As the start of classes nears, school districts across the state are weighing whether to seek a waiver that could postpone for up to a year the implementation of stringent new teacher evaluation plans.
And while several Capital Region districts say they are in the process of shaping their individual plans, there's a good chance that a majority of school systems statewide will seek the delay.
"We do think that most of them will apply for a waiver," said Dave Albert, spokesman for the state School Boards Association.
"Most of what I hear is districts are anticipating that they are not going to be able to make the Nov. 15 deadline," added Robert Lowry, deputy director of the state Council of School Superintendents.
This will set up a battle with Governor Cuomo, who said the following about waivers in late April:
ALBANY – Rather than a blanket policy, the state Education Department plans to develop a system to allow schools to delay new teacher evaluations if they can show that meeting a Nov. 15 deadline would create a hardship and be impossible to meet.
Districts will be able to apply to have their evaluation policies delayed until Sept. 1, 2016, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said in an interview Friday with Gannett's Albany Bureau.
The new policy comes after Tisch said in a statement Wednesday that she has directed the Education Department to drop a Nov. 15 deadline for the state's nearly 700 school districts to approve new teacher and principal evaluations. The deadline was included in the state budget approved April 1, and districts face having their state aid frozen if they don't comply.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office was initially critical of Tisch's announcement on Wednesday, saying the law prescribes a Nov. 15 deadline or districts face a loss of state aid. Cuomo's counsel, Alphonso David, said using the hardship exemption should be "the exception, not the rule."
Cuomo offered a similar response Friday, but recognized that the hardship clause would be allowable.
"They have the power to have a waiver process for hardship, but that is a waiver for hardship," Cuomo said. "So in their regulations, they'll have to define what hardship is and if a school district has a hardship, then they're right to issue a waiver."
Sounds like the number of districts that will have Cuomo's vaunted new APPR plan in place by the deadline will be "the exception, not the rule."
How will Cuomo react when 80%+ of the state's districts seek a waiver for hardship?