COLONIE: Schools react to Spitzer's plan

The increased burden on taxpayers is what led officials at the Colonie-Maplewood Common School District to discuss annexation with North Colonie. After years of passing double-digit tax increases, officials and taxpayers have agreed to bring the annexation before taxpayers in upcoming school budget votes.

It's hard work to keep North Colonie's gears greased and maintaining a steady output of high-scoring regent graduates, said Ehrenberg.

School officials argue that coming down hard on administrators and boards of education of underperforming schools, as Spitzer proposes, is a threat that doesn't serve the best interest of both standard and charter schools.

South Colonie officials said Spitzer raises good questions, but his language may prove to be a little harsh and subsequently undermine the community control of some school districts.

"Some of what is being proposed is taking away the local control of districts," said South Colonie School Board president James Ryan. "I don't think that is the way to go."

South Colonie is in the second year of concerted efforts to raise its standing after it was identified by the state Department of Education as being in need of academic improvement in secondary English. Although they have brought the scores up, they have to remain on the list for another year, which is why they were included among five other schools in Albany County that are not in good standing in the 2006-07 School Accountability Status report released several weeks ago.

Talk of coming down on school administrators and board members for continually not meeting the mark doesn't help, said Ryan. The board and the district's administration already hold themselves accountable for failing performance. After being identified two years ago by the state as underperforming, they immediately put a plan in action to address the problem area, said Ryan, and it was done without additional funds or strings attached. Schools don't need another level of government or bureaucracy to work through, he said.

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