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End of 2012 Legislative Session

Statement from NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer

As school districts around the state hold their graduation ceremonies, state lawmakers have also adjourned for the summer having completed a productive legislative session.

First, lawmakers delivered on mandate relief. They enacted Tier VI pension reform to make employee retirement systems more affordable, and allowed schools to use national purchasing cooperatives and “piggyback” onto large municipal contracts, paving the way for millions in cost savings.

Next, they preserved a degree of confidentiality in teacher and principal evaluations while still allowing those who need the information the most – parents – to know the quality ratings and effectiveness scores of their children’s teachers.

Last, they adopted laws that will ease operations for school districts. These include allowing school districts to continue using lever voting machines, providing aid for instructional days lost to storms, and allowing BOCES to contract with libraries and out of state school districts.

Still, the session was not without its drawbacks. Lawmakers passed several proposals – such as a cyber bullying bill and requirements to consider a student’s cultural and home environment when making special education placements – that create significant administration challenges and legal concerns for school districts. And much more work lies ahead on mandate relief.

All in all, lawmakers earn a passing grade for their efforts this year on behalf of public education. Class dismissed.