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Sens. Stewart-Cousins, Latimer Introduce Bills To Reform Public Schools

Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins Photo Credit: File

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- This week the State Senate Democratic Conference, led by Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, introduced bills to reform the state’s public school system and address the concerns raised by education stakeholders due to the changes made in the 2015 state budget.

The legislative package will implement reforms to the teacher evaluation system, increase fairness for student assessments and provide support for community schools that offer wraparound social services.

Stewart-Cousins and Sen. George Latimer, both represent Yonkers in the State Senate among other communities in their respective districts.

The package of education bills wil do the followingl:

  • Repeal a provision implemented in the 2015 state budget that allows New York State to withhold additional school aid from districts should they not have their “Annual Professional Performance Review Plans” approved by the Commissioner of Education by Nov. 15, 2015
  • School districts will no longer be forced to choose between unreasonable evaluation requirements and sufficient financial support from the state
  • Implement an advisory council to advise on and review “Annual Professional Performance Review Plans”
  • Restore use of the locally negotiated “student achievement metric” for teacher evaluations and make it available to school districts as part of the optional supplemental assessment subcomponent of the student performance category
  • The “student achievement metric” more fairly assesses children who are above grade-level as well as students with special needs
  • Restoring this metric will make assessments more realistic and useful for school districts to determine teachers’ performances
  • Study the costs associated with statewide assessments of students in school districts throughout New York State
  • Establish the “Community Schools Grant Program” to fund community schools that offer wraparound social services
  • Make the use of independent, outside evaluators optional instead of required

The Senate Democratic Conference also called for $682 million in new settlement funds to be invested in an education infrastructure bank. These funds will be utilized to pay for needs associated with health and safety, accessibility, physical capacity and school construction projects.

Latimer represents Bedford, North Castle, Harrison, Rye, Mamaroneck, Eastchester; and parts of New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers.

Stewart-Cousins represents Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Greenburgh, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, Tarrytown and parts of Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle and Scarsdale.

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