2006 Update from
the New York State Assembly
Committee on Education

Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Catherine Nolan, Chairwoman • December 2006
photo Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Education Committee, presides over a recent public hearing.
Message from the Chair

As Chair of the Assembly’s Education Committee, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and provide an update on the Committee’s highlights from the 2006 legislative session. I am honored to be appointed as the Chair of this very important Committee by Speaker Sheldon Silver succeeding our dedicated colleague Steven Sanders.

The Education Committee is responsible for overseeing the educational policies and programs affecting pre-kindergarten, elementary, secondary and adult education for more than three million school children attending both public and non-public schools. The Committee is continually challenged to ensure that the public schools of this large and diverse state provide the range of opportunities that all students need and deserve to fulfill their potential.

Thanks to the support of Speaker Sheldon Silver, along with the hard work of Committee members and staff, the Education Committee enjoyed a busy and productive year. I look forward to working with you and the members of the Committee in the upcoming session to further improve educational opportunities for the children of this State.

If you have any questions about information in this newsletter or would like to share any ideas or concerns, please contact my office at (518) 455-4851.

Catherine Nolan, Chairwoman
Assembly Committee on Education

Catherine Nolan

Committee on

Room 836 LOB
Albany, NY 12248

NYS Seal

2006-2007 Budget Summary

photo Assemblymembers Paul Tonko and Patricia Eddington participate in a 2006 Education Budget Subcommittee Hearing.
The State budget provides a sound investment in our children’s future, complete with the necessary capital to modernize school facilities and expand the number of universal pre-kindergarten classes.

The budget was a clear victory for New York’s school children, with a record increase of $1.36 billion in education funding over last year, including a nearly seven percent increase in formula-based school aid. This includes $631 million more than the governor’s proposed budget.

The budget provides additional support for schools including:

  • A $50 million increase to expand universal pre-kindergarten, which has proven to have positive, lasting results on young children’s education;

  • Continuing $140 million for class size reduction grants for overcrowded schools; and

  • A $20.5 million increase in aid for students with limited English proficiency

It also restores the governor’s cuts to several important programs, providing increases over the governor’s budget of:

photo During a hearing on The Future of New York State’s Public Education System held in November, Assemblymembers Paul Tonko, Catherine Nolan, Fred Thiele and Barbara Clark listen to testimony presented by State Education Department Commissioner Richard P. Mills (see story).
  • $148 million for special education to help children reach their full potential;

  • $26.7 million for Teacher Centers and $4 million for the Teacher Mentor Intern Program to train better teachers and sharpen their skills;

  • $6 million to prepare adults for the workforce through the Employment Preparation Education program; and

  • $69 million for cost-effective shared services through BOCES

The 2006-2007 budget also addresses the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s lawsuit, which ordered more financial support for New York City schools. The Assembly’s Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning (EXCEL) program met the capital requirements of the CFE decision by providing $2.6 billion for capital construction on top of building aid – meaning more funding for every school district in the state. Of these funds, $1.8 billion will go to New York City, $400 million will go to other high need school districts and $400 million will go to all other school districts statewide, on a per pupil basis.

It also helps New York City stretch school construction money by increasing the cap for the Transitional Authority by $9.4 billion to help fund the cost of New York City’s current capital plan and secures building aid payments to the city to support the increase.

2006 Legislative Highlights

A.347-B (Bradley) Enacts the Parent-Teacher Communications act to establish an Internet-based electronic communications system to allow parents and guardians to communicate with the teachers of their children. (Chapter 160 of the Laws of 2006)

A.877-A (Tokasz) Requires the Commissioner of Education to order the re-inspection of school buildings in cases where an initial inspection revealed a violation of the fire code which would, if uncorrected, result in the denial of the annual certificate of occupancy. Additional inspections would be required until it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Education that the violation has been corrected. (Chapter 165 of the Laws of 2006)

A.1216-A (Tokasz) Provides for public access to information regarding the use of certain chemicals in schools. (Passed Assembly)

A.3034-A (Pretlow) Establishes family literacy programs for economically disadvantaged families living in poverty areas or areas with low-performing public schools. (Passed Assembly)

A.6640-B (Paulin) Requests that students enrolling in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten or first grade in a public elementary school in this state present a dental health certificate; such dental health certificate must contain a report of a comprehensive dental examination performed on such child. (Veto Memo #255)

A.6832-B (Magnarelli) Requires the child development and parental skills and responsibility curriculum to include instruction regarding consequences and prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome. (Chapter 177 of the Laws of 2006)

A.8415-A (John) Requires the development of an age-appropriate public school curriculum on how children can better protect themselves from sexual assault and abuse. (Passed Assembly)

A.8925 (Lupardo) Provides protection to school employees who, having reasonable cause to suspect fiscal practices are violating the law to report information regarding such practices. (Chapter 118 of the Laws of 2006)

A.9491 (O’Donnell) Enacts the "Dignity For All Students Act" to afford all students in public schools an environment free of harassment and discrimination based on actual or perceived race, national origin, ethnic group, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender. (Passed Assembly)

A.10504-D (Rivera, P.) Requires every school to provide and maintain an appropriate number and types of nebulizers for use by students. (Passed Assembly)

A.10763-A (Nolan) Requires a public school student’s health certificate to include the results of an enhanced vision screening and an indication of whether a comprehensive eye examination is needed. (Passed Assembly)

A.10877-C (Brodsky) Authorizes public schools to provide instruction in the proper and safe use of the internet in grades kindergarten through twelve. (Chapter 526 of the Laws of 2006)

A.11399-C (Weisenberg) Authorizes private elementary and secondary schools to require prospective employees to submit fingerprints for a criminal history background check. (Chapter 630 of the Laws of 2006)

A.11550-A (Aubry) Establishes certain restrictions on scheduling any State mandated examinations on religious holidays. (Chapter 276 of the Laws of 2006)

A.11965 (Nolan, Lavelle) Provides that in an impartial hearing concerning services provided to students with disabilities, the burden of proof shall be on the boards of education or trustees of the school district or State agency and not the parent or guardian of the student. (Veto Memo #286)

Public Hearings


Aurelia Greene
James F. Brennan
Thomas P. DiNapoli
Barbara M. Clark
Robert K. Sweeney
Earlene Hooper
Paul D. Tonko
William L. Parment
Susan V. John
Steve Englebright
Carmen E. Arroyo
Harvey Weisenberg
Ruben Diaz
William B. Magnarelli
Patricia A. Eddington
John W. Lavelle
Amy Paulin
Philip R. Ramos
Michael R. Benedetto
Jimmy K. Meng
Robert P. Reilly
Roger Green

Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
(Ranking Minority Member)
Thomas J. Kirwan
Joel M. Miller
David G. McDonough
Bill Reilich
Teresa A. Sayward
Joseph S. Saladino
Louis A. Mosiello


Limited English Proficient/English Language Learner (LEP/ELL) Student Assessment Policy in New York State under the Federal No Child Left Behind Act Hearing

The Education Committee held a hearing on October 26th in New York City to examine the New York State Education Department’s (SED) plan to comply with new English Language Arts (ELA) accountability requirements and the steps that were being taken by SED to provide guidance and oversight to school districts. The hearing also sought testimony on the impact of the new LEP/ELL Student Assessment Policy on New York State students and school districts.

In June of 2006, the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) notified the New York State Education Department (SED) that their use of an alternative English as a Second Language (ESL) test instead of the English Language Arts (ELA) test was no longer consistent with the requirements of the Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Current practice has been to allow LEP/ELL students to take the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT) for up to three years rather than take the ELA assessment. Subsequent to this directive, New York State must administer its ELA assessment to LEP/ELL student who, as of January 3, 2007, have been enrolled in school in the United States for one year or more.

New York State had been directed to comply with this NCLB requirement by the end of the 2006-07 school year, and SED had been warned that failure to do so could result in a loss of Federal funds. This directive could have a significant impact on New York’s students. According to SED’s 2003 statistics, there are approximately 200,000 LEP/ELL students, comprising over 13% of the total student enrollment.

Testimony at the hearing was presented by Commissioner Mills of the New York State Education Department, representatives from the New York City Department of Education, ELL directors, principals, teachers, unions, education organizations and advocates.

The Future of New York State’s Public Education System

The Education Committee held their annual budget hearing on November 16th in Albany to assess the educational opportunities that are being provided to students throughout the State and to explore other areas where the State could be focusing its resources to ensure that all of New York State’s students receive the education to which they are entitled.

The testimony presented to the Committee during the hearing focused on legislative and funding priorities in the upcoming 2007 legislative session such as early childhood education and class size reduction programs, the impact of charter schools, improving high school graduation rates, resolving the CFE court case, and the benefits of after-school programs.

Testimony at the hearing was presented by Commissioner Mills of the New York State Education Department, superintendents, representatives from the New York City Department of Education, teachers, unions, education organizations and advocates.

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