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District, state silent on plans for future of Delaware School

Ryan Delaney
WRVO News File Photo
Delaware Elementary School opened in 1917 on South Geddes Street in Syracuse's Near Westside.

Both the Syracuse school district and state education officials are being hush about the future of one of the city's elementary schools, possibly because the district is still scrambling to come up with a plan, as sources have indicated to WRVO.

Under state policy for chronically underperforming schools, Delaware Elementary School must be drastically overhauled or shuttered.

The school, located on South Geddes Street on the Syracuse's Near Westside, has gone through several attempts to turn around its poor performance, but they haven't worked.

Hughes Elementary and Fowler High School succumbed to the same fate this year. But under more fanfare so far, both will be turned into new specialty academies. The district won't say anything about Delaware's future.

After needing an extension on the initial April 30 deadline, the school district had until midnight Monday to submit a proposal to the state Department of Education. It did, but just barely made the deadline.

An education department spokeswoman confirmed it received documents late Monday, but said they won't be released until the plan is finalized.

"We are reviewing the submissions from the Syracuse district. Until a decision is made, they remain non-final records and will not be released," spokeswoman Jeanne Beattie said in an email. 

The superintendent's office in Syracuse has twice backed off plans to release information about Delaware's fate.

A preliminary idea for the Delaware School fell through, two sources have told WRVO.

A school board member said even after the Monday deadline, several options for the school are still on the table.

"There's still several different things being discussed. There's no real, one plan. Because if it was, I would assume that as board members, we would know about it," said board member David Cecile Thursday.

The school board's next meeting is Tuesday.

Hughes Elementary is in the process of being transformed into Syracuse Latin, an admissions-driven school with a classical curriculum. The school board last month approved plans to phase Fowler into the Public Service Leadership Academy, another school of choice focused on public safety and law enforcement careers.

The board will eventually have to approve Delaware's changes too.

A March 4 letter to Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras from the education department mentioned SUNY's Onondaga Community College turning Delaware into a charter school run by the college.

OCC initially confirmed having that conversation, but has declined to comment further.

Delaware's new leadership or curriculum is supposed to be in place for the start of the 2014-15 school year, officials said.