Dear LHEC Superintendents and Board Members:
The LHEC Steering Committee, with the assistance of Ostroff Associates, has continued to advocate in support of public education in our region. We are pleased that so many of our priorities made it into the State budget and subsequent legislation.
The New York State Legislative Session concluded early in the morning of Friday, June 11th with several major policy issues left outstanding. While the Legislature has not formally announced plans to reconvene, there have been reports both Houses may consider returning after the June 22nd Primary Elections to act on additional time sensitive and high priority issues before the start of the next Legislative Session. We will continue to keep you updated on any developments with regard to reconvening, as well as when legislation is acted upon by the Governor.
The following key issues were acted on by the Legislature this session and are either awaiting action by the Governor or have been enacted:
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the granting of tenure without APPR scores was approved for the 2020-21 school year.
- The creation of a school bus driver safety training program will require the DMV and SED to design and implement a public education program to educate motorists on the dangers of passing a school bus. Additionally, the bill would create a School Bus Motorist Education Fund, which would direct surcharges imposed for passing a stopped school bus into this fund for use in providing grants for the study of the issue. The bill would also ensure the development of proposals to reduce the number of violations and the promotion school bus safety.
- Signage will be permitted to provide notice that a school bus photo monitoring system is in use.
- Special Act School Districts will receive tuition rate increases in line with increased state aid funding for all public-school districts.
- Kindergarten and Pre-K are specifically excluded from the definition of child day care.
- The County-wide Shared Services Initiative is extended and provides additional flexibility by allowing plans that have been approved to be able to be implemented immediately.
- School districts are authorized to provide educational services to students enrolled in an IEP after the age of 21.
- School drinking water testing will be expanded by increasing the frequency from periodic to triennial, requiring that tap water provided by school districts be free to school occupants, removing the waiver from testing requirements, setting the lead action level at 0.005 milligrams per liter and providing remediation funding through the clean water infrastructure programs.
Additional legislation was enacted related to specific LHEC Districts including:
- The Carmel Central School District received the authority to establish an insurance reserve fund.
- The Legislature has validated certain acts by the Pearl River Union Free School District in connection with final building cost reports required to be filed with NYSED.
- The sunset provisions of the State’s Electric Generating Cessation Fund for the Hendrick Hudson Central School District have been eliminated.
- The Town of Clarkstown is authorized to accept an exemption from real property taxes for the Nyack Union Free School District.
Legislation that did not pass both houses:
- The E-LEARN bill was intended to establish a fund for students’ broadband services at home.
- A bill did not pass that would have allowed for the establishment of election wards in Rockland County school districts.
- A review of the Regional Cost Index for the Lower Hudson Valley was not approved.
The LHEC Steering Committee