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School superintendents call for mandate relief

At least one says take a thoughtful approach or students will suffer

Northeastern Clinton Central School Superintendent Peter Turner says mandate relief is needed in New York state.

Northeastern Clinton Central School Superintendent Peter Turner says mandate relief is needed in New York state. Photo provided

— Mandate relief is important, says Peter Turner, but he has not seen any evidence of it yet.

“Anything the state of New York could do to help us save costs would be a welcome benefit,” said the superintendent of Northeastern Clinton Central School. “But I have not noticed any significant mandate relief by the state of New York.”

New York is one of the most regulated states in the nation when it comes to public education. School officials often complain that when a new mandate is handed down, no money follows it, forcing the district to carry out the mandate and pick up the tab.

“Anything we wouldn’t have to do that we could save money on would be an advantage to the district,” Turner said.

But the most he notices when it comes to mandate relief is lip service.

“It has been a common mantra the last couple of years.”

He wishes it would go beyond the discussion phase, because, “There are all kinds of stipulations the state of New York puts on school districts, and probably there are several things we could do without.”

He’s heard talk of changing special-education mandates, many of which in New York state exceed federal requirements.

“It would be nice if they backed off to the federal requirement,” Turner said. “And if there is a mandate, give us time to budget for it. At least if we had the courtesy that here is a new requirement and it is going into effect the following year, that would give us time to budget for it.”

“That would be helpful,” agreed Northern Adirondack Central School Superintendent Laura Marlow.

With the new teacher evaluation system and federal Race to the Top initiative, it would be helpful to have some relief to meet those mandates, especially in the areas of testing and materials, she said.

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