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      What's next for the Syracuse city school budget?

      The Syracuse Common Council will soon begin discussing the school budget passed by the school board last night.

      "It's kind of a fluid document at this time because we are still waiting to hear what the New York state budget is for education," says Nader Maroun, chairman of the council's education committee. "Secondarily, there is a retirement incentive offer that's still open."

      So far 155 school district employees have taken the early retirement incentive. More than 580 job cuts are included in the budget that the school board passed, that's up from the number the superintendent had in his proposed budget. But the budged passed by the school board, keeps Elmwood Elementary School open.

      "I am very positive about it because this allows us to hopefully move forward for the funding of the renovation project," Maroun said.

      HW Smith and Dr. Weeks Elementary are set to undergo a major renovation. Students from HW Smith were supposed to be housed at Elmwood which was going to be used a swing space. Now that Elmwood won't be re-purposed but remain open as an elementary school, the renovation at HW Smith could be delayed.

      "This seems to be a viable proposal from the school board for the JSCB (Joint School Construction Board) to review and hopefully decide to borrow the funds necessary for renovations," Maroun said.

      Maroun says the council wants to minimize the number of jobs being cut in the school district. "But at the same time we need to move forward on this $60-million renovation project that will add jobs to our community," he said.

      On April 8th, Syracuse Mayor Miner will present the joint city and school budgets to the council. There will be a public hearing and council members will also hear from the school district. The budget will be voted on in May.