As you know, in Buffalo right now 

12          there is an exciting economic renaissance 

13          occurring, in the city and for the Western 

14          New York region.  I'm also pleased to tell 

15          you that there is an exciting educational 

16          renaissance occurring in the City of Buffalo 

17          right now.  And that is possible because we 

18          have a new vision, we have a new leadership.  

19          And that plan is focused on the new education 

20          bargain.  The new education bargain has six 

21          important elements, and they align to what 

22          many of your colleagues have been talking 

23          about here today, including Commissioner 

24          Elia.  It starts with a much more rigorous 

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 1          early elementary education.  It's focused 

 2          around strong community schools.  We've 

 3          launched 13 of those in just the last year.  

 4          It focuses on new innovative high schools, 

 5          with new CTE programs aligned to emerging 

 6          industry in Western New York, like software 

 7          application design and cybersecurity, medical 

 8          and the allied health fields.  Those are the 

 9          new CTE of the future.

10                 It also has enriched and strong 

11          after-school programs, services for our 

12          neediest children and families, and a new 

13          relationship with our teachers -- very 

14          important.

15                 You have before you a synthesis or a 

16          summary of the State of the State, so I won't 

17          go back through that.  But what I can tell 

18          you is that the early results are 

19          encouraging.  We have -- graduation rates are 

20          up 6, even 7 points now, we just found out 

21          yesterday, over just the last two years.  And 

22          it's up to 64 percent; we're going to head to 

23          70 percent over the next two years.  

24                 We have a strategy for every single 

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 1          area of improvement in our work, both on the 

 2          academic side and on the operational side.  

 3          We're trying to improve all aspects of 

 4          operation in Buffalo public schools.

 5                 So let me summarize, then, for you 

 6          what the ask is.  The ask is a $65 million 

 7          ask overall over last year.  It is a 

 8          $45 million increase in the Foundation Aid 

 9          aligned to what the commissioner is saying, 

10          an increase up to that $2.1 billion 

11          Foundation Aid amount that we'd like to see 

12          the state get to.  And of that share, we'd 

13          like $45 million.  And the Governor has 

14          already given us 24 -- well, $20 million, 

15          $21 million at this point.  So that would be 

16          an additional $25 million that we're asking 

17          over and above the Governor's proposal.  

18                 And then, second, you heard 

19          Commissioner Elia talk about the critical 

20          investment need in the area of universal 

21          pre-K, additional support for our English 

22          language learners, support for college and 

23          career pathways, and creating a special fund 

24          for professional development for our teachers 

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 1          and principals.  We support that 

 2          wholeheartedly and enthusiastically.  We 

 3          would like $20 million for those critical 

 4          investments as our share of that state school 

 5          aid ask.  

 6                 That's the summary, colleagues.  I 

 7          don't want to go much further.  I know that 

 8          18 minutes is the limit for adult education 

 9          attention span.  You're well past that today.  

10          So I thank you for your listening attention, 

11          and I conclude my remarks.  And I thank you 

12          for hearing all of us, and share the needs 

13          that I know my colleagues from the other 

14          Big 5 school districts will tell you about 

15          now.  Thank you.

16                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  Thank you, 

17          and I will follow Dr. Cash.  

18                 So distinguished members of the Joint 

19          Legislative Fiscal and Education Committee, 

20          thank you for the opportunity to address you 

21          on behalf of the Yonkers City School 

22          District.  I am Dr. Edwin Quezada, 

23          superintendent of schools.  The City of 

24          Yonkers is an amalgamation of diverse 

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 1          citizens from every continent and social 

 2          socioeconomic strata.  It is in this city 

 3          where over 32,000 children and their families 

 4          strive to achieve the American dream.  We, 

 5          the City of Yonkers in New York State, are 

 6          responsible to provide the intellectual, 

 7          social and emotional foundation for our 

 8          children to thrive as productive citizens in 

 9          our great country.  It is a responsibility 

10          that comes with many challenges.

11                 Who are Yonkers students?  They are 

12          over 32,000 urban students; over 26,000 pre-K 

13          to Grade 12 students in the district's 39 

14          public schools, 427 students with 

15          disabilities in out-of-district placements, 

16          696 students in the charter school, and over 

17          4,600 children in City of Yonkers parochial 

18          and private schools.  District enrollment is 

19          projected for continuous growth through 2021. 

20          Our students reside in Westchester County and 

21          deserve to have the same educational 

22          experiences and opportunities as their peers 

23          throughout the county.  And their needs are 

24          decisively greater.  Many Yonkers students 

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 1          face extreme poverty and require academic, 

 2          social, and emotional supports.  Seventy-nine 

 3          percent of our students are economically 

 4          disadvantaged.  Seventeen percent are 

 5          students with disabilities.  Twelve percent 

 6          are English language learners.  Fifty-seven 

 7          percent are Hispanic, and 19 percent are 

 8          African-American or black.  

 9                 Last year I came before this body and 

10          reported that the state of the Yonkers public 

11          schools is strong, and invited you to invest 

12          where success is becoming a reality for all 

13          children.  I asked you to help us move 

14          towards compliance, and you did.  Together we 

15          were able to remove five schools out of eight 

16          from the list of persistently struggling and 

17          struggling schools, achieve a commanding 

18          graduation rate, expand the Community School 

19          model, accept the My Brother's Keeper 

20          challenge, reduce out-of-school suspensions 

21          and the dropout rate, and we championed the 

22          Rebuild Yonkers Schools campaign.  

23                 Today, Yonkers is poised to becoming a 

24          model district for urban education.  All of 

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 1          the necessary elements for sustainable 

 2          solutions for student success are within 

 3          reach.  The essential missing element is 

 4          recurrent revenues aligned to our pupil 

 5          demographics.  We will continue to plead for 

 6          Foundation Aid with poverty measures that 

 7          accurately reflect the populations being 

 8          served.  

 9                 Work with us to make Yonkers schools 

10          complete.  The state, the city and the school 

11          district share the responsibility.  Schools 

12          throughout New York State have full-time 

13          counselors, psychologists, librarians, social 

14          workers, music and art teachers, reading 

15          teachers and more.  Unfortunately, this is 

16          not the case in Yonkers schools.  Our 39 

17          schools servicing over 26,000 students have 

18          only 25 psychologists, 13 social workers, 36 

19          school counselors, eight librarians.  How are 

20          we expected to support the needs of our 

21          students and their families?  

22                 Partner with Yonkers.  Support our 

23          work as we create a model district for urban 

24          education.  Your help is needed to make 

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 1          Yonkers schools complete for the urban 

 2          students we serve.  So I ask you, change the 

 3          Foundation Aid formula to allow for more 

 4          recurrent revenues.  Increase funding to 

 5          address the needs of students with 

 6          disabilities and English language learners.  

 7          Increase the allocation for Career and 

 8          Technical Education.  Ensure that full-day 

 9          pre-K is permanently funded for Yonkers 

10          through recurrent revenues rather than 

11          grants.  Increase funding for professional 

12          development.  Increase funding for extended 

13          day and after-school programs.  

14                 For Yonkers schools to attain 

15          sustainable solutions for student success, 

16          recurrent revenues must be the norm.  Our 

17          students require consistent, long-term 

18          interventions, and this cannot be 

19          accomplished with intermittent one-shot or 

20          short multiyear grants.  

21                 Let me provide you a concrete example. 

22          Our proposed 2017-2018 budget, which includes 

23          only a status quo and required sustainable 

24          expenses, presents a gap of $38 million 

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 1          dollars.  To balance the budget, I must 

 2          identify $38 million of savings.  This is not 

 3          realistic, nor is it acceptable.  Who gets 

 4          affected by this practice?  Our students.  

 5          Once again, we are forced to eliminate 

 6          programs that work by cutting needed staff 

 7          and reducing services.  

 8                 Finally, I want to say thank you to 

 9          the State Legislature and Governor.  Last 

10          year Mayor Spano, his administration, the 

11          trustees of the Board of Education, the 

12          entire community and I advocated for the 

13          Rebuild Yonkers Schools legislation.  With 

14          your support, this bill -- submitted by our 

15          outstanding Yonkers delegation -- is now the 

16          law.  Rebuilding Yonkers schools can no 

17          longer be a conversation, it must become a 

18          reality.  Our students are learning in spaces 

19          that are not suitable for a 21st-century 

20          education.  This is a travesty that must be 

21          corrected.  Please consider providing Yonkers 

22          support with this work that is aligned to 

23          what has been provided to similar 

24          communities.  

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 1                 With limited funds, we have proven 

 2          that we are a community on the move, and our 

 3          magnificent students excel.  Last week the 

 4          State Education Department released the 2016 

 5          graduation data.  Yonkers' August graduation 

 6          rate went up by 4 percentage points, 

 7          graduating 82 percent of the Class of 2016.  

 8          That is higher than the state average of 

 9          81 percent.  And our dropout rate is down to 

10          4 percent, half of what it was last year and 

11          2 percentage points lower than the statewide 

12          average.  

13                 You can clearly understand why Yonkers 

14          is determined to pursue sustainable solutions 

15          for student success.  Be a part of our 

16          history, dream with us, and I can assure you 

17          that success will be a reality for every 

18          child in the City of Yonkers.  Thank you.

19                 SUPERINTENDENT DEANE-WILLIAMS:  Thank 

20          you.  My name is Barbara Deane-Williams, and 

21          I began serving as the superintendent of the 

22          Rochester City Schools last August.  As I'm 

23          new to the group, I will share that I have 

24          35 years of experience as a school and 

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 1          district administrator, with 11 years as a 

 2          superintendent in rural and large districts, 

 3          including Greece, New York, and served most 

 4          recently as the senior deputy superintendent 

 5          for the Boston, Massachusetts, public 

 6          schools.

 7                 Since August, my team in Rochester is 

 8          moving aggressively to address systemic 

 9          issues that contribute to some of the lowest 

10          achievement levels in New York State.  School 

11          chiefs have been redeployed to supervise 

12          principals, and they are now accountable to 

13          ensure that every student's academic behavior 

14          and attendance performance is assessed every 

15          five weeks, and that interventions are 

16          monitored for quality and results.  

17                 To support the new chiefs of schools, 

18          we have redeployed, as of one week ago, 

19          40 district office educators on teams that 

20          will visit each and every Rochester classroom 

21          between now and the end of the semester.  

22          These teams report on a progress tracker to 

23          our newly appointed deputy superintendent, 

24          Dr. Kendra March, on specific services, 

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 1          interventions, and training needed to improve 

 2          student performance, including building 

 3          strong early education programs, summer 

 4          learning, and Community School models.  And 

 5          we're doing this specifically to get to the 

 6          root causes and to support our new budget 

 7          process, being led by our newly appointed 

 8          CFO, Dr. Everton Sewell.  We are in the 

 9          process of conducting a line-by-line analysis 

10          to build a budget that is based squarely on 

11          the needs of our students and on achievement.

12                 Our review of staff and student 

13          schedule information, Semester 1, revealed a 

14          very disturbing fact.  Rochester simply does 

15          not have the reading and math teachers in 

16          place to provide adequate instruction for our 

17          students to meet grade-level expectations in 

18          reading and math.

19                 We also need to meet and expand CTE 

20          opportunities, and we need to focus squarely 

21          on ensuring equitable access to Advanced 

22          Placement and Early College opportunities for 

23          all of our youth.  

24                 We need to increase the quantity of 

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 1          teachers as well as improve the quality of 

 2          instruction, by funding and focusing squarely 

 3          on the professional learning of our school 

 4          principals and our teachers.  We will fund 

 5          requirements and quality instruction first 

 6          and then prioritize the other services we 

 7          want our students and our schools to have.

 8                 Our team is implementing a new 

 9          academic return-on-investment model so that 

10          we can see, using data, which programs and 

11          services are working well and which are not 

12          yielding the results that we would expect, 

13          given the resource allocations.  We will 

14          redeploy and reinvest in the high-priority 

15          and high-return areas.

16                 We intend to significantly lower costs 

17          for service contracts that don't benefit 

18          students.  We will decrease our use of 

19          substitute teachers, reduce staff overtime, 

20          and seek efficiencies across the operation.  

21          By taking these measures, we expect that we 

22          can generate about $15 million to reinvest 

23          ourselves in that which is most important.

24                 However, that being said, the district 

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 1          faces a remaining budget gap of $58 million 

 2          for the 2017-2018 school year, and there are 

 3          several areas where the needs of Rochester 

 4          children cannot be met without additional 

 5          support from you.  Most critical to our need 

 6          is to secure additional certified teachers, 

 7          especially in reading and math, so that we 

 8          can provide the intervention services needed 

 9          to reach grade-level proficiency under the 

10          commissioner's Part 100 and Part 154 

11          regulations.

12                 To meet these and other instructional 

13          requirements, Rochester City Schools need a 

14          Foundation Aid increase to cover our 

15          shortfall, over the Governor's proposal.  

16          This will enable the eight schools in our 

17          Receivership and Innovation Zone to maintain 

18          the resources the State Education Department 

19          has directed us to put in place in order to 

20          ensure that our student achievement improves 

21          immediately.

22                 The Governor's proposal to unfreeze 

23          charter school tuition will result in an 

24          additional cost of $14.3 million to our 

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 1          district, which brings our total projected 

 2          charter school expense to $87 million next 

 3          year.  

 4                 Finally, we request $2 million to 

 5          maintain our outstanding school nursing 

 6          services in Rochester schools at the current 

 7          level.

 8                 I thank you for allowing me the 

 9          opportunity to testify today.  And in 

10          summary, we deeply appreciate the support of 

11          public education and respectfully request a 

12          total of $58 million additional than the 

13          Governor has proposed.  And the rest of my 

14          testimony is submitted for review in writing, 

15          and I thank you.

16                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  Thank you very 

17          much.  

18                 Good afternoon.  My name is Jaime 

19          Alicea.  I am the interim superintendent of 

20          the Syracuse City School District.  Many 

21          years back, I had the opportunity to sit back 

22          there with the former superintendents that 

23          came down here, to do the same thing that I'm 

24          doing today, to talk about my district, to 

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 1          talk about the kids that we have in the 

 2          Syracuse City School District, and not only 

 3          my district, but the needs that we have in 

 4          the Big 5 school districts in New York State.  

 5          Together, we educate more than 50 percent of 

 6          the students in the state.

 7                 The Syracuse City School District 

 8          serves a student population of 21,000 

 9          students.  We have this year over 1800 

10          students in pre-K programs.  And we have a 

11          refugee population and ELL population of 

12          3,500 students.  Every day there is a new 

13          kid, a new student coming to the Syracuse 

14          City School District.  Sixteen percent of our 

15          students are English language learners, and 

16          20 percent of our students are students that 

17          need and receive special education services.  

18                 My colleagues here, we're all asking 

19          for money.  What is Syracuse asking for?  

20          Syracuse has a need for $23 million that 

21          we're asking this year.  After the Governor 

22          presented his proposal and after we put our 

23          budget together, we have a need that is over 

24          the amount of money allocated to us.  

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 1                 In Syracuse we want to continue to 

 2          provide academic intervention services to our 

 3          students.  We want to continue to provide 

 4          personalized learning, so instead of 

 5          providing remediation, we want to enrich our 

 6          kids.  We want to continue to provide extra 

 7          support for our English language learners.  

 8                 We want to increase Career and 

 9          Technical Education.  Five years ago we had 

10          six CTE programs in Syracuse; this past year 

11          we had 23 programs.  And I believe that 

12          that's one of the reasons why the graduation 

13          rate in Syracuse went from 55 percent to 61 

14          percent.  It is not where it needs to be yet, 

15          but we're working hard to make sure that our 

16          students are walking across the stage.

17                 And we're also asking for school-based 

18          health services.  We want to make sure that 

19          we have the nurses, the staff that we need to 

20          provide the services to our students in the 

21          district.

22                 So in Foundation Aid, we're asking for 

23          an extra $12 million.  We appreciate the gap 

24          elimination that you acted on.  And we're 

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 1          looking forward to continuing to provide the 

 2          support that is needed for our students.  

 3                 In Syracuse we know that it snowed all 

 4          over the state, but some of the streets are 

 5          not safe.  And I have a student population 

 6          that is deemed very vocal and a parent 

 7          population that is asking me to please reduce 

 8          the walking distance for a 5-year-old -- 

 9          instead of having to walk a mile and a half, 

10          to at least walk only a mile to school.  So 

11          we're asking for $4.6 million for us in order 

12          to provide transportation to all the students 

13          in kindergarten through 8th grade who are 

14          more than one mile from the school.

15                 As I said before, we're increasing 

16          Career and Technical Education.  We have 

17          expanded to include cybersecurity, computer 

18          forensics, and the Governor talked about the 

19          Central New York region being a drone 

20          technology area.  We did begin the 

21          implementation of a drone technology program 

22          at one of our high schools this past year.

23                 We're also asking for school health 

24          services, $1.2 million so we can continue to 

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 1          provide a nurse in all our schools and 

 2          provide health attendants so we can assist 

 3          our students and their families in the 

 4          district.

 5                 So in closing, it's a total of 

 6          $23.8 million.  And I appreciate the support 

 7          that you have provided to Syracuse -- and not 

 8          only to Syracuse, to all the Big 5 school 

 9          districts.

10                 SUPERINTENDENT KARAM:  Good afternoon.  

11          My name is Bruce Karam, superintendent, Utica 

12          City School District.  I am grateful for the 

13          opportunity to speak to all of you at this 

14          very important budget hearing.  

15                 I am here today to report on a 

16          financial situation of the Utica City School 

17          District and to respectfully request 

18          additional funding as our school district 

19          faces yet another significant budget deficit 

20          for the 2017-2018 school year in the amount 

21          of $1.4 million.  

22                 Over the past five years, we have cut 

23          approximately $24 million in spending to 

24          close annual multi-million-dollar budget 

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 1          deficits ranging from this year's projected 

 2          deficit of $1.4 million up to a budget 

 3          deficit of over $10 million during the 

 4          2013-2014 school year.  

 5                 The consequences of these spending 

 6          cuts have been staggering and led to the 

 7          layoffs of over 350 full-time teachers, 

 8          administrators and support staff over the 

 9          past five years.  These reductions in 

10          personnel significantly drove up class sizes 

11          and student-to-support-staff ratios, making 

12          it much more difficult to meet the individual 

13          needs of our most at-risk students.  

14                 Once again, we will be forced to make 

15          personnel cuts in order to offset our 

16          projected deficit and balance our budget for 

17          the 2017-2018 school year unless we receive 

18          an appreciable amount of additional state aid 

19          funding.

20                 One of the main reasons for next 

21          year's budget deficit is the fact that our 

22          district received a smaller increase in 

23          Foundation Aid than we did last year.  As you 

24          know, Foundation Aid was specifically 

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 1          designed years ago to provide much-needed 

 2          financial relief to high-need public school 

 3          districts such as ours.

 4                 We also have concerns about a proposal 

 5          to eliminate the phase-in of Foundation Aid 

 6          beginning next year and what that would mean 

 7          for districts like Utica.  The Utica City 

 8          School District continues to be one of the 

 9          poorest high-needs school districts in the 

10          State of New York.  In fact, we were recently 

11          informed that our school district is now tied 

12          for the third-poorest school district in the 

13          state.

14                 We are also unique in the fact that 

15          our school district continues to be one of 

16          only a few districts in New York State with a 

17          growing population of students.  Over the 

18          past five years, our student enrollment has 

19          increased by 1500 students, or 14 percent.  

20          Many of these new students are high-needs 

21          students, including refugee and immigrant 

22          students.  

23                 This year alone, we have enrolled over 

24          450 new English language learners in the 

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 1          district.  English language learners now make 

 2          up nearly 20 percent of our total student 

 3          population.  We are trying desperately to 

 4          meet their unique academic needs with small 

 5          class sizes and intensive instruction to help 

 6          them achieve academically along their path 

 7          towards graduation.

 8                 The additional enrollment of 

 9          high-needs students each year without 

10          adequate aid to support them continues to put 

11          a tremendous amount of pressure on our 

12          district's finances.  We would ask that the 

13          state consider a separate funding stream for 

14          districts like Utica who have a high 

15          concentration of English language learners, 

16          in order to account for the higher cost of 

17          educating students with high academic needs.

18                 Even in the face of the overwhelming 

19          challenges I have discussed, we are proud of 

20          the fact that our school district continues 

21          to make significant strides in student 

22          performance.  We currently have no schools in 

23          receivership, with several of our schools 

24          upgraded to good standing during the last 

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 1          school year.  Our high school graduation rate 

 2          continues to climb each year and has 

 3          increased 7 percent over the past several 

 4          years.

 5                 We are currently working on expanding 

 6          our Career and Technical Education offerings 

 7          at our high school, which includes offering 

 8          six articulated pathways that students can 

 9          access and apply towards their graduation 

10          credential.  Although we have worked very 

11          closely with our regional BOCES and students 

12          are bused there for CTE programming, we have 

13          the student interest and student population 

14          to further expand these programs in-house, 

15          especially for our ELL students and students 

16          with disabilities who would greatly benefit 

17          from these programs.

18                 Allowing the Utica City School 

19          District to expand our programs by providing 

20          the necessary funding stream to make these 

21          Career and Technical Education Programs a 

22          reality will help support our existing 

23          programs.

24                 While we are very proud of our 

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 1          accomplishments, we believe that we could be 

 2          doing so much more to support the academic 

 3          and socio-emotional needs of our students.  

 4          We know this because we received the 

 5          additional financial resources from the state 

 6          after a district school was placed into 

 7          receivership a couple of years ago.  We were 

 8          able to utilize these resources to quickly 

 9          turn the school around and remove it from 

10          receivership.  We could only imagine the 

11          possibilities for success if we receive the 

12          funding we need before a school begins to 

13          show any signs of trouble.

14                 With this in mind, we would ask that 

15          the state consider additional funding so 

16          districts like Utica can sustain the 

17          improvements made by our schools whose 

18          accountability designations have been 

19          upgraded.

20                 Finally, unless the Utica City School 

21          District is fully funded and an equitable 

22          distribution of aid is made a reality, 

23          high-poverty, high-needs school districts 

24          like Utica will never fully recover from the 

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 1          endless cycle of massive budget deficits and 

 2          the devastating consequences that these 

 3          deficits have had on our ability to provide a 

 4          sound basic education to our children.

 5                 Once again, thank you for affording me 

 6          this opportunity to address this committee.  

 7          The Utica City School District is very 

 8          grateful for any financial support we are 

 9          able to receive as you work to finalize the 

10          state budget.  

11                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

12          much.  

13                 Assemblywoman Nolan.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you very 

15          much for all that you do.  Very difficult, 

16          challenging districts.  I hope we have more 

17          time to get together when -- we want to keep 

18          the hearing going -- but I've had that 

19          opportunity, so I know Shelley and others 

20          have questions.  But I just want to thank you 

21          for being here and for waiting.  It's always 

22          a long day.  So I hope to come up and get to 

23          see you all again soon.  Thank you.

24                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator?  

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 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 2                 I do have a couple of questions.  

 3          Mr. Karam, you talk about an influx or a 

 4          student population growth of 14 percent, 

 5          about 1500 students.  And probably all of 

 6          your districts have had an increase in 

 7          student population, which actually isn't the 

 8          norm for upstate New York, where we've been 

 9          losing population over the past several 

10          years.

11                 Are most of the student growth numbers 

12          related -- because you pointed out 20 percent 

13          of your population is refugee or immigrant.  

14          You know, would all of you agree, if you have 

15          student growth in the population numbers, is 

16          it mostly because of refugee or immigrant 

17          students?

18                 SUPERINTENDENT KARAM:  Yes.  

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Okay.  I had asked 

20          Commissioner Elia earlier today about Part 

21          154 of the regulations that were created by 

22          State Ed in 2014, which resulted in unfunded 

23          mandates for the districts.  Are you having 

24          issues finding teachers that are dually 

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 1          certified?  

 2                 ALL PANELISTS:  Yes.  Yes, we are.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes.  So are you 

 4          having to double up and put two teachers in 

 5          one classroom in many cases?

 6                 SUPERINTENDENT KARAM:  Sometimes, yes.

 7                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Is that true?  Does 

 8          somebody want to speak to that?

 9                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  We are working 

10          with the colleges in the area.  We are 

11          working closely with Syracuse University and 

12          SUNY Oswego to get programs in ESL going in 

13          our area.  The big need that we have in 

14          Syracuse is for the kids that we have to 

15          provide bilingual education, and there are no 

16          bilingual programs in the Syracuse area.  So 

17          we're working with Brockport and trying to 

18          get programs in the Syracuse area.  

19                 One of the things that Syracuse is 

20          going to be doing in September, we're going 

21          to start our own career program in one of the 

22          high schools to grow our own teachers.  We 

23          know that they are already in Syracuse, they 

24          are going to our schools, so we're going to 

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 1          get our own grown -- our own teacher program 

 2          in September.

 3                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 4                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  And I think 

 5          it's important to note for all of us that a 

 6          student that begins in our district as an 

 7          English language learner, the state requires 

 8          and the federal government requires that we 

 9          continue to service that young person for 

10          another two years, and no additional services 

11          are provided.  No additional funding, rather, 

12          are provided.

13                 It's important to note that just 

14          because the youngster achieves success in the 

15          NYSED slot, that in no way, shape or form 

16          means that the child is ready to perform at a 

17          high level in the general education 

18          classroom.  

19                 So although our numbers are below 

20          20 percent, I would say that for all of us 

21          the number of English language learners, with 

22          our long-term ELLs -- for which we do not 

23          receive any additional funding either -- plus 

24          those students that have recently been 

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 1          removed from ESL, the percentage of English 

 2          language learners is much higher than the 

 3          identified number.

 4                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So if you had to 

 5          make this up by taking money from other parts 

 6          of your programming as far as providing 

 7          double teachers, that sort of thing, how have 

 8          you dealt with that?  Dr. Cash, you're 

 9          shaking your head.

10                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  I don't think 

11          that would be a good solution for us from a 

12          cost standpoint.  It's a --

13                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I'm just wondering 

14          how you've dealt with it.  Because this is an 

15          unfunded mandate on the districts, right?

16                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  We haven't been 

17          dealing effectively with it.  This is an 

18          issue where it's a mandate, but we don't have 

19          the numbers of qualified teachers to assist 

20          with the demand.  So we've been having --

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.  So it's 

22          just a shortage of teachers who --

23                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  We push in 

24          qualified teachers where we can, and when we 

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 1          can.  We don't -- I don't have enough.  And 

 2          other colleagues can speak for themselves.  

 3          But we need a significant huddle around this 

 4          issue.  And that's why we align our requests 

 5          with what the commissioner asked for earlier.  

 6          We're very much in alignment with her 

 7          request.  She talks with us all the time, and 

 8          we concur that this is the need.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Shelley?  

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Thank you.  

12                 Thank you very much, all of you.  And 

13          it's good to see even in these challenges 

14          your performances of your students has 

15          continued to get better as we've tried to 

16          push more money into these districts.  

17                 I just -- Dr. Quezada, you mentioned a 

18          $38 million shortfall basically for a 

19          stay-even budget, and that -- just to 

20          clarify, that is after the add that is in the 

21          Governor's proposed budget?

22                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  That is 

23          correct, Assemblywoman.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  So if you were 

                                                                  317

 1          to just maintain the status quo and you have 

 2          this $38 million shortfall, if you were to be 

 3          able to fill that shortfall, what are the 

 4          services that you could actually add?  For 

 5          example, I don't know, can you add JV sports, 

 6          can you add art and music in every school, 

 7          can you add guidance counselors?  Could you 

 8          just describe what you could do if you just 

 9          met this $38 million shortfall?

10                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  Of course.  

11          And, Assemblywoman Meyer, thank you for your 

12          relentless commitment to supporting the 

13          Yonkers public schools and the Big Five.  You 

14          are a champion in this work, so thank you so 

15          very much.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Thank you.

17                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  So 

18          absolutely, $38 million, it will not give me 

19          everything I need in my schools.  As you well 

20          know, I firmly believe that every school 

21          should have a psychologist, social worker, 

22          art teacher, music teacher, and so on and so 

23          forth.  However, the $38 million will 

24          guarantee that I will have at least 10 

                                                                  318

 1          additional psychologists, 10 additional 

 2          social workers, bring back JV sports, 

 3          increase the number of guidance counselors in 

 4          our schools, which are essential, and perhaps 

 5          provide some extended learning for our 

 6          students as well.

 7                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Okay, thank you.  

 8                 And lastly, on this issue I've raised 

 9          before about the persistently struggling, we 

10          have Roosevelt High School in our district 

11          that was on the list, came off the list, and 

12          now has an 86 percent graduation rate, which 

13          is a great accomplishment.  How much money is 

14          owed to Roosevelt High School under the 

15          statutory scheme that we adopted?

16                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  So the 

17          immediate answer is $1.8 million that was 

18          guaranteed to us two years ago, and in two 

19          years we transformed the high school.  It's a 

20          high school that is a model high school in 

21          New York State.  And it was because there was 

22          additional funding and additional support.  

23                 However, that -- those dollars were 

24          taken away.  And that is just incredible that 

                                                                  319

 1          that actually took place.  So we need to 

 2          bring those dollars back.

 3                 And similarly, as you well know, we 

 4          have $75 million out there that was 

 5          appropriated last year for our persistently 

 6          struggling and struggling schools.  I don't 

 7          know where those dollars are.  I'm still 

 8          waiting for them.  I'm supposed to create 

 9          three community schools, and we are ready to 

10          do that.  However, our districts have not 

11          received those fundings yet.

12                 So we would very much appreciate if we 

13          figure out where are those $75 million.  And 

14          Yonkers desperately needs its share, as we 

15          all do.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Thank you very 

17          much.  Thank you, Dr. Quezada.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

19                 Senator Marcellino.

20                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:   Thank you for 

21          coming.  I appreciate your efforts, and I 

22          appreciate the work you do.

23                 I was looking at some numbers of the 

24          ELL students that went into your districts.  

                                                                  320

 1          You seem to have gotten a fairly high 

 2          percentage.  What is the percentage of ELL 

 3          students in your districts?

 4                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  I'm sure it 

 5          varies district to district.  For us, we have 

 6          between 5,000 and 6,000 students, so that 

 7          particular population -- the overall 

 8          population of 32,000 has remained fairly flat 

 9          for 10 years, but the ELL population within 

10          that population has grown steadily and 

11          significantly.

12                 It's -- the percentage issue overall 

13          is less the issue for us than in certain 

14          schools and in certain communities.  We have 

15          some schools with as high as 57 percent ELL 

16          students, for example.  And that is just a 

17          school that requires --

18                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Are they all on 

19          level, or do they need remedial work?

20                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  I'm sorry?

21                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Are they on level 

22          or are they --

23                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  No.

24                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  As I suspect, 

                                                                  321

 1          they need remedial work.

 2                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  These would be 

 3          priority schools, schools that need 

 4          significant improvement and support.

 5                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  For us in 

 6          Yonkers, the identified student is 

 7          12 percent.  However, I spoke about the 

 8          long-term ELLs, and I also spoke about those 

 9          students that were recently declassified as 

10          English language learners.  And there's 

11          another population that we are all extremely 

12          concerned, and that is those young people 

13          that are English language learners and are 

14          also students with disabilities.  And that 

15          requires a special approach, and funding is 

16          desperately needed to ensure that we are 

17          addressing the needs of those young people.

18                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  For Syracuse, 

19          as I said before, it's almost 16 percent of 

20          our students, with 3,500.  We're getting a 

21          lot of students that are coming to school 

22          with interrupted instruction or that they 

23          have no previous schooling before, so we have 

24          to provide services to those students also.

                                                                  322

 1                 SUPERINTENDENT DEANE-WILLIAMS:  

 2          Rochester is about 14 percent.  We're seeing 

 3          increases as well with the same kinds of 

 4          challenges that are being seen by my peers 

 5          across the state.

 6                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  The short 

 7          answer, sir, is 20 percent.

 8                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  What percentage 

 9          of your teachers are fully certified in 

10          license, in subject area?

11                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  In all areas?

12                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  The district, the 

13          whole district.

14                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  The whole 

15          district?  In Syracuse it's about 96 percent 

16          of our teachers are certified.

17                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Certified and 

18          licensed in the subject areas they teach?

19                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  I don't think he 

20          heard the question.

21                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  When I taught in 

22          the city schools --

23                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  If I heard the 

24          question, it's what percentage of our 

                                                                  323

 1          teachers are fully certified to teach in the 

 2          subject they teach.  

 3                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Yeah.  My next 

 4          question is going to be are you fully 

 5          staffed.

 6                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  No.

 7                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  No.

 8                 SUPERINTENDENT QUEZADA:  No.

 9                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  But close to a 

10          hundred percent fully certified.

11                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Of the teachers 

12          that are teaching, they're fully certified.  

13          But of the -- so nobody is teaching out of 

14          license, is what you're saying?

15                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  Yes.

16                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Or 90-some 

17          percent are teaching in-license.  

18                 But are you -- do you have a full 

19          complement of teachers?

20                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  We have 

21          shortages.

22                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Because I was 

23          going to say, when I taught in the city many 

24          years ago, we had a good 10,000 teachers 

                                                                  324

 1          teaching out of license, they just -- you 

 2          couldn't get them at that point in time.  

 3          There was no way.  So we were forced to take 

 4          people in and plug them into classrooms.

 5                 Thank you very much.  Appreciate the 

 6          work you do.

 7                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  Thank you.  

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Further questions?

 9                 Thank you all very much.

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you for all 

11          you do.

12                 SUPERINTENDENT CASH:  Thank you.  

13          appreciate your time.

14                 SUPERINTENDENT ALICEA:  Thank you.  

15                 SUPERINTENDENT DEANE-WILLIAMS:  Thank 

16          you.

17                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Safe home.

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Alliance for 

19          Quality Education, Jasmine Griper, 

20          legislative director.  "Gripper" I think is 

21          better. 

22                 (Laughter.)

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Good afternoon.

24                 MS. GRIPPER:  Good afternoon.  

                                                                  325

 1          Chairwoman Nolan and Chairwoman Young, thank 

 2          you, Chairmen Farrell and Marcellino, thank 

 3          you for giving me the opportunity to testify 

 4          on behalf of the Alliance for Quality 

 5          Education regarding the 2017-'18 Executive 

 6          Budget proposal.  My name is Jasmine Gripper.  

 7          I am the legislative director for the 

 8          Alliance for Quality Education.  

 9                 The Executive proposal is grossly 

10          inadequate.  The Governor proposes to erase 

11          the state's commitment to fully funding its 

12          constitutional obligation to a sound basic 

13          education by eliminating the Foundation Aid 

14          formula starting in the 2018-'19 school year. 

15          This proposal would only perpetuate 

16          systematic racist policies of leaving schools 

17          that educate black and brown students 

18          woefully underresourced and underfunded.  

19          Fifty-eight percent of the unpaid 

20          Foundation Aid is owed to black and brown 

21          students.

22                 In these uncertain times of Donald 

23          Trump and Betsy DeVos, they pose a clear and 

24          present threat to our public schools in New 

                                                                  326

 1          York State.  However, Governor Cuomo's budget 

 2          proposal actually proposes the greatest harm 

 3          to our schools.  He is proposing to repeal 

 4          the Foundation Aid formula.  The vast 

 5          majority of this funding is owed to schools 

 6          with high concentrations of economically 

 7          disadvantaged students and students with 

 8          disabilities and black and brown students.  

 9          Governor Cuomo's proposal to repeal the 

10          $4.3 billion in Foundation Aid commitments 

11          exceeds the total of all federal funding to 

12          New York schools by $1.8 billion.

13                 Any repeal of the $4.3 billion in 

14          Foundation Aid is entirely unacceptable and 

15          would do irreparable damage to the education 

16          of New York's 3 million students.  

17                 This is not an upstate versus 

18          downstate, large city versus small city, or 

19          rural versus suburban issue.  For instance, 

20          Jamestown schools are owed $10.3 million in 

21          Foundation Aid; Rochester is owed 

22          $93 million; Utica is owed $47 million in 

23          Foundation Aid; Brentwood is owed 

24          $138 million; Ossining is owed $16 million; 

                                                                  327

 1          New York City is owed $1.9 billion.  

 2          High-need rural schools are owed $191 million 

 3          in Foundation Aid.  This is a representative 

 4          sampling of students in schools throughout 

 5          the state that would be deprived of 

 6          educational opportunities they deserve if the 

 7          Foundation Aid formula is repealed as 

 8          proposed by Governor Cuomo.

 9                 Our recommendation is that you deliver 

10          a resounding rejection of the Executive 

11          proposal to repeal Foundation Aid and instead 

12          add an adequate amount of funding in order to 

13          get back on track with CFE with a two-year 

14          phase-in of the Foundation Aid formula.

15                 For pre-kindergarten outside of 

16          New York City, the overwhelming majority of 

17          4-year-olds, 81 percent are denied access to 

18          full-day pre-K still.  In addition, there are 

19          seven different pre-K programs with different 

20          requirements and different standards, with 

21          expiration dates.  We recommend that the 

22          enacted budget begins the process of 

23          consolidating these different programs and 

24          increase access by allocating $150 million.  

                                                                  328

 1          We also welcome the proposal to consolidate 

 2          the Priority Pre-K and the Universal Pre-K 

 3          Program.

 4                 For the Community Schools, Community 

 5          Schools are a proven-to-work strategy.  The 

 6          Executive proposal does not renew the 

 7          $75 million grant.  The state had made the 

 8          investment in last year's budget, which was 

 9          smart and cost-effective.  It would be unwise 

10          and fiscally irresponsible to not continue to 

11          expand access and funding to Community 

12          Schools.  

13                 We also want to support solutions and 

14          not suspensions, so we support including 

15          $50 million to support safe and healthy 

16          schools for New York students through 

17          competitive grants to develop or expand 

18          school models that reduce the reliance on 

19          suspensions and expulsions and school-based 

20          arrests and reduce disparities in school 

21          discipline and provide a safe and supportive 

22          school climate for students.

23                 Thank you for your time and your 

24          consideration.  Please read my full testimony 

                                                                  329

 1          for more details on these recommendations, 

 2          and I'm happy to take comments or questions. 

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 4                 Any questions?  

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  So how bad would 

 6          it be if we didn't have Foundation Aid?

 7                 MS. GRIPPER:  If we didn't have 

 8          Foundation aid, we would lose the 

 9          predictability in school funding formulas 

10          that schools depend on.  For our high-needs 

11          school districts, who are already dealing 

12          with overcrowded classrooms, who don't have 

13          access to JV sports, who don't have access to 

14          music and art, those students would not get 

15          access to the educational opportunities they 

16          deserve.

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I asked some of 

18          the earlier witnesses if they thought that 

19          the article in the Daily News that said CFE 

20          was a one-off -- even though Michael Rebell I 

21          thought answered that -- how would you 

22          respond to that, that CFE is finished or it 

23          was a one-off or doesn't need to be 

24          addressed?  

                                                                  330

 1                 MS. GRIPPER:  It still needs to be 

 2          addressed.  CFE was the constitutional 

 3          obligation of the state Governor and the 

 4          Legislature.  The Foundation Aid was enacted 

 5          in order to satisfy that court case.  

 6                 We have not met the needs of students.  

 7          When you look at schools around New York 

 8          State, as you hear from people today, all the 

 9          things that are missing in our schools, we 

10          are still not meeting with the constitutional 

11          obligation of providing students with a 

12          quality education.

13                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

15                 Senator?

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We're all set.

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

18          much.

19                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

20                 MS. GRIPPER:  Thank you for your time.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Oh, I'm sorry, 

22          Assemblyman Lopez.  I keep forgetting.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

24          Chairman.  I'll make it brief.

                                                                  331

 1                 Jasmine, thank you for joining us.  

 2                 So again, I know that we are in step 

 3          with the issue of high need, low wealth.  I 

 4          understand that is part of your mission.  I'm 

 5          also looking at outlying schools in rural 

 6          areas.  I guess my question for you, in your 

 7          organization's opinion, does Foundation Aid, 

 8          if fully funded, does it still get at the 

 9          desperate divergence in our schools, the lack 

10          of opportunity, the lack of Advanced 

11          Placement, all these other burdens with 

12          poverty, special needs -- does Foundation Aid 

13          alone do it, or do we need to come back and 

14          reconsider the weights for supplemental 

15          funding for poverty, for English language, 

16          for special ed?  

17                 Do we need to change the weights, or 

18          do we need to look at some supplemental 

19          funding to offset and make all schools equal, 

20          give every student an equal chance?

21                 MS. GRIPPER:  So the biggest problem 

22          with the Foundation Aid formula is it's not 

23          being funded.  It was intended to go with at 

24          least a billion dollars going through 

                                                                  332

 1          Foundation Aid each year, which the 

 2          Legislature has not done in several years, 

 3          since the two years that they started to 

 4          fulfill the case.  

 5                 We do agree that there could be some 

 6          tweaks and modifications made to the 

 7          Foundation Aid formula in order to increase 

 8          weighting for English language learners, 

 9          there's one example where the weighting could 

10          be increased.  And there are other 

11          modifications that we can consider.  But by 

12          no means can we repeal the Foundation Aid 

13          formula.  It is the fairest formula we have 

14          on the books.  And the biggest problem is not 

15          using it and putting enough dollars into the 

16          funding formula.

17                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  So just to finish 

18          my line of questioning, so recognizing our 

19          collective challenge of providing full 

20          funding -- absent that, my observation is we 

21          have schools that may be overfunded and 

22          schools that may be underfunded.  And so my 

23          premise is, are there things we should and 

24          could be doing now, absent being fully 

                                                                  333

 1          funded, that can provide meaningful relief to 

 2          high-need, low-wealth schools?

 3                 MS. GRIPPER:  I mean, the way to 

 4          provide adequate relief to high-need 

 5          low-wealth schools is to put more funding 

 6          into those schools.  And simply the proposal 

 7          before us is completely inadequate, and we 

 8          need a significant increase.  The Board of 

 9          Regents is recommending $2.1 billion, and 

10          that's a step in the right direction.  

11          Anything below that is leaving our kids left 

12          in the dust.  

13                 We by no means are supporting an 

14          effort to take from wealthy districts to give 

15          to low-income districts.  The reality is 

16          New York has some of the best schools in the 

17          country, but they're only located in certain 

18          zip codes.  What we want to make sure is that 

19          all kids, no matter what zip code they live 

20          in, have access to a quality education.  And 

21          the only way we can do that is if the state 

22          increases its responsibility to these schools 

23          and provides more funding.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

                                                                  334

 1          Jasmine.  Thank you, Chairman.

 2                 MS. GRIPPER:  Thank you.  

 3                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 4          much.

 5                 Next, New York State Council of School 

 6          Superintendents, Robert Lowry, deputy 

 7          director.

 8                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Jasmine, keep 

 9          fighting.

10                 MR. LOWRY:  Chairwoman Young, Chairman 

11          Farrell, other members of the Assembly and 

12          Senate, thank you very much for this 

13          opportunity, and thank you for your past 

14          efforts to support our schools, ending the 

15          GEA and preserving Foundation Aid.  Your 

16          efforts have made a difference.

17                 We also appreciate the uncertainties 

18          that you'll face and the Governor has faced 

19          in trying to put together a budget, given 

20          what's happened with state revenues and the 

21          prospects of perhaps drastic change at the 

22          federal level.  

23                 Our members are accustomed to dealing 

24          with financial uncertainties as well, and in 

                                                                  335

 1          our exchanges with them we detect as much 

 2          concern about the long term as about the year 

 3          immediately ahead.  

 4                 Last November, the Educational 

 5          Conference Board identified a need for a 

 6          $1.5 billion increase in school aid, given a 

 7          set of moderate assumptions about school 

 8          costs -- not a wish list, but assumptions 

 9          based on independent sources.  The Governor's 

10          budget would increase school aid by 

11          $961 million, but $150 million of that would 

12          be unallocated in a fiscal stabilization 

13          fund, another $100 million or so would be 

14          devoted to categorical initiatives.  That 

15          leaves about $718 million right now that 

16          districts can identify as available to help 

17          them meet this $1.5 billion need that we 

18          see -- about half that total.

19                 We support a number of the 

20          programmatic initiatives:  Expanding 

21          Community Schools, expanding pre-K, providing 

22          opportunities to better connect high school 

23          and what comes next, whether it's P-TECH or 

24          AP fee waivers.  We hope that that would also 

                                                                  336

 1          be joined by increasing BOCES and special 

 2          services aid to support Career and Technical 

 3          Education.

 4                 We're troubled by the proposal to 

 5          unfreeze charter school tuition and to 

 6          implement transition aid on a year lag.  That 

 7          would create a significant hit on school 

 8          district budgets that they'd have to absorb 

 9          within their tax cap.

10                 A word that we hear over and over 

11          again in our exchanges with superintendents 

12          is sustainability.  We've done surveys each 

13          of the last six years about financial 

14          questions; we've seen a change in the last 

15          couple, more superintendents saying their 

16          district's financial position has improved, 

17          but still there's a lot of pessimism and 

18          those gains are fragile.  

19                 We see a need for a four-part agenda 

20          to create a more sustainable future.  It 

21          begins with continuing and updating the 

22          Foundation Aid formula.  And on that score, 

23          I'd say the Governor's proposal is a doubly 

24          disappointing retreat.  First, because the 

                                                                  337

 1          2007 formula was a significant 

 2          accomplishment.  It generally directed the 

 3          greatest aid per pupil to the neediest 

 4          districts, and it still does.  It promised 

 5          all districts greater predictability in aid 

 6          going forward, and it also used elements that 

 7          have some basis in facts that makes state 

 8          funding decisions more transparent and more 

 9          accountable.

10                 But leaving aside questions about what 

11          the state owes as a result of the CFE 

12          decision, having a formula like Foundation 

13          Aid that creates some predictability is a 

14          cornerstone in building a more sustainable 

15          system.  Some other parts to that would be 

16          adjustments in the tax cap.  It's advertised 

17          as a 2 percent tax cap, but it hasn't been 

18          for the last path four years.  Making the 

19          starting point for the tax cap 2 percent, not 

20          the lesser of 2 percent or inflation, and 

21          couple that with a carryover provision that 

22          gives districts an incentive to hold their 

23          levy increases below that if they can manage 

24          it.  

                                                                  338

 1                 We also see a need to help school 

 2          districts control costs, and my written 

 3          testimony includes some ideas for that.  

 4          Frankly, I don't have a lot of optimism that 

 5          we'll see significant action on mandate 

 6          relief or change in the tax cap.  So part of 

 7          our message is if the state is not going to 

 8          change these rules, then it has to fund the 

 9          rules by continuing to provide strong 

10          increases in state aid -- for example, as the 

11          Foundation formula would provide.  

12                 Finally, we would say give school 

13          districts access to reserves like local 

14          governments have.  We read the Comptroller's 

15          audits finding that some schools have more 

16          money in reserve than the law allows, but 

17          frankly not all the laws make sense.  And the 

18          Comptroller's own report in 2010, on the 

19          first five years of school district audits, 

20          recommended some additional ways to allow 

21          districts to put money into reserve.

22                 Our priority would be a reserve for 

23          Teachers Retirement System obligations.  

24          Local governments can essentially set aside 

                                                                  339

 1          funds for all their pension obligations; 

 2          school districts can only do it for the 

 3          20 percent who are in the Employees 

 4          Retirement System, not the 80 percent who are 

 5          in the Teachers Retirement System.

 6                 Finally, I'd conclude by urging you to 

 7          reject the proposal to give the Governor's 

 8          budget director unilateral authority to 

 9          impose reductions and amounts available to be 

10          spent in the event of a shortfall in 

11          receipts.  The potential impact of drastic 

12          federal changes is something that we should 

13          all be concerned about, but you and your 

14          colleagues should have a hand in making the 

15          decisions of how to deal with that 

16          eventuality if it comes.  

17                 And finally, we would hope that you 

18          would make every effort to avoid midyear cuts 

19          in state aid to schools if budget reductions 

20          become necessary.

21                 So thank you, and I'd be happy to try 

22          and answer any questions.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Questions?

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Just quickly.  

                                                                  340

 1          You know, we so appreciate, Bob, your 

 2          expertise.  You know that.  I rely on you, as 

 3          many of us do in the Legislature, to make the 

 4          dry language of these things clear and 

 5          understandable.  

 6                 If we were to ever -- obviously I 

 7          don't want to ever see us do this.  But what 

 8          would be some of the consequences do you 

 9          think if we were to move away from a 

10          Foundation Aid formula that's fair, based on 

11          high-needs kids?  What would be some of the 

12          consequences of that?

13                 MR. LOWRY:  Well, I think, you know --

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  You and I were 

15          both around for the old system, let's just 

16          say that, so ...

17                 MR. LOWRY:  You know, first of all, 

18          again, I really think it was a significant 

19          accomplishment for all the reasons that I 

20          elaborated.  And it would be a shame to lose 

21          that.  

22                 And again, part of what we hear from 

23          superintendents is a concern about 

24          sustainability over the long haul, having 

                                                                  341

 1          predictability.  Most other states have aid 

 2          formulas that continue from year to year, and 

 3          we used to have that in New York State, so 

 4          losing that predictability.  But with the tax 

 5          cap as tight as it is, and with the 

 6          consequence that if you don't get your budget 

 7          approved by the voters you can't increase 

 8          your tax levy at all, that makes schools even 

 9          more dependent on state aid.  And that's one 

10          of the attractions of the Foundation formula.  

11          Yes, it would generate large increases, but 

12          we would need large increases given the 

13          restrictions of the tax cap and some of the 

14          cost pressures that schools face.

15                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

17                 Senator?

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We're all set, 

19          thank you.  Thanks, Bob.

20                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  No, we're not.

21                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Oh, I'm sorry.  

22          Senator Marcellino.

23                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Just one.  Just 

24          one.  

                                                                  342

 1                 Thanks for coming.  Good thing that 

 2          you're awake at this hour.  I'm barely.

 3                 We have a very high tax state, we have 

 4          a population decline statewide, upstate much 

 5          worse than downstate, but it's there.  I 

 6          agree with you the property tax cap number 

 7          should never be negative, and we have to look 

 8          at that and make sure that that's fixed.  

 9                 But we are in a position where people 

10          can't stay in their homes.  They can't afford 

11          to stay in their homes.  Average citizens, 

12          senior citizens on a retirement basis can't 

13          live here, so they have to leave.  Not 

14          necessarily because they want to, they just 

15          have to.  So I'm not too sure that that's 

16          what we want to do to people, force them out.  

17          I don't think you need to do that or you want 

18          to do that.

19                 But give us some thoughts.  How can we 

20          keep them here?  

21                 MR. LOWRY:  You know, when the tax cap 

22          was being debated, we said our position was 

23          so simple it could be expressed in 10 words:  

24          Tax caps will hurt our schools, there are 

                                                                  343

 1          better options.  

 2                 The better options, the state needs to 

 3          be a reliable partner in funding schools.  

 4          The Foundation Aid is an attempt to do that.  

 5                 Second, provide a circuit breaker that 

 6          can target the greatest help to the people 

 7          who are most stressed by your taxes.  

 8                 Finally, help schools with costs.  And 

 9          you know, some of the ideas that would make a 

10          meaningful difference just simply aren't on 

11          the table right now, like amending the 

12          Triborough Law, limiting step increases after 

13          an expired contract.  My testimony identifies 

14          some other steps that could be taken.  

15                 Health insurance, in my written 

16          testimony I have a lot of comments from 

17          superintendents, and a lot of them concern 

18          the soaring cost of health insurance for 

19          them.  Let's receive a joint committee of 

20          labor and management to identify strategies, 

21          put both sides at the table, identify ways 

22          that we could perhaps save money on health 

23          insurance, reduce costs for both school 

24          districts and their employees and retirees.  

                                                                  344

 1                 There are other measures that we've 

 2          talked about in the past -- you know, greater 

 3          reliance on shared services, regional high 

 4          schools in places where they're just 

 5          frankly -- in that case it's more running out 

 6          of kids to be able to support a comprehensive 

 7          education.  I'd be happy to give you more 

 8          ideas.  But again, I think the fact of the 

 9          matter is 75 percent of school spending is in 

10          personnel; it's hard to save significant sums 

11          without looking at different changes in that 

12          area.

13                 SENATOR MARCELLINO:  Thank you.

14                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.  

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

16                 Further?  Thank you very much.  

17                 Next, Council of School Supervisors 

18          and Administrators, CSA, Mark Cannizzaro, 

19          executive vice president.

20                 MR. CANNIZZARO:  Good afternoon, 

21          everyone, and Happy Valentine's Day.

22                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  The same to you.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes, thank you.  

24                 MR. CANNIZZARO:  Thank you.  Thank 

                                                                  345

 1          you.  

 2                 Assemblymember Farrell, Senator Young, 

 3          Senator Marcellino and Assemblymember Nolan, 

 4          thank you for this opportunity to present 

 5          testimony today.  

 6                 I would also just like to comment -- I 

 7          know they're no longer here, but it was so 

 8          nice to see so many members of the Board of 

 9          Regents here this morning showing a real 

10          collaborative effort.  And from listening to 

11          what I've heard transpire the last several 

12          hours, I really do see such a willingness and 

13          a want to try to fully fund our schools for 

14          the children of New York State.  So thank you 

15          for that commitment, it is great to see and 

16          hear.

17                 My name is Mark Cannizzaro.  I'm the 

18          executive vice president of the Council of 

19          School Supervisors and Administrators.  CSA 

20          is a labor organization.  We represent 6100 

21          active and 10,000 retired principals, 

22          assistant principals, educational 

23          administrators and other supervisors working 

24          in the New York city public schools.  We do 

                                                                  346

 1          represent five charter schools, and we're 

 2          also the collective bargaining unit for 200 

 3          Early Childhood directors and assistant 

 4          directors who work in New York City- 

 5          subsidized Early Childhood Education Centers.

 6                 Most of my colleagues this morning 

 7          have touched on the most important parts of 

 8          my testimony today, number one being 

 9          Foundation Aid.  We understand that there is 

10          an increase on the table; it is certainly not 

11          an adequate increase.  At this time, New York 

12          is owed, according to this formula, 

13          $4.3 billion had the phase-in been fully 

14          implemented already.

15                 We worked on the GEA elimination last 

16          year, and we ask you to turn your attention 

17          to doing the same with Foundation Aid this 

18          year, fully fund our schools within the next 

19          three years, and reject the Executive Budget 

20          proposal to repeal the Foundation Aid 

21          formula.  We understand that difficult 

22          decisions need to be made.  We are certainly 

23          not experts in the entire New York State 

24          budget in order to make those decisions, but 

                                                                  347

 1          we do know that the costs will be greater if 

 2          we do not fully fund the education of our 

 3          children in New York State.

 4                 The only other piece I would like to 

 5          speak to you about this afternoon is school 

 6          leader professional development, an area that 

 7          nationally is sorely lacking from the 

 8          educational conversations.  Recently the 

 9          federal government has said that 3 percent of 

10          funding, Title III funding, could be put 

11          aside for professional development for school 

12          leaders.  We think this is a wonderful idea 

13          and certainly a necessary one.

14                 The role and work of our instructional 

15          leaders has become even more crucial in 

16          recent years as policymakers have focused on 

17          supporting student achievement and 

18          eliminating college and career readiness gaps 

19          among our youth.  To ensure that school 

20          leaders successfully manage and meet the 

21          ongoing challenges as well as succeed as 

22          instructional leaders, New York State must 

23          provide our principals and assistant 

24          principals with access to ongoing 

                                                                  348

 1          professional development.  The research-based 

 2          literature related to effective schools and 

 3          student achievement has long acknowledged the 

 4          critical role of principals in providing 

 5          school leadership that will shape a highly 

 6          human organization into a cohesive and 

 7          collaborative community of learners.  

 8                 A number of years ago, CSA 

 9          established, for those very reasons, the 

10          Executive Leadership Institute.  It is a 

11          nonprofit organization designed to deliver 

12          practical, relevant and essential 

13          professional development for today's school 

14          leaders.  ELI provides standards-based, 

15          results-driven leadership training to help 

16          school leaders successfully fulfill their 

17          responsibilities as instructional leaders.  

18          We need to invest in more of this kind of 

19          high-level training and support.  ELI's 

20          programs give school leaders the tools they 

21          need to create true learning communities.

22                 It should be noted that ELI is also a 

23          registered provider for CTLE instruction or 

24          professional development through the state's 

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 1          new professional development mandates, one of 

 2          the few already registered in New York State.  

 3          It should also be mentioned that as 

 4          challenges come, ELI is at the ready.  With 

 5          changes to English language learners 

 6          regulations this year, ELI quickly put 

 7          together some quality professional 

 8          development and has been working with school 

 9          leaders throughout New York City and New York 

10          State.

11                 The Dignity for All Students Act, ELI 

12          is a provider and has already done seven or 

13          eight workshops with several hundred folks 

14          attending so that they can be certified in 

15          the DASA training.

16                 We have met the early requirements of 

17          ESSA, and we look forward to continuing, as 

18          ESSA fully rolls out, to support our leaders 

19          with that. 

20                 We also have to acknowledge and 

21          provide our thanks and let you know how 

22          grateful we are that this body has approved 

23          $475,000 in appropriation for ELI in the 

24          past, with many of your strong support.  We 

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 1          need these professional development services 

 2          to continue not only in New York City but 

 3          throughout this state.  

 4                 We have been working with other 

 5          professional organizations to provide this 

 6          professional development.  We've worked in 

 7          Long Island as well as upstate New York.  

 8          With your help and support, ELI's programs 

 9          can grow, providing standards-based, 

10          high-quality and results-driven leadership 

11          training to help school administrators in 

12          New York City and New York State.  

13                 We ask for your continued support in 

14          that very important work.  And we certainly, 

15          as we do every year, invite you to come to 

16          see some of our trainings.  The summertime is 

17          probably the best time.  We'd love to have 

18          you down as we do summer workshops for a 

19          couple of weeks in July.

20                 I appreciate the time given.  If 

21          anyone has any questions for me, I would be 

22          happy to entertain them now.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes.  Questions?  

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Just principals 

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 1          are always very concise.  It was terrific 

 2          testimony, thank you.

 3                 MR. CANNIZZARO:  Oh, thank you.

 4                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  School leaders.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator?  

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  We're all set.  

 7                 Thank you very much.

 8                 MR. CANNIZZARO:  Okay, thank you very 

 9          much.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Cynthia Gallagher, 

11          director, government relations, School 

12          Administrators Association of New York State, 

13          SAANYS.

14                 MS. GALLAGHER:  Honorable members of 

15          the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and 

16          Means Committees, thank you and good 

17          afternoon.  I appreciate this opportunity to 

18          provide testimony on the Executive Budget for 

19          '17-'18.

20                 I am Cynthia Gallagher.  I'm the 

21          director of government relations for the 

22          School Administrators Association of New York 

23          State.  We are the largest professional 

24          association of school leaders, with a 

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 1          membership of over 7,000 members.  And on 

 2          behalf of those principals, assistant 

 3          principals, directors, deans, supervisors, 

 4          and lots of others titles, we thank you very 

 5          much for your energy, for your commitment, 

 6          and for your ongoing support of public 

 7          education.

 8                 I'd like to present this testimony 

 9          through the eyes of the school leader.  Their 

10          perspective is as unique as there are roles 

11          in school districts.  Every day it is a race 

12          to meet the needs of students, parents, 

13          teachers, support staff, community leaders, 

14          parents, board members, and superintendents.  

15          And while being responsive, they are still 

16          responsible for the core missions of schools, 

17          which is the education and assessment 

18          programs, safety, environment, comprehensive 

19          reporting, and achievement and improvement as 

20          well as 100 -- probably more than 100 -- 

21          reporting requirements from all of us.

22                 And their jobs take place in a very 

23          dynamic and sometimes volatile environment.  

24          So what would a school leader expect out of a 

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 1          state budget that would provide education 

 2          funds for them?  Three things:  Stability, 

 3          sustainability, and support.  

 4                 In sustainability, we are requesting 

 5          just two things, and you've heard them before 

 6          today.  A Foundation Aid that is predictable.  

 7          Help us predict at least part of a position 

 8          that most times is highly unpredictable.  We 

 9          ask that the Foundation Aid formula be set 

10          again and phased in, as have my colleagues in 

11          their former testimony -- as well, the 

12          property tax to be either the higher of 

13          2 percent of the CPI or at fixed amounts so 

14          that we can also predict that piece of state 

15          aid.

16                 Sustainability.  Governor Cuomo 

17          recently stated, and we applaud his 

18          statement, that New York State would continue 

19          to be a welcoming and open state.  That 

20          affirmation starts with a public education 

21          that meets the needs of every student that 

22          arrives at our front door.  A Foundation Aid 

23          that will support those students is the first 

24          line of our responsibility.  So we, like our 

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 1          colleagues, support an increase over last 

 2          year's State Budget of $2.1 billion.  

 3                 We have four priority areas for that 

 4          funding -- certainly you've heard it again.  

 5          Students with English language needs as well 

 6          as multi-language needs, we suggest starting 

 7          the phase-in formula again, as well as 

 8          perhaps an upward-weighting of ELL and MLL 

 9          students to meet their needs going forward.  

10                 We certainly would look for use of 

11          that money for Career and Technical programs.  

12          We know of their success, you've heard that 

13          this morning.  In terms of students who 

14          participate in schools with CTE programs, the 

15          graduation rate for those students tends to 

16          be about 93 percent as compared to an 

17          applaudable 79 percent, which is an increase 

18          of students in schools without the CTE 

19          programs.  So we would love to see that 

20          continue, and certainly CTE will be a 

21          priority for our association.

22                 Lastly, universal pre-K.  We applaud 

23          the $5 million increase and would like to 

24          submit that that would be just a start for 

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 1          this year, as well as we applaud the merging 

 2          of the seven funds.  But at that rate, the 

 3          fundings will be merged together by 2021.  

 4          For those of you who have been around, as I 

 5          have been, in pre-K, we know that that 

 6          program started in 1967.  Those first pre-K 

 7          students will be ready for retirement by the 

 8          time the seven funding areas are merged.  So 

 9          we would ask for a quickened timeframe for 

10          those programs to be combined into one.  Our 

11          school districts and our principals and our 

12          administrators certainly need it.  

13                 The last area that we would ask out of 

14          a budget as a school leader is to be 

15          supportive.  And we, like my former 

16          colleague, would request that there be money 

17          put in for our school leaders for 

18          professional development.  It certainly has 

19          been an area that has been lacking in prior 

20          years, and we would be very supportive of the 

21          State Education Department's request for 

22          $30 million to support the professional 

23          development of our school leaders.

24                 So if you like the succinct nature of 

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 1          school leaders, I hope that this would 

 2          suffice for that kind of brevity, but with 

 3          the idea that we do ask three things:  

 4          Stability, sustainability, and support.

 5                 So thank you for this opportunity 

 6          today, and we thank you for your support in 

 7          the ongoing years.

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

 9                 Questions?

10                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much.

11                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you.

12                 MS. GALLAGHER:  You're welcome.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Dr. Bernadette 

14          Kappen, executive director and chair, 4201 

15          School Associations.

16                 DR. KAPPEN:  Good afternoon.  Thank 

17          you so much for having us here today.  

18                 As the chair of the 420l Schools 

19          Association, I represent nine schools that 

20          are private schools, state-supported, that 

21          are serving children that are deaf, blind, 

22          and children with severe physical 

23          disabilities throughout New York State.  Even 

24          though our schools are located maybe in a 

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 1          particular city, we serve a wide range of 

 2          students, not just in that particular area 

 3          that we serve our children.

 4                 I want to express our appreciation for 

 5          the opportunity to talk with you today and 

 6          for information that we received in the 

 7          Executive Budget.  

 8                 To begin, I'd like to thank the 

 9          legislators.  They've been our true 

10          supporters, each and every year, for the 

11          students.  We appreciate the 2.4 percent 

12          increase that was provided in last year's 

13          budget, and this increase resulted in a 

14          $2.3 million increase for our schools.  And 

15          this was the first time in six years, the 

16          past six years, that we received an increase.  

17          And this was really welcomed.  It probably 

18          brought us from 2008 up to what our -- back 

19          to 2008, what our current amount is now.  So 

20          we're really helpful for being able to 

21          continue and provide and invest in our 

22          teachers.  

23                 We talked a lot about that here today, 

24          investment in the teachers, and this is 

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 1          really critical for children with special 

 2          needs.  At all of our schools we have highly 

 3          qualified staff, staff who are certified in 

 4          their area of specialization -- that could be 

 5          deafness, blindness, or in the area of 

 6          special ed for the physically disabled 

 7          children -- and they're also certified in 

 8          their subject area or the grade level that 

 9          they service.  

10                 What's happening at our schools -- we 

11          have highly qualified folks, and because of 

12          the struggles that we've had with our 

13          finances, these individuals often will leave 

14          our schools -- they can walk out the door in 

15          New York City and immediately have $15,000 

16          added to their salary compared to what we can 

17          offer.  So we really do appreciate what's in 

18          the Executive Budget, and this hopefully will 

19          continue to help us invest in our teachers 

20          and the professional staff that work with our 

21          children.

22                 It's really the staff that creates the 

23          environment for the children and those 

24          relationships, particularly for children who 

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 1          come to us with very special needs.  And many 

 2          of our children come to us and they're way 

 3          behind in their levels, and the teachers 

 4          bring them up fairly quickly.  It's not just 

 5          about the school academics that we need for 

 6          our children, it's really working on 

 7          communication for those children that are 

 8          deaf and appearing -- and socialization for 

 9          all of our children.

10                 We'd like to, in our proposal, ask for 

11          parity with the school aid that would be 

12          offered and that any additional investments 

13          in public education would be considered for 

14          our children as well.  I believe, as do the 

15          people in the association, that our children 

16          are deserving in this area, and they have 

17          unique needs that require this level of 

18          support.  

19                 I was listening today about outcomes, 

20          and I'll share with you -- we know that the 

21          graduation outcomes in New York City were 

22          reported at about 72.6 percent of children 

23          graduating.  I can tell you at our school, 

24          and most of the 4201 schools, we have 

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 1          100 percent graduation rates.  And these are 

 2          children with low-incidence disabilities.  In 

 3          the Bronx, the graduation rate was 

 4          64.8 percent.  So whatever investment is made 

 5          into the 4201 schools for special needs 

 6          children, I think we deliver for the children 

 7          that we do service.

 8                 Many of the children at our schools 

 9          are children of color and Hispanic children.  

10          They're reported as having lower graduation 

11          rates.  That does not happen at schools for 

12          children that are in the 4201 Association.  

13          They receive the same support as other 

14          children.  

15                 The parity would really help us a lot 

16          with the specialized equipment that's 

17          required for our children, those children 

18          that need Braille devices -- which are very 

19          expensive -- for them to succeed.  The deaf 

20          children need visual alerting systems.  And 

21          children with special physical needs have 

22          therapy equipment that's expensive to allow 

23          them to participate.

24                 I was looking today, when thinking 

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 1          about coming here, at a quote from Abigail 

 2          Adams.  And she says:  "Learning is not 

 3          attained by chance.  It must be sought for 

 4          with ardor and attained with diligence."  I 

 5          would say that's what happens at our schools.

 6                 And finally, we ask you to think about 

 7          short-term capital and long-term capital 

 8          needs of our students.  Most of our schools 

 9          are old.  The School for the Deaf, the 

10          New York School for the Deaf in White Plains, 

11          they're celebrating 200 years this year.  The 

12          New York Institute has just finished their 

13          185th anniversary.  So we have wonderful 

14          campuses, but campuses that need care.  And 

15          we're looking to really focus on the health 

16          and safety needs of the children.  And that 

17          could be with capital investments in boilers, 

18          roofs, windows, fire alarm systems.  So it's 

19          not beautification, it's really what's needed 

20          to make the environment suitable for the 

21          children.

22                 So we're asking you to consider a 

23          $5 million support for us in the area of 

24          short-term capital.  We also are trying to 

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 1          work together to engage with the Dormitory 

 2          Authority to provide services for long-term 

 3          capital needs.  

 4                 So the 4201 schools are proud to be 

 5          part of the education system here in New York 

 6          State.  We feel we partner with the State 

 7          Education Department.  We are working 

 8          cooperatively with the school districts to 

 9          provide the best services we can for children 

10          with low-incidence disabilities, and we ask 

11          that you would try to help support us in 

12          those areas. 

13                 And finally, JFK once said, "Let us 

14          think of education as the means of developing 

15          our greatest abilities, because in each of us 

16          there is a private hope and dream which, 

17          fulfilled, can be translated into a benefit 

18          for everyone and greater strength for our 

19          nation."  And that's what we're all about for 

20          our children.

21                 Thank you.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

23          much.  

24                 Questions?  Yes, Mr. Otis.

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 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you.  Thank 

 2          you for your testimony and for what you do.

 3                 One thing I'd like to delve in a 

 4          little more is if you could give some sort of 

 5          overview about the level of financial stress 

 6          for 4201 schools.  What are the pressures in 

 7          the last few years in terms of schools being 

 8          able to provide services in a tight economic 

 9          environment with the labor-intensive service 

10          that you're providing?

11                 DR. KAPPEN:  Yes, it is a struggle for 

12          many of the schools.  As you know, we have a 

13          per-pupil charge where we receive tuition 

14          from the school districts, and that often 

15          presents a challenge.  If you're not being 

16          paid every month, you can count on that the 

17          school districts eventually pay, but they 

18          have hardships as well, so that holds us 

19          back.  We have some schools that have a very 

20          difficult time even getting a credit line at 

21          the banks because of the financial situation 

22          that we're in.

23                 We participate, and we're grateful for 

24          that, in the New York State Employee 

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 1          Retirement System, and that's a fairly large 

 2          payment that people have to pay out if we 

 3          want to do it in December to get that 

 4          discount rate.  So it really does challenge 

 5          folks.  

 6                 Over the years, I would say that at 

 7          our schools the children have additional 

 8          disabilities, maybe not just blind but have 

 9          other needs, so that increases the costs for 

10          providing those services to the children.  

11          Many of the children have additional 

12          social/emotional areas that we deal with.  So 

13          I think that the type of population and then 

14          the way we are funded has created increased 

15          demands for us.

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Are there 

17          limitations in terms of multiple disabilities 

18          and how schools are reimbursed?  You don't 

19          really get reimbursed fully for multiple --

20                 DR. KAPPEN:  Right, that's correct.  I 

21          mean, we're reimbursed basically on what your 

22          disability is.  And many of the children have 

23          dual disabilities.  Some of the children 

24          could be deaf and blind that we have at our 

                                                                  365

 1          school.  The Schools for the Deaf also have 

 2          children that have vision problems in 

 3          addition to that, social/emotional problems.  

 4          Many of the schools have -- the children have 

 5          intellectual disabilities.  

 6                 So you're really not reimbursed on the 

 7          severity of the disability, it's just 

 8          whatever your category is.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN OTIS:  Thank you very 

10          much.

11                 DR. KAPPEN:  Yes.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

13                 Senators?

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I just want to say 

15          thank you very much.  And do you have a 

16          lobbying day coming up?

17                 DR. KAPPEN:  Yes, we do.  We're going 

18          to come on March 1st with our great kids, so 

19          we hope --

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Great.

21                 DR. KAPPEN:  -- to be able to see you 

22          all.

23                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I always look 

24          forward to seeing my friend Julia.

                                                                  366

 1                 DR. KAPPEN:  Great.

 2                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So thank you so 

 3          much for all your great work.

 4                 DR. KAPPEN:  Right.  Thanks so much.  

 5          Thank you.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

 7          Bye-bye.

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 9                 New York School Boards Association, 

10          Julie Marlette, director of government 

11          relations.

12                 MS. MARLETTE:  Good afternoon.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Good afternoon.

14                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Good afternoon.  

15                 MS. MARLETTE:  I'm joined here today 

16          by my colleague Brian Fessler.  On the off 

17          chance that you might have any specific 

18          questions about money, he would be the one I 

19          would want to defer them to.

20                 I want to start by thanking you so 

21          much, both for having us here today but also 

22          thank you for the commitment that both houses 

23          have shown to serving public education in 

24          recent years.  The elimination of the GEA and 

                                                                  367

 1          the efforts to continue to try and push 

 2          additional resources to school districts, 

 3          even in really the worst of the fiscal 

 4          crisis, has not gone unnoticed or 

 5          unappreciated by my members.  

 6                 Given that it's nearly 4 o'clock and 

 7          you've managed to refrain from asking us all 

 8          to limit to a few minutes, I'll save you the 

 9          effort and try to do so because I know you 

10          have my written testimony in front of you, 

11          and we're certainly happy to answer any 

12          questions now or in the future.  But I did 

13          just want to take a few moments to touch on a 

14          few of the top priorities for our association 

15          and our members.

16                 Like many of my colleagues, we 

17          certainly come here both grateful for the 

18          investments of the past, but we're 

19          regrettably having to continue to ask for 

20          more of an investment, specifically an 

21          additional billion dollars in Foundation Aid 

22          above and beyond what's been proposed by the 

23          Executive.  We would hope to see this 

24          financial commitment go hand in hand with a 

                                                                  368

 1          firm three-year commitment to fully phase in 

 2          the Foundation Aid formula, now that we've 

 3          moved past the economic problems in recent 

 4          years, and see that all districts get to the 

 5          point that they deserve and need to be funded 

 6          at.  

 7                 One of the most troubling aspects 

 8          related to the proposal to repeal the 

 9          statutory Foundation Aid formula is not just 

10          that it leaves so many questions about how 

11          schools would be funded in the future, but 

12          that it has the potential to effectively lock 

13          in our most underfunded districts at that 

14          present level of underfunding, perhaps in 

15          perpetuity.  These districts are those who 

16          need the most assistance and who have been 

17          allowed to stay as far behind as they have 

18          for far too long, and we'd really want to see 

19          them brought forward to the funding levels 

20          they need.  

21                 In addition, we would hope to see a 

22          more significant investment this year in the 

23          paying down of our prior-year claims.  Each 

24          year we see a very small investment made, 

                                                                  369

 1          about $18 million, to make good on these 

 2          approved expenses.  And what we've learned in 

 3          looking at the growth of the list is that at 

 4          this point an expense incurred when a child 

 5          enters kindergarten this year likely will not 

 6          be paid off for the district until that child 

 7          has graduated high school.  Again, this is 

 8          another pot of funding which is 

 9          disproportionately owed to our highest-needs 

10          districts, and they would be incredibly 

11          grateful for the paying down of that 

12          $350 million obligation owed to them.

13                 Beyond that, and slightly off-topic 

14          from my written testimony, I would say I 

15          found myself thinking increasingly, even 

16          today when Chancellor FariÒa, you know, was 

17          talking about the importance of social 

18          studies education and how our government 

19          works and the importance of checks and 

20          balances -- and to that end, I hope that you 

21          going forward knowing that you would have the 

22          full support of our association in rejecting 

23          any proposal that would eliminate the 

24          Legislature as part of the decision-making 

                                                                  370

 1          process for any necessary midyear budget 

 2          adjustments that are based on allocations 

 3          from the federal government.  

 4                 We think that it's incredibly 

 5          important that all three parties continue to 

 6          come together and, in the unpalatable 

 7          situation that something would have to change 

 8          midyear, that that should be done with the 

 9          full participation of you and all of your 

10          colleagues on behalf of your constituencies.  

11                 I'd like to also just reference 

12          quickly our shared support with our 

13          colleagues at NYSCOSS for embracing some 

14          changes to the tax cap.  Part of the reason 

15          we feel so compelled to come and ask for such 

16          a large number each year at the state level 

17          is that we have a limited ability to generate 

18          the funds needed at the local level.  

19                 And if we could make some comments and 

20          suggestions based on the lessons we have 

21          learned in recent years, eliminating negative 

22          caps and in fact maybe just moving forward to 

23          actualize the changes that the Legislature 

24          and Governor already agreed to, specifically 

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 1          around including PILOT properties in our tax 

 2          base and, equally importantly, allowing our 

 3          BOCES capital projects to be treated 

 4          equitably with the way we treat school 

 5          district capital projects.  

 6                 There's a little cognitive dissonance 

 7          in the way we treat those programs, because 

 8          we are on the one hand increasingly looking 

 9          toward our BOCES to provide services that 

10          districts may be unable to provide, but at 

11          the same time are effectively limiting their 

12          ability to grow without cutting other 

13          programs at the district level.

14                 I certainly have many more priorities, 

15          but again, owing to the lateness of the hour, 

16          I want to be respectful of your time, and 

17          I'll end my comments there, unless you have 

18          any questions.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

20                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

21                 And thank you for traveling around the 

22          state; it was good to see you the other day.

23                 MS. MARLETTE:  Nice to see you again, 

24          Chairwoman.  Thank you.

                                                                  372

 1                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes.  Next, Michael 

 2          Borges, executive director, New York State 

 3          Association of School Business Officials.

 4                 MR. BORGES:  Good afternoon.  Thank 

 5          you for having me today.

 6                 With me is Deborah Cunningham, my 

 7          director of education and research, who's 

 8          here to help answer any complicated 

 9          questions.

10                 Again, I want to echo my colleagues 

11          from Superintendents and School Boards; we 

12          want to express our gratitude for all the 

13          support the Legislature has provided the 

14          public schools over the last couple of 

15          years -- the increases, the 6 percents, doing 

16          away with the GEA last year.  We really 

17          appreciate all your efforts and your ongoing 

18          efforts to help schools.  

19                 You have our testimony in front of 

20          you, and I'll just give you some highlights 

21          from that.

22                 Obviously, we join with our colleagues 

23          to urge you to reject changes to the 

24          Foundation Aid formula phase-in.  We believe 

                                                                  373

 1          that's important to maintain that commitment 

 2          to provide equity, adequacy, and stability to 

 3          school aid.  

 4                 We welcome the changes in calculating 

 5          poverty that were recommended by our own 

 6          Foundation Aid task force back in September, 

 7          including using more accurate census data to 

 8          calculate poverty, removing the cap on income 

 9          wealth, how that recognizes the depth of 

10          poverty in communities, as well as 

11          transitioning to direct certification data.  

12          So we welcome those changes.  

13                 While recent graduation rates show 

14          improvement, more needs to be done to address 

15          the disparity between high- and low-need 

16          districts.  Our report that we released 

17          yesterday that's included in our testimony 

18          details some of the issues that are 

19          afflicting some of our highest-needs school 

20          districts.  It shows graduation rates in 

21          low-need districts were 30 percent higher 

22          than high-need districts.  

23                 Looking at combined wealth ratio, the 

24          achievement gap is even greater.  School 

                                                                  374

 1          districts in the lowest-wealth decile 

 2          graduated 70 percent of their students, while 

 3          those in the wealthiest graduated 94 percent.  

 4          On 8th-grade standardized tests, districts 

 5          with the least wealth only had 7 percent that 

 6          scored proficient or better in math, and 

 7          20 percent scored proficient or better in 

 8          English, while for students in the wealthiest 

 9          districts, 55 percent scored proficient or 

10          better in math and 67 percent scored 

11          proficient or better in English.  

12                 These dramatic achievement gaps are 

13          closely linked to Foundation Aid due.  

14          Low-need districts are owed $508, and 

15          high-need urban/suburban are owned 3,109.  

16                 There is actually a chart attached to 

17          our testimony which shows the disparity and 

18          highlights the importance of phasing in the 

19          Foundation Aid formula.  On page 12 there's a 

20          Foundation Aid due per pupil in 8th-grade 

21          math proficiency, and that really 

22          demonstrates really well those school 

23          districts that are owed the most are doing 

24          the worst in terms of proficiency, both in 

                                                                  375

 1          math and in English.  

 2                 And for the fourth year also, in terms 

 3          of the Foundation Aid amount, I think my 

 4          colleagues talked about the inadequacy of it.  

 5          Truly there's only $428 million in new 

 6          Foundation Aid, and of that, $150 million is 

 7          also set aside for Community Schools.  We 

 8          believe that amount is definitely inadequate, 

 9          given the needs demonstrated in our report 

10          and in the testimony of others.  

11                 Also, for the fourth year in a row, 

12          the tax cap is below 2 percent.  We believe 

13          the cap should be made a straight 2 percent, 

14          and at the very least the Legislature should 

15          enact the changes that were made back in 2015 

16          dealing with PILOT properties included in the 

17          tax-base growth factor as well as providing 

18          an exclusion to the tax cap for school 

19          districts' share of the costs of BOCES 

20          capital projects.

21                 Mandate relief, the Governor has 

22          included some mandate relief in the budget 

23          for last three or four years.  We believe 

24          it's lacking and limited in scope.  We have 

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 1          many recommendations, as well as our 

 2          colleagues from other associations, about how 

 3          to make incremental mandate relief.  Every 

 4          little bit helps, whether it's cost-sharing 

 5          for transportation costs, whether it's 

 6          removing the duplicate -- the needs for 

 7          fingerprinting of bus drivers.  We also 

 8          recommend doing away with a lot of the 

 9          internal audit requirements that were imposed 

10          on us.  

11                 So there's lots of different things 

12          that the Legislature and state policymakers 

13          can do to help school districts besides 

14          increases in the Foundation Aid formula 

15          that's mostly dealing with the tax cap and 

16          mandate relief.  We also support the 

17          consolidation of the pre-K programs, and we 

18          welcome the expansion of the grant program 

19          for Farm-to-School programs, although it 

20          falls short of our request to increase the 

21          school reimbursement rate for school lunches 

22          from 6 cents per meal to 25 cents, which 

23          hasn't been changed in over 40 years.  

24                 So to end my testimony, I'd just like 

                                                                  377

 1          to do a quote from my own op-ed piece in the 

 2          Times Union that was two weeks ago:  "One 

 3          year can make an enormous difference in a 

 4          student's academic success.  Every year that 

 5          goes by without fully funding Foundation Aid 

 6          is a lost year for tens of thousands of 

 7          students."

 8                 Thank you for your time.  If you have 

 9          any questions, I'd be happy to answer.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Questions?

11                 Yes, Mr. Lopez.

12                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you, 

13          Chairman.

14                 Just quickly, I know your organization 

15          had put out a report which called for changes 

16          in Foundation Aid.

17                 MR. BORGES:  Right.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  And I know you 

19          made a positive reference to the changes that 

20          the Governor made in his proposed budget.  

21                 When you talk about funding the 

22          Foundation Aid more robustly, is that 

23          including those changes, or are you using the 

24          existing Foundation Aid?

                                                                  378

 1                 MR. BORGES:  It includes those 

 2          changes.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Okay.  And I've 

 4          asked this of a couple of other folks -- my 

 5          region that I represent is largely rural, 

 6          it's northern Appalachia.  By definition.  

 7          And as I look at the mantra of having all 

 8          students equally educated, in my view our 

 9          small rural districts fall behind with 

10          Advanced Placement, lack of distance learning 

11          facilities, you name it.  High costs per 

12          pupil, but very, very limited resources.  

13                 Is there more adjustment needed to 

14          address -- I see your high need and low 

15          wealth, but I have trouble equating the urban 

16          and rural.  The rural piece seems to be 

17          understated, and I'm having trouble equating 

18          what I know to be happening in rural America 

19          with the need that you're describing.  So my 

20          question for you is, is there more tweaking 

21          that needs to be done, particularly for high 

22          need/low wealth and particularly rural 

23          schools?

24                 MR. BORGES:  Yes.  I mean, the changes 

                                                                  379

 1          that are being proposed by the Governor in 

 2          his Executive Budget are welcome changes in 

 3          terms of again, addressing poverty, 

 4          addressing -- using new census data.  The 

 5          Governor's proposal, as well as our proposal 

 6          and many others, also maintaind 

 7          hold-harmless, which prevents rural school 

 8          districts from losing state aid if the 

 9          Foundation Aid formula was fully operational, 

10          so to speak.  

11                 So can other things be done to help 

12          particularly rural schools?  Yes.  That's in 

13          terms of cost savings.  In terms of allowing 

14          school districts to share transportation, 

15          doing away with some of the mandates.  

16                 There are other things that the 

17          Legislature and state policymakers can do to, 

18          in particular, help rural schools deal with 

19          their costs.  Because it's very difficult -- 

20          as you know, coming from a rural area, it's 

21          hard to merge those school districts.  You 

22          just can't consolidate school districts that 

23          cover hundreds of square miles.  

24                 So how can you provide a better 

                                                                  380

 1          education, a more quality education to kids 

 2          in rural schools?  I think Bob Lowry 

 3          mentioned regional high schools as one way of 

 4          doing it.  Using the Internet more.  There 

 5          are ways to bring AP classes, honors classes, 

 6          through regional high schools, through the 

 7          Internet, using technology -- there are ways 

 8          to get around the remoteness of rural schools 

 9          and the lack of resources.  

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you. 

11                 The reason -- I did a quick analysis 

12          of schools in my district, and we've had 

13          per-pupil costs in the mid-to-high $30,000 

14          range, which is staggering.  But still, they 

15          are not receiving the services they need.  

16          And we haven't this economy of scale in the 

17          rural areas.  So those comments are very 

18          welcome.  

19                 I was just wondering, too, if there 

20          was anything from an aid category standpoint.  

21          So the mandate relief, the allowing schools 

22          to share more services.  I think we can do 

23          more with BOCES in statute.  But is there 

24          anything else from an aid category standpoint 

                                                                  381

 1          that we should do?

 2                 MS. CUNNINGHAM:  I think our biggest 

 3          concern is with Foundation Aid and having it 

 4          fully funded.  Another way of saying this is 

 5          that a funding formula is like a garden, you 

 6          have to constantly tend it.  Inequities crop 

 7          up, and you have to review that over time and 

 8          see the consequences of the funding formula.

 9                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Pull a few weeds, 

10          right.

11                 MS. CUNNINGHAM:  And our paper on the 

12          resource and achievement gap points out an 

13          opportunity gap in every region of the state, 

14          including the rural areas, that needs to be 

15          addressed.  And right now the funding that is 

16          not provided under the Foundation formula is 

17          exactly where the problems are.

18                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  So rather than a 

19          wholesale reduction of the Foundation Aid as 

20          proposed by the Governor, you're suggesting 

21          taking the changes that he's proposed and 

22          funding it more robustly.

23                 MS. CUNNINGHAM:  Yes.  Yes.

24                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you.

                                                                  382

 1                 MS. CUNNINGHAM:  The other important 

 2          point is that the full amount of 

 3          Foundation Aid is based on a cost study of 

 4          actual school districts and actual students, 

 5          so that's a research-based amount that we're 

 6          trying to get to.  And so just to throw that 

 7          away and say, Well, we'll just kind of do a 

 8          little better each year, that's not going -- 

 9          that's a partial solution to a big problem.

10                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  I understand.

11                 MS. CUNNINGHAM:  We need to have a 

12          full solution.

13                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you so much.  

14                 Thank you, Chairman.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

16                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Thank you.

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

18                 New York State School Facilities 

19          Association, Fred Koelbel, chair, legislative 

20          committee.  

21                 MR. KOELBEL:  I thank you all, and I 

22          congratulate you on your stamina.  I will be 

23          brief.  I'm sure you can all read, so you 

24          have my testimony.  Let me just hit a couple 

                                                                  383

 1          of highlights.  

 2                 You know, one of the things I want to 

 3          just mention, school buildings today aren't 

 4          where children learn, they're actually part 

 5          of how children learn.  And that's why what 

 6          we do is so important.  You know, we're faced 

 7          with challenges in this era of TAP.  We are 

 8          the stepchild, okay?  I often speak of having 

 9          a school board member look at me at one 

10          meeting and say, "Fred, money we give you for 

11          the buildings is money we take away from 

12          education."  And I could think there could be 

13          nothing farther from the truth.  Healthy, 

14          well-lit, well-maintained facilities are the 

15          place where children learn.  They're the 

16          table that is set for children to learn at.

17                 So a couple of items we'd like you to 

18          consider.  You know, it was really 

19          heartening, and it's something I haven't 

20          heard before, but to have the Commissioner of 

21          Education highlight the School Facilities 

22          Planning Department and their needs -- it's 

23          something we've been talking about for 

24          several years, and to have the commissioner 

                                                                  384

 1          speak about it was really heartening.  

 2                 But, you know, she spoke about the 

 3          software that Facilities Planning uses to 

 4          track our projects, to approve our projects.  

 5          I'll just summarize it this way:  It runs on 

 6          DOS, okay?  Not Windows 7, DOS.  It's 

 7          something that, you know, if that should go 

 8          down and not be repairable, we're in chaos.

 9                 Building aid.  We continue to endorse 

10          building aid.  It's what keeps -- it's our 

11          lifeline, in many cases, because getting 

12          money within our budget for maintenance is 

13          becoming tougher and tougher.  Building aid 

14          becomes the thing that lets us fix things 

15          after they do down.  

16                 School safety funds.  And this is an 

17          important thing.  We support the continuation 

18          of the New York SAFE Act proposed in the 

19          2017-'18 Executive Budget, but one of the 

20          things we'd like to point out, you know, 

21          we've all been able to do many very wonderful 

22          things in New York State that BOCES schools 

23          can't.  And our BOCES schools, the population 

24          in many of our BOCES programs are some of our 

                                                                  385

 1          most vulnerable population.  The BOCES 

 2          schools are not eligible for that New York 

 3          SAFE Act funding, and I think we can all work 

 4          together to figure out a way to get some of 

 5          that funding to them.  

 6                 Maintenance funding.  As I mentioned 

 7          in this era of the property tax cap, dollars 

 8          are becoming very dear for us.  And we 

 9          support and are grateful to Senator Valesky 

10          and Assemblymember Englebright for sponsoring 

11          legislation to establish a minimum standard 

12          for maintenance funding and allow school 

13          districts to make these investments outside 

14          the restrictions of the property tax cap.

15                 You know, school facilities are many 

16          communities' biggest investment and biggest 

17          asset.  We need to have the funds to maintain 

18          them.

19                 BOCES capital projects.  I'm sure many 

20          of you are familiar -- and we again thank 

21          Assemblymember Galef and Senator Marcellino 

22          for bringing this to the forefront.  We 

23          thought we had this licked.  You know, like, 

24          it hasn't come about.  We need to figure out 

                                                                  386

 1          a way to get BOCES capital expenditures 

 2          outside the cap.  Because again, to get 

 3          component districts to vote for a capital 

 4          project that fits within the cap is not going 

 5          to happen in many areas.

 6                 And then the last would be -- second 

 7          to last -- an increase to $250,000 to the 

 8          threshold for capital projects.  That would 

 9          be a capital project that if we fund it in 

10          one year, we get our aid back the next year.  

11          It's very helpful to many school districts.  

12          Right now it's at $100,000.  We were trying 

13          the other day to figure out how long it's 

14          been at $100,000.  That's over 30 years, I 

15          know that, because that was the oldest guy on 

16          the call said, "Well, since I've gotten into 

17          this, it's been at that."  

18                 But the other thing to realize is that 

19          $100,000 after you take away the 

20          architectural fees, the legal fees, the 

21          borrowing -- the advertising fees, is more 

22          like $75,000, $80,000 of actual project work.  

23          There's not a lot you can get done for that 

24          in this day and age.  

                                                                  387

 1                 And last but not least -- and it's 

 2          interesting, I've heard a number of groups 

 3          today speak about reserve funds.  And we know 

 4          they've for many years been a nasty word, 

 5          reserves.  But we've been for years now 

 6          endorsing -- and Assemblymember Cahill and 

 7          Senator Funke have been carrying this 

 8          legislation for us.  It establishes an energy 

 9          reserve fund.  And I think -- you know, right 

10          now energy costs are relatively low.  Two or 

11          three years ago, they weren't.  I think given 

12          the climate we're in now, we're starting to 

13          see natural gas start to creep back up.  You 

14          know, I'm from Long Island, I can tell you 

15          about electric costs.  

16                 But what we're looking for is 

17          something that allows us -- I and my 

18          colleagues can tell our school boards how 

19          much of the commodity we're going to use, we 

20          just can't tell you what it's going to cost 

21          from year to year.  And in the era of the 

22          cap, if we have something -- a disruption in 

23          the Middle East, whatever -- that causes 

24          energy to soar, I don't know where that money 

                                                                  388

 1          is coming from.  It's going to come from some 

 2          other program.  

 3                 Having that reserve fund as the 

 4          circuit breaker for those problems would be 

 5          greatly appreciated.

 6                 And I thank you for your time, and I 

 7          congratulate you once again for doing this.  

 8          And if you have any questions, I'd happy to 

 9          answer them.

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

11                 Shelley Mayer.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Thank you very 

13          much.  

14                 I have a question for you.  I don't 

15          see in your testimony -- and I can understand 

16          why not -- any sort of structural 

17          recommendations to allowing districts to fund 

18          to restore or rebuild old schools.  And it's 

19          a statewide problem.  

20                 And I wonder if your group has come up 

21          with suggestions on how ultimately we are 

22          going to be able to fund either the repair or 

23          the rebuilding of over-100-year-old schools 

24          like we have in my district.

                                                                  389

 1                 MR. KOELBEL:  You know, one of the 

 2          things we've talked about is that the thing 

 3          we really need to address is maintenance.  

 4          Because these buildings get in the condition 

 5          they are because maintenance is neglected.  

 6                 The last time I had a discussion with 

 7          SED, and this was a few years ago, because it 

 8          was a discussion with Chuck Szuberla, he 

 9          indicated to me the average building aid in 

10          New York State is 72 percent.

11                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Right.

12                 MR. KOELBEL:  Okay?  So that means if 

13          I put a roof on my building and I'm the 

14          average school district, the state is going 

15          to give me 72 cents on the dollar to pay for 

16          that roof.  

17                 Now, if I send my men up there on a 

18          regular basis and I maintain that roof and I 

19          clear the drains and I patch the flashing, I 

20          do everything I can, and I make that 15-year 

21          roof last 20 years, all the expenditure for 

22          that came from the budget, the local budget 

23          within the cap.  Or if I do nothing and I go 

24          back in 10 years and put another new roof on, 

                                                                  390

 1          the state's going to give me 72 cents on the 

 2          dollar to put another roof on.  

 3                 So there's this disincentive to do 

 4          good maintenance.  There's this disincentive 

 5          to spend the local dollar out of the annual 

 6          budget to do these things.  

 7                 So one of the things we've talked 

 8          about in the past, and still continue to talk 

 9          about, is incentivizing maintenance, saying, 

10          Okay, here's the minimum level of maintenance 

11          you need to spend to maintain your school.  

12          Industry says that's 3 percent of the 

13          replacement cost of the building.  I don't 

14          know that we can afford that as schools.  But 

15          whatever number we agree on, we say if you 

16          spend that on the maintenance of your 

17          building, we'll give you building aid on that 

18          annually.  

19                 Now, that's the carrot.  The stick 

20          would be, however, if you didn't do that and 

21          you come in to me in 10 years instead of 15 

22          years for the new roof, I'm going to say, 

23          Well, you only spent half of that, so I'm 

24          going to give you half of the building aid 

                                                                  391

 1          for the new roof.

 2                 Encourage people to maintain the 

 3          assets they have, you know, and it will work 

 4          out well -- it will work out much better, I 

 5          think.

 6                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Thank you.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 8                 MR. KOELBEL:  Thank you.

 9                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

10          much.  

11                 Dan White, district superintendent, 

12          BOCES of New York State.

13                 DISTRICT SUPT. WHITE:  My thanks to 

14          Chairpersons Farrell and Young, and 

15          Chairperson Nolan for the opportunity to very 

16          briefly give you a few remarks today.  I know 

17          it's been a long day.  

18                 I'm joined by my colleague Lynda 

19          Quick, who's district superintendent at 

20          Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES and currently 

21          chair of the New York State District 

22          Superintendents.

23                 A couple of things -- of items that 

24          I'll notice.  Career and Technical Education 

                                                                  392

 1          has been mentioned often today.  BOCES serves 

 2          over 36,000 11th-and-12th-grade students on a 

 3          yearly basis in Career and Technical 

 4          Education programs.  These students graduate 

 5          at a rate of 94 percent over four years.  

 6          It's a very important piece.  

 7                 Chairperson Nolan, you brought up 

 8          adult education.  We serve over 60,000 adult 

 9          learners on a yearly basis as well, and many 

10          of you know we provide programming for some 

11          of the neediest students in New York State 

12          that can't be served in traditional 

13          educational settings, as well as a number of 

14          other things.  

15                 So to that end, I'd like to raise a 

16          couple of salient points and then pause to 

17          see if you have any questions for us, in 

18          respect of time.

19                 First of all, the BOCES capital issue 

20          has been raised by a number of groups 

21          previous to us.  The fact of the matter is 

22          BOCES capital debt is not considered like 

23          school district debt that is outside of the 

24          tax cap calculation.  This is beginning to 

                                                                  393

 1          pose a number of concerns for us.  

 2                 First and foremost, if we're to 

 3          upgrade facilities to meet industry needs for 

 4          Career and Technical Education, that requires 

 5          some facility investment.  In addition, with 

 6          the special education services we provide, 

 7          there are a number of students on wait lists 

 8          around this state.  To adequately provide 

 9          facilities for some of our highest-need 

10          students is an imperative.  The inability to 

11          do this under the current tax cap structure 

12          for BOCES capital is a significant barrier to 

13          us fulfilling our mission.

14                 Number two, and without rehashing 

15          what's in our testimony, we do have a 

16          specific recommendation for increasing the 

17          financial support or aidability, if you will, 

18          for Career and Technical Education.  That's 

19          been echoed by a number of groups, including 

20          the State Education Department.  So we would 

21          propose that as well.  

22                 And I would add just in general 

23          there's been discussion on Foundation Aid and 

24          Foundation Aid formulas.  We're in support of 

                                                                  394

 1          the Regents recommendations as well as their 

 2          ask for additional support for ELL services 

 3          and Career and Technical Education.  

 4                 So that's really ours in a nutshell.  

 5          I'm going to pause and see if any of you have 

 6          any questions.

 7                 (Pause.)

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 9                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you very 

10          much.  Thank you, Lynda.

11                 DISTRICT SUPT. WHITE:  Thank you.  

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  We do look 

13          forward to following up on adult ed with you.  

14          Thanks.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  David Little, 

16          executive director, Rural Schools Association 

17          of New York State.

18                 MR. LITTLE:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  

19          Thank you, members of the joint committee.

20                 I want to thank you first of all for 

21          your past support.  You've been stalwart and 

22          dedicated in your support of public 

23          education.  

24                 I've spent my day much as you have; I 

                                                                  395

 1          listened to New York City talk about how 

 2          they're doing better and with additional 

 3          resources they would continue that progress.  

 4          We listened to the Big 5 say much the same 

 5          thing.  We heard the suburbs talk about how 

 6          well they're doing, but they have additional 

 7          needs.  

 8                 And I'm here to tell you that in the 

 9          rural schools, there is no looming crisis 

10          either.  And the reason that there's no 

11          looming crisis is you're smack dab in the 

12          middle of that crisis.

13                 Rural schools have a completely 

14          different look than the rest of your schools 

15          right now.  If you look at the population 

16          loss in the state, it doesn't take a lot to 

17          figure out that if the City is gaining 

18          population, the upstate cities are gaining 

19          population, the suburbs are gaining 

20          population, and the state is losing 150,000 

21          people each year for the last five years, 

22          you've got a rural population loss -- maybe a 

23          third of the students.  

24                 So we have this bizarre construct 

                                                                  396

 1          where EXCEL aid gave us new facilities, it 

 2          gave us expanded facilities, and now we don't 

 3          have kids or the money to put teachers in 

 4          them.  It's an odd dynamic.  Because I think 

 5          if you look even at the last national 

 6          election, you can see that people in rural 

 7          areas are tired of being ignored.  And those 

 8          rural individuals have seen job loss, they've 

 9          seen their kids have to leave their 

10          communities in order to be employed.  

11                 And I can tell you -- the Cornell 

12          Research half of our association has just 

13          completed a study on teacher recruitment and 

14          retention in New York State, and I can tell 

15          you that Mr. Mulgrew has informed you that 

16          within a couple of years you've got an issue 

17          with New York City schools being able to 

18          correctly get certifiable teachers for the 

19          appropriate classes.  I can tell you that 

20          right now, you can't get them in rural areas.  

21          They don't have them.  Okay?  What used to be 

22          50 applications per position, they now go 

23          left unfilled.

24                 The things that we expect in our 

                                                                  397

 1          suburban schools as a matter of course, we 

 2          don't even begin to provide in our rural 

 3          areas.  Advanced Placement courses -- and I'm 

 4          speaking generally; there are exceptions, of 

 5          course.  But Advanced Placement courses, 

 6          Community Schools, After School Program, 

 7          preschool, transportation for things back and 

 8          forth -- they don't exist there.  

 9                 And I'll give you the example of my 

10          own son, who wanted to go to Ithaca College 

11          for a photography degree and was told, 

12          "Danny, you're okay, but your school's not.  

13          You don't have the coursework to be able to 

14          put the information we're going to give you 

15          into context, and as a result you won't be 

16          able to compete with your peers in this 

17          program."  And so he went to RIT, and RIT 

18          kicked his tail for four years.  It took him 

19          every bit of every bit of time, with no 

20          extracurricular activities, in order to 

21          complete that program, because Ithaca College 

22          was right.  And it's directly the result of 

23          our approach to rural areas.  

24                 In the 1970s, the upstate rural 

                                                                  398

 1          economy was strong enough to be able to bail 

 2          out New York City.  Now the exact opposite is 

 3          happening.  I talked about the population 

 4          loss.  I can also tell you that in the 1970s 

 5          New York State had 17 million acres in 

 6          agricultural production, and now it has 7.  

 7          We don't have the ability to generate the 

 8          jobs.  And we have a state jobs program for 

 9          our rural areas that apparently is simply to 

10          build casinos.

11                 We've starved our rural schools.  And 

12          by starving our rural schools, we aren't 

13          providing those children the opportunity to 

14          generate the revenue, and thus for New York 

15          State to have anything but a second-rate 

16          future.

17                 I've laid out in the testimony that's 

18          been printed there for you the things within 

19          the Governor's Executive Budget proposal that 

20          will help, those things that will hurt, and 

21          the things that we need.  I won't reiterate 

22          those things specifically, because they're 

23          right there in front of you and I'm always 

24          available to be able to go over any of those 

                                                                  399

 1          things with you.  

 2                 But I will tell you that over the past 

 3          few years, as we've focused on the last 

 4          efforts of trying to restore the GEA, those 

 5          last efforts largely benefited those 

 6          districts that needed it the least.  When the 

 7          Governor first took the GEA, it was like 

 8          John Dillinger with banks -- we'll take it 

 9          from who gets Foundation Aid.  And our rural 

10          schools are the ones that get the 

11          Foundation Aid.

12                 I disagree with my colleagues slightly 

13          about the tax cap.  And I'm all for 

14          particularly making the changes to the tax 

15          cap that you all offered last year and the 

16          Division of the Budget has seen fit to 

17          ignore -- changing BOCES capital projects and 

18          pilot programs to adjust for the cap.  

19                 But I will tell you this.  Rural 

20          schools don't have anything to tax.  So the 

21          rate of the tax cap is not a legitimate 

22          approach to how we're going to fix our rural 

23          schools.  So if we have a 1.5 percent tax cap 

24          or we have a complete freeze on local taxes, 

                                                                  400

 1          if you're only raising $30,000 under the tax 

 2          cap to begin with, it doesn't make one bit of 

 3          difference.

 4                 We need a legitimate and sustainable 

 5          means of trying to fund public education in 

 6          this state if we're going to move forward.  

 7          And I wish Senator Marcellino were here, 

 8          because he asked everybody else -- you know, 

 9          he talked about everybody being able to stay 

10          in their homes and not be able to be taxed, 

11          and I couldn't agree more.  Local taxes are 

12          not the way to do this.  And we spend an 

13          extraordinary amount of money on public 

14          education already -- more than a quarter of 

15          the countries on the planet make as a gross 

16          domestic product.  More than 10 percent of 

17          all the money in the United States of America 

18          spent on public education is already spent in 

19          New York State.  Our issue is not how much we 

20          spend, it's how we distribute it.  

21                 And the way we distribute it is 

22          criminal.  It needs to be fixed, it needs to 

23          be sustained.  And we need to have, as my 

24          colleagues have mentioned, we need to have 

                                                                  401

 1          the mandate relief that was promised when we 

 2          instituted the tax cap.  But more importantly 

 3          than simple mandate relief is allowing the 

 4          kind of things that have made sense in other 

 5          places for a generation.  

 6                 Regional high school.  I went to a 

 7          regional high school in the early 1970s in 

 8          Connecticut, and another one in Illinois.  

 9          This is not a new concept.  It allows 

10          communities to keep their identity, and it 

11          allows their children to get a proper 

12          education that's not being provided now, and 

13          which merger and consolidation don't come 

14          close to being able to provide.

15                 And I'm not worried, as some of the 

16          folks in the union sector of our profession 

17          are, that the regional high schools or magnet 

18          schools or mergers and consolidation would 

19          result in fewer jobs.  I don't want one 

20          teacher to lose their job over this, because 

21          we are so dramatically constricted in the 

22          kind of curriculum that we can provide in 

23          rural schools that we simply need all of 

24          those people to be able to broaden the things 

                                                                  402

 1          that we teach to be able to provide our kids 

 2          an adequate education to be competitive 

 3          either in college or in their career.

 4                 Rural America, they say, feeds, fuels 

 5          and fights for this country.  That's where 

 6          you get the people who fight for the country, 

 7          the fuel that fuels us, and the products and 

 8          produce that feeds us.  And yet we've chosen 

 9          to ignore them.  We've chosen to ignore them 

10          for nearly a generation now.  And we do it at 

11          our peril, both politically and economically.  

12                 So I'll leave you with what I hope is 

13          a concise statement about what's needed and 

14          what's harmful within the Governor's budget, 

15          and leave it to you to do the things that 

16          you've done for us in the past, and hope that 

17          we can change course in a direction that's 

18          workable for you, knowing that you have to 

19          buy everything back that he puts in there.  I 

20          know how difficult that is, but I also know 

21          how vital it is.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

23          much.  

24                 Questions?  Thank you.

                                                                  403

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Yes.  David, good 

 2          to see you.  And I want to sincerely thank 

 3          you and Bob Lowry and several of the speakers 

 4          today, because you've brought up regional 

 5          schools.  And as you know, they would be a 

 6          tremendous opportunity for rural students who 

 7          cannot -- who are in schools that cannot 

 8          provide all of the classwork that they need 

 9          in order to have a high-quality education.  

10                 I agree with you that we would not 

11          lose jobs if we had regional schools.  In 

12          fact, I believe we would save jobs if we had 

13          regional schools.  So I'm hopeful that the 

14          Assembly will pass the legislation that we 

15          have passed several times in the State 

16          Senate, because it certainly would help our 

17          rural children all over the state.  

18                 So I want to thank you for your 

19          advocacy on a lot of issues, and all the 

20          speakers who have brought those very 

21          important things forward today.  So thank 

22          you.

23                 MR. LITTLE:  Thank you, Senator.  

24                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Mr. Lopez.

                                                                  404

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  Yes, thank you, 

 2          Chairman.  

 3                 And David, just so you know, I'm 

 4          channeling Charlie Cook, if that means 

 5          anything to you.  So I worked for Charlie for 

 6          15 years with his Rural Resources Commission.  

 7          I know Senator Young has helped take on that 

 8          mantle in many ways.  

 9                 So I'm very keenly interested in your 

10          comments on the rural, and we're going to 

11          look at this very closely and just, myself 

12          and my colleagues working with the chairwoman 

13          here, have some frank conversation, because 

14          my premise is inner city and rural are mirror 

15          images of each other.  The percentages are 

16          the same -- lack of educational attainment, 

17          percentage of children in poverty -- just the 

18          numbers are different.  And we're hidden with 

19          trees and pastoral fields and mountains, but 

20          we're there.

21                 MR. LITTLE:  The more you study the 

22          difference between our urban needs and our 

23          rural needs, the more you find out that 

24          they're virtually identical.  They have them 

                                                                  405

 1          for different reasons, but they have the 

 2          exact same problems.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN LOPEZ:  I'm reflecting on 

 4          Paul Ebert's socioeconomic studies that were 

 5          done back in the '80s that showed the 

 6          percentages to be mirror images.  So I think 

 7          those numbers still hold.  And again, we'd 

 8          like to explore -- and maybe if you have more 

 9          suggestions, we can carry them back to our 

10          colleagues here.  So thank you.

11                 MR. LITTLE:  Thank you.

12                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

13          much --

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Just one second, I'm 

15          sorry.

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Oh, I'm sorry.

17                 Senator.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Hi.  I come from 

19          Manhattan island, so about as far as you can 

20          imagine in comparison to rural New York.  But 

21          I want to comment that, one, your testimony 

22          and your report is amazingly excellent.  

23                 Two, I think you're absolutely right, 

24          some of the problems you're seeing for the 

                                                                  406

 1          smallest school districts in the state are 

 2          exactly parallel to what big cities are 

 3          seeing.  You're highlighting --

 4                 MR. LITTLE:  And some of the solutions 

 5          are the same.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Exactly.

 7                 MR. LITTLE:  The Community Schools, 

 8          the whole community approach, the 

 9          after-school programming, transportation to 

10          get kids to things, trying to deal with their 

11          medical issues in a way that doesn't take 

12          them out of class the entire day -- all of 

13          those things are identical.

14                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And it ties in so 

15          perfectly to your statement about we have the 

16          buildings but we don't actually have the 

17          people in them to do the things the children 

18          need.  And I agree completely that the 

19          Community School model for rural areas has 

20          the potential to have a huge win, I think on 

21          your entire municipal budgets, when you can 

22          bring everything into one location and 

23          provide the services and ensure that people 

24          are getting the things they need.

                                                                  407

 1                 I did have a question in addition to 

 2          appreciating your testimony.  What are other 

 3          states with big rural areas doing better than 

 4          we are for their schools?  Have you looked 

 5          into additional recommendations we really 

 6          ought to be following?

 7                 MR. LITTLE:  Yeah, the other states 

 8          start off with a more equitable funding 

 9          model.  That's really where they have an 

10          advantage over us.  In virtually every other 

11          state, the state provides for two-thirds of 

12          the funding for public education and they 

13          leave the final third, usually for extras, to 

14          the local community.  They provide the 

15          state's minimum requirements at the least, 

16          and then they leave the extras to the local 

17          community.  

18                 We do exactly the opposite here.  We 

19          expect locals to pay for about two-thirds the 

20          cost of public education, and that means that 

21          for many communities that don't have the 

22          resources to provide sometimes even the state 

23          minimum requirements, you start from a 

24          deficit in all of those things.  So that's 

                                                                  408

 1          really the most profound thing that happens 

 2          in other states.

 3                 Other states have other models.  I 

 4          don't know that people are doing things that 

 5          are any more innovative, except that they've 

 6          progressed along a different line.  I 

 7          mentioned how long other states have had 

 8          regional high schools.  And it's a solution 

 9          to an issue that -- the Governor keeps 

10          calling for mergers and consolidations, and 

11          in fact I can tell you that this has been 

12          interesting for me, as we've partnered with 

13          Cornell Research, to find out there is no 

14          place on the planet that shares services, 

15          municipal and school services, more than 

16          upstate New York does.  And so we're leading.  

17          You know, we're leading everybody else by 

18          example, and yet our circumstances are so 

19          severe, because of the way that we fund 

20          public education in our state, that we're not 

21          able to overcome it through efficiency alone.  

22                 And so there are other states that 

23          have long ago said we're going to educate 

24          kids up until the eighth grade in our little 

                                                                  409

 1          community schools, and we're going to keep 

 2          our identity and we're going to even have the 

 3          economic support that schools provide as 

 4          sometimes the largest employer in small 

 5          communities.  But by the time they get to 

 6          high school, there's a real need to have a 

 7          broad enough curriculum to let these kids do 

 8          what they were meant to do.  And if we keep 

 9          them in those little schools all the way 

10          through -- we know it's a tradeoff, but if we 

11          keep them in those little rural schools, we 

12          know that they're not going to be able to 

13          reach their potential.  

14                 And so what happens is to get the kind 

15          of jobs that they're able to keep, once they 

16          get out of high school, they leave.  Every 

17          state has their kids leave, but they come 

18          home someday.  Our kids can't come home.  

19          We've set up a construct, in our rural areas 

20          in particular, where our kids can't come 

21          home.  And that has profound social 

22          consequences as well as economic consequences 

23          for rural areas being able to support the 

24          economy of the state and allow us to regain 

                                                                  410

 1          our preeminent position.

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you very much 

 3          for your work.

 4                 MR. LITTLE:  Sure.

 5                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 6                 James D. Cultrara, director of 

 7          education, New York Catholic Conference.  

 8                 MR. CULTRARA:  Honorable chairpersons, 

 9          honorable members, thank you for your time.  

10          I apologize on behalf of Bishop 

11          Scharfenberger, who could not be here much 

12          beyond his anticipated testimony time.  But 

13          you have his testimony for the record.  I'm 

14          going to dispense with reading it and focus 

15          on four points.  

16                 And I'm going to lead off with 

17          thanking Assemblyman Lopez for channeling 

18          Senator Charlie Cook.  As an employee of 

19          Charlie Cook, a former employee, I want to 

20          point out how much I think you would 

21          recognize how much concern he had for 

22          families.  And I want to talk about the 

23          families that we serve and that we could 

24          serve and who want to be served by our 

                                                                  411

 1          schools.  

 2                 And we are facing a continuing tuition 

 3          crisis that morphs the tuition crisis that 

 4          the Governor is focusing on in higher 

 5          education.  And so many members are 

 6          rightfully looking at providing increased 

 7          tuition assistance at higher education, when 

 8          there exists no similar program at elementary 

 9          and secondary schools.  So you have families, 

10          whether or not they are immigrants from the 

11          80 countries that we serve in our schools, 

12          low-income families, middle-income families, 

13          or even higher-income families -- families 

14          want options for their children.  That's why 

15          immigrants come to this country.  And they 

16          are being denied those options simply because 

17          of an inability to afford those options.

18                 Your counterparts in 26 other states 

19          and the District of Columbia have seen fit to 

20          enact a variety of mechanisms to assist 

21          tuition-paying families at the elementary and 

22          secondary school level.  And despite what we 

23          hear from the opposition, from those invested 

24          only in public schools, that it will destroy 

                                                                  412

 1          public schools, if you look at the public 

 2          education system in those 26 other states, 

 3          spending has grown and enrollment has not 

 4          dropped in those other states.

 5                 I think if Bishop Scharfenberger were 

 6          here, he would ask you to examine some of the 

 7          recent articles and reports from the Board of 

 8          Regents and news articles about graduation 

 9          rates in public schools and how graduation 

10          rates are on the rise.  Right?

11                 However, if you disaggregate that data 

12          and look at graduation rates compared to 

13          children of color in public school versus 

14          children of color who have been given access 

15          to our schools through a scholarship, you'll 

16          see that the families of children of color 

17          have graduation rates above 95 percent in the 

18          Catholic schools, the historically black 

19          independent schools, the Lutheran schools of 

20          this state.  

21                 And if you were to examine that, you 

22          should ask yourself:  Why aren't we giving 

23          those families the same options that they 

24          have in 26 other states?  

                                                                  413

 1                 The Education Affordability Act, 

 2          sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Cusick and 

 3          Senator Marty Golden, needs to be enacted.  

 4          If you're going to enact a program of tuition 

 5          assistance at the higher education level, 

 6          don't do it without helping those families 

 7          that are burdened with tuition at the 

 8          elementary and secondary school level.

 9                 Secondly, I want to talk about the 

10          Smart Schools Bond Act, which as you know was 

11          enacted in 2014 and is just beginning to be 

12          implemented.  There are three rounds of 

13          grants that have been approved, and 

14          unfortunately the implementation of that 

15          program has resulted in religious and 

16          independent schools being denied their 

17          equitable share, that to which they have been 

18          entitled, we believe, under the statute.  And 

19          in many cases, there are school districts 

20          that are spending money on classroom 

21          technology but only for connectivity, which 

22          benefits only the public schools.  And 

23          because of how it's being implemented, the 

24          religious and independent school students are 

                                                                  414

 1          receiving no benefit.

 2                 The Governor has provided $25 million 

 3          in his Executive Budget to begin to address 

 4          these inequities.  That is far below what we 

 5          believe is necessary.  It can also be fixed 

 6          within the existing $2 billion bond issue.  

 7          We will be submitting language to do both, 

 8          rectify the inequities for existing, already 

 9          approved grants as well as those grants that 

10          have yet to be approved.

11                 The second-from-last item is mandated 

12          services and cap reimbursement.  We are 

13          grateful for the $250 million that has been 

14          finally disbursed to our schools over the 

15          last two years to try to resolve the prior 

16          year obligations to our schools, but there 

17          are more than 100 schools that have not 

18          received their reimbursement.  Those are 

19          schools that did not have the vendor IDs 

20          through which they can get paid.  

21                 So there's more than 100 schools that 

22          are still owed, and $250 million is 

23          exhausted.  So we will be asking for access 

24          to the appropriation that's already there for 

                                                                  415

 1          $60 million for supplemental cap to be used 

 2          to satisfy those prior year obligations to 

 3          those schools that did not have vendor IDs.

 4                 Further, the Education Department in 

 5          this program is arbitrarily reducing 

 6          reimbursement to schools by moving away from 

 7          a long-established standard of reimbursing 

 8          schools on the basis of instructional time.  

 9          And by moving away from that standard, our 

10          schools are receiving less reimbursement.  

11          The irony there is, as teachers and 

12          principals put in more work, the more time 

13          that's recorded, the less the reimbursement 

14          to the school.  Which is not, we think, what 

15          was the intent of lawmakers in establishing 

16          that program.

17                 And the last item is the State Office 

18          of Religious and Independent Schools.  As you 

19          know, we've been fighting to have the 

20          department restore that office.  You, for 

21          which we are grateful, provided $2 million in 

22          funds to support that office and initiatives 

23          for schools through that office.  The 

24          Governor reappropriates the $2 million but 

                                                                  416

 1          advances only $800,000 for the next fiscal 

 2          year going forward.  

 3                 That office is crucial to helping the 

 4          department overcome the tremendous backlog in 

 5          work, including disbursing funds that have 

 6          already been appropriated many years ago that 

 7          are still sitting there at the Education 

 8          Department waiting to get out the door.  

 9          Hiring staff is absolutely critical to 

10          getting those dollars out to our schools to 

11          serve teachers and students, and we urge you 

12          to restore the full appropriation to 

13          $2 million.

14                 Thank you very much.

15                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Questions?  

18                 Shelley Mayer.

19                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Jim, thank you.  

20                 On this issue of the Smart Schools 

21          Bond Act, is it your testimony that SED is 

22          interpreting the statute to deny applications 

23          by religious schools?

24                 MR. CULTRARA:  The Smart Schools 

                                                                  417

 1          Review Board consists of the State Education 

 2          Department, the Governor's office, and the 

 3          State University of New York.  

 4                 The State Education Department has 

 5          been the principal entity behind the 

 6          regulations as well as the guidance in 

 7          guiding school districts on how to determine 

 8          the nonpublic school share.  

 9                 We believe that it's clear in the 

10          statute that any expenditure for classroom 

11          technology needs to be shared with the 

12          nonpublic schools on an equitable basis.  We 

13          understand that school districts can spend 

14          money on high-tech security as well as 

15          building needs, to which we do not have 

16          access, but any expenditure on classroom 

17          technology needs to be shared on an equitable 

18          basis.

19                 The State Education Department, and 

20          technically the review board, has divided 

21          classroom technology into two pots -- 

22          connectivity, which is wiring, and loanable 

23          devices, resulting in the determination that 

24          the calculation of the nonpublic school share 

                                                                  418

 1          is only what is spent on loanable devices 

 2          divided by enrollment.  Right?  

 3                 So you have school districts spending 

 4          money in many cases on only connectivity, and 

 5          we believe lawmakers did not intend school 

 6          districts to spend money on classroom 

 7          technology without sharing it with the 

 8          nonpublic schools.

 9                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  I understand.

10                 MR. CULTRARA:  So we have families 

11          that parents who voted for that, expecting 

12          their students and their schools to get 

13          equitable access -- and that's being denied.

14                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN MAYER:  Okay.  Thank you 

15          for the clarification.

16                 Thank you.

17                 MR. CULTRARA:  Thank you very much.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I have a question.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Senator?  

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I'm sorry, Jim.  One 

21          question, or maybe two.

22                 So you give some testimony about how 

23          many schools have closed in the last six 

24          years, in the last 20 years.

                                                                  419

 1                 MR. CULTRARA:  Right.

 2                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Do you know how many 

 3          children are going to Catholic schools in the 

 4          State of New York now, compared to 10 years 

 5          ago?

 6                 MR. CULTRARA:  Approximately 200,000 

 7          now, compared to 325,000, roughly, 21 years 

 8          ago.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And even though it's 

10          not fair for you as a question, but I'll try 

11          it anyway, do you know in total how many 

12          children go to the parochial and independent 

13          schools, 10 years ago versus today?  I'm 

14          wondering whether they shifted to other 

15          schools or they shifted back into the public 

16          schools.

17                 MR. CULTRARA:  As of last year, there 

18          are just over 411,000 students in all 

19          independent and religious schools, and about 

20          20 years ago there was about 485,000.  So 

21          there has been growth among the Jewish 

22          schools, some Christian schools, the Islamic 

23          schools, and losses in primarily Catholic 

24          schools but also Lutheran schools, 

                                                                  420

 1          historically black independent schools, some 

 2          Christian schools.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Got it.  And when 

 4          you were talking about the formula not 

 5          reflecting the number of days as opposed to 

 6          the number of instructional hours, you sort 

 7          of lost me there.  So can you explain that?  

 8                 MR. CULTRARA:  Mandated services, when 

 9          it was established in 1974, was very rigorous 

10          and was looking at and requiring schools to 

11          maintain records on actual expenditures -- 

12          what a school paid for for this graphing 

13          calculator, what the teacher's salary was in 

14          this school versus another teacher in the 

15          same school.  And trying to be so exacting in 

16          ensuring that schools were not reimbursed 

17          more than that to which they're entitled, it 

18          created an enormous burden on both the 

19          schools and the State Education Department in 

20          implementing it.

21                 Then in the early eighties, they 

22          developed a series of parameters saying let's 

23          come up with some actual averages for which 

24          we can reimburse schools to simplify without 

                                                                  421

 1          overreimbursing our schools.  So I'll give 

 2          you a simple example.  All schools that 

 3          administer the science exams that require 

 4          science kits get reimbursed for an average 

 5          cost of that science kit, an average cost of 

 6          a graphing calculator.  Even though it might 

 7          cost one school more, another school less, 

 8          the state has determined those averages.

 9                 Among those averages was a 

10          determination of the amount of time teachers 

11          were spending not only on the task at hand, 

12          for which they're getting reimbursed, but how 

13          do you determine their average hourly rate?  

14          Private school calendars and schedules are 

15          all over the place.  

16                 And so the State Education Department 

17          said -- and this goes back 30 years -- let's 

18          base the school day and the school year on 

19          what the state requires for instruction.  And 

20          that's five and five and a half hours -- five 

21          hours for elementary schools, five and a half 

22          for high schools -- and the average school 

23          year, which ranges from 177-180 days.  

24          Because that's the basis for public school 

                                                                  422

 1          aid.  And it was public school aid, the 

 2          equitable reimbursement based on public 

 3          school aid, for which the U.S. Supreme Court 

 4          upheld this program.

 5                 The State Education Department and the 

 6          Comptroller's office, to some degree, in 

 7          their most recent audit about 10 years ago, 

 8          started to go back and say, We need to be 

 9          more exacting, we need to dig deeper into 

10          these expenses.  So they're reverting back to 

11          what was back in 1974.  So in effect, in 

12          doing that, they are reducing -- because 

13          they're expanding our school day and school 

14          hours, they're reducing the numerator and 

15          therefore the reimbursement is less.

16                 So ironically, as public school aid 

17          increases for the same amount of time, as you 

18          require our schools to report a greater 

19          amount of time, we actually get less 

20          reimbursement.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you for the 

22          explanation.  I feel better about not 

23          understanding it in writing.  

24                 (Laughter.)

                                                                  423

 1                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So thank you.  

 2                 MR. CULTRARA:  You're welcome.  

 3                 Thank you all.

 4                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

 5          much.

 6                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

 7                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Jake Adler, 

 8          director, government affairs, Orthodox Union.

 9                 MR. ADLER:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  

10          Chair Young, Chair Nolan, members, I 

11          appreciate your time.  

12                 I submitted my written testimony, so I 

13          don't want to read it word for word.  I just 

14          wanted to highlight a few key points of what 

15          I'm asking for this year. 

16                 There are 412,000 nonpublic school 

17          students -- Jim says a little bit over 411, 

18          so I'll go with Jim's number.  Of those, 

19          150,000 are Jewish; about 200 or so, I 

20          believe are Catholic, as per Jim.  It's 

21          13 percent of the K-12 population in this 

22          state.  

23                 My focus this year, and I think a 

24          focus going forward for the state, is what 

                                                                  424

 1          can we do to make sure that all of our 

 2          students, be they in public school or be they 

 3          in nonpublic school, succeed and have the 

 4          skills they need to enter the job market.  

 5          That's what I'm asking you to take a look at 

 6          this budget cycle.

 7                 One of the things that we focused on 

 8          this year is STEM education.  I think that a 

 9          proper STEM education for all students is 

10          essential, be they in rural counties, be they 

11          in urban centers, be they in public schools 

12          or private schools.  I think that's a central 

13          focus that we need to have in order to 

14          compete in the new economy.

15                 Just one thing I wanted to point out 

16          about the nonpublic schools overall:  There 

17          are $11.4 billion annually contributed to 

18          New York State because of the roughly 1900 

19          hundred nonpublic schools.  There's no 

20          question that the nonpublic schools remain an 

21          integral part of the overall state 

22          educational infrastructure.  I think my main 

23          point, if I can make one today, is that to 

24          leave out 13 percent of the K-12 population 

                                                                  425

 1          from these important skills would be bad 

 2          public policy long-term for the state.  

 3                 That's the short and sweet version.

 4                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Any comments?  

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  Thank 

 6          you for being here, Director Adler.  

 7                 I just had a quick question.  Do your 

 8          schools currently provide STEM programs?  

 9                 MR. ADLER:  You know, I think there's 

10          a large mix across the board of nonpublic 

11          schools.  Some nonpublic schools have very 

12          good STEM education programs, some have 

13          rather weak STEM education programs.  

14                 And I think, across the board, what 

15          the main issue is is that there is a 

16          fundamental problem retaining and keeping 

17          these teachers as public school wages go up.  

18          If I'm a teacher and I'm a STEM-certified 

19          teacher, I want to be in a public school 

20          where I'm going to be getting a full 

21          allotment of NYSUT benefits or UFT benefits 

22          in that full package.  

23                 So there's definitely a vacuum taking 

24          talent out of those schools.

                                                                  426

 1                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Right.  And so what 

 2          percentage of your students are benefiting 

 3          from scholarships?  Because you provide 

 4          scholarships, right?

 5                 MR. ADLER:  You know, it's hard to get 

 6          an overall number, because a lot of people 

 7          don't want to talk about it.  But I know that 

 8          I was at a school on the Upper East Side two 

 9          or three weeks ago, and 40 percent of their 

10          students are on scholarship.  And that's 

11          considered one of the more affluent schools.  

12                 So it's interesting to see even in 

13          what are considered the vanguard schools, 

14          there is still a substantial population that 

15          are actually receiving some financial 

16          assistance.

17                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  I agree with you 

18          that every student deserves to get the 

19          benefit of a STEM education.  So thank you so 

20          much.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I have a question.

22                 MR. ADLER:  Senator.  

23                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I think I know that 

24          school in my district.  And it's not unlike 

                                                                  427

 1          the private colleges where, because of the 

 2          structure of the finances of how they 

 3          calculate up to $30,000 a year annual 

 4          tuition, many students are in fact eligible 

 5          for some percentage of scholarship.

 6                 MR. ADLER:  Right.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So I don't disagree.  

 8          But it's perhaps a little bit different than 

 9          Cathy understood her question to be.  

10                 The Catholic Conference people talked 

11          about the academic success of the graduates 

12          of their schools, and in fact I know that 

13          that's statistically true.  How many of the 

14          students from the Orthodox school system end 

15          up going on to college?  

16                 MR. ADLER:  I'm sorry, can you repeat 

17          that?  I didn't hear --

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  What percentage of 

19          your graduates go to college?

20                 MR. ADLER:  I don't have the 

21          percentage on the top of my head.  I can get 

22          that to you.  I think there's obviously going 

23          to be a difference between which segment of 

24          the population you're looking at.  

                                                                  428

 1                 I think in some of the schools in your 

 2          neighborhood, they're to be significantly 

 3          higher than some of the other neighborhoods.  

 4          I don't want to single any one neighborhood 

 5          out.  

 6                 Overall, I think the most important 

 7          thing here is to give the opportunity to all 

 8          the schools, as many schools as possible, to 

 9          raise that skill level up and that training 

10          level up for all those kids.  And I think 

11          even the schools that traditionally have 

12          lower or smaller programs, if you provide 

13          this sort of opportunity, they will start 

14          implementing it more.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I don't necessarily 

16          disagree, but I would love to see some data 

17          perhaps broken down by gender or the schools 

18          to show me --

19                 MR. ADLER:  I'd be happy to get that 

20          for you.

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- because I have a 

22          great concern that, at least in the City of 

23          New York, too many of these schools that you 

24          represent are not actually providing the 

                                                                  429

 1          kinds of education that their children need 

 2          to compete in our economy when they finish.

 3                 MR. ADLER:  I just want to say I agree 

 4          that every school should be providing a very 

 5          high quality education, especially in the 

 6          core subjects.  And I'm looking forward to 

 7          work with you and everyone up here to 

 8          implement that.

 9                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

10                 MR. ADLER:  Thank you, Senator.

11                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.

12                 MR. ADLER:  Thank you.

13                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

14                 Steve Sanders, executive director, 

15          Agencies for Children's Therapy Services, 

16          ACTS.  

17                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  We're so happy 

18          to see you here.  And I just want to -- to 

19          some of the people who testified just prior, 

20          you know, we always want to ask questions, 

21          but I've been trying to let others and let 

22          the hearing go on.  So I don't want Jim 

23          Cultrara and the other gentleman to think we 

24          don't care.  We're just trying to get the 

                                                                  430

 1          hearing moving, and you're always available 

 2          to us for questions when we reach out for 

 3          you.  And some of the others, David Little 

 4          and some of the others.  I just think it's 

 5          good to keep moving.  

 6                 But I also just want to say how glad I 

 7          am to see Steve Sanders here today.  Thank 

 8          you so much for coming.

 9                 MR. SANDERS:  Well, thank you very 

10          much, Chairwoman, and Chairman Farrell, 

11          Chairwoman Young, friends, former colleagues.  

12                 Just as a very brief aside, I want to 

13          thank Assemblyman Lopez for invoking the name 

14          of Charlie Cook, especially at an Education 

15          Committee budget hearing.  His name isn't 

16          used often enough, and his example as a 

17          public servant for so many years in this 

18          body, I think perhaps has been 

19          underappreciated.  He was one of a kind, and 

20          I was privileged to work with him for a 

21          number of years on education issues.  

22                 As Chairman Farrell said, my name is 

23          Steve Sanders, I'm the director of Agencies 

24          for Children's Therapy Services.  This is a 

                                                                  431

 1          statewide association of agencies that 

 2          provide Early Intervention and preschool 

 3          special education around the state.

 4                 I'm not following to read my brief 

 5          statement.  I just want to make a couple of 

 6          very quick observations and one 

 7          recommendation.

 8                 My first observation is that big 

 9          issues don't fall through the cracks.  They 

10          don't always get resolved, they don't always 

11          get addressed, but they don't fall through 

12          cracks.  They are taken note of.

13                 Small but important issues, however, 

14          in thousands of pages of budget language can 

15          get lost in the shuffle.  And I'm here to 

16          talk about one of those small but important 

17          issues.  And you'll be happy to know I am not 

18          here to ask for any money, and I'm certainly 

19          not going to try to take up much of your time 

20          either.  But I do want to bring your 

21          attention to one issue in the budget, which 

22          as I say could be easily overlooked, and it 

23          deals with a program called Preschool 

24          Integrated Special Class Programs.  

                                                                  432

 1                 So what is that?  This is a program 

 2          that blends children with special education 

 3          IEPs -- these are kids who have special needs 

 4          in the pre-K setting -- with other kids who 

 5          don't have IEPs.  So it is a merging of 

 6          youngsters with learning disabilities or 

 7          challenges with youngsters who don't have any 

 8          identifiable problems.  

 9                 And it's a great thing to have kids of 

10          that age interacting together.  It's really 

11          terrific for the socialization of both of 

12          them.  So what's the issue?  It's a very 

13          simple issue.  The Governor wants to 

14          authorize the State Education Department to 

15          come up with a new funding methodology, a new 

16          rate and a new rate methodology.  And that's 

17          okay.  That's fine.  That's fair.  From time 

18          to time, we have to look at our funding 

19          sources and our funding mechanisms and rework 

20          them, and that's okay.

21                 What I would ask of this joint 

22          committee is for you to do the same thing 

23          that you did a few years ago when the State 

24          Education Department was authorized also by 

                                                                  433

 1          the Governor, approved by the Legislature, to 

 2          revamp the SEIT.  That's Special Education 

 3          Itinerant Teaching program.  This is the 

 4          program where the teachers come to the home 

 5          and actually provide instruction in the home.

 6                 And at that time, that rate and that 

 7          methodology was ordered to be revamped.  And 

 8          what the Legislature did -- very wisely and 

 9          very effectively, I would add -- is to insert 

10          a little bit of language to say that before 

11          the State Education Department came up with 

12          this new methodology and this new rate, that 

13          they consult in some manner the stakeholders.  

14          And that's very important, because as smart 

15          as the folks at SED are, as brilliant as this 

16          new commissioner is -- and I listened to her 

17          for all three and a half hours this morning, 

18          I think she's excellent -- very often 

19          providers of agencies, the ones who are on 

20          the front lines providing the services, know 

21          something about how those rates and how that 

22          methodology ought to evolve and develop.  

23                 So when this happened for the SEIT 

24          program a couple of years ago, it resulted in 

                                                                  434

 1          a very good product, a fair -- I didn't agree 

 2          with every change, but it was a fair and 

 3          effective new methodology and new rate.  And 

 4          I would ask you to do the same thing with the 

 5          Preschool Integrated Special Class Programs.  

 6                 I assure you that through this 

 7          collaboration between SED and providers, it 

 8          can only benefit SED and the providers in 

 9          creating a product that takes into 

10          consideration all the exigencies that neither 

11          side may have an understanding of in its 

12          totality, but when they collaborate, the 

13          product is ultimately a very good one.

14                 And that is it.  That is my testimony.

15                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  It's 

16          always great to see you again --

17                 MR. SANDERS:  So is my pleasure.

18                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  -- and as always, 

19          very articulate.

20                 MR. SANDERS:  Good luck with the rest 

21          of this day, and the next two months.  Thank 

22          you very much.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

24          much.

                                                                  435

 1                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  Thank you, Steve. 

 2                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Michael Martucci, 

 3          New York School Bus Contractors Association, 

 4          and Jimmy Hedge, vice president, ATU Local 

 5          1181, New York School Bus Contractors 

 6          Association.  

 7                 MR. CORDIELLO:  Good afternoon.

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Good afternoon.

 9                 MR. CORDIELLO:  Actually, I'm Michael 

10          Cordiello, president of ATU Local 1181, and I 

11          will try to -- I'm not going to read my 

12          entire statement.  I've highlighted it, and 

13          try and get through this quickly.  

14                 I'm president of Local 1181, 

15          Amalgamated Transit union, and vice president 

16          of New York State AFL-CIO.  I am joined with 

17          Jimmy Hedge, recording secretary and 

18          political director of Local 1181 of the 

19          Amalgamated Transit Union, and vice chair of 

20          the ATU-NY State Legislative Conference 

21          Board.

22                 Local 1181 represents some 12,000 

23          school bus drivers, matrons, and mechanics 

24          who every day provide safe, efficient 

                                                                  436

 1          transportation to about 160,000 New York City 

 2          schoolchildren.  

 3                 I am here today for two reasons. 

 4          First, I want to thank both the Assembly and 

 5          the Senate for your support of our industry 

 6          and for passing legislation sponsored by 

 7          Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell and Senator 

 8          Marty Golden that would achieve stability in 

 9          the school bus transportation industry, 

10          ensure the safe and reliable transportation 

11          for millions of schoolchildren, and provide a 

12          living wage and decent benefits for 

13          hardworking, skilled and experienced workers. 

14                 This legislation was sent to the 

15          Governor for his review at the end of 

16          November.  After his review, the Governor 

17          vetoed this legislation primarily, he said, 

18          because it needed to be included in the 

19          budget process.  

20                 This leads me to the second reason for 

21          being here today, to ask both houses to 

22          include this school bus industry proposal in 

23          their one-house budgets.  I have included a 

24          copy of the bill draft with my testimony as 

                                                                  437

 1          Attachment 1.  I believe that this draft will 

 2          give us a path forward to finally stabilize 

 3          this industry, provide decent wages and 

 4          benefits to the workforce and, of course, 

 5          provide safe and reliable transportation to 

 6          New York City schoolchildren.

 7                 I am happy to go into any history or 

 8          background you would like, but given that the 

 9          hour is late and time is short, I will refer 

10          you to my written testimony for the 

11          specifics, and I just want to highlight these 

12          main points.

13                 The Employee Protection Provision, 

14          which I'll refer to as the EPP, had been 

15          included in all transportation contracts 

16          issued by the City of New York since 1979, 

17          and in forms of the EPP even earlier than 

18          that.  Under the EPP, private bus company 

19          employees, whether they are members of Local 

20          1181, another union, or no union at all, who 

21          are laid off due to a termination of a 

22          contract between their employer and the 

23          Department of Education, are, on the basis of 

24          their seniority in the industry, given 

                                                                  438

 1          priority in hiring by the new contractors who 

 2          are retained by the Department of Education.  

 3                 The EPPs ensure that workers in the 

 4          industry retain their wages, medical and 

 5          pension benefits, which stabilizes the 

 6          pension fund.  Currently, there is a $250 

 7          million withdrawal liability, which New York 

 8          City might be on the hook for.  And with the 

 9          inclusion of the EPPs back in the bids, we 

10          would get an exemption to the withdrawal 

11          liability.  With the EPPs in place, the 

12          Department of Education is able to retain the 

13          most experienced, skilled drivers and matrons 

14          to best serve the children and give the 

15          parents peace of mind.  

16                 As a result of the ill-advised 

17          decision of the Bloomberg Administration to 

18          remove the EPPs, the entire school bus 

19          transportation industry in the City of 

20          New York has been destabilized.  With the 

21          inclusion of EPPs in school bus contracts for 

22          so many years, there was a stabilizing effect 

23          on the workforce.  Turnover was low, job 

24          actions and strikes were nonexistent.  

                                                                  439

 1          Without the EPPs, this is no longer the case.

 2                 For drivers and matrons in the 

 3          industry in those days, it was a career for 

 4          those who chose to do that type of work.  Now 

 5          it has become a transient job which pays low 

 6          wages, no medical, and has currently caused a 

 7          shortage of drivers in New York City.

 8                 The administration of Mayor Bill de 

 9          Blasio supports restoring the EPP to the RFPs 

10          and RFBs of the City of New York.  In 

11          addition to the support of the mayor, we also 

12          have the support of the AFL-CIO, the 

13          Teamsters, the Central Labor Council, the 

14          Long Island Federation of Labor, and the 

15          New York State Contractors Association, which 

16          includes many of the bus companies that bid 

17          on these RFBs or RFPs.  And parent advocacy 

18          groups, including Parents to Improve School 

19          Transportation.

20                 In addition to supporting legislation 

21          to require that inclusion of the EPPs, we 

22          also support a proposal by the New York State 

23          School Bus Contractors Association that would 

24          change how extensions of existing 

                                                                  440

 1          transportation contracts are priced.  And I 

 2          will let them cover the specifics in their 

 3          proposal.  

 4                 In conclusion, Local 1181 strongly 

 5          encourages you to include this package of 

 6          proposals in your proposed budgets.  We know 

 7          that these proposals will once gain stabilize 

 8          the school bus transportation industry in the 

 9          City of New York and return to a time when 

10          there was a stable and reliable workforce 

11          available to transport our most vulnerable 

12          schoolchildren.  After all, safety is our 

13          ultimate goal.  

14                 Thank you.

15                 MR. MARTUCCI:  Thank you, Mike.  

16                 Good evening, Chairman Farrell and 

17          Chairwoman Young and the entire committee.  

18          Thank you for staying to this late hour on 

19          Valentine's Day with us.  I too will be 

20          brief.  

21                 My name is Michael Martucci.  I'm the 

22          owner of quality bus service and the 

23          president of the New York School Bus 

24          Contractors Association, and to my right is 

                                                                  441

 1          Bree Allen, association vice president.

 2                 As Mr. Cordiello said, we come with a 

 3          package of reforms, three items that are 

 4          critical to the school bus industry here in 

 5          New York.  He spoke to the first one, 

 6          Employee Protection Provisions for New York 

 7          City school bus workers, and I'll be speaking 

 8          briefly to the next two.  

 9                 Again, thank you to both houses of our 

10          Legislature that supported legislation last 

11          year with regard to these items.  

12                 First, the Employment Cost Index.  The 

13          Employment Cost Index -- we proposed to have 

14          the Employment Cost Index replace the CPI, or 

15          the Consumer Price Index, for contract 

16          extensions here in New York State school 

17          transportation contract extensions.  At 

18          present the CPI is simply an index that does 

19          not make sense for school transportation, 

20          because most of our costs are employment 

21          costs.  And in order for us to forward our 

22          budgets responsibly and in order to help our 

23          school districts forward their budgets 

24          responsibly, it simply would be an index 

                                                                  442

 1          that's more indicative of transportation 

 2          costs. 

 3                 Second, the ECI is a relatively static 

 4          or steady number.  Over the past 10 years, 

 5          ECI has hovered just around 2 percent, 

 6          whereas CPI has increased and decreased, even 

 7          just in the last year, as you see.  We're 

 8          expecting nearly a 2 percent increase in CPI.  

 9          So this assists our districts partners in 

10          managing their budgets well.  

11                 Third and finally is a provision that 

12          we've been talking about for several years 

13          and we were very happy to have your support 

14          on last year, which is the exemption of sales 

15          tax on school buses.  Very simply, the school 

16          buses in New York State presently are subject 

17          to sales tax, as are the parts and the fuel 

18          associated with those school buses.  And 

19          that's a cost that we're passing directly 

20          along to our school district customers each 

21          and every day here in the state.  

22                 There's an estimated $14 million of 

23          savings.  By exempting buses from sales tax, 

24          we would be able to pass that savings along 

                                                                  443

 1          to our districts.  Essentially now it's 

 2          simply a budget merry-go-round where the cost 

 3          of sales tax is included in our invoice, our 

 4          cost of services to the district, and the 

 5          school districts -- with your help in terms 

 6          of state aid -- and the local taxpayers are 

 7          essentially bearing the cost of that sales 

 8          tax.

 9                 So in sum, these three items again 

10          really are critical to maintaining the safety 

11          of the students that we transport here in 

12          New York, some 2.3 million students each day.  

13          And certainly I think one thing that we all 

14          share in common here at the table, 

15          representing both management and labor in 

16          this industry, is that the most important 

17          thing that we do and the thing that we're 

18          entrusted with is the safety of our kids.  

19          And we really want to preserve that moving 

20          forward.  

21                 We thank you for your help and your 

22          support in doing so.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

24                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  So it's great when 

                                                                  444

 1          labor and management can get together on 

 2          important issues.  So thank you so much for 

 3          being here today.

 4                 MR. CORDIELLO:  Thank you for letting 

 5          us testify.

 6                 MR. MARTUCCI:  Thank you.  Thank you 

 7          all for your time.  

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Peter Mannella, 

 9          executive director, New York Association of 

10          Pupil Transportation.  

11                 Randi Levine will be next, and then 

12          Todd Vaarwerk.  And if you come down, you can 

13          get in quicker.  Come on down if you're going 

14          to be testifying.

15                 MR. MANNELLA:  Good evening -- or good 

16          afternoon.

17                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Good afternoon.

18                 MR. MANNELLA:  Happy Valentine's Day.  

19                 In order to gain myself some points, I 

20          would share my new grandfatherhood with all 

21          of you.  And it's mellowed me, so I won't be 

22          the contentious person I normally am.  

23                 My name is Peter Mannella, executive 

24          director of the New York Association for 

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 1          Pupil Transportation.  Our members are 

 2          dedicated to the safe and efficient 

 3          transportation of the 2.3 million children 

 4          who ride school buses every day.  We share 

 5          that mission of safety and efficiency with 

 6          our friends from the Contractors Association.

 7                 New York, you should know, has one of 

 8          the best safety records in the nation for 

 9          school bus transportation, and that's due to 

10          the consistent excellence of the 

11          professionals who manage the programs, 

12          maintain the buses, train the drivers and 

13          attendants, do the dispatching and routing, 

14          and actually sit behind the wheel of the 

15          school bus and drive.  They're among the most 

16          dedicated people you'd ever want to meet.  

17                 We come here today with several 

18          requests, and I'll try to keep them brief 

19          because you have our written statement, which 

20          has some documentation contained.

21                 First, we thank the Governor and the 

22          Legislature for continued support of 

23          transportation aid as an expense-based aid 

24          and for fully funding that year in and year 

                                                                  446

 1          out.  It's a very important service for our 

 2          school districts and for our students.  

 3          Without that yellow bus, those 2.5 million 

 4          children would not get to the education to 

 5          which they're entitled.  

 6                 So we support the Governor's budget 

 7          proposal which fully funds school 

 8          transportation.

 9                 Second, we are looking for help in an 

10          area that continues to grow and that this 

11          Legislature has talked about expanding, and 

12          that's in prekindergarten programs.  Whether 

13          there are one or seven, those children need 

14          transportation and we'd like to expand 

15          transportation services to cover them.  

16                 The problem right now is that school 

17          districts are precluded from requesting 

18          transportation aid to reimburse them for the 

19          costs of that transportation.  Chapter 241 

20          that was passed in 2012 allowed districts to 

21          do the transportation, but very specifically 

22          carved them out in terms of reimbursement for 

23          those costs.  And we'd request that that be 

24          rectified in this budget.  We've brought this 

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 1          to your attention the past couple of years, 

 2          and we hope that this is the year that some 

 3          attention can be paid to it.

 4                 We know that several advocacy groups 

 5          as well as the other education lobbies are 

 6          supportive of this, and we hope that they'll 

 7          voice that support in the coming weeks.

 8                 Three, an area that is not talked 

 9          about often, but becomes increasingly 

10          important in light of the prekindergarten 

11          transportation which puts littler kids on our 

12          buses that need more attention; security 

13          concerns in terms of some acts of violence, 

14          even potentially terrorism or just student 

15          violence on the bus; and, three, the issue of 

16          bullying and harassment and disputes between 

17          children on the bus.

18                 And the issue is monitors.  Currently, 

19          schools cannot be reimbursed for the cost of 

20          school bus monitors.  They can be reimbursed 

21          for the cost of a school bus attendant that's 

22          identified in the student's Individual 

23          Education plan, according to special ed laws 

24          in the state.  But that monitor that's put on 

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 1          there for an additional set of eyes and hands 

 2          for the school bus driver or to help maintain 

 3          order on the bus or to keep the kids safe 

 4          getting on and off the bus, that cost is not 

 5          in fact allowable for transportation aid.

 6                 We think with the kind of mounting 

 7          number of issues for which that second adult 

 8          might be useful and beneficial, that we 

 9          should revisit the issue of monitors being 

10          eligible for transportation aid.  

11                 Fourth would be the issue of our 

12          school bus driver training fund.  We 

13          currently spend and have spent consistently, 

14          since 1997, $400,000 a year on school bus 

15          driver training programs.  That's still only 

16          $400,000.  I don't do math well, but I think 

17          its value right now is about $300,000 in 

18          inflation.  

19                 We're requesting an increase to 

20          $500,000, and we've identified in our 

21          testimony four areas that we think that the 

22          Education Department would do well to invest 

23          that.  We're not asking you to carve it out 

24          specifically, but at a minimum we would like 

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 1          to work with the Education Department on 

 2          pre-K transportation, some special ed 

 3          transportation issues, bullying-related 

 4          transportation issues, and giving drivers the 

 5          skills they need in case there is an act of 

 6          violence on their school bus.  Again, the 

 7          increase would be to $500,000, the first in 

 8          20 years.

 9                 And lastly, we're asking for funding 

10          to help -- and this could be built into 

11          Transportation Aid or Building Aid, but we 

12          need to have security around the school buses 

13          in the form of fencing, lighting, cameras, 

14          surveillance equipment.  About 40 percent of 

15          the 50,000 buses in this state are in lots 

16          now that are open, and those are just bright 

17          yellow invitations to trouble.

18                 And we've had a number of incidents 

19          that we've recorded in our testimony around 

20          the state, many in rural areas and suburban 

21          areas.  But I think this is something we need 

22          to find a way to address, particularly with 

23          some of the instances that are going on in 

24          our society.

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 1                 We're proud of the record we've 

 2          attained, we're grateful for the support 

 3          you've shown for transportation over the 

 4          years, and we look forward to working with 

 5          you in the coming weeks.  

 6                 And I can answer any questions you 

 7          have.  Thank you.  

 8                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

 9                 MR. MANNELLA:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you, Peter, 

11          for everything.  Look forward to talking with 

12          you soon.  So thank you.

13                 MR. MANNELLA:  Thank you very much.  

14          Have a good evening.  

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

16                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Randi Levine, 

17          policy coordinator, Advocates for Children of 

18          New York.

19                 MS. LEVINE:  Thank you for the 

20          opportunity to speak with you today.  My name 

21          is Randi Levine, and I am policy director of 

22          Advocates for Children of New York.  

23                 For 45 years, Advocates for Children 

24          has worked to ensure a high-quality education 

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 1          for students who face barriers to academic 

 2          success, with a focus on students from 

 3          low-income backgrounds.  Every year we help 

 4          thousands of students and families navigate 

 5          the education system, and based on this 

 6          experience we have a number of 

 7          recommendations.

 8                 First, we were glad today to see 

 9          attention paid to the need for multiple 

10          pathways to a high school diploma.  In 2016, 

11          about 20 percent of New York students failed 

12          to graduate from high school in four years.  

13          For English language learners, only 

14          27 percent graduated within four years, and 

15          only 52 percent of students with disabilities 

16          graduated in this timeline.

17                 Career and Technical Education 

18          programs can help close the high school 

19          graduation gap.  These programs can be 

20          particularly helpful for students with 

21          disabilities and English language learners, 

22          who often struggle in traditional classroom 

23          settings.  Unfortunately, however, these 

24          students often encounter barriers to 

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 1          accessing CTE programs.

 2                 We are very pleased that the Executive 

 3          Budget renews the state's $1 million 

 4          investment to provide CTE programs with 

 5          support and resources to help eliminate such 

 6          barriers for ELLs and students with 

 7          disabilities, and we urge you to include this 

 8          funding in the budget.

 9                 Currently, students who have mastered 

10          state standards but who struggle on 

11          high-stakes Regents exams are unable to 

12          graduate from high school in New York State.  

13          Performance-based assessments would provide 

14          these students with an opportunity to 

15          demonstrate their knowledge and skills so 

16          they can receive a high school diploma.  In 

17          its State Budget priorities, the Board of 

18          Regents requested $8 million to develop 

19          performance-based assessments, but this 

20          funding is not in the Executive Budget.  And 

21          we urge the Legislature to include $8 million 

22          to pilot performance-based assessments as 

23          alternatives to high school Regents exams.  

24                 Second, students in temporary housing.  

                                                                  453

 1          We are very pleased that the Executive Budget 

 2          includes changes to state law to align with 

 3          the recent federal changes to the 

 4          McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.  The 

 5          important changes include things such as 

 6          extending protections for students in 

 7          temporary housing to preschool students and 

 8          addressing barriers to participation in 

 9          summer school and after-school activities.  

10          We fully support the proposed McKinney-Vento 

11          Act amendments in the Executive Budget.  

12                 We do have one additional 

13          recommendation that we have in more detail in 

14          our written testimony.  We're requesting that 

15          in cases where public transportation would 

16          not be a viable option for a student in 

17          temporary housing to get to their original 

18          school, that school districts be required to 

19          provide an alternative form of 

20          transportation.  This applies largely in 

21          New York City, where many students in 

22          temporary housing are still given only a 

23          MetroCard to get to school.  While that is 

24          sufficient for most students, there are 

                                                                  454

 1          students such as those with a parent who has 

 2          a physical disability and can't transport 

 3          their young child on multiple subways in 

 4          order to keep their child in their original 

 5          school when they become homeless.

 6                 Next, school climate.  Schools need to 

 7          create safe school environments, but 

 8          suspensions can create more problems than 

 9          they solve because they force students to 

10          miss valuable instructional time and fail to 

11          address issues that underlie the student's 

12          behavior.

13                 We recommend that the budget include 

14          $50 million for a new competitive grant 

15          program that allows schools to implement or 

16          expand positive approaches to discipline such 

17          as restorative practices training for school 

18          staff and administrators, peer mediation 

19          training and facilitation, and additional 

20          guidance counselors, social workers, and 

21          school psychologists.  

22                 Next, pre-K.  We are grateful to 

23          Governor Cuomo and to the Legislature for 

24          increasing funding for pre-K, allowing 

                                                                  455

 1          New York City to reach the milestone of 

 2          having a full-day pre-K seat available for 

 3          every 4-year-old.  However, we know that the 

 4          state has more work to do in order to provide 

 5          universal access to all children across the 

 6          state.  We appreciate the additional $5 

 7          million in the Executive Budget, but it 

 8          doesn't go far enough.  We would recommend an 

 9          additional $125 million in order to help meet 

10          the need.

11                 We also support the consolidation of 

12          pre-K programs but do want to make sure that 

13          all school districts are able to sustain the 

14          funding that they've had in prior years so 

15          they can continue the pre-K programs that 

16          already exist.

17                 English language learners.  We support 

18          the Board of Regents' request for an 

19          additional $100 million in order to support 

20          English language learners.  And our written 

21          testimony echoes the Board of Regents in 

22          terms of how that funding could be spent 

23          effectively to help this population that 

24          really does need additional support right 

                                                                  456

 1          now.

 2                 Once again, as in past years, the 

 3          Executive Budget includes a special education 

 4          waiver.  We are very concerned about the fact 

 5          that this would allow school districts to 

 6          seek waivers from important protections for 

 7          students with disabilities.  We appreciate 

 8          that the Legislature has rejected this 

 9          proposal in the past and ask you to ensure 

10          that the final budget does not include this 

11          proposal this year.

12                 And just quickly, we echo the call for 

13          increased Foundation Aid.  We think that 

14          Foundation Aid needs to be increased by at 

15          least $2 billion over last year, and to 

16          reject the elimination of the Foundation Aid 

17          formula in future years.  

18                 Our written testimony contains more 

19          information on these recommendations as well 

20          as a few others.  Thank you for your time, 

21          and I'm happy to answer any questions that 

22          you have.

23                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  I have a 

                                                                  457

 1          question, just a brief one.  I know we're 

 2          running so late, but ...  

 3                 You know, there was an article -- you 

 4          guys are some of the leading proponents about 

 5          multiple pathways to graduation.  We would 

 6          love working with you.  We've known you guys 

 7          a long time.  But if you notice, the New York 

 8          Times yesterday wrote that State Ed "did they 

 9          lower the bar for graduation, or did they 

10          provide multiple pathways for students?"  

11                 And I have to say, you know, advocates 

12          come in here every day -- we're here on our 

13          tenth hour -- but nobody helps us clarify 

14          what went on.  So what do you think went on?  

15          Did we lower the bar, or did we provide 

16          multiple pathways for students?  Would you 

17          comment on that?

18                 MS. LEVINE:  Advocates for Children 

19          certainly fully supports the need to develop 

20          additional pathways in order to reach a high 

21          school diploma.  We do believe that there are 

22          multiple ways for students to demonstrate 

23          that they've mastered rigorous standards, and 

24          we think that the state has taken important 

                                                                  458

 1          steps toward doing that, and that it should 

 2          continue to do that.  

 3                 We also worry in certain cases about 

 4          not --

 5                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Well, it's nice 

 6          to have it both ways, but sometimes you 

 7          can't.  So what I would suggest for a group 

 8          like yours is when you read an article like 

 9          that, you consider writing a letter to the 

10          editor to talk about your work, which has 

11          influenced State Ed's decisions, but then 

12          when the decisions are made that help those 

13          students and there's criticism, we don't get 

14          the support.  And it's very, very 

15          frustrating.  

16                 So no disrespect, love the group, not 

17          trying to seize on you.  Lots of groups.  But 

18          read the papers.  You know, if you feel that 

19          they've done something that's valuable, say 

20          it.  Because otherwise we've had 10 years of 

21          back-and-forth on that question.  And I 

22          really don't believe we've lowered the bar.  

23          I think we've made it easier for students who 

24          have challenges to not be held accountable by 

                                                                  459

 1          only a Regents test.  We've said there are 

 2          some other pathways.  

 3                 But we're going to need people like 

 4          you to support that when other people take 

 5          shots and then it's in the newspaper.  That's 

 6          all I'm saying.

 7                 MS. LEVINE:  We would definitely be 

 8          happy to work with you on that.  Advocates 

 9          for children leads the coalition for multiple 

10          pathways to a diploma, and we would love to 

11          work with you and others on that.

12                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thank you.  

13          Thank you.

14                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Yes?

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  You know, it was a 

16          parallel question, so we're done.  Thank you.

17                 MS. LEVINE:  Thank you.  

18                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

19          much.  

20                 Todd Vaarwerk, director, advocacy and 

21          public policy, WNY Independent Living, for 

22          New York Association of Independent Living. 

23                 MR. VAARWERK:  Thank you so much.  I 

24          know at this part of the day my last name is 

                                                                  460

 1          extremely hard to pronounce.

 2                 ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:  So what is it?  

 3                 MR. VAARWERK:  Var-work.  Vaarwerk is 

 4          my name.  And I work for the Independent 

 5          Living Center in Buffalo, and I also have the 

 6          pleasure of delivering the testimony for the 

 7          New York Association on Independent Living, 

 8          which are 41 locations that assist people 

 9          with disabilities from birth to death in 

10          actualizing integrated and empowered lives.  

11                 I'm not going to read my testimony.  I 

12          really want to get to the high point.  And 

13          I'm going to be honest, this is the third 

14          year in a row I've done this and I'm really 

15          looking for some help.

16                 We need the budgets to support the 

17          Regents' recommendation to move the New York 

18          State Independent Living allocation to 

19          $18 million, and here's why.  Back in 

20          Buffalo, where I'm from, Medicaid redesign 

21          has been both a blessing and a curse.  And 

22          when we're dealing with schoolchildren and 

23          young adults in transition, which is a 

24          required service paradigm for Independent 

                                                                  461

 1          Living Centers, and adults who are done with 

 2          the education system that we are serving day 

 3          to day, we are the last line of defense in an 

 4          area where silos are deepening.  

 5                 Where Medicaid redesign was meant to 

 6          make things easier for people to access the 

 7          services that they need to stay healthy, 

 8          we're finding that consumers of all ages are 

 9          having increased difficulty getting those 

10          services, in school and out of school.  

11          Independent Living are the only people that 

12          can cross those silos.  

13                 For example, if you're classified by 

14          your school district as having a 

15          developmental disability, you'll get services 

16          from OPWDD, if you know enough to apply and 

17          get eligible.  But you won't get mental 

18          health services if you need those services 

19          under an OPWDD waiver, because OMH won't 

20          accept them.  

21                 Consequently, on the other side, if 

22          you're classified as emotionally disturbed, 

23          which is a really bad classification for a 

24          mental health disability, you can get 

                                                                  462

 1          counseling services and services from the 

 2          Office of Mental Health.  But if you have a 

 3          co-occurring disability that requires 

 4          additional services, that becomes really, 

 5          really difficult to get.

 6                 And the Centers for Independent Living 

 7          in the state have been fighting that battle 

 8          and going into those silos and doing it year 

 9          after year.  And every year I come and I say, 

10          please invest in the Independent Living 

11          Networks, and last year you did.  You gave us 

12          a million dollars, which is basically a cost 

13          of living that -- because we haven't been 

14          covered in 12 years.  And then, somewhere in 

15          state government, the language became "it 

16          shouldn't be used to support the network of 

17          centers, it should be used to create new 

18          ones."  Now, while I'm not going to begrudge 

19          communities that need an Independent Living 

20          Center to have one, what that basically did 

21          was gut the entire support for the rest of 

22          the network.  

23                 We really need to show that these 

24          services are critical, from the child who 

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 1          goes to Early Intervention the first day, to 

 2          the high schooler who's in transition to try 

 3          and find work in a technical trade, all the 

 4          way to the adults who may not have been 

 5          appropriately served by their district but 

 6          now they need help in getting a job or 

 7          getting support so that they can live 

 8          independently.  Because if they don't, if we 

 9          don't give them the supports, where they're 

10          going to end up is nursing homes and 

11          psychiatric institutions where the average 

12          cost is, according to my region of the state 

13          alone, $124,000 per person per year, most of 

14          which is just paid for out of Medicaid 

15          dollars.  

16                 That's pretty much all I have.  I'm 

17          available to answer any questions that you 

18          might have.  I'm just -- it's a long day.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

20                 Questions?

21                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.  

22                 It is a long day, and I appreciate 

23          your coming up here every year.  And I think 

24          the navigator role -- I think you used the 

                                                                  464

 1          word in the testimony -- is critically 

 2          important.

 3                 MR. VAARWERK:  Yes.

 4                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I'm a little 

 5          confused why we've sort of put you in the 

 6          education budget, because I think maybe you 

 7          get lost because you're doing so many 

 8          important things but they all seem to impact 

 9          many other state funding streams.

10                 MR. VAARWERK:  Well, I'm going to say 

11          that that was a classic legislative decision.  

12          That was back when the Independent Living 

13          movement was first founded.  

14                 We've tried to create a State Office 

15          for Community Living where independent living 

16          and those related community services could 

17          move under there and kind of be represented 

18          by themselves.  But while we continue to 

19          support that proposal and would like that 

20          proposal to move forward, there was 

21          significant resistance, primarily from the 

22          aging community, which we're still working 

23          through.  

24                 Yes, and in the Education Department 

                                                                  465

 1          we are sometimes kind of forgotten.  This 

 2          year, however, we have the Regents' support 

 3          to move the allocation to $18 million and 

 4          were surprised to discover that we were 

 5          level-funded at 13.2.

 6                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And is there another 

 7          agency that would potentially be more 

 8          logical, OCFS --

 9                 MR. VAARWERK:  We have that 

10          conversation every few years.

11                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  -- Health?

12                 MR. VAARWERK:  It's a thing where 

13          independent living doesn't fit a particular 

14          mold for anything.  For example, if you moved 

15          us out of Education and you moved us to 

16          Labor, Labor would want us to concentrate on 

17          jobs.  And not everything that we do is 

18          always concentrating on jobs.  

19                 So it's that question of where the 

20          appropriate place is, which is why the 

21          administrative direction was to go to a State 

22          Office on Community Living, to follow the 

23          very successful federal example.  And I was 

24          shocked with the level of resistance that the 

                                                                  466

 1          aging community had to joining and bringing 

 2          that efficiency to New York.

 3                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Because you even -- 

 4          in your testimony, you reference Medicaid 

 5          redesign.

 6                 MR. VAARWERK:  Yes.

 7                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  And as we all know, 

 8          having been living through it for multiple 

 9          years now, when you make the argument that by 

10          providing some basic community-level services 

11          you actually help people stay in their own 

12          homes, be independent, move on with their 

13          lives and save the state funding streams an 

14          enormous amount of money, disproportionately 

15          through the health/mental health/OPWDD 

16          categories, which are all somehow always 

17          Medicaid-interrelated --

18                 MR. VAARWERK:  In Medicaid redesign, 

19          they call those social determinants.  I was 

20          shocked to find out, when I gave testimony 

21          recently to the Department of Health, that 

22          only a very small amount of the Medicaid 

23          redesign money that was eligible for billing 

24          last year went to agencies like mine that 

                                                                  467

 1          dealt with social determinants.  It was 

 2          $12 million out of an estimated pool of 

 3          $1.8 billion.  

 4                 But again, the problem with that is 

 5          that funding comes with restrictions.  There 

 6          are things that we are not allowed to do with 

 7          that money.  I can't help a person with 

 8          multiple sclerosis with OPWDD money.  I can't 

 9          help a developmentally disabled person with 

10          OMH money I receive.  And DOH money comes 

11          with restrictions.  You can only help people 

12          that meet the criteria for the program DOH is 

13          funding.  And basically what that does is 

14          that creates a lot of mini-silos that we have 

15          to figure out a way to navigate so that we 

16          can help the consumers navigate them and be 

17          more efficient.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  So even though you 

19          talked about the example of having issues 

20          when you were exploring a certain model 

21          because of concerns in the aging community -- 

22          I come from New York City, so I don't know if 

23          this term means anything upstate, but we have 

24          one-stop-shop sites for seniors to come to to 

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 1          explore getting access and help with a whole 

 2          range of different services and benefits a 

 3          senior might need.  

 4                 And it seems to me that's not so 

 5          different than a Center for Independent --

 6                 MR. VAARWERK:  No, actually it isn't.  

 7          And we locally in upstate have a very good 

 8          reputation with our Offices on Aging and the 

 9          Aging Disability Resource Centers.  Aging is 

10          doing things like expanding the NY Connects 

11          program, and centers are becoming very big 

12          parts of that.  I think it was the idea of 

13          combining them under the department that met 

14          the most resistance.

15                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I hope that we can 

16          be helpful, because I know for a fact that 

17          these are incredibly valuable and important 

18          programs throughout the state.  I've worked 

19          with the centers in New York City, know how 

20          irreplaceable they are, and frankly the 

21          concept that we just keep seeing you being 

22          reduced in dollars -- because your testimony 

23          points out we added two more sites, which I'm 

24          sure is wonderful and we needed them, but it 

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 1          just ended up reducing your budgets per 

 2          center even more.

 3                 MR. VAARWERK:  Yes, and I want to 

 4          highlight that that came to us in the middle 

 5          of a budget year.  After State Ed had 

 6          informed us to do a budget mod to cover the 

 7          raise for cost of living, they subsequently 

 8          looked at the language and then retroactively 

 9          sent out something that demanded we reduce.  

10                 At my location, we put all of that 

11          into salaries so that we could hold on to 

12          people that have been very valuably trained 

13          in some pretty obscure issues of disability, 

14          and we needed not to fill positions that were 

15          vacant in order to meet the demand to take 

16          the cut in midyear.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  I'm sorry you're 

18          going through so much trouble.  Thank you 

19          very much.

20                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.

21                 MR. VAARWERK:  My pleasure.

22                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

23                 Westbury Union Free School District, 

24          Mary A. Lagnado, superintendent.

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 1                 SUPERINTENDENT LAGNADO:  Good 

 2          afternoon, members of the Senate and the 

 3          Assembly.  Thank you so much for allowing me 

 4          this testimony.  We have been waiting for a 

 5          long time to talk to you and tell you our 

 6          story, what is happening in Westbury.  

 7                 As you can see from the testimony, we 

 8          are a school district that has been focused 

 9          only on the educational achievement of our 

10          students.  And one of our goals was achieved 

11          this year, as read in the testimony, that 

12          89 percent of our African-American students 

13          graduated in the four-year cohort, as 

14          compared to 68 percent statewide.  

15          Additionally, 84 percent of our graduating 

16          students were college and career ready.  

17                 Now we have a dilemma that is New York 

18          State-induced.  The funding formula is 

19          ill-suited to declining wealth and 

20          high-growth enrollment districts like 

21          Westbury.  Alone in Westbury we've increased, 

22          from 2007, when we had 4,037 students, to our 

23          present 5,388.  That is an enrollment growth 

24          of 30 percent over these 10 years, with 

                                                                  471

 1          diverse groups and with the impact of 

 2          multiple fiscal variables.  

 3                 How do you maintain a high rate of 

 4          achievement and go forward with a 

 5          constraining Foundation Aid base?  

 6          Historically, as you all know, free and 

 7          reduced-price lunch applications has been the 

 8          basis for extraordinary needs funding.  In 

 9          some measure, extraordinary needs 

10          calculations were the proxy for poverty.  One 

11          reason that we are severely underfunded is 

12          because Westbury schools are located in a 

13          pocket of poverty in the extremely wealthy 

14          county of Nassau.  

15                 And let me give you the rates that 

16          portray Westbury's dilemma.  We have 

17          86 percent per the free and reduced lunch 

18          applications, 19.3 percent per the Title I 

19          federal Census, and 8.4 percent with the 

20          Census data of SAIPE.  

21                 How are these above rates equalized 

22          for state aid purposes?  Last year the New 

23          York State Education Department State Aid 

24          Committee began the process to redefine state 

                                                                  472

 1          aid because of how the Community Eligibility 

 2          Provision, CEP, of the School Breakfast and 

 3          Lunch Program displaced the free and reduced 

 4          lunch applications as a methodology for state 

 5          aid distribution.  Westbury is 100 percent 

 6          CEP.  In other words, our direct 

 7          certification rate -- a combination of SNAP, 

 8          which is food stamps, recipients and Medicaid 

 9          eligibility residents -- define that status. 

10          It is the new definition of poverty.  The 

11          State Education subcommittee reported to you, 

12          and subsequently the Regents made a 

13          recommendation to the Governor.  The most 

14          discriminatory aspects of the recommendations 

15          are in the present Governor's proposal.  

16                 The present state aid runs do not 

17          reflect the dramatically increasing fiscal 

18          requirements for the economically 

19          disadvantaged student population of the 

20          Westbury School District.  Now the Governor 

21          will use the Census Small Area Income Poverty 

22          Estimator, SAIPE, for calculating state aid 

23          distribution and freeze the base again.  The 

24          Census SAIPE calculation for Nassau County is 

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 1          8.4 percent.  That means that Westbury's data 

 2          set is averaged with the rest of 

 3          Nassau County for fixing the Foundation Aid 

 4          formula.  In terms of Title I funding, 

 5          Westbury and New York State distribution for 

 6          state aid is not equally distributed. 

 7                 Westbury will not be fighting the 

 8          federal government, nor will Westbury be 

 9          suing New York State, even though others have 

10          suggested this path.  So what are our 

11          options?  

12                 And I wanted to talk about this, 

13          because one factor when state aid is 

14          distributed, everyone looks at the fund 

15          balance that a school district has.  Yes, 

16          those are the reserves, those are the 

17          distributions that we save for a rainy day.  

18          Well, in Westbury it's pouring.  The fund 

19          balance reserves are diminishing.  

20                 Westbury has been well-managed.  In 

21          fact, right now we have zero fiscal stress.  

22          I myself have received the Eagle Award, the 

23          ASBO national achievement for educational 

24          leadership.  My team of administrators and 

                                                                  474

 1          teachers has developed a culture of learning.  

 2          We have a professional learning community.  

 3          We have an after-school program where over 

 4          1,000 middle school students are attending 

 5          every day.  And my middle school is a focus 

 6          school.  And three years in a row, we have 

 7          applied for funding for extended day without 

 8          any success.  Funding has been denied for zip 

 9          code 11568, Old Westbury, where only 58 of 

10          our 6,127 students reside -- that is 25 

11          students per square mile.  But neither the 

12          state nor the federal funding sources sees 

13          the census tracts for Westbury's New Cassel, 

14          where there are 4,000 students per square 

15          mile.  Ninety-nine percent of our in-district 

16          students are African-American and Hispanic.  

17                 But let me get back to the fund 

18          balance a little bit, and I'll finish 

19          quickly.  Because of Part 154 and other 

20          mandates, we cannot downsize.  We don't have 

21          that luxury.  Westbury is precluded from 

22          cutting our budget.  We even have a directive 

23          from the Attorney General to provide 

24          specialized services.  We need a plan for the 

                                                                  475

 1          long-term.  We need an equitable funding base 

 2          to plan for the future.  

 3                 Our wealthy neighbors Jericho and 

 4          Carle Place, their Foundation Aid formulas 

 5          are 152.6 percent and 71.7 percent, 

 6          respectively.  Westbury has been funded at 

 7          39.7 percent of phase-in Foundation Aid for 

 8          the last several years.  And subsequently we 

 9          will be out of unrestricted reserves by June 

10          of 2019.  

11                 As my testimony shows, we have been 

12          appropriated.  We've been appropriated for 

13          the unrestricted fund balance and our 

14          restricted reserves.  And by the measures and 

15          by our calculations, by June of 2019 we will 

16          be out of those reserves.   

17                 The only other option for Westbury 

18          will be if it is made whole by placing a 

19          floor of 55 percent of the phase-in 

20          Foundation Aid formula.  That would help 

21          32 districts statewide, creating a better 

22          fiscal base at the cost of $48.4 million.  If 

23          you implemented a phase-in of, let's say, 

24          only 50 percent, it would impact 14 districts 

                                                                  476

 1          at a cost of $22.8 million.  

 2                 Our options are defined by mandates 

 3          and lack of funding.  Help us to request an 

 4          equitable Foundation Aid formula that does 

 5          not include such a low baseline.  If a 

 6          baseline is to go into effect, we ask that 

 7          you make the basis at least 55 percent of the 

 8          phase-in percentage.

 9                 I thank you for the opportunity and 

10          for the time, and I do want to thank you all 

11          for all of the support we have previously 

12          received, and we hope that that will 

13          continue.  

14                 I have my trustee, Karin Campbell, 

15          here, former board president, and the 

16          president of our school board, Robin Bolling, 

17          who traveled from Westbury with me today.  

18                 So thank you.  

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  

20                 Assemblywoman Simon has just joined 

21          us.

22                 Assemblyman Ra.

23                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you, Denny.  

24                 And thank you guys for being here.  

                                                                  477

 1          you know, I represent a portion of this 

 2          district, and we had a pretty good 

 3          conversation a few weeks ago with some of the 

 4          other Assembly representatives and our 

 5          Senator, Elaine Phillips, who's here as well.  

 6          And one of the things I asked you that day, 

 7          but I just wanted to ask it again so you can 

 8          put it on the record for my colleagues here, 

 9          is regarding our Part 154 in terms of, you 

10          know, how many teachers you've had to hire, 

11          so what the staff impact is both in terms of 

12          actual employees and fiscally, because this 

13          is a district that is unique in that so many 

14          districts are either flat enrollment or 

15          having reduced enrollment.  And as you show 

16          in the chart there, this is a district that 

17          continues to grow in enrollment.

18                 SUPERINTENDENT LAGNADO:  Well, thank 

19          you.  In trying to answer that question, I'd 

20          like to say that as of July 1st of 2016, our 

21          high school has enrolled 200 additional 

22          students.  Right now, in the high school that 

23          was built for 1200 students, we have 1600.  

24          And most of them are children of other 

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 1          countries coming in with limited language.  

 2                 So as you mentioned, we have had to 

 3          hire about 38 new teachers this year.  And 12 

 4          of them were, of course, retirees, but the 

 5          most is for the ELL teachers, for our special 

 6          education teachers.  

 7                 And all of the districts are now 

 8          having to hire because of Part 154.  So we're 

 9          all competing from the same pool.  And right 

10          now it almost took us since September, we've 

11          been trying to hire a bilingual reading 

12          teacher, and just right now we were able to 

13          secure one.  

14                 So it's becoming more difficult 

15          because we don't know who's coming through 

16          the door.  Although we prepare and we do 

17          budgets and we do projections, and we know 

18          how many we're going to hire, when it comes 

19          from July, it's unending, we are getting more 

20          and more children enrolling in our district.  

21          Therefore, we don't know what specialized 

22          licenses we need.  It's an ongoing basis.  

23                 And recruitment is becoming a problem, 

24          not only because of the certifications but 

                                                                  479

 1          also because of the fiscal constraints and 

 2          our money constraints that we have.

 3                 ASSEMBLYMAN RA:  Thank you.

 4                 SUPERINTENDENT LAGNADO:  Thank you.

 5                 CHAIRWOMAN YOUNG:  Thank you.  We 

 6          appreciate your testimony very much, and we 

 7          wish you safe travels as you go back.  So 

 8          thank you.

 9                 SUPERINTENDENT LAGNADO:  Thank you.  

10                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you very 

11          much.

12                 Now, New York State PTA, the executive 

13          director, Kyle -- I'm not going there.

14                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  You don't have to.  

15          I understand, chairman.  It's a tough last 

16          name.

17                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  We wanted you to 

18          pronounce it.  None of us thought we could.

19                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  Belokopitsky.

20                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Of course.

21                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  Yes.  I went from a 

22          nice Irish-Catholic Kyle McCauley to Kyle 

23          Belokopitsky when I married.  

24                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  We're so happy 

                                                                  480

 1          that parents are represented in the great job 

 2          that you're doing, Kyle.  Very great job. 

 3                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  Thank you so much, 

 4          Assemblywoman.  

 5                 I am Kyle McCauley Belokopitsky, the 

 6          executive director of the New York State 

 7          Congress of Parents and Teachers, and am 

 8          extremely proud to represent 300,000 members 

 9          of the New York State PTA and the families of 

10          2.46 million schoolchildren.  

11                 Thank you to Chairman Farrell, Senator 

12          Young, Assemblywoman Nolan, Senator 

13          Marcellino, and other members of the 

14          Legislature for your interest and attendance 

15          today.  

16                 I will not read our testimony but 

17          briefly summarize a few points.  

18                 New York schools have amazing 

19          successes, and I am a proud public school 

20          parent.  We have more students taking 

21          advanced placement examinations, more Intel 

22          Science and Siemens award winners than most 

23          states.  Our students excel in Career and 

24          Technical Education, they perform and create 

                                                                  481

 1          amazing works of art.  

 2                 However, our challenges are real too.  

 3          While some school districts have declining 

 4          enrollment, more than 200 school districts 

 5          show growth in New York.  We have some of the 

 6          biggest city school districts and some of the 

 7          smallest rural schools.  More than 50 percent 

 8          of our students in New York now live in some 

 9          level of poverty, half of them qualifying for 

10          free or reduced-price lunch, and many 

11          students have special learning or education 

12          needs.  Our schools welcome thousands of ELL 

13          students, some with interrupted formal 

14          education, some as unaccompanied minors who 

15          speak more than 200 languages in our schools.  

16          More than 100,000 students are homeless or 

17          living in temporary housing.  And our schools 

18          continue to do more with less, trying each 

19          and every day to move a child on a pathway to 

20          good citizenship and graduation.

21                 The need to provide students and 

22          schools with resources has never been more 

23          important, and the New York State PTA calls 

24          for a $2.0 billion increase in school aid, to 

                                                                  482

 1          include $1.5 billion for current school 

 2          services and $500 million to address priority 

 3          programs.  

 4                 We are greatly concerned with proposed 

 5          changes to the school aid formula which 

 6          eliminates the predictability necessary to 

 7          plan for future school aid calculations.  We 

 8          do not support the proposal to use the 

 9          previous year's Foundation Aid as a base, 

10          especially because it does not include the 

11          previous fiscal shortfalls of more than 

12          $4 billion, with a "b."  

13                 We also join in calls for tax cap 

14          reforms, common-sense exemptions, and at 

15          least a real 2 percent levy limit.

16                 On English language learners and their 

17          families, near and dear to PTA's heart, 

18          New York State has long been the gateway for 

19          immigrant success and the door to the 

20          American dream.  Adequately supporting our 

21          ELL students and their families is most 

22          important, and we ask that you consider 

23          additional dedicated funding for ELL students 

24          and unaccompanied minor students, as well as 

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 1          review of the cost of Part 154, accelerated 

 2          teacher training for all educators in 

 3          supporting ELL students, and expanded 

 4          capacity to provide translation services for 

 5          key parent documents and other materials.  

 6                 New York State PTA proudly has begun 

 7          to translate our own documents in Spanish, 

 8          three dialects of Chinese, and Arabic, with 

 9          more languages to come.  

10                 We also continue to call for more 

11          fiscal support and programmatic services for 

12          our students with disabilities and their 

13          families, and look forward to doing this work 

14          with you together.  

15                 On family engagement, parent and 

16          family engagement is a key indicator for 

17          success of a child, and thankfully the new 

18          federal Every Student Succeeds Act mandates 

19          parental involvement in education.  New York 

20          State PTA strongly supports continued 

21          investments in services, programs and 

22          policies that lead to effective family 

23          engagement in our schools.  

24                 On Community Schools, we know that 

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 1          they are an effective strategy for student 

 2          success.  While there is a $50 million 

 3          set-aside included in the Foundation Aid 

 4          increase, we support sustained funding for 

 5          struggling and persistently struggling 

 6          schools, and we continue to be concerned 

 7          about the punitive nature of the current 

 8          receivership model.  Importantly, all schools 

 9          should be afforded the opportunity to 

10          transform their schools into community hubs.

11                 On after-school and pre-K, nearly half 

12          a million school-aged children in New York 

13          are without a safe and/or educational 

14          after-school program.  We support the 

15          $35 million allocation to fund the Empire 

16          State After-School Program.  However, support 

17          is also needed across the state in all areas.  

18                 And we know that high-quality free and 

19          low-cost prekindergarten for both 

20          3-and-4-year-old children is critically 

21          important.  We support both the consolidation 

22          of pre-K funding streams and increases in 

23          this funding.

24                 On Early College High Schools and 

                                                                  485

 1          Career and Technical Education, this is an 

 2          investment in both the economic future of our 

 3          state and our children, as 90 percent of CTE 

 4          students graduate with a Regents diploma.  

 5          New York State PTA fully supports expansion 

 6          of Early College High School programs.  We 

 7          also support expansion for CTE and relevant 

 8          legislation, including the Nolan/Ritchie bill 

 9          amending the current aid formula for BOCES 

10          CTE programs and supports for special 

11          services aid.  

12                 And lastly, on the "whole child," 

13          which is not at the education table, we fully 

14          support the proposal which requires 

15          regulation of electronic cigarettes in the 

16          same manner as tobacco products.  We look 

17          forward to working with the Legislature to 

18          fully ban the marketing, advertising and sale 

19          of electronic cigarettes to our children.  

20                 We also support the $30 million 

21          increase to combat the heroin epidemic, and 

22          recommend an additional $15 million over the 

23          Executive Budget.  As we all know, heroin and 

24          prescription opiates continue to devastate 

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 1          families and communities.

 2                 In conclusion, we need to continue to 

 3          build on the success of our communities 

 4          through investments and support for our key 

 5          resources, our children.  Every parent has a 

 6          dream for their child -- I know I have a 

 7          dream for Jackson -- and it's our job to be 

 8          dream-makers.  We humbly ask that you 

 9          continue to infuse schools and families with 

10          the tools and resources necessary to 

11          accelerate the success of our children and 

12          our families.  Together we can make every 

13          child's potential a reality, and there is no 

14          other more important work.

15                 Thank you so much.

16                 ASSEMBLYWOMAN NOLAN:  Thanks very 

17          much.  Very well said.

18                 SENATOR KRUEGER:  Thank you.

19                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  That's it.  

20                 MS. BELOKOPITSKY:  Thank you so much.

21                 CHAIRMAN FARRELL:  Thank you.  We are 

22          finished until tomorrow at 9:30.

23                 (Whereupon, the budget hearing concluded 

24          at 5:39 p.m.)