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Cuomo Threatens to Withhold More School Funding

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 - 08:54 PM

Although about $450 million in state aid and grants did not push the city and teachers' union into a final agreement on teacher evaluations last week, the governor and state education department hope that more than $1 billion will.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday, as he outlined his budget proposals for the next fiscal year, that he will link another increase in state education aid to teacher evaluation systems. School districts will need to implement their evaluation programs by September in order to receive a 4.4 percent hike in funding.

This comes after the state education commissioner said on Friday that his department would either withhold or restrict other federal dollars unless the city took steps toward implementing key aspects of an evaluation system by Feb. 15.

Union president Michael Mulgrew said he would work on parts of an evaluation deal to keep the federal money coming to the city schools.

"We're hoping right now to focus on that first and foremost and that could be a good step toward getting to the eventual evaluation agreement," he said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the fray on Tuesday when he said his administration will not cave to what he calls bad policy, even with more funds on the line.

"I'm not even looking at the money," the mayor said. "We are not going to sign an evaluation deal that is a fraud and a hoax on the public."

What Bloomberg is calling a hoax is the union's desire to have an evaluation agreement "sunset" in June 2015. Education officials said the 2015 date was just before the city would be able to take steps to fire teachers rated "ineffective" two years in a row. Mulgrew said teachers could still be fired.

The disagreement over the sunset provision contributed to evaluation talks falling apart last week.

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