Albany, NY - New York State Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R-East Fishkill) paid an unannounced visit to bureaucrats at the New York State Department of Education recently to get them to stop dragging their feet and making excuses for delays in approving school safety measures. Click here to see video.
Lalor is asking his constituents to let their voice be heard by calling or emailing Steve McNally of the State Department of Educations Office of Educational Management at 518-474-6541 or Stephen.McNally@nysed.gov to tell him to get his priorities in order and put school security first.
The Wappingers Central School District (WCSD) has been in the process of applying to use funds from the Smart Schools Bond Act to improve the physical security of schools in the district for more than a year. WCSD has received all but the final New York State Department of Education approval to add new secure vestibules to 13 schools attended by 10,090 Kindergarten through 12th grade students. This last step is the Expenditure Review, which is largely pro forma. The forms that can help secure the students of Wappingers Schools sit on the desk of one of the bureaucrats in the New York State Department of Education building in Albany.
Unfortunately, the state education bureaucracy has no sense of urgency, even when it comes to protecting our children. Steve McNally of the State Education Departments Office of Educational Management makes excuses about manpower issues and accepts the delays. He told the district in a recent email, You are in Expenditure Review as of last June, and the one staff member we have doing that is working on November 2016.
Rather than try to improve the process, McNally told the district, It will likely be some time before you are reviewed and hopefully approved. According to Lalor, This is bureaucrat speak for Well get to it when we get to it. Leave me alone.
Incredibly, the Department of Education legislative liaison Michelle Newman was non-committal when Lalor asked if she agreed that security for schools should be a higher priority than buying tablets for students when discussing the school technology bond funding.
The school district asked Lalor to advocate for the speedy approval of the district's much-needed security vestibule plan. The Albany bureaucrats ignored Lalors calls and emails for three days. But it was more difficult to ignore Lalor when he showed up at the palatial Department of Education offices in Albany.
Lalor has demanded that the Education Department prioritize security and safety projects when handling approvals and to have a proactive can-do attitude toward reducing the backlog.
Moving security and safety projects to the top of the priority list is imperative. It shouldnt take lawmakers and school administrators to get the state education bureaucracy to exercise some basic common sense, added Lalor.
The Smart Schools Bond Act was approved by the voters in a statewide referendum in 2014. It authorized the issuance of $2 billion of general obligation bonds to finance educational technology and infrastructure improvements. For more info click here.
Lalor concluded, There are a lot of things we need to do to make our schoolchildren safe. Security vestibules of the sort Wappingers Central schools are attempting to install are a good start. Albany bureaucrats need to lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.