CNY graduates rates on the rise

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For many years, Fowler High School on Syracuse's near West Side has struggled to get kids to graduate.

Now, students there are making some of the biggest gains when it comes to graduation rates.

SEE ALSO I Syracuse City School graduation rates increase in 2016, still lag behind state average

"We have graduation rates that are going up, dropout rates that are going down and we're just excited about that right now," Derrick Dorsey, the Board of Education President said.

Dorsey further said that all of their work is graded by student success.

"It takes a community to educate 21,000 students here in the district," Dorsey explained.

A big part of that community is Hillside Work and Scholarship Connection, a group that works with at-risk students and helps them overcome challenges that cause they to drop out.

"They're all great kids but so many of them come from difficult life circumstances," said Wayne O'Connor from Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection.

O'Connor has 47 years of experience with the district and says working together is key.

"Whenever you have an organization that can work collaboratively with an effective school district like we have here...these kids can graduate," O'Connor explained.

Hillside graduates 97 percent of students who go through their program, according to O'Connor.

He further explained that increasing funding to programs like Hillside is what could push that number even higher.

"Imagine if we could add another thousand students that we could work with and have that same type of graduation rate. That 60% could absolutely go from 70% or more," O'Connor said.

A number district leaders say are still chasing.

"We don't want to get complacent with sixty percent. That still means out of every ten students in our buildings that are seniors, four of them aren't walking and that's what we need to focus on now," Dorsey said. "Hopefully we are having this interview next year and we're at sixty seven percent," Dorsey ended with.

Marking a new goal that has already been set for next year, but still chasing that state graduation rate average of 79%.

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