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      Syracuse school construction project OK'd

      Thursday's decision to proceed with phase one of a huge school renovation project has been years in the making. The members of the Joint School Construction Board had to come to the realization that there was just not enough state aid to rebuild all seven schools as originally planned. So they came up with a compromise that eliminates one school and cuts back on three others.

      After the unanimous decision, Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll told reporters," We're now moving forward assisting 3,000 kids, getting 6 projects on line and creating jobs we've talked about."

      The plan calls for Fowler High to be completely renovated with new programming. The back building of Central Tech will be remodeled to handle 500 vocational students. Dr. Weeks and H.W. Smith Elementary schools will also be renovated, while Clary and Shea schools will undergo minor repairs.

      Blodgett Elementary was removed from the phase one renovations but $2.5 million dollars is earmarked for future planning. It was a compromise meant to answer the concerns of hundreds of west siders who rallied behind the school last month when it appeared the building would simply be abandoned.

      The money will be used to study whether the old building should be renovated or rebuilt from the ground up. As part of the Blodgett compromise the Syracuse School District will look at ways to consolidate other schools to cut costs.

      Board member, Bea Gonzales supports the idea, "We do have to look at how to consolidate our district. our enrollments are dropping, our resources are dropping, we just can't afford all this infrastructure."

      Even after the approval, it may take more than a year for construction to begin in the most ambitious school renovation project in Syracuse history.