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RCSD Community Update: 4/9/21

April 9, 2021

Dear RCSD Community,

I hope you and your families had a terrific spring break. This week, we welcomed back to full-time, in-person school our 11th and 12th graders.  We are thrilled to have every student who wants to be back in the schools, and the kids seem so happy to be back together with their classmates. Things are feeling quite pre-COVID, with the exception of masks, desk shields, and social distancing, of course.

NYS Grades 3-8 and Regents Testing

As expected, yesterday, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) announced that the U.S. Department of Education has denied its request for a waiver to cancel all State and Regents exams, so NY State will be moving forward with administering the mandated exams, including modified grades 3-8 math, ELA, and science exams. If you wish to view the Q & A session about grades 3-8 State testing that took place this Monday, please click here

Budget News

The New York State budget for 2021-2022 has been approved by the Legislature. There have been several news stories about massive influxes of funding that will be coming to school districts. Unfortunately, the RCSD is not receiving an increase in funding.  The bulk of the funding increases being reported are to what is known as Foundation Aid. Foundation Aid is the base State funding that is allocated to school districts based on the socio-economic need of individual communities. 

In the January 2021 preliminary NYS budget projections for the 2021-2022 school year, the District’s Foundation Aid allocation was $2,113,181. In the NYS budget approved earlier this week, our final Foundation Aid allocation is $2,155,444, an increase of 2% that equates to $42,263. Our remaining State funding allocations (for software, technology, textbooks, library books, building aid, BOCES, transportation) have been reduced and will result in an anticipated overall decrease of $49,999 in our funding from NYS for the 2021-2022 school year as compared to the 2020-2021 school year.  

The District is expecting to receive funding as a result of the three federal COVID relief packages (July, December, and March). This funding is designated as CARES I, CARES II, CARES III and is specifically for COVID expenses over the next three years. It is a reimbursement program meaning that the District must expend the money first then apply for reimbursement. The District has recently received directions on how to apply for reimbursement through CARES I (July 2020).  We estimate that allocation will equal $84,248.  The process for applying and allocations for CARES II and III have not been fully determined at this time, but the anticipated amounts are $251,482 for the December allocation and $507,292 for the March allocation (a.k.a. The American Rescue Plan). Our reimbursement submissions will be used to offset costs incurred by COVID-related expenses which are currently approximately $800,000 and will continue to grow.

COVID Testing

The District’s COVID testing restarted this week. To accommodate juniors and seniors who traveled over the break, the District set aside a special block of hours on Monday and Tuesday in addition to the regularly scheduled testing. I am pleased to report that none of the individuals tested were COVID-positive. Please continue to send your students for testing;  testing 5 percent of the population weekly is a critical factor in keeping our schools open for full-time, in-person teaching and learning. Find out more about the program here.

Case Update

Since my last community update on March 26, the District has had four new cases: two at Rye High School, one at Rye Middle School, and one at Midland School. One case resulted in school-related quarantines. We still have not seen an instance of COVID transmission within one of our schools. We know this because none of the students, faculty, or staff who have been exposed in school have later tested positive for COVID-19.

Moving Outside

Now that the weather has improved, the windows have been flung wide open and students are spending a good deal more time outside. Outdoor cafeterias are in place at all three of the elementary schools and have proven to be a big hit with students. Middle school students are also dining al fresco, and new tents have been erected behind the school to allow the larger engineering classes to meet while socially distanced. A boosted Wi-Fi network is helping to keep remote students connected to classes held outdoors. A reminder to please send your students with appropriate clothing and footwear so they are comfortable both inside and outside the school buildings.

This past Sunday, April 4, was National School Librarian Day. Please take a moment to thank our wonderful librarians and library support staff for all they do to keep our kids engaged in reading and with great books -- just not too loudly because “shhhhhh, it’s a library.” In this unusual world of COVID, our librarians and support staff have implemented innovative ways to get library books into the hands of our students. We are grateful for their dedication and creativity. 

Have a wonderful weekend. The weather looks to be great if a bit wet on Sunday.

Sincerely, 

Eric Byrne, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools