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Elmsford Schools: New Performance Regulations Costly

ELMSFORD, N.Y. – Even though abiding by the state’s new Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) regulations could ultimately give schools more funding, the Elmsford School District said that it is costing more than it would earn.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new executive budget stated that a school district will not be eligible for state aid increases unless it has implemented the new teacher evaluation process by January 2013. The new regulations were designed to provide accountability, increase student achievement and teacher performance.

The "Race to the Top" funds are at the center of these new regulations, said Barbara Peters, Elmsford's Superintendent of Schools. New York State received funding, which each school district can apply for. To receive the money, the districts have to implement the new regulations, which include posting student state test scores and teacher evaluations online.

The Elmsford School District is set to receive $33,465 over a four-year period. Peters said the unfunded mandated training needed in order to comply with the new APPR regulations has "substantially crippled" the district.

"We received so little money in comparison to how much this is costing us," Peters said. "We are paying most of our professional development money to certify my administrators to comply with the new APPR requirements so that we get 'Race to the Top' funding. And we have far exceeded the allocation of dollars that we are receiving."

Peters said she is wondering if there is a way out of the new APPR regulations and if her school district can implement its own APPR evaluation system that is "rigorous and meaningful," holding staff and students accountable.

"The bigger picture is how we produce more learning for students given the resources our taxpayers can provide," Peters said.

As the new APPR regulations require that student scores and teacher evaluations be posted online, Peters said there is a potential for disputes. Parents might take issue with their child having class with a teacher who has a slightly lower score than another. However, she said, the teachers in the Elmsford school district are focused on educating their students, not pandering to test scores.

"[We] got into this business because we want to have a positive impact on the lives of children," Peters said. "I believe there isn't anyone who is into education that doesn't want children to be successful in the classroom."

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