images of parents with their children
Dear Parents,

Happy Holidays! As we reach the end of the year, I'd like to wish you, your families, and your school communities a safe and happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year. Thank you for your continued support, input, and commitment to ensuring a high-quality education for all our students in New York State.

I would like to share several updates from last week's Board of Regents meeting, including the following:
  • 2018 Budget and Legislative Priorities and State Aid Request
  • Safety Net Option for Students with Disabilities to Earn a Local Diploma
  • Early Childhood Education Budget Recommendations
  • New Professional Standards for Educational Leaders
Last week, the  Board of Regents advanced its 2018 budget and legislative priorities and state aid request for the 2018-2019 school year . The Board called for continuing to phase in Foundation Aid and proposed a $1.6 billion increase in Foundation Aid and statutory reimbursement-based aids and to support English language learners, career and technical education (CTE) programs and universal prekindergarten (UPK) programs. The Board's State Aid Sub-Committee is co-chaired by Regents Beverly Ouderkirk and Nan Eileen Mead.

The Regents propose $1.25 billion in aid formula increases, $314 million in statutory reimbursement-based aid increases, $25 million for CTE program expansion and $20 million for UPK program expansion. In addition, the Board advanced funding proposals to increase equity for all students, implement recommendations of the Board of Regents Early Childhood Workgroup's Blue Ribbon Committee, implement the state's Every Student Succeeds Act plan and increase efficiencies for the State Education Department and school districts.

Watch the video below for my remarks on the 2018 budget and legislative priorities and state aid request.

Cover slide of Commissioner Elia_s video remarks on the 2018 budget

New York's students deserve the best education possible, and our State Aid request and legislative proposals will ensure schools continue to improve and better prepare our children while also acknowledging the state's fiscal realities. Strategic investments in our earliest learners and career and technical education, and supporting our ESSA plan, will provide real benefits for students, teachers and school districts. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the Legislature and in the Executive's office to move this agenda forward.

The Board of Regents also adopted regulations last week to expand the criteria under which students with disabilities may be eligible to graduate high school with a local diploma
. Some students with disabilities are unable to demonstrate proficiency on standard State assessments, even with testing accommodations. State regulations therefore provide several "safety net" options for these students to graduate with a local diploma, including the superintendent determination option. To be eligible for the superintendent determination option, a student with a disability must meet certain conditions that are defined in state regulations. The amendments to the superintendent determination option will be in effect for students seeking to graduate in January 2018 and thereafter.

Also last week, members of the  Board of Regents Early Childhood Workgroup's Blue Ribbon Committee presented budget recommendations to the full Board for consideration and inclusion in the Board's 2018-19 Budget Request. The recommendations, which total $37 million for the 2018-19 State Fiscal Year, have been thoughtfully prepared and reflect the constraints of the current fiscal climate.

We have to make sure we plan within the constraints of what we know is going to be a difficult budget year, but we also have to ensure our youngest students have access to programs that will put them on the road to success. These recommendations will help frame the Board's discussion in the coming weeks and months on how to improve outcomes for New York's youngest learners and how to ensure they are ready for kindergarten and beyond.

Finally,  the Board of Regents took action to improve principal preparation and practice in New York   by adopting the 2015 Professional Standards for Educational Leaders (PSELs). The new standards have a greater focus on equity and culturally responsive practices and are more in line with the day-to-day responsibilities of the modern-day principal. Adoption of the 2015 PSELs is part of NYSED's larger effort to improve principal development and support as part of the Principal Preparation Project. While the new standards are only a first step to improving principal preparation, they are a signal of our commitment to making sure all students in all schools are led by educators who are prepared for the rigors of the job on day one.

Best wishes for an enjoyable holiday season. I will be in touch again soon.


MaryEllen Elia