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The Berkshires

Pine Plains School District to break teacher evaluation deadline

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Albany/HV: Pine Plains School District to break teacher evaluation deadline
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New York City schools could lose $250 million in state funding if they miss a midnight teacher evaluation deadline. Dutchess County features one of three other districts statewide set to break the legal requirement. As YNN's John Wagner reports, in Pine Plains, there seems to be no rush.

PINE PLAINS, N.Y. -- It's normally a good thing to get statewide recognition. But for Pine Plains schools, the notoriety comes for failing to submit a plan for evaluating teacher's on time, despite having a union president who agrees reviews are needed.

"I think that if in the bottom line it improves what's offered to students, it's a win-win," said Craig Colgan, a teacher at Seymour Smith elementary school and the president for the Pine Plains Federation of Educators.

The Pine Plains teacher's contract expired in July of 2011. But 18 months of negotiations and stalemates on the contract has left the signature for teacher evaluations, feeling hostage.

"We have so much else to attend to, it would really behoove us all to finally settle this so we can finally go back to focusing on the students and the classrooms," said Colgan.

Pine Plains Central School District covers 140 square miles of mostly rural living. There's around 9,000 residents, 1,200 students attend the district's four schools and out of 696 school systems in the state, it’s one of only four left on the day of the deadline with no plan submitted.

"Knowing that you have a deal and a deal that's fair and equitable to both parts, really goes a long way as far as morale," said Colgan, explaining a deal would give both sides security and a mental boost.

The department of education threatened to withhold $800 million in increased state aid to districts that break deadline. But that incentive doesn't affect the district. The schools superintendent says Pine Plains isn't eligible for a funding increase anyway, leaving little reason to rush to sign the dotted line.

"From a school district our size, to a giant school district like New York City, you're not going to get them to move," said Michael Stabile, a parent of a child at Seymour Smith Academy, who agrees with teacher evaluations. "Money's what makes people move."

A new contract would move the evaluations past the finish line, but it's no racing matter.

"In time for the deadline, I don't think so," continued Craig Colgan. "But it will be resolved and fairly soon, I think."

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