Education

News, trends, and analysis related to higher education and grade school districts.

New York Now

New York state’s education commissioner said she’s fighting a proposal by her predecessor, now the federal education secretary, to punish schools with a high opt-out rate from the standardized tests.

MaryEllen Elia said she and the New York State Board of Regents have made a number of changes in her first year on the job to fix the third- through eighth-grade tests, including signing on with a new testing company that will let teachers write more of the questions, shortening the exams and giving kids more time to complete them.

timlewisnm / Flickr

Education groups, dismayed by the federal education secretary’s threat to punish schools in New York with high opt-out rates for standardized tests, say he’s re-igniting controversy that state education officials have been trying to calm for the past year.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

The Utica City School District has settled a lawsuit with New York state over allegations that it denied equal education opportunities to some refugee and immigrant students. The school district had diverted some foreign students to an alternative education program that taught them English, which the lawsuit claimed was inferior. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse City School Board unanimously voted for Jaime Alicea as the interim superintendent of the school district Wednesday night. Alicea has worked in the district for thirty three years, starting out as a kindergarten teacher’s assistant and moving up to most recently the district’s chief operations officer.

“It’s a great opportunity and it’s going to be a great role model for the kids in the district,” Alicea said. “They have to work hard and they will be able to realize their dreams.”

New York State Center for Rural Schools

While it’s summer vacation for school children, leaders of New York’s rural schools are worrying about the new school year, and say they are squeezed by a tax cap and other factors.

The legislature approved record funding for schools this year, but representatives of rural school districts, many with impoverished families and students, worry that if the economy turns, the funding will dry up. They say they are already strapped with a tax cap that this year amounts to a near zero percent increase, while costs are rising.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

After the announcement that Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras is going to be stepping down from her position to accept a new job in North Carolina, the Syracuse Board of Education has been discussing how to move forward. The school district has seen highs and lows during Contreras’ tenure.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse City School District superintendent Sharon Contreras, who has led the district since 2011, has been hired as the superintendent of Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, North Carolina, and will take over that position in August. 

Melinda Shelton / Flickr

It’s been 10 years since New York’s highest court ordered that more state money be paid to schools with the poorest children. But advocates say that since the 2006 ruling, many so-called high-need schools have fallen even further behind.

The Alliance for Quality Education looked at aid in the state budget allotted to 161 of the poorest schools among the more than 700 districts in New York.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The parents leading a charge to restore the 29 athletic teams that were cut in the Oswego City School District's new budget are celebrating a $150,000 grant that will supplement their efforts, but the funding won't be enough to rescue all of the teams that were eliminated and that's causing some division about how to best utilize those dollars.

Susan DiBlasi looked relieved at the school district's board meeting Tuesday.

"We're ecstatic," DiBlasi said."I think it's nothing but positive things going forward."

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse City School District is making strides to reduce the number of students suspended from school, after agreeing to make changes following an investigation from the state attorney general. Syracuse had previously been one of the top suspending school districts in the county.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Over the last month, a pilot program at the Delaware Primary and Elementary schools in Syracuse fed 200 students free dinners. Its part of a holistic approach to meet the educational and social needs of students.

Onondaga Community College

It’s going to cost more to attend Onondaga Community College this fall. The Onondaga County Legislature approved a budget that includes a tuition hike. OCC President Casey Crabill says tuition is going up just under 3 percent for the 2016-1017 school year.

"It’s going up $70 for a full-time student, $6 a credit unit for part-time students. We would like to work to go a year without a tuition increase, but that’s been really difficult.”

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Syracuse University students and faculty are protesting the University Place Promenade project, the first step in a massive renovation worth hundreds of millions of dollars happening on campus. Protesters say the money can be better spent elsewhere.

RIT HOT WHEELZ

An all-female car race team from Rochester Institute of Technology finished third in the electric category in its first global event. In early May, “Hot Wheelz” took part in the Formula Hybrid at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

James F Clay / Flickr

Almost 98 percent of school budgets were approved in statewide voting Tuesday, including the majority of school districts asking for overrides of the state’s mandatory property tax cap.

Only a small number of districts attempted to get the 60 percent supermajority they need to override the tax cap and increase their spending. But of those 36 districts, more than three-quarters succeeded.

Thomas Favre-Bulle / via Flickr

School budget votes and school board elections are being held across the state Tuesday, and the New York State School Boards Association says more schools are seeking to convince voters to override the state’s tax cap.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Vice President Joe Biden was the guest of honor Friday at the Syracuse University Law School graduation ceremony, but the focus of the event centered on his late son Beau Biden. 

Payne Horning / WRVO News

For the second time in a week, Oswego police and fire services responded to a bomb scare Thursday at one of the city's schools.

Notes were left at the Oswego High School on May 10 and at the middle school Thursday morning, both warning of a bomb. In both instances, the school buildings were evacuated and the threats were determined to be not credible.

The Oswego City Police Department says it has identified a female student at the middle school as a possible suspect. They are still investigating the threat made to the high school.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The impending closure of the Fitzpatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County is already financially impacting the nearby Mexico School District. School district officials are planning for the loss of $2.8 million this year alone.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse City School District is proposing a $14 million budget increase for the next fiscal year. City councilors are worried overspending could lead to problems in the future.

The good news is graduation rates are up close to 60 percent, some of the highest in the past decade. More students are enrolling in career and technical education. Half of the schools that were marked as struggling by the state have moved off the list.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Oswego school officials hope a public hearing on its budget crisis Tuesday will alert state lawmakers to what they call a broken funding formula. The school district is wrestling with declining tax revenues and reserve funds, which has resulted in a proposed budget that cuts more than 50 jobs.

"This is an era of financial difficulty for our district that we have to weather over the next three years after this year," said Oswego City School District Superintendent Dean Goewey, the architect of the controversial budget that slashes more than $5 million.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

The Oswego City School Board approved a $79.5 million budget Tuesday, despite opposition from several students and parents who criticized its cuts to athletic programs.

The district is facing a $5 million shortfall because of falling tax revenues, mainly due to a declining tax agreement with the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Facility, and a depleted fund balance, which is so low that state officials have asked the district not to dip into it for this year's budget.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Update:

The Oswego Classroom Teachers Association released the following revised statement Thursday morning.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) is putting the spotlight on the student loan crisis. The congressman gathered students and financial aid administrators for a roundtable discussion at Onondaga Community College Tuesday.

Katko says he is not optimistic about the fact there is over $1 trillion in student loan debt in this country.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The controversial math and English language tests for children in grades 3-8 begin in public schools across New York state today. Opposition to the tests has been quieter this year, but still simmers among parents and educators in central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Standardized test season is approaching for students across New York state. State Education Department officials are hoping there won’t be a repeat of last year, when 20 percent of students statewide boycotted tests given to third to eighth graders. But the opt-out movement is still alive.

Jamie McNair of Opt Out CNY admits the state has made some changes in the standardized testing regimen in the wake of widespread parental concern over the tests in recent years. But he’s not terribly impressed.

Cornell president dies

Mar 7, 2016
USCPublicDiplomacy / Flickr

Cornell University Elizabeth Garrett died of colon cancer last night, according to Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Harrison. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

In her State of the County address, County Executive Joanie Mahoney announced that $20 million dollars from the region’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative will go towards Syracuse’s Say Yes to Education endowment. The program provides college tuition to public high school graduates in Syracuse and was facing a fundraising shortfall until the announcement.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

For the first time in almost 50 years, Le Moyne College is offering classes in downtown Syracuse.  

There’s no room for growth at Le Moyne’s Salt Springs Road Campus. So the school rented out a long-vacant wing of the Larned M & T Building on Hanover Square, to house its new occupational therapy program. President Linda LeMura says this brings the Jesuit school back downtown, where classes were first held in 1946.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Education activists say New York state has been under-funding schools since the 2008 recession because it did not have enough money to comply with a 2006 ruling from the state’s highest court. Now that the state has a surplus, local officials are calling for more funding for schools to be added to this year’s budget.

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