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Student test scores, attendance on new Syracuse superintendent's priority list

A man sits behind a table with a maroon table skirt with his fingers crossed and a microphone lying on the table in front of him.
Karl Winter
Syracuse City School District Superintendent Anthony Davis sits down for an interview.

Syracuse's new school superintendent is reflecting on his experiences growing up in the city as he helps chart his path forward leading the district.

Syracuse City School District Superintendent Anthony Davis grew up on the city's southside in what he said was an "extremely poor" household. He said poverty and violence in the city is still leaving a mark on students.

"We got to get rid of some of the violence that we're dealing with, and along with a lot of other things that are happening throughout the city," Davis said. "So if we don't do those things, first, we can't really get to the academic piece."

Davis said these outside factors could hurt students inside the classroom. When serving as interim superintendent, he held a series oftown hall-style conversations to identify better ways to address student challenges. One of the first that came up was improving attendance.

"This has to be student by student," Davis said. "This isn't a systematic thing; it's more. We have 25 students in this particular building that's not showing up; go find them. Find out what's going on and what can we do to unpack that."

Davis said he hopes focusing on personal connections will result in academic achievement. He said one of his top goals is boosting the district’s test scores.

"To get there, we got a lot of work to do upfront," Davis said. "I need the district to be respected, and I really want us to get to a place where we have realtors and everybody touting our district as a draw to the area.”

Davis signed on to the job for at least the next three years. He came out of a three-year retirement to serve as interim for almost six months before the school board gave him the permanent role this week.

Karl Winter is a graduate student studying broadcast and digital journalism at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications, expected to graduate in May 2023. As a multimedia reporter, Karl helps produce audio and digital content for WAER. Karl moved to Syracuse from Stockton, California, and attended undergraduate college at Pepperdine University in Malibu.