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Syracuse School District reduces proposed budget after NY state rejects some aid requests

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News File Photo
Syracuse Schools Superintendent Jaime Alicea (center).

The Syracuse City School District is asking for $10 million less than what it initially requested for the next fiscal year. This comes after New York state decided which additional aid requests it would grant and which ones it would reject from the district.

Transportation and technical education were two areas where the district was hoping to receive more funding. The district wanted $3 million to cover the 1,000 ninth grade students enrolled in career and technical training education but the state said no. Syracuse Schools Superintendent Jaime Alicea said CTE has been instrumental in increasing graduation rates.

“We will continue to include 9th graders in the programs," Alicea said. "We’re not going to make changes in that. What we did as a district, we visited every line in the budget.”

That means they had to reduce some contracts and new positions. Councilor Susan Boyle said there is some extra funding from the state for CTE programs.

"It's been something that people have said for years," Boyle said. "Why do we not have career programs? Why are you trying to send everyone to college? Everyone is not college ready. This is the answer to that question. The kids are graduation career ready and they are actually going into careers. They tracked a couple of the classes. We were ahead of the curve on that and that's good."

Boyle said what is most disappointing is the state’s rejection of increased transportation funding to bus students one mile or more from school. Currently the district transports students who live a mile-and-a-half or more from school.

“But we are going to continue to push for that, that’s still a priority," Boyle said. "I think we’re going to take a different approach and try to work together to get that legislation changed for reimbursement for transportation for students who live one mile or further.”

Alicea said $4.6 million is needed.

"If we had received that money, we would be able to provide the transportation to all the kids, in Kindergarten through eighth grade, and reduce the distance to only one mile," Alicea said. "We didn't get that money, so we will continue to provide the transportation at a mile-and-a-half."

The Syracuse Common Council is expected to vote on the city and school district budget next week.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.