Updated 05/08/2012 10:32 PM
Common Council budget gives SCSD more money
Educators in Syracuse have more to celebrate than just teacher appreciation week. The Common Council passed a budget that includes an additional $750,000 for the school district. As our Katie Gibas reports, it will mean a little more support in classrooms.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The Syracuse City School District has lost 1,000 jobs in the last four years. It's all because of state aid cuts and the rising costs of unfunded mandates.
"If we were a private industry, legislative leaders would be falling over themselves backwards to find ways to save those jobs. Unfortunately, these are publicly funded jobs and we had a down time. The economy was down and we have to right side our ship. And it all came together at the same time. It has not been pleasant experience for any of us," said Richard Strong, Syracuse City School District Education Commissioner.
But some relief is on its way. The Syracuse Common Council passed their 2012-2013 budget Monday, which includes $750,000 over the mayor's proposal. Councilors budgeted for the increase by estimating more sales tax revenue than the mayor's projections. The money will bring back 15 teaching assistant positions.
"I'm encouraged because I think the new superintendent has a great team together. She's got some enthusiasm and she's gathering the data. And they're right sizing the district and they're going to position our schools in a core curriculum. So the council wanted to support the efforts of the school district," said Nader Maroun, the Syracuse Common Council Education Committee Chair.
Strong added, "We do appreciate any support the mayor and the council continue to provide us. They've been great partners."
But that wasn't always the case. There has often been a fair amount of head butting between the district and the city. But education commissioners and common councilors agree it's more important than ever for them to work together.
"We've learned to work with each other a little bit better. I think Superintendent Contreras has done a phenomenal job of improving relations with the leadership," said Strong.
Maroun added, "We are friends as well as colleagues in a joint effort to try to get our schools turned around and have the best opportunity for kids in the city of Syracuse.
Even though next year's budget process is behind education officials, they're already looking at the 2013-2014 budget to come up with every option possible to reduce costs and increase revenues.