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Chancellor Betty Rosa discusses teacher evaluations during a Board of Regents meeting.

Betty Rosa discusses teacher evaluations during a Board of Regents meeting.

Chalkbeat file photo

Emergency rules for community schools: What New York’s education policy makers are talking about in July

New York’s top policymakers are taking a bit of a summer vacation.

There are few items on the agenda for July’s Board of Regents meeting, which opens today in Albany. The most significant helps explain how schools can earn a slice of the $75 million earmarked for “community schools” in the state budget. The rest are are housekeeping items, about charter schools and substitute teachers.

The short agenda signals a shift to a slower summer season following a year jam-packed with policy changes and transitions. The Regents picked a new chancellor, made major changes to graduation requirements, and put a dent in an unpopular teacher evaluation law passed by the legislature last year. Members considered most measures so urgent that they used “emergency regulations” to pass them, circumventing the normal rules for public comment.

The community schools regulations on the agenda this week are also being presented as emergency measures. State lawmakers set aside money to turn some struggling schools into service hubs that can provide health, counseling, or legal services. The regulations on the table this week would attach strings to the new funding.

The department wants to ensure that schools have support from their communities. So the rules would schools that receive the funding to hold quarterly meetings with parents, teachers, and community members and allow “meaningful opportunities” for stakeholders to provide input. Under the proposed rules, schools that receive funds would also be able to provide services to other schools whose students are likely to enroll in the future.

Though there are few formal items being debated this summer, there’s still plenty to do in the upcoming months. The state education department has been tasked with revamping the New York’s systems of standards, assessments, and teacher evaluations, and designing a new accountability system under the new federal education law. Board members tackling those tasks are likely to work over the summer.

After July, the next meeting for the board meeting will be in September.