March 15, 2016 
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Inside this issue
  In the Spotlight  

Time to Submit a Resolution: Do you have an issue that fuels your passion for advocacy? Does it relate to the education, health, safety or welfare of children statewide? COMMUNICATE TO ADVOCATE and submit a new resolution for consideration at Convention 2016.

New resolutions address issues that are being introduced for the first time for consideration by NYS PTA. They must meet specific criteria and be submitted by units, councils or regions by April 15.

Once adopted, resolutions become part of NYS PTA's official advocacy documents "Basic Policy" and "Where We Stand." Though the task may seem daunting and a little overwhelming, just follow our step-by-step guide on how to write a resolution. It is found on our website here.

Nothing is more thrilling and fulfilling than seeing Convention delegates raise their voting cards up high to adopt a new resolution, so what are you waiting for? Be proactive and make a difference today!



  Advocacy Continues After Virtual Lobby Day  

The NYS PTA Issues Briefs on the four campaigns below are available for review and continued advocacy here. You can still Take Action with our four campaigns here!

Funding Our Schools: Restoring GEA for some districts AND increasing Foundation Aid for others is essential. Fixing the Tax Cap formula will help districts with a Negative Tax Levy Limit to avoid seeking an override vote (60%+1) for essentially less than a Contingency budget (0% increase). If the NY Standards revision is to succeed, NYSED needs funding and staffing support to accomplish this task. Read more here.

Early Childhood Education: Full day Kindergarten is not mandated in our state. NYS PTA believes early childhood education should not be funded by five different sources and is best overseen by NYSED as part of an Early Childhood spectrum from early years to grade two.

Family and Community Engagement Fund: NYS PTA supports the NYS Board of Regents request in their 2016 budget proposal to provide funding to improve the outreach and support of parent and family engagement. Access the background information here and share your voice here!

Heroin and Prescription Opiates/Opioids: Heroin and prescription opiates are devastating families and communities across New York. The family tragedies are overwhelming. Young people age 25 and under are particularly impacted. Even with advances in health insurance parity laws requiring substance abuse services to be covered in similar ways to other diseases, those suffering from addiction, along with their families, have an extremely difficult time accessing treatment services in a timely manner.

Although regulations for the use of opiate overdose reversal medication (Naloxone/Narcan) have been changed to allow greater access to this lifesaving tool, there are still institutional barriers to full implementation of this policy. Assembly Bill 355A is still in committee. Contact your assembly members here to sign on and take action to require physicians to have continuing medical education on addiction.

To learn more about additional advocacy efforts, click here

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Family and Community Engagement: Now that the ESSA, the new federal education law, has been approved, the US Department of Education has begun the process of establishing rules and guidance for implementing the law. There will be multiple opportunities to review the policy and guidance proposals, so please participate.

Tell Congress to invest in Family Engagement is the latest PTA Take Action Alert. The ESSA contains provisions to re-establish statewide family and community engagement centers that provide technical assistance and partnership development for schools and states. Here is the call to provide the dedicated funding from DC to states; please add your voice!



  Special Education  

Revised Updated IDEA Allocations: Each year the state must report the differences between New York State Law, Regulations and Policy and those required by the federal government. The 2016 federal IDEA allocations have been made available and the spreadsheet in Section III "Description of the Use of Funds" has been updated to reflect these amounts. In addition, Assurance #14 of the Application has been revised to reflect changes related to highly qualified special education teacher provisions that have occurred as a result of the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The document is now available for public comment here. To view the document, click here.

Special Education Newsletter: NYSED has posted a newsletter about special education news and updates. Read more here.

Testing Accommodations: One thing that was learned from Governor Cuomo's Common Core Task Force was that accommodations specified in students' individualized education programs (IEPs) have not been consistently or appropriately provided during the administration of state assessments. A memo regarding this important area has been posted to the NYSED website here.

The ABLE Act (Achieving A Better Life Experience) allows individuals with disabilities to set up special accounts without losing their government benefits. The maximum amount that can be saved is up to $100,000. A new site has been designed to provide families with information about the laws, regulations and product offerings in each state; it can be found here.

OnTrackNY: Through the NYS Office of Mental Health, OnTrackNY is a program for adolescents and young adults who have had unusual thoughts/behaviors. This innovative program can help them achieve their goals. Programs are located throughout the state. For additional information, click here.




Your word as a parent whose child is entering school or is already in school is an important element when policymakers create the rules (guidance) of education. There are multiple opportunities to comment on policies in the coming months with the NYS Education Department and with the federal Department of Education. Please take the time to share your experience and understanding before these rules and policies are adopted.

Newly Elected Board of Regents Members: The NYS Legislature elected three new Regents to serve on the Board of Regents: Luis Reyes, Nan Mead and Elizabeth Smith Hakanson. The Board of Regents website should be updated shortly with their biographies.

NYS Standards: At a meeting on March 4, NYS PTA President Bonnie Russell, Executive Administrator Rick Longhurst, and Education Coordinator Catherine Romano met with NYS Deputy Commissioner of Education Policy Jhone Ebert to discuss the need for parent and educator input on the revision of NY's Learning Standards and Assessments.

The calendar for revising the standards was highlighted in a February 15 presentation to the Board of Regents. Look for an early March announcement on AIMHighNY by NYSED and NYS PTA on how to apply as a Focus Group participant. Click here for the Regents proposal Powerpoint presentation and here for the policy document.




National PTA Healthy Lifestyles - Healthy School Meals Grant Deadline April 4: The National PTA is pleased to announce a request for proposals for the 2016-2017 Healthy Lifestyles: Healthy School Meals Grant, which will award $2,000 to 25 local PTAs. This grant is made possible thanks to funding from Pew Charitable Trust. The application will close on April 4, 2016 at 12:00 PM ET. Webinars about the grant process can be viewed here.

Accessing Substance Abuse Treatment Videos: The NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) has recently launched a video series to educate and inform New Yorkers about addiction treatment services. These services will help people and families to access care. These ten new videos will provide people with the tools to navigate the substance use disorder system of care. To view the videos, click here.

Zika Virus Update: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently listed five things you really need to know about the Zika virus. Because mosquitos that spread the Zika virus are found throughout the world, it is also likely that outbreaks will spread. Read about these five facts to help better understand the Zika virus here.

NYS Senate Heroin Task Force Committee: The NYS Senate is proposing laws to address the sale of drugs to minors. Read more here.

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016: The US Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 on March 10. Senate Bill S524 and HR953 focus on tackling the opiate overdose concerns of our country. The focus is to respond to the heroin epidemic and support long term recovery. We now need to focus on the House of Representatives and their bill HR953. Tell your Congressional representatives to pass this bipartisan bill. To read more about the bill, click here. To email your Congressional representative, click here




Water Quality Initiatives: Governor Cuomo has announced a series of aggressive water initiatives to protect public health and the environment. He has created a Statewide Water Quality Rapid Response Team that is charged with identifying and developing plans to address drinking water contamination concerns. It will also address related groundwater and surface water contamination problems. Read the entire article here.



  March/April Awareness Events  
Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
March 16: Kick Butts Day

Alcohol Awareness Month
Child Abuse Prevention Month
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month
National Minority Health Month
National Youth Sports Safety Month
Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month
April 4-8: National Youth Violence Prevention Week
April 5: National Healthy Schools Day
April 7: National Alcohol Screening Day
April 10: National Youth and HIV & AIDS Awareness Day
April 10-16: National Volunteer Week

To view the 2016 calendar, click here.