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With Cuomo’s approval, McMahon wants STEAM school to start as soon as possible

Ellen Abbott
WRVO Public Media
Inside the former Central Tech in Syracuse.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is supporting the creation of a countywide STEAM high school in Syracuse, focused on science and technology, in his State of the State speech Wednesday. The $75 million project will transform the former Central Tech High School into an education and workforce training center. 

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said they would like to start on the project as soon as possible.

“We’re watching to see exactly what form the governor moves forward with the funding for the STEAM school," McMahon said. "Whether it’s an item in his budget, whether he signs or does an amendment to the legislation.”

The state is paying for the vast majority of the project, but the county legislature will have to approve of borrowing the initial funds. It will be paid back in the form of a lease with the Syracuse City School District.

“We’ll have the school district working with our various partners in higher education and the private sector, to develop a state-of-the-art curriculum, that will attract students from throughout the community, that will really address the needs of our employers today, really develop and hone in on this curriculum that will drive opportunity for our students tomorrow,” McMahon said.

A procurement process will competitively bid out the different aspects of the project before construction begins. McMahon said an ambitious goal is to have the school ready by the 2021 school year.

“This has not been done before," McMahon said. "This is the first countywide school in the state. We’re making history here.”

SUNY Empire State College will also be located at the school and will run a workforce training and apprenticeship program. The STEAM school is an important project for McMahon's poverty platform and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh's Syracuse Surge initiative, to bring more innovation and economic development to the city. 

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.