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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.

Bob Lowry
Deputy Director
T: 518.694.4879

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.

State Legislative Committee

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Committee PositionCommittee Member Contact InfoTerm StartTerm End
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PresidentDr. Robert R. Ike
Superintendent of Schools
Palmyra-Macedon CSD
151 Hyde Parkway Palmyra, NY 14522
Co-ChairDr. Joseph S. Famularo
Superintendent of Schools
Bellmore UFSD
580 Winthrop Ave Bellmore, NY 11710-4200 UNITED STATES
Co-ChairMr. Neil F. O'Brien
Superintendent of Schools
Port Byron CSD
30 Maple Avenue Port Byron, NY 13140
MemberMr. Michael J. Baumann
Superintendent of Schools
Newfane CSD
6273 Charlotteville Road Newfane, NY 14108
MemberMr. Patrick H. Brady
Superintendent of Schools
Massena CSD
84 Nightengale Avenue Massena, NY 13662
MemberDr. Lori S. Caplan
Superintendent of Schools
Watervliet City SD
1245 Hillside Drive Watervliet, NY 12189
MemberMr. Raymond Anthony Castellani
Superintendent of Schools
Webutuck CSD
194 Haight Road Amenia, NY 12501
MemberMr. Matthew Cole
Superintendent of Schools
Livonia CSD
PO Box E Livonia, NY 14487-0489 UNITED STATES

Your Advocacy Team


Robert Lowry, Jr.
Deputy Director, NYSCOSS
Greg Berck, Esq.
Assistant Director, NYSCOSS

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