The iZone will focus on seven targeted schools in the west and southwest sides of Syracuse. The schools include Bellevue Elementary, Porter Elementary, Seymour Elementary, Danforth Middle, Frazer K-8, Van Duyn Elementary and Westside Academy at Blodgett Middle. These schools will have more flexible operating conditions and increased autonomy as well as one additional hour of academic programming for all students.
The iZone is being funded through the federally funded School Improvement Grants (SIG). Last year Syracuse was awarded over $31 million in SIG grants to support the initiative and help transform these seven low performing schools.
“I am pleased that the NYSED recognizes our commitment to whole school reform and has awarded the district SIG funds for all seven applications submitted. These grants put us firmly on the road to offering a high-quality education for all students,’’ said Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras.
Schools in the iZone will implement research-based intervention strategies and conditions that build on the existing improvement efforts at each of the school buildings, as outlined in their SIG applications. These strategies and conditions include an extended school day (an additional one hour of instruction with students and an additional half hour for team planning and collaboration); ongoing, job-embedded professional development for teachers; and new collaborations with external partners such as Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to enhance Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
Recognizing the importance of an investment from our community partners is an integral part of making real, sustainable change in schools. The Syracuse Innovation Zone will be overseen by an external Advisory Council, which will include parent and community representatives alongside district and STA leadership.
“Superintendent Contreras, along with Central Office staff, worked tirelessly throughout this process. The superintendent felt strongly that she, and her staff, could produce seven award-winning grant applications in a very short period of time and that is exactly what they did. This money will benefit so many of our students and will be used to transform seven struggling schools into seven high-performing schools,’’ said Stephen Swift, President of the Syracuse City School District Board of Education.