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Oppenheimer Education Package Passes State Senate
State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) says her Education Mandate Relief Package has passed in the State Senate. Oppenheimer chairs the New York State Education Committee.
The package of six bills, which she sponsored, allows school districts to more effectively manage the resources they have and make the best possible budget decisions for their communities. Said Oppenheimer, "Our current fiscal crisis compels us to look for ways to restructure government at all levels to make it more efficient and cost-effective." She adds, "The education reforms I have championed afford school districts relief from burdensome mandates."
The mandate relief plan prohibits imposition of new mandates after the start of a school fiscal year and allows Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) to provide additional shared services to member districts, such as "piggyback" transportation contracts.
The bill would also permit districts to create reserve funds for employer contributions to the Teachers' Retirement System and would use a five year rolling average of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) when calculating the contingency budget cap.
The package also includes the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires the State Education Commissioner to establish a unified electronic data collection system to reduce enormous costs of paperwork, mailing, processing and filing by the state education system.
The reforms are being applauded by the President of the New York School Boards Association, Florence Johnson, who says the package "Allows districts some flexibility and relief for school boards in ares of transportation, pre-k programs, reporting requirements and auditing in an extremely difficult economic time."
Oppenheimer says similar legislation is being considered in the State Assembly.
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