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Onondaga County Helps School Districts Get Staff Tested As It Faces Continued Budget Crisis

Onondaga County Executive's Office

School districts in Onondaga County are getting their staff tested starting this week to ensure school starts safely. Syracuse Catholic Schools, Cicero North Syracuse, and East Syracuse Minoa are among the schools scheduled to hold staff testing next week, and more will be added.

County Executive Ryan McMahon said staff will not be the only ones getting tested prior to the return to school.

“And then we are going to work on scheduling the high school students as we prepare for them to go back into the buildings,” said McMahon. “Again, we’re trying to work with these different schedules and different plans for what dates can be done there as well.”

Credit Onondaga County Executive's Office
A complete schedule of testing sites for Onondaga County schools.

McMahon said districts should be confident in reopening with Onondaga County’s steady, low infection rate and large volume of tests being done. But as the County helps schools with testing staff and students, it still faces a budget crisis. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh released sweeping cuts at the city level Friday. McMahon said the County has already made similar cuts.

“We cut nonprofits that rely on the funding,” said McMahon. “We cut our programming. We’ve cut any sort of initiatives that we were very interested in, that we fought for in our budget process to get funded. We’ve held 460 positions which is essentially in a year that’s worth like $46 million so people understand. So there’s nothing left to cut but people.”

Syracuse and Onondaga County have both been holding out for federal aid, but Congress has yet to pass a stimulus bill that includes funds for state and local governments. McMahon said he is expecting the county legislature to take up a resolution in September that would allow him more flexibility in cutting hours.

Katie Zilcosky is WAER’s All Things Considered host and features reporter. She also co-hosts WAER’s public affairs show Syracuse Speaks. As a reporter, she focuses on technology, economy, and identity.