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Cuomo: Teacher evaluation deadline is firm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has until Jan. 15 to

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has until Jan. 15 to name a replacement for Carmen Ciparick who has reached the mandatory retirement age on the seven-judge state Court of Appeals. (Oct. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday he's giving no flexibility to the 250 school districts statewide that are facing a Jan. 17 deadline for implementing new teacher evaluations.

If they miss the deadline, they will lose millions of dollars of state aid, said Cuomo, a Democrat. Twenty-nine of the districts in Suffolk County and 23 in Nassau have not had plans approved by the state.

"Nope," the governor said when asked whether he'd give schools a reprieve. "This was a hard deadline."

The new evaluation system, approved by the governor and State Legislature earlier this year, changes the rating process for teachers and administrators. A key part of the law dictates that any school district that fails to gain state Education Department approval of its evaluation plan by Jan. 17, 2013, will forgo its share of an $805 million increase -- an average of 4 percent per district -- in state aid for the 2012-13 academic year.

As of Tuesday, the Education Department had received plans from 665 districts and approved 442, leaving 223 waiting to be reviewed by the state or resubmitted by the local school district.

Another 27 districts haven't submitted a plan, according to agency spokesman Dennis Tompkins. Long Island districts that haven't submitted plans are Elmont, Hempstead and Montauk.

"It is urgent that those districts that have not submitted evaluation plans or need to resubmit plans do so immediately," state Board of Regents Chancellor Meryl Tisch said.

A spokesman for the New York State School Boards Association said contract negotiations with teachers and staff have held up plans in some districts.

"The law requires evaluation plans to be collectively bargained. Unfortunately, in some cases, negotiations have gotten tied into other, unrelated issues, such as compensation," association spokesman David Albert said in an email.

"School districts cannot adopt plans on their own," Albert said. "As a result, there may be circumstances beyond the control of school districts that prevent them from complying with the Jan. 17 deadline."

Newsday has reported that contract stalemates have prevented Elmont, Hempstead and Montauk from submitting evaluation plans. Hempstead is facing the loss of $3.5 million in state financial aid, coupled with possible midyear layoffs of teachers.

School officials in Elmont did not return calls Tuesday, but they said earlier this month that they were confident a settlement could be reached in time.

Montauk's superintendent, Jack Perna, said Tuesday that an agreement on the evaluation plan is expected by the end of this week. "We will have a resolution, and we will be able to make the deadline," Perna said.

Officials of New York State United Teachers, the state's largest teachers' union, stressed that 98 percent of school districts have either submitted plans or gotten state approval for them.

With Joie Tyrrell

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