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State Education Department letter to the Syracuse City School District

State Education Department letter to the Syracuse City School District

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Published by Paul Riede
Here is the Feb. 27 letter sent from Assistant State Education Commissioner Ira Schwartz to Syracuse schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras.
Here is the Feb. 27 letter sent from Assistant State Education Commissioner Ira Schwartz to Syracuse schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras.

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Published by: Paul Riede on Apr 07, 2014
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Ira Schwartz, Assistant Commissioner Office of Accountability 55 Hanson Place, Room 400 Brooklyn, New York 11217 Tel. (718) 722-2796 / Fax: (718) 722-4559
February 27, 2014 Ms. Sharon Contreras Superintendent of Schools Syracuse City School District 725 Harrison Street Syracuse, NY13210 Dear Superintendent Contreras: I would like to again thank you for the productive meeting that we had on February 20, 2014 regarding
Delaware Academy, Hughes Elementary School, and Fowler High School. All of these schools have failed to make academic progress over the last three years, as required of schools identified as either persistently lowest achieving (now known as Priority Schools) and/or Schools Under Registration Review. This letter is to provide you with a summary of the next steps that must be taken with these schools prior to the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
Next Steps for Delaware Academy, and Hughes and Fowler High Schools
Consistent with the provisions of
100.2(p) and 100.18 of Commissioner’s Regulations, the Commissioner’s expectation is that the
Syracuse City School District (SCSD) will submit to the Commissioner by April 18, 2014 a plan for these schools that will include at least one of the following actions:
 Close the schools and relocate the students.
 Phase out the schools and replace them with entirely new schools.
 Enter into contracts with Educational Partnership Organizations (EPO) to take over administration of the schools.
 Convert the schools to charter schools.
 For Fowler High School, offer students access to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at the BOCES, or have SCSD CTE programs audited and approved. This option would be in addition to implementation of one of the school reform choices outlined here.
 Allow the State University of New York (SUNY) to provide for the education of the students at one or more of these schools.
Phase out/Phase-in Option In our conversation, you indicated that SCSD had already begun to phase-out Hughes Elementary School, and that a Latin school is being phased in to replace the school. Additionally, we spoke about your plans to begin the phase-out of Fowler High School, and replace the school with a National Security High School in the 2014-15 school year. Please note that the phase out of a school must be approved by the Commissioner and the registration of a new school that is phased in must be approved by the Board of Regents. School districts must petition the Board of Regents to register the new school to receive a new BEDS code and provide documentation as required by
the State Education Department’s (
or “the Department”)
 School Registration process. The phase-
in school can receive an accountability status of “Good Standing”
provided that the school district has demonstrated that the new school is sufficiently different in staff, curriculum, and organization from the school that is being replaced. Petition materials as well as a description of the School Registration Process can be found at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/irs/newschool/. School Registration materials are due to SED by March 1, 2014. However, if you require an extension, please contact me. Educational Partnership Organizations (EPO) If SCSD chooses to enter into agreements with an EPO, Education Law 211-e requires that SCSD first receive the approval of the Commissioner to enter in to a contract with the selected EPO. SCSD must submit draft copies of any prospective contracts to SED for review. The terms of these contracts must be aligned with the requirements for EPO as outlined in Education Law 211-e. Enclosed is a draft of the additional elements the Commissioner expects to see incorporated into any new EPO contract
. The final version of this document will be posted shortly to SED’s website.
Charter School Conversion If SCSD chooses to explore the conversion of select schools into public charter schools, we would advise that the district meet with SED
’s Charter School Office
 to discuss a process that would work for the district. The charter law on conversions leaves much of the process to the discretion of the district. However, Education Law Section 2853(3) (b) provides some guidance on employee relations and obligations
under the district’s current C
ollective Bargaining Agreement and Section 2851 (3) (c) provides some guidance on required parent votes. Career and Technical Education Opportunities for students at Fowler During our meeting, I also informed you of the Commission
er’s expectation that if
Fowler High School remains open during a phase out period, the students who attend it must be offered an opportunity to enroll in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at a BOCES. SCSD could offer of placement to a student in a SCSD CTE program as a substitute for a BOCES CTE program. However, in order to consider the possibility of a SCSD CTE program being used as a choice option for this purpose, the Commissioner requires for those programs that do not have SED approval that the
Department’s CTE TAC complete an audit of the programs to ensure fidel
ity to the
program’s approved application. Please let me know if you would like to pursue this
option and, if so, who will serve as the point of contact at SCSD to make arrangements for the audit. SUNY Option Finally, at our meeting, you expressed interest in exploring the possibility of the Syracuse City School District entering into a contract with the State University of New York (SUNY) by which SUNY would assume responsibility for education the students who attend Delaware Academy. Section 355(n) of Education law gives the State
University of New York (SUNY) the power to
enter into a contract with the board of education of a city or school district in which a state-operated institution is located for the education by such college, for such period of time as may be agreed upon, of all or part of the children of legal school age residing in such city or school district. A board of education in such a city or school district is hereby authorized and empowered to enter into such contracts with the state university trustees, subject to the approval of the commissioner of education, and to perform all necessary acts to
carry out the purposes of this paragraph.”
 SED interprets this provision to mean that the contract that is entered into between the SUNY Board of Trustees and the school district must be for the educational services to be provided by a SUNY institution located within the boundaries of the school district (e.g., Onondaga Community College). SED is prepared to facilitate discussion between the district and SUNY if the school district wishes to pursue the viability of this option. If you have any questions regarding the above, please do not hesitate to contact me at (718) 722-2796 or  ischwart@mail.nysed.gov.  Sincerely, Ira Schwartz Enclosure c: John King Ken Slentz Bill Clarke

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