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CAS Hosts Panel Discussion on New ESL Regulations

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On October 15, 2014 well over a hundred school administrators from Long Island participated in a lively panel discussion of the new Part 154 Commissioner’s Regulations outlining services for pupils with Limited English Proficiency beginning in the 2015-16 school year.

The panel was moderated by CAS Vice-president, John Nocero and the panelists were Roger Tilles, NYSED Regent for Long Island; Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District), Chairman of the NYS Senate Education Committee; Dr. James Grossane, Superintendent of the Smithtown School District; and Stephanie MacIntosh, Administrator for Federal Funds, Research and Development and Supervisor of ESL in the Sachem School District.

The discussion lasted nearly an hour and half and focused on the lack of funding needed to properly implement these new regulations. All agreed that the regulations are well intended but the absence of funding associated with them may cause a tremendous hardship in high-need, low-wealth schools in urban, suburban, and rural communities experiencing an influx of limited English speaking students, many of whom have had their education interrupted.

Audience questions centered around the anticipated costs districts will incur related to the New ELL Identification Process; Parent Notification, Information and Meetings; Retention of Identification Documents and Review of Records; Student Placement and Due Process; New Bilingual and ELL Program Requirements;  Development of a Language Proficiency Team (LPT); Grade Span and Program Continuity; Initial Entry, Reentry and Exit Criteria, Identification and Exit Procedures for ELL Students with Disabilities; Support and Transitional Services; Professional Development; and District Planning and Reporting.

Regent Tilles voiced his fear that funds for these new regulations would impact other non-mandated school programs, especially in light of the 2% tax cap and suggested that we seek federal funding to provide some relief for districts hardest hit by new and in some cases undocumented students. Senator Flanagan stated that “from a legislative point of view the regulations are well intended, but not well implemented” but noted that he will look at solving the funding problem during the upcoming legislative budget development process. Although the impact of these regulations may not be felt in his school district Dr. Grossane worried that other districts may have to divert funding from other elective programs. Ms. MacIntosh pointed out that preliminary planning in her district projects the increased cost of implementation next year to be well over 1 million dollars.

Although no solutions were accomplished, the discussion served as the start of a conversation expressing the sincere needs of many school districts across the state that will continue through the state education budget development process this spring.

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You may view the entire conference by clicking here:  2014 Fall Conference – Amendments to Part 154

You can access documents at links below:

New CR 154 Overview

New ELL Regulations with Public Comments

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