9:38am

Thu August 30, 2012
Education

Back to school brings new statewide policy changes

As parents get ready to send their kids back to school all over upstate New York .... There are some new statewide educational changes are taking affect they may want to know about first.  

While new school policies happen every year, the New York State School Boards Association says this year's changes are broader and more complex than in previous years. There are three main initiatives, that the NYSSBA says will have a positive impact on students, but they are worried about how districts will pay for them.

New York schools are adopting new common core math and English/language arts standards for third through eighth grades. These learning standards have been adopted by nearly every state in the nation. Some federal Race to the Top funds help pay for that program.

This year, new evaluations for teachers and principals will be linked to student achievement on standardized tests.

New bullying prevention legislation became law July 1. This law identifies new classification of students that will be specially protected from bullying. They include bullying because of ethnicity, weight, religious practice, and how how a student identifies by gender.

NYSSBA Executive Director Tim Kremer says school districts mostly think these changes are positive.

"These are all things the school board thinks are good and will have a big impact. We do have one caveat -- how do we pay for these things? Every single one of these things in our mind is under-funded," said Kremer.

Kremer says tough economic times have made for tight budgets for many school districts in the state, which make it hard for them to add anything new. He says school districts continue to struggle on the revenue side of their budgets since some federal funding has run out and the state mandated a new property tax cap in 2012.

"And so it's something that is really a concern to put together budgets that are acceptable to the community that will require us to implement these mandates and if so, what has to be cut?" said Kremer.

According to a poll by the school boards association, 45 percent of districts think the core learning standards will have the biggest impact on students of these three new initiatives.

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