NYSAIS is an advocate of the independent schools of New York State, speaking for their independence, well-being, and reputation before the agencies of government, the media, and the public.
NYSAIS monitors all developing state legislation and regulation as well as judicial proceedings of importance to independent schools. The Association retains an Albany law firm as legislative counsel, and through the firm is assured a continuing presence and voice in the capitol.
New York has a most prolific legislature: 12,000 bills will ordinarily be introduced each year. While 90% of these are destined to die in committee, many must be reviewed for possible impact on independent schools. They may deal not only with education but with labor, taxation, insurance, fundraising, discrimination, safety, building codes, and more. Every session sees bills to mandate instruction in a variety of subjects, to require the certification of teachers, and to add to the list of mandated tests. Thus, the Association’s principal efforts are expended in resisting potentially damaging legislation.
The Regents oversee all educational institutions in the state. Acting through their executive arm, the State Education Department, they may set curricular, testing, graduation, and other requirements. NYSAIS works closely with the Regents and the Department to ensure that those requirements do not unnecessarily compromise the independence of our schools. For example, NYSAIS has been successful in obtaining variances for its members from certain curricular and testing requirements of the Regents Action Plan, Part 100.
The Association also follows other regulatory and judicial proceedings, intervening where the interests of the schools are threatened, such as, for example, in the drafting of a new fire and building code, in certain legal actions against schools, and the adjudication of issues in statewide interscholastic sports.
NYSAIS provides legal counsel to the member schools through affiliation with an Albany law firm having wide experience with state government and the special concerns of non-profit institutions. While NYSAIS does not perform legal services for individual schools, it may obtain opinions on issues that are of general interest to most schools. Under certain circumstances and after consulting with the Executive Director, heads and school attorneys may have direct access to NYSAIS lawyers.
NYSAIS provides institutional counseling – when requested – on the wide-ranging academic, administrative, and governance problems all schools encounter now and then. Either the Executive Director or any member of a small committee of experienced heads and trustees may be consulted. If long-term counseling is required, NYSAIS will recommend an appropriate independent consultant.
Under the authority of a Regents charter, NYSAIS evaluates and accredits elementary and secondary schools in the State. The rigorous process of self-regulation that the Association has developed assists schools in reaching and maintaining standards of excellence, assures the public of the quality of their programs, and helps to protect the schools from unwarranted regulation.
The NYSAIS Associate Director and the Professional Development committee organize a great number of one-day workshops and three-day institutes for new and experienced teachers. NYSAIS offers three-day conferences for school heads, assistant and division heads, directors of information technology, business and financial managers, admissions officers, development and alumni directors, and athletic directors – each planned by its own committee. Workshops are conducted for chairs and members of NYSAIS committees visiting schools seeking accreditation, and for those overseeing the self-study process. NYSAIS sponsors an annual Job Fair to Promote Diversity and offers an annual and well-attended Diversity Conference.
Teachers in the greater New York City area may take advantage of workshops and book fairs sponsored by the Association of Teachers in Independent Schools (ATIS). There are also organizations in the city for admission and development officers. Many services, conferences, and resources are also available through the National Association of Independent Schools.
NYSAIS undertakes various collaborative efforts with neighboring state associations of independent schools. Our annual conference for school heads gathers every year in early November under the auspices of the NYSAIS Board of Trustees.
The NYSAIS Experienced Leaders Advising Schools (ELAS) program has been equipping NYSAIS schools with affordable, high-impact advising and mentoring for leadership and governance since 2012.
ELAS “Ed-visors” (see their bios) include retired heads of school and senior administrators with significant experience and expertise in independent schools, and their practices are rooted in a solid theoretical foundation for improving organizations and building capacity in their leadership.
The Business Affairs Council is a standing committee of NYSAIS. Its primary purpose is to improve the business management of schools by providing professional development opportunities for business officers and counsel to member schools in need of management support. The BAC acts also as a resource for regional business associations, plans and executes an annual statewide business conference, and generally promotes communication on business affairs among all NYSAIS schools.
Further resources and programs for business officers are provided by the National Business Officers Association (NBOA).
The NYSAIS Athletic Association oversees post-season tournaments and provides the mechanism for member schools to play public and other nonpublic schools throughout New York State. An Athletic Executive Committee interprets state regulations and monitors the Athletic Association’s own guidelines. An Athletic Directors Committee organizes and administers postseason play for all participating schools. The Athletic Association also holds an annual athletics conference.
NYSAIS is a resource for information on legislation, rules, regulations, public funding, governmental agencies, statistics, educational developments, and administrative practices in schools. Information is available to the schools via correspondence, the organization’s website, telephone, and periodic publications. Publications, through the web and otherwise, are designed to provide information on matters of significance to independent schools, an annual statistical summary (salaries, tuition, and fees, enrollment, financial aid, etc.), administrative counsel, and editorial opinion.