May 10, 2019 Fiscal Year 2019 –2020 Budget Legislation
KEEPING YOU INFORMED…
We are writing to inform you of legislation affecting school districts and BOCES that was adopted as part of the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 Budget.
I. Sub-fund for anticipated future New York Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) obligations
The Budget amends General Municipal Law (GML) § 6-r to allow school districts (except for school districts in cities with a population of 125,000 or more) and BOCES that have established a retirement contribution reserve fund to utilize that fund to finance retirement contributions to the TRS and/or to offset deductions from the monies apportioned to the school district or BOCES for the State’s support of common schools for pension contributions. To exercise one or both of these options, the board of education must, by board resolution, establish a “sub-fund” within the retirement contribution reserve fund. Expenditures from the retirement contribution reserve fund for one or both of these options must be made from the sub-fund and pursuant to a board resolution. The sub-fund must be separately administered consistent with the requirements set forth in GML § 6-r.
GML § 6-r sets a limit on the sub-fund’s contributions and balances. The contribution in any fiscal year may not exceed 2% of the total compensation or salaries paid to all TRS members employed during the immediately preceding fiscal year. In addition, the balance of the sub-fund cannot exceed 10% of the total compensation or salaries of all TRS members employed during the immediately preceding fiscal year.
GML § 6-r permits the board of education to transfer all or a portion of the monies in the sub-fund to the retirement contribution reserve fund and/or to transfer all or a portion of the monies in the retirement contribution reserve fund to the sub-fund subject to the limits on annual payments into the sub-fund and the balance of the sub-fund described above.
II. Changes to the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR)
The Budget adds a new subdivision 16 to Education Law § 3012-d, providing that the New York State Assessments are no longer required to be used in a teacher or principal evaluation. When Education Law § 3012-d was originally adopted, it required certain State tests including, but not limited to, the grades 3-8 State ELA and math tests, to be used in teacher evaluations. In 2015, the Board of Regents imposed a temporary moratorium prohibiting the use of the 3-8 State ELA and math tests in teacher evaluations during what it called a “Transition Period.” The Budget amendments permanently make optional the use of all State tests in teacher evaluations. The requirement to use the State growth model with the 3-8 State ELA and math tests has also been eliminated.
In the place of the State tests, the Commissioner of Education is required, through regulations, to identify other assessments that may be used. The law mandates, however, that all of the assessments that have been approved for use during the Transition Period be approved by the Commissioner for permanent use. Which assessment is used, and how, is subject to collective bargaining. Importantly, districts are not required to renegotiate any existing collective bargaining agreements or separate APPR agreements. Instead, the assessments that were used during the Transition Period must continue to be used until a new agreement is negotiated.
Finally, the Budget eliminates the special rules for determining teachers’ final ratings that applied to districts using the “optional second subcomponent” in the student performance category. It continues to allow an optional second subcomponent in the evaluation, which may still be based on a State test.
III. “Piggyback contracts” for Transportation Services for School Districts
The Budget amends Education Law § 305(14) to permit a school district to enter into a “piggyback contract” for certain transportation services. For purposes of this amendment, a “piggyback contract” is a contract for the transportation of students to a location outside of the students’ home school district to which another district is already providing transportation to its own students through an existing contract with a private transportation contractor. The contract is with the private transportation contractor and each school district involved and provides for transportation in accordance with the terms of the existing contract with the other district.
In order to enter into a “piggyback contract,” the district must first determine that the cost is appropriate and will result in a cost savings to it.
IV. New requirements for school safety plans, which must be implemented by July 1, 2019
Education Law § 2801-a governs school safety plans, which are required for each school district, BOCES, county vocational education and extension board, and the chancellor of the city school district for New York City. Education Law § 2801-a now requires schools to define the roles and responsibilities of school personnel, security personnel and law enforcement in response to student conduct that violates the code of conduct.
A school district or charter school that employs, contracts with or otherwise retains law enforcement or public or private security personnel, including school resource officers, must establish a written contract or memorandum of understanding developed with “stakeholder” input (this provision of the law does not include BOCES). The contract or memorandum of understanding must be consistent with the code of conduct, define law enforcement or security personnel’s roles, responsibilities and involvement within a school and clearly delegate the role of school discipline to the school administration. A copy of the contract/memorandum of understanding must be included in the district-wide safety plan.
“Stakeholders” include, but are not limited to, parents, students, school administrators, teachers, collective bargaining units, parent and student organizations and community members, as well as probation officers, prosecutors, defense counsels and courts that are familiar with school discipline. It is unclear which “collective bargaining units” will be able to provide input into the written contract or memorandum of understanding (e.g., whether this includes only those units representing security personnel or other units as well).
The Budget provides that these new requirements must be implemented by July 1, 2019. We will monitor for any new Commissioner of Education regulations relating to these new requirements. In the meantime, please contact us as soon as possible regarding updating your safety plans.
If you would like assistance creating a TRS sub-fund, updating your Board policies and negotiating your APPR plans, entering into a piggyback contract for transportation services, or updating your safety plans, please contact Alyson Mathews at 631-694-2300.
THIS MEMORANDUM IS MEANT TO ASSIST IN GENERAL UNDERSTANDING OF THE CURRENT LAW. IT IS NOT TO BE REGARDED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THOSE WITH PARTICULAR QUESTIONS SHOULD SEEK THE ADVICE OF COUNSEL.
© Lamb & Barnosky, LLP 2019