Hamburg Central School officials submitted an unsigned teacher evaluation plan to Albany late last week, and district officials hope that doing so will save hundreds of thousands of dollars in state aid.
The district is one of the last in the state to submit the plan, which must be approved and in place by Jan. 17.
If the plan is not in place, Hamburg risks losing its share of this fiscal year’s increase in state aid.
State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr. said his staff is expediting a review of the plans that have been submitted, but reviews typically take four to six weeks to complete.
“We’re in a much tighter window,” Hamburg Superintendent Steven Achramovitch acknowledged.
Hamburg could lose in the neighborhood of $450,000 if the plan is not approved on time, he said.
As of the middle of last week, Hamburg was one of only nine school districts in New York State that had not submitted their plans. The superintendent said he is hopeful the state has the resources to review and approve the plan.
Buffalo city schools submitted a plan last summer that the state rejected, and city school officials are now trying to reach agreement with teachers on a new plan.
The Hamburg plan has not yet been approved by the School Board or the teachers association, but Achramovitch said there is a tentative agreement with teachers. He submitted the unsigned plan to get the Albany approval process started.
One source told The Buffalo News a teachers committee was split, voting narrowly in favor of recommending the plan for ratification by the union.
Teachers Association President John Mrozek said the contract committee overwhelmingly rejected a draft Wednesday, then approved a new version Friday morning. Teachers are to vote Thursday, he said. If they do not approve it, the committee would have to go back to work, the superintendent said.
The School Board was planning to vote on it Tuesday.
The last-minute negotiations have caused some consternation among teachers, according to several sources. Some were concerned about the process used to change the plan, others were worried the plan would do away with protections currently in place for teachers. If a teacher is deemed ineffective two years in a row, it could lead to termination proceedings.
“I don’t expect to have ineffective or developing teachers in Hamburg,” Achramovitch said. “I think we do very well. It’s not something I’ve been looking at as a termination process.”
Mrozek said there was some concern about what could be presented to demonstrate professional improvement.
“Not everything is a test,” he said, adding he was gratified there is an agreement.
The Annual Professional Performance Review, or APPR, governs how teachers are evaluated under new state requirements. On the 100-point evaluation, 60 points are determined through more traditional, subjective means, primarily classroom observations; 20 points are based on student growth on state assessments; and 20 points on measures of student growth that are determined by the local district.
Each district must negotiate the specifics with teachers.
“This is new to everybody,” Achramovitch said. “I think we struggled in the beginning of the year with the student learning piece.”
As of Tuesday, 682 school districts had submitted plans for review, and 533 had been approved, according to the state Education Department.
“Every day, we’re getting closer to full compliance,” King said.
“The Board of Regents is committed to ensuring that all schools implement an effective teacher and school leader evaluation plan in time to meet the statutory deadline,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl H. Tisch.