Fresh off a victory over city lawmakers over their plan to raise taxes by $2.4 million to further fund the Syracuse City School System, Mayor Stephanie Miner is out with a bold plan she says will help turn around the struggling district. The Mayor outlined a series of steps the City, School District and Say Yes to Education must embrace to, in her words, "Promote reform and reverse decades of declining student performance." The Common Council failed to gather enough votes to override the mayors veto of the tax hike.
The Mayor's new blueprint includes three major steps she will ask the new Superintendent, Sharon Contreras, to support when she arrives July 1.
#1. Embrace a series of recent recommendations from a national educational consulting firm that would transform the way the District selects and rewards teachers and allocates its classroom resources. Including:
*Restructure the teaching job to attract and retain the highest contributors and support effective teams.
*Focus more on the quality of instruction than on the number of instructors.
*Move away from one-size fits all class sizes to target individual attention based on student and subject needs.
*Extend and strategically organize student time.
*Redesign special education to shift resources to early and ongoing intervention in general education settings.
# 2. The Mayor and the incoming Superintendent have agreed to monthly one-on-one meetings. And, City staff will participate in year-round budget discussions with Syracuse City School District.
#3. The Mayor is calling on Say Yes to develop a process for parents to meet with staff at the time of student enrollment and for parents to sign a pledge - the "the Say Yes Pledge" - to commit to helping their children graduate from high school.
"I would like to see every parent commit his or her signature to a document that indicates he or she has been briefed on what Say Yes can mean for his or her child and that the parent is committing to help that student succeed in school," Mayor Miner said.