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No deal on teacher evals as deadline looms

Governor Cuomo at Molloy College talking about his

Governor Cuomo at Molloy College talking about his 2012-2013 budget and reform plan. (Feb. 2, 2012) Credit: Alejandra Villa

ALBANY -- It's down to the deadline in the fight over implementing a new statewide teacher-evaluation process.

The Cuomo administration, state officials and the teachers' union said negotiations are still progressing, but they could not reach a settlement Wednesday. That means the sides have one more day to meet a deadline Cuomo has set.

"Everybody is still working and we're hopeful," said Carl Korn, spokesman for New York State United Teachers.

As the clock ticks, more than $1 billion is at stake. The federal government has said a delay in implementing an evaluation system could endanger $700 million in aid to New York State.

In addition, Cuomo has said that any district that doesn't implement a new teacher-evaluation system by January 2013 will have to forgo its share of an $805 million increase in school aid planned for this year. School districts have until 2013 to work out a system with their local unions.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the state Education Department didn't comment Wednesday. A day earlier, the governor said he's confident an agreement would be struck by the deadline he set of Thursday.

At issue is a 2010 law that would make students' tests scores account for at least 20 percent of a teacher's evaluation. In moving to implement the law, the state Education Department proposed making it count up to 40 percent.

The teachers' union sued and won at the first court level, but the state has appealed and the sides haven't reached a settlement.

Citing the lack of an agreement, Cuomo last month gave the sides until Thursday to resolve it or he'd put a new evaluation system in the budget legislation, which would have to be approved by the legislature. Though he hasn't spelled out his plan, the Democrat has criticized the 2010 law as weak.

A sticking point is whether related negotiations between unions and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will affect the talks over a statewide template for teacher evaluations.

Bloomberg is pushing to change the appeals process for teachers rated "ineffective" -- each school district has to negotiate the appeals process with its local union.

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