Education

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

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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.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Senate Democrats are crisscrossing their states this week looking for support for proposed legislation that would help students saddled with college debt. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) asked students at Syracuse University Monday to lobby lawmakers to support the "In the Red Debt Free College" proposal.

Flanked by students in SU’s Eggers Hall, Schumer proclaimed that a college education in this day and age is a necessity, but is being priced as a luxury, breaking the bank for students and families across the state.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

When a high school student is not admitted to a college or university, they receive a rejection letter. But at SUNY Oswego, that process is changing to let some denied applicants have another shot.

The college rejected about 2,500 freshmen applicants last year, according to Dan Griffin, director of admissions at SUNY Oswego. The response to those students was the same.

"We’re sorry, we can’t help you out as a freshman," Griffin said. "If you go someplace else for a couple of semesters, maybe you should reapply and we'll do our best to accommodate you."

Zack Seward / WXXI

The State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) are drawing criticism from Gov. Andrew Cuomo for their administrative salaries. Some of the highest-paid employees at the publicly funded universities earn more than $400,000, at the same time that tuition is rising. 

Meredith Turk

Going back to school is challenging for veterans. The majority who enroll in two or four year colleges across the nation don’t complete their degree. Jefferson Community College in Watertown and SUNY Canton will be awarded over $1 million this year to help more veterans graduate. School administrators say individual attention is key.

Colleen / via Flickr

The Syracuse City School District continues to show improvement in its graduation rates. According to state statistics, Syracuse’s graduation rate last year was 55 percent, compared to 51 percent the year before.

Ithaca College president to step down

Jan 14, 2016
Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News File Photo

In a letter addressed to Ithaca College faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents and friends of the school, President Tom Rochon announced he will retire at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, effective July 1, 2017.

Payne Horning / WRVO News

A group of distraught parents voiced their concerns about bullying cases to the Oswego school board Monday. They accused the administration at Oswego High School of not properly responding to several attacks last year, may of which were caught on tape. Theresa Gibson told the board that her nephew was one of those victims.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

More than $1 billion in federal aid is now available to schools across the country for physical education. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) pushed to include the funding in the education law President Barack Obama recently signed.

Gillibrand met with students from Proctor High School in Utica, encouraging them to pick a sport to stay physically active during the winter months. She whispered to them that she recently had fun trying a new activity herself -- trapeze.

In response to a wave of minority student protests at universities across the country, like at Ithaca College, the State University of New York (SUNY) is enacting mandatory reforms meant to create a more inclusive and diverse environment.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher announced Monday at the annual State of the University Address that the system's 64 campuses will be required to appoint a chief diversity officer over the next year. In addition, staff will complete cultural competency training and each campus will be required to submit its progress annually.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

Recent college grads in New York can now get some help paying off their loans with the state’s new student loan forgiveness program.

There are quite a few boxes you have to check to be part of the program:

Students, faculty reflect on a turbulent term at SUNY Potsdam

Jan 1, 2016
Brit Hanson / NCPR

The first hate letter came last spring. Since then, a total of three threats have arrived at SUNY Potsdam, singling out a professor, then adding in other minorities and the LGBT community.

Those notes sparked deep concern at the college. Students and faculty said it was a hard fall semester, filled with fear and stress, and questions about diversity and fairness on campus. There are signs of progress. But there’s also a need for some kind of reset before the conversation resumes in January.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News File Photo

Adjunct faculty at Wells College in Aurora, New York took a big step toward unionizing last week. Organizers filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board. At an election, adjuncts would vote “yes” or “no” to a union.

Solvejg Wastvedt / WSKG News

It’s a time of educational upheaval in New York. Changes are piling up fast -- the state Board of Regents delayed state tests’ impact on teacher evaluations, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force called for nearly two dozen changes to learning standards. In the midst of it all, here are three things you need to know.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse City School Board voted 4-3 in favor of extending Superintendent Sharon Contreras’ contract for one year. Some current school board members, such as Pat Body, raised concerns that the vote took place before newly elected board members start in January.

“The district faces so many issues at this point that I was hoping we could wait for a few weeks before we made this decision so that the board could become cohesive, bond a little before we made a decision that might be divisive in the community,” Body said.

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