images of parents with their children
December 13, 2019
Dear Parents,

Happy Holidays! I'd like to express my gratitude for the work you do to support New York's schools and communities. Thank you to the Parent Teacher Associations across the state, including Kyle Belokopitsky and her team at New York State PTA, for all they do for students every day. I sincerely appreciate your continued commitment to ensuring a high-quality education for your children and all our students in New York State. I hope you and your families have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season.

This week, the Board of Regents announced the appointments of William Murphy as the Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education and Aaron Baldwin as Acting and Deputy Counsel. Mr. Baldwin will serve in the Acting Counsel position until a permanent Commissioner of Education is identified. At that time, I will leave my role as Interim Commissioner and take on the role of Counsel and Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs. Thank you for your continued support as we work through this transition.

Also this week, the Board of Regents advanced its 2020 budget and legislative priorities and state aid request for the 2020-2021 school year. The Board called for a $2 billion increase in Foundation Aid for the 2020-21 school year to support a minimum one percent increase for all districts and prekindergarten expansion and inclusion pilot programs. In addition, the Board advanced a bold and comprehensive set of funding proposals to best meet the needs of every student in New York by achieving Equity, supporting Early Childhood Learning and English language learners, implementing New York's Every Student Succeeds Act plan, and enhancing efficiency within the State Education Department and school districts statewide.

The Board proposal puts forth a thoughtful and comprehensive agenda that will increase equity among all students and continue the Department's work toward ensuring that every student in New York receives the best education possible. These strategic investments in our most valuable resources--our children--would provide real benefits for students, teachers, school districts and communities statewide. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Executive to strengthen and support our schools.

Finally, applications are now being accepted for the 2020 New York State Summer School of the Arts (NYSSSA). NYSSSA provides talented students the opportunity to study with professionals in the visual and performing arts. NYSSSA provides access to professional artists and equipment, allowing students to hone and advance their artistic skills over the summer break. We are proud to offer this program to New York State students who have a passion for the arts.

Students in grades 8-12 throughout New York State are encouraged to apply to one of seven schools: Theatre, Ballet, Modern Dance, Orchestral Studies, Choral Studies, Visual Arts, or Media Arts. Students are accepted into the schools through a competitive audition and review process conducted by the artistic staff. Tuition rates are maintained at a modest level and tuition assistance is available, enabling every student who qualifies the opportunity to participate in the program.

NYSSSA auditions begin in January and will be held across the state. Application materials and a schedule of audition sites are available on the NYSSSA website.

Best wishes for an enjoyable holiday season. I will be in touch again soon.


Shannon Tahoe
Interim Commissioner