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Where the wind blows

Shown is a turbine off Block Island operated

Shown is a turbine off Block Island operated by Deepwater Wind, the developer of a proposed South Fork wind farm. Credit: Deepwater Wind

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Daily Point

The district next door

In the next school year, some of New York’s school districts are going to have to comply with a new state law that demands per-pupil spending be reported school by school.

It’s a contentious change that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo pushed in the state budget, considering that a similar federal rule was passed in 2015 as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which requires much of the same reporting for all districts beginning in December.

But there is a difference. The state law requires that the spending be reported beforehand, while ESSA makes districts report what they’ve already spent.

The state law also requires that the reports show the funding sources for each school, the policies by which money was allocated and a demographic breakdown of each school.

Cuomo’s plan has a three-year phase-in, starting with districts in cities with populations of more than a million people (New York City only) and the approximately 75 districts that get more than 50 percent of their funding from the state, which includes several on Long Island.

Cuomo’s plan seems to be meant as another kick at Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as a nudge at districts and teachers unions in areas where a lot of money is spent without great results.

Where districts are bigger and more diverse, there will be tremendous scrutiny on how funding in poorer or more minority-populated areas matches up to whiter, richer schools. That will be particularly true in mega-districts like New York City, and in districts with both high-wealth and low-wealth neighborhoods.

Long Island has some districts with significant socioeconomic or racial differences from building to building, and any discrepancies surely will be questioned.

Parents and prospective home buyers will scan the lists for differences in per-pupil spending.

Imagine a home buyer looking in both Merrick and Wantagh and finding the elementary schools in one spend $3,000 more per student than the other. What would that mean?

It could show a bigger commitment to facilities, instruction or extras. But it also could mean more special education, which can drive up per-pupil spending dramatically.

It could mean that the teachers, who have stuck around longer and earned more seniority, earn more. Or it could indicate that more kids aren’t native English speakers and need more attention.

With all these figures available, it could take a rocket scientist to figure out what they mean.

Or at least a top-notch Long Island real estate agent.

Lane Filler

Talking Point

Like a turbine in the wind

A big conference on offshore wind this week in Princeton, New Jersey, is a reminder of the heated competition among Northeast states to attract companies to build the infrastructure required for the emerging offshore wind industry — and all the construction, installation and operations jobs that will create. The first projects to get underway could determine where all that infrastructure is built and which state reaps the benefits.

Massachusetts got out of the gate first in 2016 by setting a goal of 1,600 megawatts from offshore wind by 2030. New York followed in 2017 with a target of 2,400 MW by the same year. New Jersey one-upped both this year with its goal of 3,500 MW, also by 2030.

“This is a race New York intends to win in terms of creation of an offshore wind industry,” Doreen Harris, director of the large-scale renewables program for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, told The Point earlier this year.

The scheduled keynote speaker at the 2018 International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum on April 4-6 is New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a strong proponent of wind power who took office in January. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker will open the conference. No doubt they’ll tout the commitment and advantages of the Garden State to the more than 600 U.S. and European wind companies scheduled to attend.

Albany is watching very closely. A New York and regional offshore wind industry could bring nearly 5,000 jobs to New York, according to NYSERDA.

“It’s not just getting the energy onto shore, it’s getting a European giant to say, ‘Let’s build a factory, a supply chain.’ Everybody can’t have one. That’s the big one,” one New York State energy official told The Point.

Massachusetts is furthest along in the bid process. And although NYSERDA head Alicia Barton told an energy conference in Boston in March that offshore wind should be viewed as a regional industry in the Northeast, the stakes in the race were made clear by Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Pedersen, whose company has submitted proposals to Massachusetts for two wind farms.

The reality, Pedersen said in remarks captured by RTO Insider, which covers the wholesale electric industry, “is that the first projects will decide where the first part of the supply chain goes. And if you follow the logic from Europe, the more of a head start you get, the more likely you are to get more of the supply chain.”

Michael Dobie

Pencil Point

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Pointing Out

Third time the charm at the Hub?

The Long Island Builders Institute isn’t part of Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s Hub task force. But LIBI chief executive Mitchell Pally is making sure Curran knows what the group wants.

“The Long Island Builders Institute would respectfully request that Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead issue a new joint Request for Proposal to allow for a new development process for the area around the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” Pally wrote to Curran in a letter at the end of February. He thinks a new bid would garner more interesting proposals.

Pally’s letter was sent before developer Ed Blumenfeld and Coliseum operator Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment announced that their ideas for the Hub would involve housing. But Pally specifically noted that the potential for housing at the Hub was not included in the county’s previous request for development proposals.

Pally wrote that allowing Blumenfeld and Brooklyn Sports to go forward with their plan “would not be fair or legal to everyone else who may have bid the first time if housing had been included.”

In an interview with The Point, he cited past failures to get the Hub developed, including Charles Wang’s Lighthouse proposal and developer Bruce Ratner’s initial plan, which did not include housing, that won him the 2013 county bid.

“Rarely do we all get a third chance, which is basically what this is,” Pally said.

Randi F. Marshall

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