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Most LI districts meet evaluation deadline

This file image shows teens sitting in a

This file image shows teens sitting in a classroom and raising hands to answer aquestion. Credit: iStock

All but a handful of Long Island's 124 public school districts have met the state's unofficial Dec. 1 deadline for submitting job-evaluation plans for teachers and principals, a Newsday survey found.

District officials in Elmont and Montauk confirmed Friday that they still are negotiating with employee unions to reach agreement on plans that the state Education Department had requested by this weekend.

Officials in both systems voiced hope of settling soon, though not by the state's target date.

A website maintained by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office Friday also listed the Hempstead and Oysterponds systems as failing to submit evaluation blueprints.

Local officials in those districts did not respond to phone calls.

Overall, 120 districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties have turned in evaluation plans, with 60 of those packages approved by the Education Department, Newsday found.

The department said Friday that 633 districts statewide had submitted plans, and it has approved 274.

Under state law, all districts must obtain Albany's OK by Jan. 17 or risk losing state financial aid.

Last month, state authorities faced with the task of reviewing hundreds of plans warned that the approval process could take four to six weeks, and asked that plans be submitted by Dec. 1.

Some systems barely beat the bell. Port Washington turned in its evaluation plan Thursday; Massapequa Friday.

"We feel relieved that we were able to successfully negotiate with our administrators and teachers and get the plan submitted," said Kathleen Mooney, who is Port Washington's interim superintendent. "Every penny counts."

The state's new teacher evaluation law was pushed by Cuomo and accepted by other state officials and union representatives in February.

The agreement for the first time required teachers' job ratings to be based partly on students' test scores -- a key to the state's winning nearly $700 million in federal Race to the Top education grants.

From the beginning, some local school officials expressed concern that employee unions would balk at approving evaluation plans until districts agreed to higher contract salaries.

Elmont and Montauk are negotiating with teacher unions over contracts and evaluation plans. Officials in both districts reported progress on the latter.

Michael A. Jaime, president of Elmont's school board, stressed that his district cannot afford to lose state aid after already canceling summer programs for more than 1,000 students due to a tight budget.

"We want to come up with a mix [in the evaluation plan] that is fair to our teachers and provides sound education for our students," he said.

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