With $11.5 million dollars at stake, the Syracuse City School District did some last minute negotiating with its teachers and principal's unions, in the hopes of getting some state funding reinstated.
One of the requirements for getting the School Improvement Grants from New York State was to submit a plan for evaluating teachers and administrators by December 31. Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras says a task force has been working on it since October, but hadn't finished.
Neither did 9 other districts around the state. So, State Education Commissioner John King suspended the funding to Syracuse, as well as districts in Poughkeepsie, Buffalo, Albany, Rochester, New York City, Yonkers and Schenectady.
"We knew there was a deadline and we submitted the work to date," said Contreras. "Certainly, we had no idea that the Commissioner or the State Education Deaprtment would suspend the SIG funding."
That set off a flurry of meetings and negotiations to get some kind of plan together to send to Albany. Contreras says they'll resubmit that stopgap plan Friday. And the task force will continue working, finalizing a plan in June. Contreras says she doesn't regret the way this played out, suggesting this is the best way to figure out how to evaluate teachers and principals.
"We believe in a collaborative process," she said. "We believe that you include parents, you include students, you include teachers in the design of the evaluation systems."
This funding is tied to the federal race to the top grants, which Contreras says would be devastating to lose. It could take the state a month to okay the evaluation proposal sent in today. And the district could still lose $45,000s for every day they don't have a proposal in place.