A 2020 Vision for Public Education in Ulster County, a partnership between the Center for Research, Regional Education, and Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY New Paltz and the Legislative Action Committee of the Ulster County School Boards Association, took a major step forward today with the release of the first two policy briefs in a planned series.
An Agenda for Change through Countywide Collaboration argues that in a time of continuing fiscal and social challenges a collaborative regional county-wide approach to education is essential. It will allow school districts to capitalize on economies of scale and enhance educational opportunity while preserving the local, community-based identity that is so important to citizens. Later School Start Times for Adolescents provides a review of the literature about later school start times and proposes it as a topic for further inquiry among school districts. Three districts already have this idea under discussion.
The partnership, a broad-based effort to support innovation and positive change in Ulster County schooling, seeks to promote countywide, regional thinking among the eight Ulster County school districts—Ellenville, Highland, Kingston, New Paltz, Onteora, Rondout Valley, Saugerties and Wallkill—with the goal of enriching educational opportunity for students and managing service delivery as efficiently as possible.
The effort began with a symposium in November 2013 on the SUNY New Paltz campus, which convened public education stakeholders to begin to conceptualize a countywide response to school districts’ current challenging circumstances. The work continued through two study groups charged with identifying potential areas of collaboration for Ulster County school districts. These study groups, staffed by subcommittees of A 2020 Vision for Public Education in Ulster County participants and supported by CRREO, met throughout the 2013-2014 school year and conducted research on a range of issues. These include regionalization of transportation; regional pre-kindergarten; enhancing educational opportunity through course-sharing, distance-learning, and sharing staff; later school start times for adolescents; and shared calendars and bell schedules to facilitate service-sharing. Finally, the groups compiled a list of legislative and regulatory barriers that inhibit the ability of school districts to engage in collaborative efforts. This may form a platform for legislative advocacy for Ulster County school districts.
CRREO Director Gerald Benjamin said, “Education is government’s most important function. In a time of tax caps, rapid demographic change and declining school enrollments, it is crucial that we seek smart new ways to efficiently and effectively deliver the best possible education for our children in the Hudson Valley.”
Beginning in August, and over the next few months, the study groups will issue additional short policy briefs about issues identified by 2020 Vision participants in order to further discussion about other collaborative potentialities. Participants will then reconvene in December 2014 to discuss these policy briefs and then decide upon whether and how to pursue specific areas of collaboration.
If you are interested in being on the mailing list for these policy briefs, please send an email with your address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRREO was established in 2007 to further engage the university and its people with communities, governments, not-for-profits, and businesses across our region. CRREO conducts and publicizes research on regional topics; creates and directs select institutes focusing on specific topics of regional interest; connects and partners with local governments, not-for-profits, and businesses to initiate reforms and advocate for best practices; contracts to assess the performance of public and not-for-profit agencies and programs; and works to foster intergovernmental collaboration and community engagement.
About A 2020 Vision for Public Education in Ulster County
A 2020 Vision for Public Education in Ulster County is about providing a framework and vehicle for discussions about countywide collaboration. Rather than piecing our sharing together, service by service, Ulster County school districts are developing a way to think collectively about how to go down this road together. In this way, we can maintain control over the character, shape, and extent of our collaborative efforts.