Meeting of the Board of Regents | April 2008
THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234
Update on Contracts for Excellence
April 11, 2008
1, 2, 3 and 5
Issue for Discussion
What are the public comments concerning the recent revisions to the Contract for Excellence regulations which the Regents promulgated through emergency action at their March meeting? What are changes to the State budget relating to Contracts for Excellence?
Reason(s) for Consideration
Review of policy.
This information will be shared and discussed with the Regents EMSC Committee in April.
The 2007-08 State budget required certain school districts to enter into Contracts for Excellence and to spend a portion of their Foundation Aid increase for school year 2007-08 on certain allowable programs and activities. To facilitate the successful implementation of the contracts for excellence for the 2007-08 school year, as required by statute, the Regents adopted regulations by emergency action at their April 2007 meeting. Contract proposals were submitted by school districts in July 2007 and the Department reviewed them all by August 15, 2007. The Department worked extensively with the Contract districts to revise and refine the proposals so that statutory and regulatory requirements were met. The Commissioner approved all final Contracts for Excellence on November 19, 2007.
The Department worked extensively with the field in developing the implementation regulations for the Contracts for Excellence and the Web-based process for submission of the Contracts. To facilitate the preparation and submission of the Contract proposals, the Regents adopted regulations by emergency action within weeks after final passage of the State budget. Subsequent actions have been taken by the Regents to revise and adopt the regulations so that school districts could meet their statutory obligations under the State budget. The most recent revisions were published in the State Register on March 5, 2008 and were adopted by emergency action at the March 17-18, 2005 Regents meeting. Comments that have been received on the seventh emergency action and latest version of the regulations suggest additional improvements to the regulations. In addition, the 2008-09 State Budget includes revisions to the statutory provisions related to the Contracts for Excellence that will likely result in changes to the regulations. Attachment 1 includes a summary of the State Budget relating to Contracts for Excellence.
Public comments received on the regulation addressed many categories, most notably:
- class size,
- the complaint process, and
- public participation.
The comments came from a broad range of constituents; parents, students, advocacy groups, and other organizations. Comments suggested simplifying the complaint process and making it available to all interested persons. Class size generated comments referring to enrollment declines being responsible for the decreases. Those interested in public participation commented on changing the requirements for public hearings and requiring a record of all public comments. The formal public comment period ran until Friday, April 4 and a large number of the comments received were received on April 3 and 4. Department staff are assessing the comments and will provide more information concerning proposed changes to the regulations based on those comments in May.
Also, last month special notification was sent to the field to make sure that Contract districts were aware that Contract funding can be used for new or expanded programs in the visual arts, music, dance and/or theatre; new or expanded programs in career and technical education; after-school programs offering supplemental instruction, tutoring and/or other academic support and enrichment; and/or summer camp programs offering supplemental instruction, tutoring and/or other academic support and enrichment. In addition, notification clarified that National Board Certification for teachers by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is an allowable activity under the Improving Teacher/Principal Quality Option.
Timetable for Implementation
Amendments based on the comments, along with any other necessary changes resulting from the enactment of the laws of 2008, will be presented to the Regents at the May meeting for adoption as an eighth emergency action. A ninth emergency action will be required in June to keep the regulations continuously in effect. Final adoption is expected at the July meeting of the Regents.
2008-09 Budget Changes Related to Contracts for Excellence
New Criteria and Flexibility for Contract Districts
- The threshold for becoming a contract district was raised from having a school in the first year of improvement status (SINI 1 or SRAP 1) to the second year of improvement status (SINI 2 or SRAP 2).
- Districts must file a contract if they will receive an additional $15 million or a 10% increase or an Supplemental Educational Improvement Grant and have at least one school:
- Requiring academic progress year 2 or above or,
- Identified as in need of improvement year 2 or above, or
- In corrective action or,
- restructuring status.
- Districts that filed a contract in ’07-08 and have received a 20% cumulative increase in aid, or 27.5 million over two years, must file a Contract in 2008-09 if SINI 2 or SRAP 2 schools or above.
- Most districts will be allowed to use an amount of 4 percent of the base year foundation aid amount for any purpose versus 3 percent last year.
- Two new tiers of flexibility were created. Most districts will be allowed to use 50 percent of their restricted contract funds for prior year programs if they do not have any schools beyond SINI 2 or SRAP 2 improvement status. Districts with a school in corrective action, restructuring or SRAP 3 would be limited to 35% flexibility. The balance of contract funds must be spent on new programs.
- There is a new maintenance-of-effort requirement. Each contract for a school district that prepared a contract last year shall provide for the expenditure of the same amount approved by the commissioner in the district’s prior year contract; provided that such amount shall be expended to support and maintain programs and activities approved in the base year or to support new or expanded programs and activities in the current year.
New Allowable Programs:
- After-school programs are allowed under the “Increased Time on Task” option.
- A new option has been added for the “Expansion or replication of effective model programs for students with limited English proficiency.”
- 39 total Contract for Excellence districts for the 2008-09 school year.
- 3 new contract districts for 2008-09.
- All of the Big 5 City School districts remain contract districts.
- 20 contract districts from last year will not be contract districts in 2008-09. The districts were removed from the list because either:
- All of their schools are now in good standing, or
- None of their schools was beyond the second year of improvement, or
- They did not receive a large enough foundation aid increase to remain a contract district
(We are in the process now of notifying all of the districts that are remaining as Contract districts for 2008-09, have been newly designated as Contract districts for 2008-09 or that have been removed from the list of Contract districts.)