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Board of Education President Cynthia Elliott Named Vice-Chairperson of Conference of Big 5 School Districts

In the Community: From Rochester City School District

Cynthis Elliot. Photo from

The Rochester City School District (RCSD) congratulates Board of Education President Cynthia Elliott for her appointment as Vice-Chairperson of the Conference of Big 5 School Districts. 

The Conference of Big 5 School Districts is a membership organization representing New York State’s urban school systems including the Buffalo, New York City, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers, Albany, Mount Vernon and Utica City School Districts. Collectively, 46% of the State’s public school children are educated in these districts.

President Elliott was first elected to the Rochester Board of Education in 2006. She has over 45 years of experience serving as a community activist and is dedicated to representing the economically and socially disadvantaged children and families of Rochester and across the State. She began her career at the age of 19 at the FIGHT organization, where she participated in voter registration drives, political campaigns, and various advocacy efforts. 

President Elliott holds an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Monroe Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from St. John Fisher University, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from SUNY Brockport, and a Master’s Degree in Human and Organizational Systems from Fielding Graduate University. 

The Conference of Big 5 School Districts also appointed Sharon Belton-Cottman, member of the Buffalo Board of Education as the Chairperson of the Organization. 

“It is my honor to serve,” said Belton-Cottman. “I look forward to working with our members in improving the quality of the education for our students in our conference and throughout our State.”

Chairperson Belton-Cottman was first elected to the Buffalo Board of Education in 2011 and is the immediate past President of the Board. She has served on numerous task forces and educational and community advisory boards. Chairperson Belton-Cottman is committed to the Conference’s Mission of promoting a more equitable funding system and the delivery of a high quality education to all children. 

The Big 5 organization has been advocating and promoting urban education issues before federal, State and local entities since 1958. In 2014, the Organization expanded its scope to include other urban school districts with comparable student demographics and fiscal capacity issues as Affiliate Members. The eight-member school districts work together through the Organization to speak with one voice on the needs and strengths of urban education in New York State.

For more information about Big 5 School Districts visit