Last night was the night for the Ken-Ton School Board and their president Bob Dana to take a stand against the test-and-bully policies of New York State. Faced with an extremely reluctant superintendent, the board blinked.
On Monday, I reported that the Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District, located a bit north of Buffalo, NY, was going to consider two resolutions-- one demanding that NY's teacher evaluation system be de-coupled from testing and the other demanding that Governor Cuomo stop holding everyone's money hostage. The "or else" was that the district would stop giving the test and counting it in teacher evaluations. Superintendent Dawn Mirand released a statement expressing her opposition to the move. The statement was pretty clear, but just in case there were any doubts, she reportedly made herself even clearer at last night's board meeting.
Joseph Popiolkowski had the story for this morning's Buffalo News:
"If the district’s state aid, which is currently 32 percent of its
budget, or about $50 million, was withheld by the state as punishment,
that would result in a 71 percent tax increase, she said. The average
home assessed at $100,000 would see a $1,500 tax increase, “or massive
layoffs would have to take place,” she [Mirand] said.
On top of that, board members could be removed from office and teachers who refused to administer the test might lose their certification. Furthermore, fire might rain from the sky, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.
Mirand just wants everyone to be aware of the risks.
You can see from coverage by tv station WKBW that the meeting pulled in a double-full house of community people, and that's a double-full house of people who were vocally in favor of standing up to Governor Cuomo. One parent in the newscast compares the action to taking a stand for civil rights.
Ken-Ton is one of the districts in NY that took a financial hit under the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which has oddly enough created budget gaps in many districts-- in Ken-Ton the cost has been about $40 million.
Mirand has only been in place since May of 2014. While she is clearly not one of those heroic warrior superintendents standing up to reformy nonsense, she is an actual educator, who started out as a teacher and has worked her way up in the region. Bob Dana was president when the board hired her, and he expressed enthusiasm for her at the time. She's having one fun first year.
Other board members range from firmly in Dana's corner to slightly apprehensive, and since the resolutions have only been out there for a few days, several would like a chance to finish thinking things through. The board has also invoked that old stand-by of nervous politicians everywhere-- the waiting period to get a more community input.
The resolutions are tabled until the April meeting of the board. In the meantime, you can bet that there will be some spirited conversing in the Ken-Ton school district.