The proposed STEAM school in the old Syracuse Central High School building cleared its first major hurdle last week when state lawmakers approved the plan. The Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math school is collaboration between the city, county, and area school districts.
County Executive Ryan McMahon says the state legislation was critical for it to move forward, even if it’s a bit of an unknown.
“It’s new. It’s never been done. So, getting that through Albany…we really needed champions, and we had some, so we really appreciate that. Now the ball’s back in our court, and we’re going to get the job done.”
McMahon credits the Central New York delegation of state senators and assemblymembers for making the case to their colleagues. Earlier this spring, Senator Rachel May hosted a visit by Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins at the former high school, where she promised her support. McMahon says the school is needed to provide the curriculum students will need to compete in the local job market.
“Our businesses are begging us for this. The need the workforce, and they need it now. this will help us create that workforce pipeline so companies can stay and grow here because they know the employees are going be ready here.”
Now that they have permission from the state, McMahon says it’s time to work on a financing plan. That will require approval from county lawmakers, but he says they seem committed to the project.
“There’s still more steps in the process. But our legislature here gave us a memorializing home rule message to go to the state. So, we know the support’s there if we put forward a good, responsible plan.”
The STEAM school is part of a larger vision called Syracuse Surge to redevelop the south side of downtown. The school is set to be introduced for the 2021-2022 school year.
MAYOR WALSH HIGHLIGHTS STEAM PROPOSAL IN STATE OF CITY ADDRESS
Back in January, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh described the idea behind the STEAM school in his State of the City address.
The predominant feature of the campus will be a new regional Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math – or STEAM – school. It will be built in a fully restored and modernized former Central High School, an historic gem that has awaited reuse for decades. The school, planned in a partnership between the city, the county, school district and OCM BOCES will capitalize on the city’s success in career and technical education, making it available to students from districts throughout the region. Additionally, the Southside Campus will house an expanded workforce development center in the fully renovated and expanded SUNY Educational Opportunity Center complex adjacent to the STEAM School.