ALBANY, NY—Senator Sue Serino (R, C, I—Hyde Park) today called on the Legislature and the Governor to take immediate action on her bill that would ensure public schools receive the state funding they depend on.

Serino’s bill (S. 7641) would decouple the link between state aid and the teacher and principal evaluation system, providing school districts with the flexibility they need to collectively bargain and determine locally, which evaluation system best fits the district while protecting the aid increase they need to continue providing quality education to our students.

“To hold the state funding that our schools depend on hostage while ramming an evaluation system down their throats, is no way to provide for high quality, effective education,” said Serino, a vocal opponent of the Common Core-aligned exams on which the evaluations rely greatly. “Last year, we worked tirelessly to ensure that Common Core as we know it would cease to exist, hitting the ‘pause button’ and sending the Board of Regents and the State Education department back to the drawing board to review and revise the standards. With billions of dollars in state aid on the line, our schools should not be penalized while the state works to right the wrongs of the disastrous rollout of Common Core.”

Last year, Senator Serino was successful in ensuring that a moratorium was placed on the use of test scores in both teacher and principal evaluations until the 2019-20 school year. Recognizing the failure of the Common Core rollout, during this moratorium, the Board of Regents as well as the State Education Department—with input from parents and educators—have been tasked with reviewing and revising the standards, the tests and the evaluations.

However, under the law, school districts are still required to implement an evaluation system or risk jeopardizing their increased state funding. Recognizing the difficulty of this, schools throughout the state have received a hardship waiver from the Department of Education and have been authorized to delay implanting an evaluation plan until September of this year. Yet, according to a recent Politico article, to date, less than 200 districts have approved plans, while over 500 have been forced to operate under the hardship waivers.

According to the State School Boards Association, over $2.3 billion in school funding is at risk should this measure fail to pass in both houses before the end of the Legislative Session.

“It’s simply not a risk we can afford to take,” concluded Serino. “Our schools, our taxpayers, and most importantly, our children deserve better.”

The bill is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblymember Amy Paulin. Currently, it is in the Education Committees in both houses.