ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo's initiative to increase the amount of time students spend in the classroom has arguably been the least successful of his signature competitive education grant programs, with only six of the state's roughly 700 school districts implementing the program.
The state notified nine of the 25 districts that applied for the grants that they had won just weeks before the start of the 2014-15 school year and six months late. As a result of the late notification, three of the winning districts declined the money, with superintendents arguing that more time would have helped them overcome the primary obstacle to implementation: lack of community support.
Cuomo loves competitive grants, but because the Cuomo administration was so late in telling districts they "won" money for extended school time, many couldn't implement plans in time.
But the time frame wasn't the only concern - so was sustainability:
Sustainability has been a concern for superintendents with all of Cuomo’s competitive grants. Administrators don’t want to hire staff, invest in capital improvements and change parents’ and students’ expectations only to have to cut the programs in two or three years when grants expire.
The late grant notification exacerbated administrators’ concerns. If they had learned that their grant applications were approved in January, they would have had enough time to plan for a launch in September, and they would have gotten the full three years of grant funds, they argued. Instead, districts that decided to launch in January 2015 instead will only get two and a half years of funding, and those that begin next school year will only get two years. Some administrators thought two years was not enough time to establish the program when there was no guarantee that the money would continue.
“When the money dries up, there wasn’t a real plan to sustain the program, so that was problematic for us,” said Scott Farina, who heads Southampton schools in Suffolk County.
Classic Cuomo - big announcement in his State of the State address, big talk about the need for extending the school day/year but doing it through a competitive process, then a major screw-up by the administration and a lack of trust from the districts that the state would continue the money once the grant period was done.
Biggest issue I saw with Cuomo's proposal was the ability of districts to continue to pay for the extended school day/year once the state money inevitably dried up.
It costs to keep the lights on, the buildings staffed, programs going.
If Cuomo really wanted an extended day/year, he would provide that money for good without a sunset period.
But he doesn't really care about extended days/years.
What he cares about is making it sound like he cares about stuff, making it look like he cares about stuff, without actually ponying up the money to make those "cares" happen in the real world.
Just another example of Cuomo hypocrisy.