Hudson school board president sees progress, faults state

HUDSON–Commitment to educational goals and admiration for local administrators but dissatisfaction with state policies characterized statements by Kelly Frank, president of the Hudson City School District Board of Education in an email July 10.

In the email she wrote that the board’s educational goals included “continuing to focus on… raising the graduation rate 15% over 3 years” and “keeping all students engaged.”

“We need to make our students strive to reach their highest goals” but at the same time “make sure all our students’ intellectual, social, and emotional needs are met,” Ms. Frank wrote.

In addition, “I hope we can begin to address the issues facing our advanced students,” Frank said, “Our brightest students need to be continually challenged.”

Ms. Frank said that the issues facing the district remain the same “the current administrative team is working together in a way we have not seen in this district before.”

The board president gave special praise to April Prestipino, coordinator of School Improvement, for her “leadership in curriculum and professional development.” But she faulted constraints imposed by the state, saying they limited what educators could accomplish.

“In my opinion,” she said, “the educational system in New York is broken. We are continually forced to deal with new teaching-learning standards, more unfunded mandates, and less money.”

Ms. Frank hopes the state will stop making Gap Elimination Adjustments (GEAs), a formula state government applies every year to cut the amount of school aid promised to districts by adjusting growth in aid based on growth in the district’s personal income. The GEA calculation, which was first applied in the state’s 2009-2010 fiscal year, has deprived the Hudson City School District of over $2 million a year on average, she said.

“The state has been balancing their budget on the backs of school districts for years, and that needs to be stopped,” said Ms. Frank.

She said that while Governor Andrew Cuomo is projecting a state budget surplus in the next few years, “… he doesn’t mention that the reason that will happen is because school districts are paying for it.”

Ms. Frank has mixed feelings about the Common Core curriculum introduced statewide by the state Education Department. “I believe the ideas behind [it] are good–we need to raise the educational standards in New York…. But because the implementation was such a mess, those good ideas are now lost,” she wrote. “The new ideas and learning standards should have been gradually added over time, giving teachers, administrators, and students a chance to acclimate themselves. Instead we had to roll everything out quickly. Only when the test scores returned and were abysmal did the head of education decide that the roll-out was too aggressive.”

Earlier this year the governor created a Common Core Implementation Panel to evaluate how the new standards were implemented and recommend changes. He acknowledged on his state website that the introduction of the curriculum “has led to confusion and frustration among students and their families.”

Education policy in New York State is set by the Board of Regents, whose members are appointed by majority vote of the state legislature.


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