Regents Exams Cancelled As School Closures Are Extended

The sign outside East Hampton annoucing a two-day closure is already out of date, as schools throughout Suffolk County have been closed for two weeks following the order of County Executive Steve Bellone. STEPHEN J. KOTZ

Students in New York set to take Regents exams this June will be excused from the tests, provided they have a passing grade in the test subject, officials from the State Education Department announced Tuesday.

The guidance from state officials came a day after New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa announced the June exams would be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a press release issued by the department on Tuesday, the exemption applies to all students in grades seven through 12 with passing grades in any course they were scheduled to take an exam for this June. Students without a passing grade who take summer school successfully will also be credited for the course work towards graduation with a Regents diploma.

On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo extended an executive order, closing all schools through April 29. The Governor has said he will announce the extension of school closures — and mandated closures of all non-essential business — on a two-week by two-week basis, as the state grapples with the virus outbreak.

On Tuesday, the State Education Department also announced it would delay the rollout of assessments aligned to Next Generation Learning Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics for grades three through eight until the spring of 2022. State assessments for P-12 Science Learning Standards are also delayed, the department said, until the spring of 2023.

The department had already announced last month that state testing for elementary students in grades three through eight would be suspended for 2020.

“In times of crisis, difficult decisions must be made and the Board of Regents knows these are ultimately the right ones for New York’s students,” Ms. Rosa said in a press release issued on Tuesday morning. “We are putting the safety of children, families and educators first, while ensuring that the hard work done by our students and teachers is honored. These are extraordinary decisions for an unprecedented time, and we thank our school communities for their support and continuing dedication during the statewide school closure.”

The news comes a week after drastic cuts in state aid for school districts statewide were averted with the passage of a state budget that kept aid flat, thanks, in part, to federal stimulus monies granted to New York State due to the virus outbreak. While, in total, school aid increases $1.4 billion in the approved budget, foundation aid — the main source of public school state aid — was kept flat. Last week, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. confirmed a caveat — that Governor Cuomo and the state budget director will be able to make adjustments to state aid and without appropriations if the state budget suffers midyear as a result of the pandemic.

Locally, while foundation aid remains flat across the board, many districts are slated to receive minimal increases in state aid provided there are no cuts mid-year. In East Hampton, aid is expected to increase from $3.31 million to $3.47 million. In Amagansett, aid is projected to rise from $375,993 to $391,337. The Springs School District will see an increase from $1.6 million in 2019-20 to $1.75 million in 2020-21 with Montauk projected to receive $935,097 next year compared to $917,828 this year. The Shelter Island School District is slated to receive $657,319 in 2020-21, compared to $611,678 this year, with Westhampton Beach also seeing a small bump in overall aid from $2.52 million to $2.56 million. Quogue will receive $375,292, compared to $364,863 this year, with Hampton Bays projected to get $6.5 million compared to $6.3 million in 2019-20. The Southampton School District will get $2.98 million next year, compared with $2.88 million this year, and the Bridgehampton School District is expected to receive $961,190, compared to $821,442 this year. In East Quogue, that school district will see a slight increase to $1.45 million compared to $1.37 million in state aid this year.

The Sag Harbor School District will actually see a decrease in the amount of total aid, from $1.933 million in 2019-20 to $1.83 million in 2020-21. Tuckahoe Common School District will also see a slight decrease in overall aid, from $1.109 million to $1.104 million.
Overall, Suffolk County school districts are estimated to get over $2 billion in state school aid for 2020-21, on par with last year’s figures.

In other school news, OLA of Eastern Long Island announced this week it has purchased more than 1,000 Chromebooks for several East End school districts to benefit both Latino and non-Latino students as home-based distance learning continues across the region. The districts OLA is currently working with include Springs, Riverhead, Greenport and Mattituck.

“While many districts had enough iPads or Chromebooks for all students in need, some districts were not in a position to provide a device for all students,” Minerva Perez, executive director of the organization, said in a release issued Tuesday. “There was no way for schools to be prepared for such a situation. We were fortunate to have a funder who fully supports OLA mission that highlights Education as well as Advocacy and the Arts.”