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October 26, 2011 

Vol. 1, Issue 2


  Across the Board

             A Publication of WPSBA

BacktotopJoining Forces on Mandate Relief


     Last year, school boards across the region focused their energy on advocating against any tax cap that did not have kendallconcurrent mandate relief.   However, now that the tax levy cap is a reality, WPSBA, Westchester municipal officials and the business community are finding common ground around the need to work on a joint platform for legislative relief and are poised to take action. 

      WPSBA has initiated meetings with the Westchester County Association and the Business Council of Westchester to talk about our shared goals.  The Westchester Municipal Officials Association will also participate in the discussions to develop regional priorities.  We all understand that the tax cap needs to go hand-in-hand with mandate relief in order to address the revenue and expenditure sides of the equation.  With the school boards, the municipal officials and the business community aligned on this platform, we will take it to our state legislators as a joint force. 

     WPSBA has a Legislative Advocacy Committee (LAC), and if there ever was a year to make sure your district had a seat at the table, this would be it!  The meeting information is outlined in the calendar listing below. We encourage each district to assign a board member to the LAC and to become involved in our advocacy efforts.  By working together, we truly can  make a difference. 
     I look forward to seeing many of you at the Joint Superintendent & Board Dinner on November 14th!


Kendall Egan

WPSBA President 

In This Issue
- From the President
- Upcoming Events
- Parnerships Are Key
- WPSBA Goals
- Board Certified...

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50 Years Strong for

Public Education 

Get out the party hats and confetti...WPSBA is turning 50!  In honor of this milestone anniversary, we are adopting a new tagline, "50 Years Strong for Public Education."   It affirms our belief that all students deserve the best possible education, and that  school board members deserve the support it takes to make that a reality.

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   Mark Your Calendars Now!

Annual Joint Superintendent-Board Member Dinner 

Budgeting in the New Normal:

"A Tale of 2 States - Tax Cap Lessons from Massachusetts and New Jersey"

Monday, November 14th from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pmleaves 2

DoubleTree Tarrytown, Tarrytown, NY
Invitations have been sent.  Please register through your district clerk by Thursday, November 3.

What can we learn from other states' experiences about how a tax cap affects school district operations and short and long term planning? You won't want to miss this panel discussion with representatives from Massachusetts and New Jersey who will share best practices, strategies, and the negotiations realities of life under a tax cap. Join your colleagues from Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, and Dutchess for what promises to be a provocative, yet informative evening.


Legislative Action Committee (LAC)

Thursday, November 10th from 7:30 pm to 9 pm

2 Westchester Plaza, Elmsford, NY

To register click here.

Advocacy and a consistent message about the issues that concern us are critical to the sustainability of our school districts and the education of our children. Join LAC board colleagues from across the region to develop WPSBA legislative advocacy goals and strategy, and determine how we will partner with other groups to deliver a unified and focused message.

In case you missed it...

The full line-up of WPSBA fall programs was designed to ensure that board members would have access to the most current information for navigating through unchartered waters. If you missed any of our programs, please visit the WPSBA website to view the presentation  materials from the September 22nd program, APPR: Navigating the Board's Role, and the October 21st program, Property Tax Cap... What Now? The October 13th Negotiations Roundtable highlighted four recent contract negotiations in our region, and also included a discussion of the regional implications of the NYS CSEA agreement. The MOA's from these agreements (and others) are posted on the website as well. We encourage districts to send us their MOA once a contract has been negotiated, so we can shared it with others.

  Latest Happenings


 Partnerships Are Key


Now more than ever, regional partnerships and collaboration are paramount. School boards and administrators are facing the barrel of the tax levy cap regulations and the new APPR regulations while in the midst of increasingly difficult economic times. Yet we must remain steadfast in our laser focus on the education of all children.
     We are dealing with complex, nuanced regulations, that even the experts are having difficulty getting their arms around. Worse yet, the details on both of these regulations are unfolding as they are being implemented, making it more challenging for districts to effectively manage the process. 
     To that end, WPSBA is working to develop regional partnerships and craft a regional message in order to ensure that long-overdue legislation to address the expenditure side of the budget equation is put into place in Albany and in Washington, DC.
     It is clear that the message must be succinct yet persuasive, and must come from an array of constituencies. Kendall Egan, in her President's message mentions the partnerships that WPSBA is building with business and local government leaders. We are also working in tandem with the regional superintendent associations to develop a united message on meaningful mandate relief measures that will help control district expenditures.  Efforts are underway to gather data and other evidence of the financial and educational impact, as well as suggestions for change. WPSBA is also engaging community groups to join in this effort, and we encourage every school district to ensure that their community understands the issues, as well as, the fiscal and educational implications of the "new normal" for school districts. 
     Legislators need to hear from those inside and outside the school district gates. The sustainability of public education and the legacy of appropriately educating all children are truly at stake unless Albany takes action to address key mandated expenditures.


NYSCOSS & Our "Super"indentents    

     WPSBA Executive Director Lisa Davis had the opportunity to attend the Fall Conference for the NYS Council of School Superintendents (NYSCOSS) in September. We would be remiss to not mention that bragging rights are in order. Marilyn Terranova, Superintendent in Eastchester, was sworn in as Marilyn TerranovaPresident of NYSCOSS and James Langlois, District Superintendent for PNW BOCES is now the President-elect (i.e. he is slated to be the next president). Richard Organisciak, Superintendent in New Rochelle also sits on their Executive Committee, and many of our superintendents are actively involved in NYSCOSS committee work. Add to that the fact that Bernard Pierorazio, Superintendent of Yonkers, was selected as their Superintendent of the Year in 2011 and Louis Wool, Superintendent in Harrison, was their Superintendent of the Year in 2010, and you get a sense of the caliber of the leadership in our region.  

      Brief highlights of the Fall Conference include a workshop on 'The New Communication Imperative for Public Schools" (which WPSBA plans to duplicate this winter), which focused on the imperative for districts to pro-actively control the message and become their own news media, rather than allowing others to take the reins. Given the proclivity for misinformation related to school district information, and in particular to the tax levy cap (does your public understand that it is not simply a 2% cap?), this is more critical than ever.

     On the legislative front, Robert Lowry, Jr., NYSCOSS Deputy Director, spoke about the mandate relief "trap" and the need to approach the dialogue through the lens of a mandate's purpose and commodity (area).  There were lively table discussions on the key legislative and regulatory mandates that affect public school districts, and each table was asked to prioritize their findings.

     Commissioner of Education John King spoke about the impact of the tax levy cap on school districts, and his concern that it will increase the inequity between high wealth and low wealth school districts. He addressed the need to redesign schools to get better results with less money, although he didn't outline a plan. The Commissioner also focused on the Regents Reform Agenda and the importance of providing teachers with the "gift of time" to work together on professional development. Commissioner King reiterated that we must provide a world class education for every child despite the economic climate and school district wealth, and that those in high wealth communities have a moral call to invest in children outside their walls. In that light, he made a comment about Westchester in regard to RTTT money being given to school districts that don't need it.  In response to a question regarding the implementation of APPR, Commissioner King stated, "We need to go as fast as we can and as slow as we must." The video of his NYSCOSS speech is available online.

     We encourage you to visit the EngageNY website, which is described as an "evolving, collaborative platform for educators," and contains information on the Common Core, APPR and professional development. 

   Where We're Headed

In September, the WPSBA Executive Board set the following goals for 2011-12:

  • Provide opportunities for professional development and information-sharing among and between board members and school district administrators
  • Organize Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association 50th Anniversary celebration to promote WPSBA goals and accomplishments
  • Revise bylaws
  • Further enhance communications
  • Spearhead a coordinated Public Education Advocacy Campaign

Board Certified...

certificate fromTwenty four board members from 16 area districts attended the NYS approved WPSBA Governance Seminar on September 24.  This day-long program included: "Powers, Functions and Duties of the Board and Superintendent," led by John Chambers, retired superintendent and educational consultant, along with Kendall Egan, WPSBA president and Lisa Davis, WPSBA executive director; "Learning, Assessment, Data and Student Achievement," presented by Dr. Frances Wills, coordinator of professional development at Pace  and consultant at PNW BOCES; "School Law: Overview," by David Shaw, attorney and partner at Shaw, Perelson, May and Lambert LLP); and "Powers and Duties of Governing Authorities Affecting Public Education," presented by Judy Wiener, legislative director of the Lower Hudson Education Coalition.


Here's what a few of the participants had to say about the day: 


"The mandated governance seminar was well worth the time spent. The training helped to solidfy my understanding of the duties and responsibilities of a new school board member. "

                                                                                ~ Gerald Whiteside, Mount Vernon


"There was a huge benefit to attending with colleagues from surrounding towns and exchanging best practices with them, as well as getting valuable information from the presenters."

   ~ Marianne Gilland, Pelham


"The presentation was well organized, and the speakers were well prepared. The tempo was lively thanks to the enthusiasm of the presenters and the variety of speakers."

                                                                               ~ Jonathan Lewis, Scarsdale


"Well worth it! It covered many areas, had experienced instructors who knew their topics deeply, and provided a good foundation for a new school board member."

                                                                              ~ Joe Garbus, Valhalla