State

Federal COVID-Relief Funding

May 20, 2021

Questions? Contact:

Robert Lowry, Deputy Director
Greg Berck, Esq., Assistant Director
E:  advocacy@nyscoss.org

A $12 billion influx of federal COVID-relief funding provides both opportunities and challenges for school districts. Statewide, the sum approaches the equivalence of a 50% increase in state aid. But the funding is temporary and it comes with strings attached.

To help school district leaders understand the requirements accompanying this federal aid and develop sound plans for its use, the Council has created a website section which will share resources we produce as well as items from the State Education Department and other sources.

Among the items you will find are the recording of our May 13 and a compilation of extracts from laws and regulations which illuminate what can or must be done with the federal aid, while we await more formal guidance from the U.S. Education Department.

Access our resource page here.


Please call or write to advocacy@nyscoss.org with any questions or suggestions.

 


Access a collection of resources to help understand the requirements and opportunities attached to the federal assistance coming to most of New York's school districts.

Easy to Read School Aid Run - Plus Details

April 13, 2021

Questions? Contact:

Robert Lowry, Deputy Director
Greg Berck, Esq., Assistant Director
E:  advocacy@nyscoss.org

We have created an Excel spreadsheet which allows users to create an easier to read School Aid run for any district passed on the state budget passed by the Legislature last week.

In addition to presenting the same information as the state-produced runs in an easier to analyze format, we provide more detail on federal aid and where districts stand in relation to full funding of the Foundation Aid formula.

Here is the link to access and use the spreadsheet .

It may take a while to load. Once it does, enter a district’s six digit BEDS Code to create a report. To look up a code for any district, click on the tab named “CODE LIST” at the bottom of the screen.  

There are tabs for REPORT 1 and REPORT 2 on the bottom of the screen.
  
The upper section of REPORT 1 replicates what appears on the state-produced aid runs but with the two years of aid for each category presented side-by-side, along with the change and percentage change by category. This makes it easier to identify which aid categories are most influencing the change in total aid.
  
The lower section provides more detail.
  
First, in the state-produced runs, the Pandemic Adjustment is included in 2020-21 aids, but not the offsetting allocations from the federal CARES Act. While this is an accurate representation of state funding, it arguably has the effect of making the change in total funding appear greater than it “feels” for each district. We include a row showing the change in total funding excluding the 2020-21 Pandemic Adjustment.
  
Second, for some districts, 2021-22 Universal Prekindergarten Aid includes a new full-day prekindergarten expansion grant. We include a row with this sum for affected districts.
  
Third, at the bottom of the state-produced runs, estimates appear for district allocations from the December Coronavirus Relief and Recovery Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) and March American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)—“CRRSA 90% ESSER + BASE ALLOC” and “AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN,” respectively. We include rows for these sums. 

For some districts, the American Rescue Plan allocations are comprised of two parts—an allocation based on shares of Title 1 funding as required by federal law, plus a “Learning Loss Grant.” We show the total ARPA allocation and separate lines for these two components.
  
Under ARPA, states are allowed or required to reserve parts of their federal education funding for specified purposes, including at least 5% to address learning loss, at least 1% for summer enrichment programs, and at least 1% for after-school programs. The enacted budget aims to satisfy these federally required set-asides through the Learning Loss Grants program.
  
All districts are required to use at least 20% of their allocations based on Title 1 shares to address learning loss. The Learning Loss Grants are in addition to those local set-asides. We provide more information about the learning loss funding here.
  
Finally, we include a row showing required community schools set-asides for affected districts—although not included on state-produced runs, that requirement has been continued.
  
REPORT 2 presents changes in aid estimates over time: from March 2020 to November 2020 to April 2021 for 2020-21 aid and from November 2020 to April 2021-22 aid. The March 2020 estimates reflect what districts were projected to receive at the time the 2020-21 state budget was enacted. The November 2020 database was used for the Governor’s budget proposal. The April 2021 figures reflect what is projected for the 2021-22 enacted state budget.

Please call or write to advocacy@nyscoss.org with any questions or suggestions.
  
Here are some other resources: 

- State Education Department Memorandum on American Rescue Plan Funding

- Compilation of Education-Related Funding Provisions of the American Rescue Plan 

- U.S. Department of Education FACT SHEET American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER) 

 
Access an excel spreadsheet allowing users to create an easier way to read School Aid run for any district passed on the state budget passed by the Legislature this week.

Statement of NYS Council of School Superintendents Chuck Dedrick on the 2021-22 Budget for Education

April 8, 2021

Contact:

Robert Lowry, Deputy Director
C:  518.435.5996
E:  boblowry@nyscoss.org

Albany, NY - The new state budget delivers great news for New York’s school districts, putting our public schools in a vastly better position than we would have dared to hope for last summer or fall. 
 
It provides a $1.4 billion increase in Foundation Aid, full-funding of expense-based aids, no new cuts, and an expansion of full-day prekindergarten throughout the state. 
 
The budget also assures that federal stimulus funding for education will supplement and not supplant state resources, enabling districts to apply that funding to safely reopening schools, maximizing in-person instruction, and helping students overcome the effects of the pandemic’s disruptions upon their learning and personal well-being.
 
The plan to fully phase-in the Foundation Aid formula over three years will at last fulfill a promise to the state’s schoolchildren, especially in our neediest communities.
 
We thank the Senate, Assembly, and Governor for their work. We also need to express our gratitude to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, our delegation in the House of Representatives, and President Biden for their efforts in Washington. 

Our elected leaders in Washington and Albany came together and now have given our public schools a bright light of promise at the end of the pandemic’s very dark tunnel.

Read NYS Council of School Superintendents Executive Director Chuck Dedrick's statement on the 2021-22 State Budget for Education.

Council Provides Testimony to the Legislature on Governor Cuomo's Proposed Budget for Schools

January 28, 2021

Contact:

Robert Lowry, Deputy Director
C:  518.435.5996
E:  boblowry@nyscoss.org

Albany, NY - Today, the State Legislature’s fiscal committees are holding their annual hearing on the Governor’s proposed budget for education. Robert Lowry, the Council’s Deputy Director for Advocacy, Research, and Communications will be testifying.

Here is the written testimony that we submitted in advance of the hearing.

The testimony emphasizes these points:

  • The 7.1% statewide increase in combined state and federal funding shown on aid runs is not representative of what most districts would experience. Half the state’s districts would receive increases of 2.1% or less, including nearly one-quarter that would suffer reductions in funding, notwithstanding the $3.8 billion in federal stimulus aid allocated on the runs. Over 70% of districts would have the federal allocations entirely offset by cuts in state support.

  • The budget indicates that the $1.3 billion cut imposed against STAR property tax relief reimbursements to school districts is intended to be recurring. This raises the question, what is expected to happen to STAR once federal aid is gone.

  • The proposal to consolidate 11 aid categories into “Services Aid” is alarming for multiple reasons. It would cut funding by nearly $700 million from what districts would receive under current law. The cuts are generally regressive, taking more per pupil from poorer districts. The proposal would obliterate one remaining strand of predictability in school revenues—there would be no way for districts forecast their Services Aid for the future.

  • We support the Regents legislative proposal to assure school districts are reimbursed through Transportation Aid for exceptional costs they incurred last year and this year while school buildings have been closed.  We also point out that this issue can overstate projected increases in total aid for 2021-22—if their estimated 2020-21 Transportation Aid is depressed.

  • We need to learn from the past, recognizing that the hardest budget choices have come when federal aid ends. So we recognize the need to raise state revenues and to secure federal fiscal relief for our state government.
 


Read our written testimony submitted in advance of today's hearing.

An Easier Way to Read Governor's School Aid Run

January 25, 2021

Questions? Contact:

Robert Lowry, Deputy Director
Greg Berck, Esq., Assistant Director
E:  advocacy@nyscoss.org

We have created an Excel spreadsheet which allows users to create an easier way to read School Aid run for any district. Reports will show estimates for Governor Cuomo’s 2021-22 proposed state budget.

Here is the link to access and to use the spreadsheet

It may take a while to load. Once it does, enter a district’s six digit BEDS Code to create a report. To look up a code for any district, click on the tab named “CODE LIST” at the bottom of the screen.

The upper section replicates what is shown on the state-produced runs, but with aid figures for 2020-21 and 2021-22 presented side-by-side, along with the year-to-year dollar change and percent change for each category. This makes it easier to identify which formulas are driving the overall increase or decrease in aid.

The lower section illustrates how the proposal to consolidate 11 aid categories into “Services Aid” would operate. Briefly, aid for each of the now separate categories would be calculated for 2021-22 as under formulas now in law. The sum produced would then be cut by a Services Aid Reduction factor. Although some districts show an increase in Services Aid from 2020-21 to 2021-22, every district would receive less under the proposal than it would from the existing separate formulas.

Please call or write to advocacy@nyscoss.org with any questions or suggestions.

 


Access excel spreadsheet allowing users to create an easier way to read Governor's School Aid run for any district.

Our Message About Events in our Nation's Capitol

January 7, 2021 - A Message to our members from President Robert Ike and Executive Director Charles Dedrick

Not since September 11, 2001, have many of us felt the same emotions as we felt during the horrific siege of our nation's capital yesterday. Thankfully at the end of the day our democracy prevailed.
  
Yesterday’s events provide us with teachable moments for our children in the way our electoral college performs. The fact that an African-American minister and a Jewish journalist were elected to the United States Senate from Georgia reinforces democracy in action. 
  
Under normal circumstances, it would have been quite the historic day. The day was history-making, but for other more negative reasons as well. As schools reopened today, whether in person, remote or hybrid, we know that you as educational leaders are doing all you can to guide the school districts of New York to a better and more positive place than the one that was on display yesterday in Washington, D.C. by rioters. 
  
Our democracy not only survived, but we believe came through stronger and more united, as witnessed by the actions of the joint session of Congress at 3:30 this morning. As school district leaders we have the opportunity and obligation to help the children in our care to feel safe and to learn how to engage with others of differing viewpoints in respectful and peaceful ways. 
  
As superintendents, you are stewards of what are among the most democratic of all institutions. Our public schools are truly institutions of, by, and for the people. Our leaders are elected by and from the people they serve. Our employees have chosen careers committed to helping all children learn and thrive -- most have made it their life’s work. We serve all children - whatever their circumstances, wherever they come from, whenever they arrive. Our public schools are exemplars of everything that democracy makes possible. The opportunity to lead in this time should be a source of pride.
  
Our students are our future. Your care for them is ever critical at this time. Your care for each other is important. Your care for yourself is necessary. 
  
According to John Meacham, “In our finest hours...the soul of the country manifests itself in an inclination to open our arms rather than clench our fists.” Let today and the days to come include some of our finest hours. 
 
Robert Ike
Superintendent, Palmyra-Macedon CSD
NYSCOSS President

Charles Dedrick
NYSCOSS Executive Director
 
Read The Council's message to our members regarding events that took place on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC.

New Guidance on COVID-19 Testing in Schools

December 7, 2020

Access COVID Testing Webinar Recording

View the Let's Talk About COVID Testing in Schools webinar presented on Monday, December 7, 2021.

On Friday (December 4), the New York State Health Department issued guidance on revised COVID-19 testing requirements for schools located in orange or red zones as part of the state’s “micro-cluster” strategy for combatting the virus. The guidance had been expected since Governor Andrew Cuomo first announced the change in a press conference at the beginning of the week.

Previously, schools located in orange or red zones were required to close and switch to remote-only instruction for at least four days, to conduct cleaning and testing. Schools could then reopen for in-person instruction if 100% of all returning on-site students and employees received a negative result from a COVID-19 test.

We and superintendents of affected districts strongly advocated for a change in these requirements. The near universal conclusion was the that 100% participation in testing was unattainable. We also emphasized the very low positivity rates in schools where testing has been done.

“They should be an example to us all. Too many adults have not heeded their education, ignoring the experts and acting without regard for the consequences of their actions by hosting large gatherings or failing to use the most effective tool at our disposal right now: a face covering.”

The new guidance allows schools in orange or red zones to remain open. To do so, schools in orange zones must test 20% of students and employees over a month, with testing spread evenly across the weeks. Schools in red zones must test 30% of students and employees over a month, spread evenly across bi-weekly periods.

  
The new guidance also allows schools to use pool testing but it must be conducted by a laboratory that is approved to conduct diagnostic pooled testing.
  
The guidance does not make changes in testing requirements for schools in yellow zones.

We conducted a webinar on COVID-19 testing today with superintendents who have implemented testing procedures to comply with state requirements. You can review the resources they cited here.
  
The change in guidance reflects growing recognition of the low rate of infections found in schools. Governor Cuomo had a column in Newsday on Sunday. It was titled, “Schools offer smart lessons about COVID-19 spread.” In his briefings, the Governor has used "astonishing" and "amazing" in reference to how low test positivity rates in schools have been. In the column he said,

 “As parents know, schools are usually places where illnesses spread easily. But in the case of COVID-19, the safest place in the community is truly the school. That’s because schools follow basic rules. The students and teachers wear masks. They practice social distancing. They frequently wash their hands. Many of the students are serious about doing their part to keep their friends and families safe.

“They should be an example to us all. Too many adults have not heeded their education, ignoring the experts and acting without regard for the consequences of their actions by hosting large gatherings or failing to use the most effective tool at our disposal right now: a face covering.”

 

The State Health Department issued guidance on revised COVID-19 testing requirements located in orange and red zones.

Up-to-date School Aid Estimates for Any District

December 7, 2020

View School Aid Estimates

Access downloadable Excel spreadsheet here.

Questions?
Contact:
Bob Lowry
Deputy Director
T: 518.694.4879
E: boblowry@nyscoss.org

Here is a link to a downloadable Excel spreadsheet which allows users to view changing estimates of School Aid for any district.

It may take a while for the file to load. Once it does, enter a district’s six digit BEDS Code to create a report. To look up a code for any district, click on the tab named “CODE LIST” at the bottom of the screen.
  
Hit “Ctrl P” to print a report.
  
Scanning the screen, from left to right . . .

. . .the first block of figures (columns A through D) simply shows the estimates of aid by category at the time the current year’s state budget was enacted last April.
  
. . .the second block (columns E through H) compares estimates of current year (2020-21) aid by category for the database used when the current state budget was enacted and in the updated November 15 database released by the State Education Department last week.
 
. . .the third block (columns I through L) shows estimates of aid for 2021-22 assuming continuation of current law formulas, comparing those figures by category to the latest estimates of 2020-21 aid. 
  
The November 15 database is used in preparing the Governor's Executive Budget School Aid proposal. The figures in the Governor's proposal for both the base year and year ahead nearly always match those in the November 15 database, except for formulas which the Governor proposes to amend. A database updated through February 15 is used for the budget that is passed by the Legislature, assuming passage by or close to April 1.
  
Please be sure to read the “KEY POINTS” below the rows of aid amounts for some important context.

 

Review an excel spreadsheet allowing users to view changing estimates of school aid for any district. Instructions how to use included.

Which Legislators Represent Your School District?

December 7, 2020

The final races to determine the 2021 membership of the State Senate and Assembly have been resolved. Here is our updated crosswalk of school districts and the legislators who represent them.
  
It is an Excel spreadsheet with two tabs, one for the Assembly, one for the Senate. School districts are listed in alphabetical order. The information is derived from a state legislative source. 
  
The tables show the percentage of the school district’s 2010 Census population contained within the legislative district. 
  
The State Constitution generally provides that towns may not be divided between Assembly or Senate districts unless the town has a population greater than that required for a single Senate or Assembly district. Following the last reapportionment, the average Assemblymember represented 129,187 people and the average Senator represented 312,550 people. 
  
Consequently, if your school district serves any part of a town with population below those figures--even vacant land--a legislator representing that town will show up as representing part of your school district. But the percentages can be very small—some are below 0.1%. 
  
When we prepare tables for legislators using this data, we usually omit any school district which for which the legislator is shown to represent less than 10% of the school district population.
  
Each page also includes a link to certified 2020 election results for that chamber and a link to find contact information for each legislator.
  
 
An excel spreadsheet listing the 2021 membership of the State Senate and Assembly. Look for your representative.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Resources

April 15, 2020

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

New York State Education Department 

Capital Region BOCES

New York State Department of Health

New York State Office of Children and Family Services

New York State Empire Development

United States Centers for Disease Control 

Hunger Solutions New York

Harvard University Graduate School of Education 

  1. Enjoy a free, Open Access book, just published, explaining how to reform education systems so they educate all students as global citizens, with the necessary competencies to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This free resources is presented by Fernando M. Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of the Practice in International Education at the Harvard School of Education and a former Council presenter.

  2. Feranando Reimers also shared a recently published report, that he wrote with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), that shows a framework to support the development of an education response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Coronavirus resources for school administrators from national, state, and regional sources.

Important Dates to Remember

Find out what’s due when and get resources to help you succeed.