Stephen Bartlett. Plattsburgh Press Republican. 7/23/2004.
While some area educators have expressed concern with Gov. George Patakis proposed solution to a court mandate to revamp school funding in New York, they also hope legislators can come up with an adequate plan before a July 30 court-imposed deadline.
The fear is, if that does not happen, that the court will draft its own plan that shortchanges North Country schools in order to provide more support to students in New York City.
"The hope we would have is that taxpayers and school districts would benefit from a state aid formula reform that is equitable, predictable and transparent," said Plattsburgh City Schools Superintendent Dr. Michelle Kavanaugh.
In June 2003, the states highest court found the current system of funding public schools unconstitutional and ordered the state to rework it, specifically to enable New York City students to receive a "sound basic education." The deadline for the new plan is July 30, or the court will appoint a master to come up with a plan.
And so far, any attempts to create a new formula have been unsuccessful.
Pataki had called a special session for Thursday, urging lawmakers to find a way to make school funding work, though he wanted them to approve his proposal for changing school funding.
Many educators felt the governors proposal failed to provide adequate funding, while it increased accountability.
One initiative, which troubled Beekmantown Central School Superintendent Mark Sposato, called for "eliminating tenure for school principals and establishing a system of three- to five-year contracts that are renewable based upon school performance."
Kavanaugh felt Patakis call for a special session showed good leadership, though she felt the urgency came too late for any meaningful action.
She also felt Patakis plan was "light on any promise of state-aid reform," but "heavy on increasing accountability measures."
As federal and state standards increase, educators nationwide have complained they are not receiving the money they need to maintain tougher standards.
Pataki and legislative leaders said they will continue to try and come up with an education-aid plan.
North Country school officials continue to stress that they hope this happens.