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School superintendents meet with state legislators

Fort Plain Central School District Superintendent Lauren Crisman joined with local school leaders in meeting with state legislators last week to discuss a range of important issues and initiatives supporting students and their families.

The meetings, conducted virtually, addressed priorities including mental health services and student health and safety, school district workforce shortages and employment procedures, and education funding and mandates.

Mental health services and student health and safety

In their discussions with lawmakers, the superintendents advocated for lawmakers to:

  • Address the shortages of mental health providers and the increased need for ongoing, coordinated care, as well as the need for increased access to preventive services for family systems
  • Collaborate with counties and other organizations to develop a stronger continuum of care
  • Address challenges surrounding the management of and access to, medication and other health supplies
  • Promote universal access to school meals and the need to expand support for community meal programs

“The lack of adequate regional mental health support has a direct and adverse impact on the students and families in Montgomery County,” Superintendent Crisman said. “The lack of regional options for mental health therapy and medication management under the care of qualified professionals is a significant challenge for many families.”

School district workforce shortages

To address critical workforce shortages, the superintendents discussed streamlining the teacher certification process and expanding recruitment efforts by encouraging lawmakers to promote more reciprocity with other states regarding teacher certification and also by continuing to support well developed retirement plans. The school leaders requested that the state review and revise the requirements associated with APPR regulations. All of the leaders strongly advocated for reform with civil service. The current processes associated with civil service employment are overly complex and inefficient.

“Schools across the state are grappling with workforce shortages; there is a decline in those planning to become teachers and administrators in the future, and a civil service process that can prove to be unnecessarily complex and time-consuming,” Crisman noted.

Education funding and mandates

In the areas of instruction and finance, the region’s superintendents and state lawmakers discussed increasing funding streams for career and technical education (CTE) programs and collaborating with the Board of Regents to establish an alternative funding procedure. The superintendents also noted the need to streamline state reporting and planning requirements for schools, including duplicative mandates, and they discussed the impacts of retirement costs and the state’s electric vehicle mandate upon districts.

“For schools to move forward in educating students and preparing them for success now and in the future, support from state lawmakers, leaders and policymakers is critical. We appreciated meeting with our state legislators and their staffs last week, and look forward to continuing an open, constructive dialog, for the benefit of our students, schools and the communities that we serve,” Crisman said.