Could new 'high achieving' school keep more families in Syracuse?

A Syracuse school could soon be home to a new kind of school targeting high achieving students. The Syracuse City School District has proposed establishing the first selective enrollment school in the city.

The school would open in the Percy Hughes School building at 345 Jamesville Avenue.

Students would have to apply for admission to the school, which would be called Syracuse Latin. They would get a classical education, focusing on grammar, logic and discipline of thinking. Students would learn Latin for at least four years. Students would qualify through testing and other undetermined criteria, possibly an interview.

If approved, the school would be open in the fall of 2014 for kindergarten and first grade students. It would eventually become a K-5 school with plans of opening a secondary school to house 6-12 graders. Current students at Hughes will remain at the school while the transition takes place.

Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras says it could prevent families from looking to the suburbs for better schools. "It very may well keep more middle class families in the city and certainly no one should feel they have to move out of the city because they can't get a quality education in their school district, so we're hopeful more families will choose the Syracuse City School District," Contreras said.

There are currently several selective enrollment schools in Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago and Washington DC.

The school board will vote on the proposal on May 14. It would also have to be approved by the State Education Department.

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