BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Three local school districts are in the process of getting their APPR plans approved by the state education department.
The districts of Royalton-Hartland, Starpoint and Wilson are at different points in the approval process, but none of them are expected to run into any issues, officials said Thursday.
Under state law, school districts must develop an Annual Professional Performance Review for teachers and principals. A negotiated agreement signed by the district and the union involved must have final state education department approval by Jan. 17. A late penalty would be the loss of the expected increase in state aid for the 2012-13 school year.
As for the rest of eastern Niagara County, Lockport City Schools, Barker and Newfane schools have received final SED approval for their plans.
Board of Education members will be deciding tonight on whether or not to approve the administrator’s portion of Roy-Hart’s APPR plan. The teacher’s half has already been OK’d, said Superintendent Kevin MacDonald.
Once the board signs off on the plan, both halves will be submitted to SED. The department will review it and either give final approval or send it back to Roy-Hart with a list of changes to be made. The plan is then resubmitted for final approval.
It shouldn’t take too long for the SED review, MacDonald said.
“They said six weeks, but in talking to other school districts, it was about two to three weeks when the comments came back,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ve learned from others, so we’ll have fewer comments.”
Starpoint and Wilson submitted their APPR plans to SED back in July. Wilson is currently in the process of resubmitting the plan for final approval, but Starpoint’s is still in the SED review stage.
“We have not heard back,” said Starpoint Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan. “We’ve been asking everyday. We don’t know what’s going on. But we do know it’s being reviewed, we should hear back any day now.”
Wilson Superintendent Michael Wendt said the district has worked well with administrators and the teachers union.
“They have been unbelievable,” he said. “We’re hopeful we will have final approval within weeks.”
APPR was one of the mandates Albany forced on school districts, as part of the federal Race To The Top competition. New York state won $700 million, half of which would be sent to schools to carry out directives such as APPR.
However, some local districts received less than $60,000 total over the next four years. Lockport received roughly $350,000 total over four years.
Besides the low return for the amount of work, some think APPR may not yield the results Albany is looking for.
“Five years from now, I don’t think we’ll be standing on a better foundation, as it pertains to teacher evaluations,” Wendt said.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241.