The President's Message

FUSE met with the superintendent search firm today. The purpose of that meeting was to share qualities and priorities for the next superintendent. The following is a letter that went to the Board of Education expressing our belief that FUSE must be an integral part of the hiring process. Please read it below:

Dear Members of the Board of Education,

This is a crucial time for our district as we begin the search for a new superintendent. There is a pervasive sense of unease in our district. We cannot weather continued mismanagement and loss. 

New Rochelle is already a place where talented teachers and administrators get experience and then move on to other, more stable communities.  The district’s systems and policies are in collapse. Few people in authority have any knowledge of them.  Institutional memory now resides primarily in staff, not in leadership. Our members no longer look to supervisors for guidance because they know that they may not find it. Instead, we reach out to each other to get information and support.  In a few fortunate cases, we have side conversations with amenable administrators to help them understand systems that they have had no guidance in.  Even as we help them, we know that a good administrator is not likely to remain long.  

So, please believe us when we say that we want to see our community rebuilt and our stability restored.  We know, from long experience, that unless there is a place for our institutional memory and expertise, there will be no stability.  FUSE must be an integral part of the hiring process. We need to restore our place at the decision making tables. 

While the final decision in a superintendent rests with the Board of Education, as the largest employee stakeholder, FUSE has valuable institutional knowledge, operational understanding, and a long-term, vested interest in a successful choice. We request two staff committees to interview finalists and provide feedback to the Board on each of these.

We request the two committees be composed of staff chosen by FUSE. One committee would be composed of elementary and one from the secondary schools. Included in these committees would be members from City Hall and Grove Avenue. 

It is in the long-term interest of our community that members participate in the hiring of our superintendent and every other administrator. In particular, the superintendent sets the tone and creates the climate. That leader either inspires confidence or contributes to a downward spiral.  An experienced, collaborative, and independent superintendent can help us to rebuild our district and reestablish relationships with central administration.


Mary Claire Breslin

President, New Rochelle FUSE

Celebrating Black History Month

Celebrate Black History Month by sharing this wonderful opportunity for students to participate in the 9th Annual Black History Spoken Word and Art Exhibit.   This year's event invites students to learn about the 1961 Lincoln School decision and other historical events related to the struggle for educational justice. 

Students can share their feelings about what they learn through art, spoken word, poetry, and videos of dance, drama, or song.  Resources and information about this event can be found here

FUSE Food Drive

Food insecurity has grown as the pandemic continues. In response to this, FUSE will sponsor a food drive to benefit HOPE Food Pantry of New Rochelle during the month of February.  Boxes will be placed in each building. Please donate non-perishable food items to help our school community.  We are not soliciting or accepting donations from students. FUSE welcomes our responsibility as stakeholders in supporting our New Rochelle families. Give generously.  

FUSE Merch is Available Again!
FUSE Apparel
Open through Wednesday, February 10.
 FUSE is the access code
APPR Update

Observations have begun. FUSE, A&S and the district worked together and have applied for a variance for the 2020-2021 year. If approved, this will provide for the following:

  • Tenured: one unannounced with 10 day window. 

  • Untenured: one formal announced observation with up to 3 unannounced with 10 day windows (The 3 unannounced are at the discretion of the administrator)

This has not been approved yet; however, observations have begun because they have to occur either way. 

Observations must occur remotely for those with medical accommodations.  Teachers are encouraged to work with their supervisors to schedule observations. Please reach out to your administrator if you wish to be observed virtually or hybrid (in person).

Action Committee Update

by Cory Binenbaum

It has been my honor to sit on the FUSE Action Committee since it's emergence back in the summer. The action committee is led by FUSE Vice President, Liliana Psychopedas, and is comprised of a terrific group of very intelligent and passionate FUSE members from across the entire district.  Our role as a committee is to decide what unified actions would be most effective in getting FUSE's message out to the community about our contract situation. 

Prior to our first action, we met with a NYSUT representative who helped us gain a clear understanding of labor law and explained what our union can and cannot do. After that meeting, we were able to get right to work on brainstorming action ideas. 
Once we have decided on an action, we then work together in creating the most strategic way to implement. 

The Action Committee is in regular contact with one another via zoom meetings and emails. We are very supportive of one another, often sharing ideas, obstacles, successes, and more. Our goal is to have all buildings on the same page so we present a strong united front. Each building has an Action Committee point person who is responsible for sharing action information with staff.  
Recently, our actions have caused much community discussion, even making it to the news this past Friday.  As of now we will alternate Tuesdays and Fridays each week standing outside with our signs held high. We ask that all members continue to wear their FUSE gear every Tuesday and Friday, and please remember to strategically display your sign in your car window every day. If you need a sign, contact your Action Committee point person or one of your building reps.
We are so grateful to the membership for supporting these actions. I am proud to be part of FUSE due to you amazing people I call my union sisters and brothers. If any of you have any ideas that you think would work as an action, please reach out to us and let us know. Thank you all so much for everything you do.  Stay tuned for future actions!

Be well, stay safe and continue to stand together!
NYSUT Certification Webinars

NYSUT is pleased to offer a new range of webinars to help our members with their certification questions. These webinars are designed to help NYSUT members with specific challenges they encounter understanding and managing their teacher and teaching assistant certifications.

Webinars are free for NYSUT members and are currently offered in five topic areas.  Space in each webinar is limited.  Please sign up only if you plan to attend.

Click on the link for more information and  registration. 

Thinking about Retiring?

What to Do If You Are Considering Retirement? 

Get Information 

  • Join NYSTRS as you Zoom Towards Retirement! New York State Teachers' Retirement Seminar Zoom Meeting! Please register below:

                 January 28th, 2020 4:30 PM

    Registration Link for the Teachers’ Retirement Seminar

    Register in Advance to Reserve your Place.

  • Schedule an appointment with a representative of his/her respective retirement system to receive pension estimates, obtain necessary forms, and ask any questions. Pedagogic staff members should call 800-348-7298, extension 6250. Civil Service staff may also call the Employee Retirement System at 518-474-7736. 

  • Members who are between 62 and 65 should mail a form to get a report on earnings and an estimate of retirement benefits from the Social Security Administration. The SSA Office is at 85 Harrison Street in New Rochelle. 


  • Write a letter stating your intent to retire to the Superintendent of Schools at least four months prior to your retirement date. For ten-month employees, this means that your letter must be sent March 1, 2021 for June 30th retirement. A four-month notification is required if the member wishes to be paid for accumulated unused sick days. This payment is described in the contract, on page 12, 1.08:01, A4. 

  • At least 30 days prior to retirement, but no longer than 90 days, file for retirement with the Teachers' Retirement System or the Employee Retirement System. Applications can be downloaded from the website. For the Teachers' Retirement System go to For the Employee Retirement System go to

  • Members who are over 62 must notify the Social Security Administration no more than four months in advance of retiring to ensure receipt of benefits. 

Continue Benefits Coverage 

  • In the month prior to retiring, contact the District's medical insurance (extension 4245) office to continue medical coverage. As per our contract, the District will pay 75% of the cost of individual health benefits and 50% of the cost of family health benefits for retirees. 

  • In the month prior to retiring, contact Diane D'Onofrio Delgado, Fund Manager of the FUSE Welfare Fund, to continue dental and vision coverage. The yearly cost of continuing coverage in retirement is approximately $490.00 This figure might change when the Welfare Fund Trustees meet in May or June to set the rates for the upcoming year. 

  • A member who is 65, or who soon will be, should apply for Medicare coverage at least one month in advance of the month he/she turns 65. 

Other Information 

  • Civil Service employees have the option to transfer up to 165 unused sick days to time counted toward pension credit. Once transferred however, these days are no longer "unused sick days” and thus are not eligible to be applied toward payment for unused sick days. 

  • It is recommended that retired members arrange for the direct deposit of pension and Social Security checks into their bank accounts. The advantages of direct deposit include faster, easier access to your money as well as increased safety and security


So, you’ve been vaccinated. Now what?

You must continue to:



It takes time for the effectiveness of both vaccines to build up.

With the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, protection doesn’t start until 12 days after the first shot and it reaches 52% effectiveness a few weeks later. A week after the second vaccination is when the effectiveness rate reaches 95%. Moderna has reported a protection rate of 51% two weeks after the first immunization and 94% two weeks after the second dose.

Scientists are still gathering data on whether you can be asymptomatic and able to shed the virus after vaccination.

There is the possibility that if you encounter COVID-19, after being vaccinated, you may not display symptoms but be able to shed the virus. This is because your immune system may not fight off the virus completely. It might allow some viruses to survive and reproduce and get expelled from your nose or mouth in a breath, cough or sneeze. Scientists must still collect data on whether vaccinated people can test positive for COVID-19 after being vaccinated before we can amend mitigation strategies.

(Adapted from NPR article, “Why You Should Still Wear A Mask And Avoid Crowds After Getting The COVID-19 Vaccine”)

What is herd immunity and when will we achieve it?

COVID-19 mRNA vaccines will not give you COVID-19; mRNA vaccines do not use the live virus that causes COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that experts do not know exactly what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. The World Health Organization’s chief scientist warned that herd immunity is not likely in 2021.

“Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection -— either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.”

Until we have reached an acceptable, to be determined, level of herd immunity we must maintain our practices of mask wearing, maintaining social distance and washing our hands. These practices will protect us all.

I’ve been vaccinated but have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. Do I need to quarantine?

We have not been advised whether you’ll need to quarantine after you receive both vaccine doses. Out of an abundance of caution, it would be wise to quarantine until we are given further guidance from the CDC or the governor.


Meet a Member

Sabrina Santiago
Manager, ALMS Cafeteria

How long have you been working in the district?

I’ve been 18 years in the district. I started as a part-time floater right after HS… wherever they needed me, they placed me, and I worked my way up.. From floater to a lead to cook and now the manager.
I know every side.

 Can you tell us a little bit about the position you hold now and what you have or hope to accomplish in it?

When I was a cook, Rosemary was acting manager at ALMS for 20 years. When I became the cook, it’s so funny. Food service required food safe certification, but cooks didn’t need that. As a cook, I felt it was important to know how to handle food safely. I made it my goal to get them to allow cooks to take that training. They heard me that year, and cooks were able to take the training and get certified as well. It’s about to expire. I hope they will continue. It makes everybody more knowledgeable. 

 Another thing is that is a lot of people have retired recently.  After Rosemary retired, I was acting manager for a good 5 years.  I recently passed the civil service exam in February just before the pandemic. I just found I passed. So now I’m the manager.

Why didn’t cooks have the option to take food safety certification if they wanted to?

They could have. But, it’s a costly course. I never understood why managers were eligible to take it but not the cooks. The managers don’t cook anything.  It would be more important for the cooks to take it than the managers.  It’s weird though… food service is managed by an outside service and the lowest bid gets chosen. That company will have its own set of rules. But, then management also has its own set of rules.. A lot of the time we don’t know which ones to go by or what to follow.  Whenever I have a question, I ask Umbro or the office at the HS.  But after they retire.. we won’t know who to go to.

What are some of the challenges and rewards of running the food program? 

There were challenges even before the pandemic.. After the pandemic, there are even more. The sanitation process is a challenge. What people don’t know is that the cafeteria is not included with the school. When summer comes or any kind of cleaning is involved, cleaners do not go into the kitchen at all. They use a spray bottle.. And we have to use something that is safe to use around food… If we have to sanitize, we can’t.  Also, there’s no plexi between register and student. Foodservice has to buy their own supplies. 

Was this always true?

The first time I heard that they were spraying down the school, I asked was the servery going to be sprayed down, but that’s not part of the school… But, the kids are touching the surfaces… after a couple of days, Joe got them to do it.  

 What do you think is the most difficult or the most rewarding part of your work?

Reward? Whenever the school has events or barbecue when I see kids having a good time. I went to Isaac. My favorite part was lunchtime because we got to socialize and talk with friends and de-stress.. Just seeing the kids interact with one another.  Now it’s different. They sit there across from a friend and look over at each other. There’s no real interaction.

 How is managing different than what you were doing before?  

It’s a lot more stressful because you’re dealing with a lot of different personalities. Mostly people can work well together, but sometimes they can’t.  I enjoy the training process. We don’t just give people a register and say “Here’s a register. Good luck.” Now.. when we have the time, we can really show people how to do things. And we understand that different people have different styles, and we respect that.   

Also, I wouldn’t put them to do something I wouldn’t do myself. If you ever come into the kitchen, you will see.  We are all right in there. You will always see… like they say… teamwork makes the dreamwork.  We all work together to get it done then we can all relax. We have a great team. I love my ladies.  Unfortunately because of the pandemic, a lot of our staff members have left. I don’t know if they will be there if we were to go back. They may have decided it is better to find something else.. Kitchen staff is the lowest paid in the district. Kitchen staff is $13.25 an hour, and they don’t let you work more. So, it’s that versus finding something else.

 What are the serious issues facing you today?

One issue is that different companies (that have won the bid)  have different procedures. Winston is big on organic locally sourced… but sometimes the menu… the kids don’t eat it. I can understand wanting to get them to try certain things, but why are you making food that they won’t eat?  Give them things they enjoy. It doesn’t have to be french fries every day.  Before, there was a burger option, a pizza option, the deli.. They took all of that away.. Now it’s two hot items the kids don’t like and a whole wheat pizza.. Whole wheat pizza?! So, we went from serving 800 students a day to half that. The kids are not eating. They are choosing not to eat at all.  Also, we like to make our own things.. take pride in what we’re doing.  I try to reason with them... If you want to try it out.. Give you a sample so that you know whether you want it or not I don’t mind giving samples.

What motivates or inspires you personally? 

My children inspire me. They motivate me and inspire me every day. I pack their lunch every day. They let me know what was wrong with it. If I have a child’s feedback I know more or less how to fix it. My daughter is 7. My son is 9 and the eldest is 19. My young ones are at Columbus.

What is something that you’d like to share that not everyone knows about you?

My mom works at the HS she’s a security guard. Each of my sisters works at a different school. One is a security guard. I think she works for a municipality... We can’t walk down Main street without hearing “Carmen, Carmen, wait.. “ My mom would take us to work... Even before I started at high school … she would take us. I would learn the floor plan.. It was nice. Good memories.

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