Rochester, N.Y. - Frustrated school districts are struggling to get state approval for new teacher evaluations are falling behind.
“Almost every (district) is living through this now,” says Timothy Kremer Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association. “People are looking for ways through the fog.”
Half the school districts in Monroe County have not submitted a plan and two-thirds of those that have are awaiting state approval.
Meanwhile a January 17th deadline is looming. Districts without a plan in place by then will receive regular school aid but will forgo increases in aid.
The Rochester City School District’s history helps to illustrate why the process is not a simple one.
On any given day hundreds of city students aren’t in class. The teacher’s union didn’t want the test scores of chronically absent students to count in evaluations. School boards trying to please the education department are caught in the middle.
“I don’t think they realized when you start putting something like that on the table all the other things associated with the contract (like) salaries and benefits and working conditions are also on the table,” says Kremer.
RCSD did find a compromise acceptable to the state. It is one of three Monroe County districts with approved evaluation plans. The other two are Rush-Henrietta and Wheatland.
Six other Monroe County districts have submitted plans. Webster is one of them. But it hasn’t been easy.
“The guidelines were slow coming out of the state,” says Thomas Nespeca who is on the Webster School Board. “We’re very close to an agreement with our teachers and the one we’ve worked on so far has been submitted to the state.”
Nine school districts here have yet to submit a plan. Some of them are attending a state school boards conference this weekend looking for guidance from those that have.
Because of the lengthy process, some districts are falling behind.
“Some districts have gone back and forth five and six times (with the state education department. It’s been frustrating,” says Kremer.
Each time the state sends a proposal back any changes often have to be approved by a teacher’s union. The back and forth process can take months.
“We’re hoping to find ways to cut through some of this,” says Kremer.
To view an interactive map of how your school district is doing: