Superintendents throughout the area attended a conference on the new teacher evaluations in January in Briarcliff Manor.

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – School officials throughout the state are protesting the implementation of new teacher performance reviews even as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has threatened the loss of $805 million in state aid if the changes aren’t enacted.

Cuomo’s recently-released Executive Budget stipulates that school districts will not be eligible for state aid increases unless they have fully implemented the new teacher evaluation process by Jan. 17, 2013. Cuomo also plans to create a commission that will shift educational focus to school accountability to “improve student achievement and operational efficiency.”

But superintendents and principals say the new teacher evaluations are being implemented far too quickly.

“It’s un-do-able,” Ardsley Union Free School District Superintendent Lauren Allan said during a  superintendents’ conference on the new evaluations sponsored by Southern Westchester BOCES in January. “I don’t know what the state’s going to do about that.”

Under the new teacher review process, publicly available ratings will be compiled based on principal observations, state test scores and other locally-decided measures. However, school officials have noted that current state tests could only evaluate math and English teachers in fourth-through-eighth grades.

Schools officials in the Union Free School District of the Tarrytowns have said that the state hasn’t told them how other subjects will be held accountable.

“We understand that there’s a plan for getting this together, but it’s difficult for any of us to understand how this all can be in place for the 2012-13 year,” said Barbarann Tantillo, assistant superintendent for instruction and personnel.

The new evaluations are a product of Race to the Top, a federal program designed to give funding grants to states who pledge to implement education policies set by the Obama administration.

A total of 1,213 principals throughout the state have signed an open letter protesting the structure of the new teacher reviews, saying educational research doesn’t support the current plan and that tax dollars will be redirected outside of the classroom to help pay for the evaluation process.

They also say including student test scores will lead to state tests taking center stage in the classroom.

“We continually examine best practices and pursue the most promising research-based school improvement strategies,” the principals wrote. “We are very concerned, however, that at the state level change is being imposed in a rapid manner and without high-quality evidentiary support. Our students, teachers and communities deserve better. They deserve thoughtful reforms that will improve teaching and learning for all students.”

Elmsford Union Free School District Superintendent Barbara Peters said she felt the new evaluations could help teachers “look at what we do and try to be better,” but also noted state officials “really have rushed this.”

“Change is never easy,” she said. “When you’re moving from one system to another, you’re generally trying to implement in steps and make sure people know and understand what’s going to be included.”

Allan acknowledged that there needs to be a way to evaluate teachers, but said the new review process was too public. She especially took issue with rating first-year teachers.

“The rating of brand-new teachers and identifying them in their first few years of practice as basic—the high-stake reaction that that’s going to cause to the public is a huge concern,” she said.

Former Ossining Resident Arminda Pinto Dies at 90

OSSINING, N.Y. – Arminda Couto Pinto, formerly of Ossining, died Jan. 15 at her daughter’s home in Andes, N.Y. She was 90.

Born in Portugal on Aug. 27, 1921, she was the daughter of Luiz and Maria Couto. She married Americo Pinto on April 2, 1941. Pinto was a former book processor for the Pleasantville Packing Company. Pinto was a longtime Ossining resident before moving to Andes 12 years ago.

She is survived by her daughter Maria (Gerald) Norris, her sons Fernando (Mirtha) Pinto and Jose Pinto, two brother-in-laws, 10 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband Americo on Feb. 17, 2000 and her sons Joaquin and Manuel Pinto.

Visiting hours will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday at Dorsey Funeral Home in Ossining. The funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Holy Innocents Church in Pleasantville, followed by interment at All Souls Cemetery in Pleasantville.

Memorial donations may be made to Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, 1 Birchwood Drive, Oneonta, N.Y. 13820.

Ossining Police Respond to Minor Vehicle Accidents

OSSINING, N.Y. – Ossining village police said they responded to numerous minor motor vehicle accidents this week, including a roll-over on Ogden Road.

The accidents occurred between 5:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Tuesday, police said. Icy conditions played a large factor in the accidents.

Also in Ossining:

– Michael Martin, 22, of Iroquois Road in Ossining, was charged with criminal mischief in the third degree after allegedly kicking a door window at 7-Eleven on North Highland Avenue on Jan. 14, police said. Martin had an argument with a store clerk and kicked the door at around 3:30 a.m., police said.

– Brian Kane, 52, was charged with burglary in the second degree after allegedly stealing power tools from 20 Croton Ave. in Ossining, police said. Kane was in Westchester County Jail awaiting arraignment on Tuesday.

Petition to Save Rye Playland Reaches 1,200 Signatures

amusement parkRye, N.Y. – The fate of Rye Playland, a small amusement park located in Rye, New York, will be decided in the coming weeks. Lawmakers in the town of slightly more than 15,500 people are left to choose between four proposals for the amusement park’s future.

One of these plans is receiving a lot of negative attention from some of the town’s inhabitants. The Sustainable Playland proposal for the park would cost $34 million and greatly reduce the number of rides in the park in favor of a mini water park, fields, restaurants, and a huge lawn that will provide a view of Long Island Sound.

This proposal is meeting great opposition from many residents of Rye for eliminating too many rides and removing too much parking. A website and petition called “Save Playland Amusement Park” hopes to fight the Sustainable Playland proposal and promotes two of the other three proposals for the future of Playland.

These other proposals include a $25 million plan to add some fields, rides, and water attractions. A different $26.4 proposal would add mini-golf, a children’s play area, and new rides. The final proposal would rebrand the park as Legoland New York.

The petitioners seem to be dead set on ensuring the $34 million plan is not chosen, with the petition gaining more than 1,200 signatures in its first couple weeks.