ALBANY - School districts effectively would never be without a teacher evaluation plan, under a provision tucked into the new state budget.
The budget, set to be enacted this week, dictates that school districts' teacher evaluation plans would roll over each year unless renegotiated. If district officials and teachers' unions can't reach a new agreement, the old one stays in effect.
The change is significant because more than 90 percent of teacher evaluation plans that Long Island school districts rushed to complete this year already are nearing expiration. Some educators and analysts recently expressed fear that lapses would weaken expectations for teachers' performance.
All but 10 of the plans covering the Island's 124 public school districts will terminate June 30 because they are only one-year agreements, a Newsday review found. That's less than six months after the Jan. 17 deadline that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set for evaluation plans' approval by the state Department of Education.
Cuomo insisted on getting the rollover provision into the budget precisely so evaluation plans wouldn't lapse, administration officials said. Districts that don't have an assessment plan in place risk losing out on a portion of annual state education aid.
"This agreement ensures that every school district in New York has a permanent teacher evaluation system," Cuomo said in a statement.
The New York State School Boards Association applauded the change, saying it removes the risk of losing some state funding. "We like it," said Barbara Bradley, a school boards spokeswoman. "There won't be any lapses. There won't be this in-between status. Boards can renegotiate without the risk of losing state aid."
New York State United Teachers, the state's largest teachers' union, neither applauded nor criticized the initiative.
The teacher-evaluation clause inserted in the budget states that if a school district doesn't have a plan as of Sept. 1 of a given year, "the collectively bargained plan most recently approved . . . shall remain in effect until a subsequent plan is agreed to by" the district and the local union.
Out of more than 700 districts statewide, just four -- including New York City -- still don't have an evaluation plan. If the districts fail to approve one by June 1, the law says the state education commissioner shall impose one.