Report: Average evaluation costs outpace funding by $55,000

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New York’s small city, suburban and rural school districts expect to spend an average of $155,355 this year to implement the state’s new teacher and principal evaluation plans, a report Thursday from the state School Boards Association found.

The one-year costs outpace the four-year federal grant provided for funding the program by nearly $55,000, according to an analysis of 80 school districts outside the state’s “Big Five.”

“Our analysis … shows that the cost of this state initiative falls heavily on school districts,” the group’s executive director, Timothy Kremer, said in a statement. “This seriously jeopardizes school districts’ ability to meet other state and federal requirements and properly serve students.”

The evaluation system is a requirement for receiving funding from President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative.

In 2010, New York was awarded $700 million in grants. About half of the funding will go to local school districts over four years to implement the evaluation system, as well as other initiatives.
The average Race To The Top grant in New York, excluding the state’s five largest city school districts, is $100,670. That’s $54,685 short of districts’ average implementation costs, according to the report.

School districts incurred costs for additional compensation, training, developing new assessments and purchasing technology.

The implementation costs for the 80 districts included in the analysis ranged from $15,500 to $626,583.

“When we talk about unfunded — or, in this case, underfunded — mandates, this is exactly what we mean,” Kremer said.

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