NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A rare visit from Albany ended with something you don’t often see in a school district long known for infighting: A meeting of the minds.
New York State education officials went to the Hempstead School District on Long Island where unprecedented state monitoring could soon be imposed thanks to legislation passed in June, reports CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
“It’s a rebirth, a reframing,” said New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa. “A rethinking.”
“I’m encouraged by the conversation we had,” said Regent Roger Tilles.
Rosa and Tilles met face-to-face with local school officials, agreeing to disagree but engage in a new positive dialogue.
“It is very refreshing to know that we are going to be working collaboratively to move our school district forward for the sake of our students,” said Hempstead School Superintendent Regina Armstrong.
The district, once with a 37% graduation rate, has made academic progress but not enough to stave off a vote in June to impose three state monitors with veto power.
Rosa and Tilles were in support while the elected school board emphatically sat opposed.
“The possibility of sitting down together to sort of kinda revise that bill is possible and that leaves me with newfound hope there is another option,” said Hempstead School Board President David Gates.
“What I am clear about leaving this meeting is that you have a genuine desire to see Hempstead grow and the students of Hempstead win,” said Hempstead School Board trustee Carmen Ayala.
They say what’s needed is more money, not monitoring, to cover an exodus of funds to charter schools and an explosive influx of immigrants.
The bill’s sponsors say monitoring can only help.
“The school bill does not take out school board, like a lot of people feared,” said State Sen. Kevin Thomas. “This is there to help them.”
“This been going on for decades, it’s not something that’s going to be able to be fixed without state help,” said Assemblywoman Taylor Darling.
The visit will no doubt help inform Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision on whether or not to sign the bill.
“Our number one priority in this process is to help ensure students are receiving the best possible education,” said Jason Conwall, a spokesman for the governor. “We are reviewing the bill and currently are in discussions with both houses of the legislature to ensure the legislation would be effective, and we will be engaging with sed as well.”