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Regents Discuss ESSA Fiscal Reporting and Preschool Special Education Inclusion

March 12, 2018

The Regents squeezed their meeting into one day due to the weather. They discussed financial transparency requirements of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, federal emergency funding for districts impacted by hurricane Maria and other emergencies, the oversight of the East Ramapo Central School District, science education for incarcerated youth, preschool special education inclusion and enhancing the education of Hispanic Youth.

ESSA Financial Transparency
The Regents heard a presentation and discussed ESSA requirements for fiscal transparency for the purposes of equity. This is part of moving forward with New York State’s approved ESSA plan. NYSASBO has collaborated with SED on ESSA school level reporting requirements and shared the recommendations of a 29-member ESSA Reporting Task Force. NYSASBO will continue to meet with NYSED staff on this and hope to be able to share some initial guidance with school districts that will give direction for accounting for 2018-19.

The Commissioner introduced the topic stating that actual expenditures will be reported, not district wide funding that is prorated. There will be one template used for all schools in the state, with an ultimate goal a review of the equity of funds allocated through local decision-making. This will emphasize the need for opportunities across all districts. NYSED will review allocations to support school improvement across school districts. This is more than compliance; it is equity-focused change that will affect school accountability. This suggests reallocating resources as student needs change. 

NYSED is participating in a 35-state working group to share practices in implementing the ESSA requirement for fiscal transparency. The Commissioner noted this will require a lot of work with stakeholders. The Department will convene a Technical Working Group (Spring/Summer 2018) to help establish the accounting guidelines for per pupil expenditure reporting, likely through using the existing ST-3 accounting structures. This information will be used to pilot test financial data from volunteer school districts.

By September 2018 standards for reporting will be developed with feedback from the field, including how reporting will be linked with accountability data. This will also be an opportunity for interested parties to assist in developing the contextual elements of the reports. The presentation can be found here.

Emergency Funding
Jhone Ebert gave a report that supplemental Title III assistance is being provided to 13 New York State school districts impacted by hurricanes and emergencies such as Harvey, Irma, Maria and 2016 wildfires. Rochester is the most impacted district in New York State. 
 

East Ramapo Update
Chuck Szuberla and John Sipple made a presentation on the East Ramapo school district. Dr. Sipple noted that demographics are changing and student need is increasing. Public school population is stable and the nonpublic student population is growing dramatically, now representing 75 percent of the overall population. The budget has improved with a surplus and an improvement in Moody’s rating. The first phase of a three-year $58 million bond is in process. Challenges include a low level of state aid in the executive budget, OSC’s rating for high fiscal stress, tax cap limitations and the growing nonpublic school population. Positions have been restored and added including bilingual and arts staff. The Regents expressed considerable interest in this district and asked for additional data and updates including recommendations for action by the Board of Regents.
 

Science Education for Incarcerated Youth
The Regents approved an amendment to §100.5(b)(7)(iv)(d) of the Commissioner's Regulations to allow flexibility to meet science education requirements for incarcerated youth through a combination of hands-on and simulated laboratory experience.
 

Preschool Special Education Inclusion
The 2017 enacted budget directed staff to develop this alternative methodology by April 1, 2018 for approval by the budget director. NYSASBO’s Brady Regan participated in stakeholder meetings led by the Department. Staff presented the new funding methodology for preschool special education inclusion. Programs funded pursuant to Education Law section 4410 have inadvertently created a silo for preschool students with disabilities. There are insufficient funding and inclusion opportunities. Solutions are to (1) enhance inclusion principles in existing programs, (2) create preschool inclusion models and staffing standards, and (3) improve the existing separate funding structure. A single reimbursement program will be piloted pending approval of a $6 million budget request.
 

Hispanic Federation at Regents Research Work Group
Representatives of a coalition of community based organizations presented to the Regents on research leading to policy directions in areas such as early learning, teacher preparation, recruiting high school students to a teaching career to enhance the education of Hispanic children. 
 

This is a NYSASBO summary. The agenda and materials for the monthly Regents meetings can be found at www.regents.nysed.gov.

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