Syracuse school district phasing out 3 underperforming schools

Apr 7, 2014

The Syracuse City School District is working on plans to phase out one of its high schools and two elementary schools, under state requirements to overhaul chronically underperforming public schools.

Fowler High School, Hughes Elementary and Delaware Elementary schools have been below state standards for three year, earning the designation of "priority schools," and now the district must overhaul or close them before the 2014-2015 school year.

The New York State Education Department began a dialogue in February with the district about options for the schools' future, according to a letter from the education department's assistant commissioner to Syracuse schools superintendent Sharon Contreras.

School district spokesman Michael Henesey said in an email to WRVO it would be premature to comment and they're still in discussions with state education officials.

The district and school board are considering a number of options for Fowler and Delaware, according to board vice president Maxwell Ruckdeschel, but nothing is finalized.

Plans are already underway to turn Hughes elementary into the Syracuse Latin School, which will offer a classical curriculum to high-achieving students who pass an admissions exam.

Fowler could become a "school of choice" - similar to the district's Institute of Technology - and possibly be known as a "National Security High School."

That means students would choose to go to Fowler and take courses on law enforcement or security. If students opted out of the school, they could go to one of the city's three remaining traditional high schools.

"We will have to discuss what that means for the rest of the district," Ruckdeschel said.

There have been talks of the Delaware school being taken over by Onondaga Community College. 

OCC is working with the "Syracuse City School District, the State Education Department, and our SUNY colleagues to determine what role - if any - the College will play in helping to address what is clearly a long-standing challenge in the Central New York community," school president Dr. Casey Crabill said in a statement.

The state has given the school district an April 18 deadline to present its plans to them, according to the letter sent to Contreras.

Correction: This article originally misidentified the school board's vice president as Michael Ruckdeschel. His first name is Maxwell.