Reaction To Cuomo's Plans On Education

By Kelly McCarthy
By Erika Mahoney

January 10, 2013 Updated Jan 10, 2013 at 11:48 PM EST

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York State schools need more hours in the classroom and more qualified teachers for academic success, but at what cost can schools bring those improvements to the Southern Tier?

Some of the more notable changes Governor Cuomo is proposing are longer school days or less vacation time.

He also suggests a full-day of pre-kindergarten for the highest-needs students.

Changes that could bring more academic success for schools, but the biggest question that remains for education leaders is how can districts afford these additional requirements?

"The clue that he gave us was the expansion of gambling. The idea of putting casino's upstate and that would drive a lot of resources and with those resources we would have money that would go, 90 percent of it was claimed, to public education," said Tim Kremer, Executive Director of the New York State Board of Education.

A system similar to the New York State lottery.

But distributing the funds throughout districts across the state is still a concern.

"I think some of the small, rural, poor school districts are going to feel as if maybe we're not getting our fair share," said Kremer.

One of the ways that could keep students in these seats longer would be through competitive grants. Now they're usually obtained based on performance or based on need.

"I hope it doesn't result in the haves and the have-nots and only those people that won the competition can fund these very important educational changes we need to fund all of these educational changes across the board," said Allen Buyck, Superintendent of Broome-Tioga BOCES.

Bringing up financial issues that Buyck thinks are already a top concern for Broome-Tioga BOCES.

And without the money, new programs won't reach these classrooms.

"Through the current tax system and the current state aid system we have some equity issues and that wasn't brought up in his speech but something that I think needs continual attention," said Buyck.

Buyck doesn't expect to see any changes in this area anytime soon, but he's already preparing for the reaction from families.

"Everyone today is juggling their work-life situations and they've built their schedules around what they know today to be the school schedule, so I think we'll get a variety of reactions. I still think it's something that could be a positive for all if we do it in the right way," said Buyck.

For teachers, the Governor's plan includes creating a "Bar Exam" that they must pass in order to receive certification, and paying high performing teachers more to teach others.

At Maine-Endwell's preliminary budget meeting Thursday, teachers said the proposal for longer school days resonated with them.

"It would have to be structured to meet the needs of the students," said M-E Middle School teacher Shannon Dawson. "I mean they are capable of doing lots of great things, over long periods of time, but the day would have to be structured right for it to work."

There's no time frame for when any of these programs will be seen or implemented.

It could be a number of years before any changes are made to the school year.