SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — You ask, we answer!

Last month, the New York State Board of Regents unanimously approved new rules to ban the use of Native American culture used by schools.

This includes names, logos and mascots.

A viewer named Richard Ferrante, wrote the Your Stories Team wondering about the costs tied to schools needing to making the switch. He wondered if the state will be picking up the costs.

We reached out to the New York State Education for guidance. It does appear some of the larger priced renovations and alterations could be covered by state aid.

Statement from NYSED:

School districts have had 22 years – since before their students were born — to consider the damaging implications of the use of these mascots and enact positive change. Costs to school districts associated with the removal of the use and display of such Indigenous names, mascots, or logos from buildings, signage, gym floors, and sports fields can be offset by building aid. Building aid is available for certain approved capital outlays and debt services for school buildings where the construction costs of the project equal or exceed $10,000, excluding incidental costs.

The regulation respects the dignity of Indigenous persons and the psychological harm caused by stereotypical team names, logos, or mascots. The Department believes that the importance of prohibiting offensive or stereotypical is the primary charge here and has provided ample time both in the past and under the current regulations for districts to enact change while having a minimal impact on budgeting. 

The YS Team spoke with Westhill Central School District Superintendent, Stephen Dunham for this story.

Dunham said the district changed its Native American logo and mascot in the early 2000’s.

That was around the same time former NYSED Commissioner of Education Richard Mills issued a memorandum to end the use of Native American mascots.

Dunham said to make the necessary changes to remove Warriors from athletic fields, gym floors, uniforms and other areas of the district, it could be at least $150,000.

He said the district plans to start the process of addressing the matter at a school board meeting in June. He said the process will involve public input.

Dunham said they plan on submitting some of the big ticket items to the State in hopes of receiving some building aid.

While Westhill works on next steps, Dunham said the district does want to respect the wishes of the state and others involved in asking for the changes.

Districts have until 2025 to complete the changes.

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