Education

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

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

A second school that emphasizes a project-based learning strategy has opened its doors in central New York.

The Seven Valleys New Tech Academy is now available in the city of Cortland. The academy is operated by Onondaga-Cortland-Madison (OCM) BOCES, and is designed to offer students a style of learning they wouldn’t receive in a traditional high school, according to BOCES Superintendent J. Francis Manning.

Upstate Medical University Hospital

Students at Upstate Medical University’s College of Nursing and other health profession programs have a new home in a brand new state-of-the-art building in Syracuse.

The $40.5 million, five-story academic building is tucked behind Weiskotten Hall and Silverman Hall just off South Crouse Avenue. Interim Nursing School Dean Don Simpson says it will offer opportunities for programs to grow in an already burgeoning field.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO file photo

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is getting behind a lawsuit that accuses the state of holding back millions of dollars of funds for struggling schools.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The new school year in the Syracuse City School District opened with a new interim superintendent at the helm this week.

Pre-Schoolers at Salem Hyde Elementary School welcomed the school year with some special visitors: Mayor Stephanie Miner and interim Superintendent Jaime Alicea, who read an ABC book to the youngsters.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

Oswego High School football returns today for its first game of the season, but only the junior varsity team will take the field. The varsity program is not returning because of financial cuts.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

The Syracuse City School District is putting together a task force this fall that will focus on one of the issues that has spurred a great deal of community discussion -- safe transportation of children to school.

The issue came to a head last winter, when a coalition of high school students complained of long walks to school through crime-ridden neighborhood during severe weather. The district, working with CENTRO, found transportation for some high school students living more than 1.5 miles from school. 

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.

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