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Wool Argues for Harrison's Current Teacher Evaluations

Harrison Central School District Superintendent Lou Wool supports renewable five-year tenure for teachers.
Harrison Central School District Superintendent Lou Wool supports renewable five-year tenure for teachers. Photo Credit: File Photo

Updated, 6:30 p.m. HARRISON, N.Y. – Harrison Schools Superintendent Lou Wool so strongly opposes the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) system for teachers and principals he was willing to miss last week's deadline for submitting an evaluation plan and forfeit some state aid.

The annual review system is “foolish” and “a waste of taxpayer dollars,” Wool said.

The Harrison Central School District submitted its teacher evaluation plan, but because it was completed 19 minutes after deadline, the district is not expected to receive an increase in state aid, published reports said. The state’s opposition to a part of the principal evaluation and a missing signature from board of president Dennis DiLorenzo caused the delay, which carried over past deadline into Friday, Jan. 18.

The amount of aid to be forfeited is not known yet but will equal the amount of the aid increase from the 2011-12 school year to the 2012-13 year.

"We [already] have a very vigorous system – as a matter of fact, for a long time, some teachers were afraid to come to Harrison because the story was it's very difficult to achieve tenure," Wool said at Harrison's “Tenure Recognition Night” in September. "When you achieve tenure here, it's quite an accomplishment. These people all have a very impressive and unique body of work just after three years."

To earn tenure , teachers and administrators from each of Harrison's six schools have to adhere to the district's core values of equity, access, rigor and adaptability. They also have to pass observations and conferences and receive the recommendation of a panel consisting of their principal and colleagues. Wool is confident in his district’s high standard for achieving tenure and says he should have the same opportunity as every other CEO in America to “control the quality of one’s workforce.” “I believe strongly in the importance of accountability, particularly around teacher performance – our district has been recognized as an exemplar [by the New York State School Board's Association] in that area,” said Wool. One of his strongest recommendations while testifying in front of the Governor's Commission on Education Reform in September was to scrap the newly implemented APPR. He strongly supports renewable five-year tenure. “I think a balance between tenure and protecting people [teachers] from local politics is a fair one and would go further in improving local performance than trying to measure everybody against a test score,” he said at the subsequent board meeting. As of result of missing the APPR deadline – 680 New York State school districts met it – on Jan. 17, the Harrison Central School District will lose some state aid. “A district without an approved plan by the deadline will forfeit state aid in an amount equal to the increase between the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years,” said NYS Dept. of Education spokesman Tom Dunn. “The amount varies from district to district based on formulas and claims received. The amount of the annual increase can change significantly throughout the year as claims are submitted and revised. The final amount of the reduction will not be known until claiming ends after the 2012-13 school year.”