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Onondaga County lawmakers unanimously ask state to approve STEAM school

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Tom Magnarelli
/
WRVO News
Onondaga County lawmakers voted unanimously to ask New York State to approve a school for Onondaga County focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM)

The Onondaga County Legislature is asking New York State to approve a school for Onondaga County, focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM). It would be a partnership between the county, the state, the city of Syracuse, the city school district and OCM Boces.

During his state of the county address, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said manufacturing and tech companies in the area are struggling to hire qualified candidates in the STEAM space.

"If we want these companies to grow and expand here, we need to do our part and help provide the workforce," McMahon said.

McMahon said Syracuse city students can go to P-Tech High School for technical training, where classes are full. But not all county kids have the same opportunity.

County legislators unanimously supported a resolution that asks for the state’s approval, so the county could bond for the school. Legislator Julie Abbott-Kenan said every child deserves the same access to this kind of education.

"STEAM is the way of the future," Abbott-Kenan said. "This is what the employers are telling us where the jobs are, where they need to fill in, and we have an obligation to try and provide this to kids. There are districts that are able to afford it, that are able to offer STEAM. Skaneateles, ESM, there are a host of them right now, and other districts are failing to be able to just even repair buildings, etc. There isn’t a lot of money in education."

The STEAM school would be located in Syracuse’s abandoned, historic Central High School. A rough estimate is it would cost more than $100 million to repair it. Some Upstate Revitalization Initiative money could be used as funding, but everything still needs to be negotiated.

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.