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Say Yes to Education in Syracuse -- A City Eagle series

The Downtown Connection to Saying 'Yes':

Part I of an interview with Syracuse School Superintendent Dan Lowengard

Dan Lowengard gets it.

The "it" is education, specifically urban education. He understands the challenges, he understands the rewards. He understands the energy, the problems, the stereotypes. He understands that urban education, specifically urban education in Syracuse, is where he belongs.

That is why he is the superintendent of the Syracuse City School District.

And, that is why he has become the pivot man for the major philosophical, financial and structural collaboration that is the SCSD's Say Yes to Education initiative.

Educational partnerships between universities and school districts are nothing new. Typically a department of a university will associate itself with a certain student demographic in a community and focus its energies in a specific activity. The results are generally beneficial to both entities, though somewhat short term.

The partnership Lowengard entered into with Say Yes has an entirely different scope. Instead of a segment of the Syracuse school community, Lowengard helped engineer the largest such partnership in the country, committing the entire school district, some 20,000 students, to a new era in urban education.

As outlined in previous installments of this series, Say Yes brings to bear the type of resources that superintendents, urban superintendents in particular, can only dream of.

In the early planning:

Speaking of the early planning, the early meetings, Lowengard said that "Mary Anne Schmitt-Carey was the first person I ever talked to who said that the difference between where we are now and where we need to be is $3,500 per year per student. Oddly enough, the three studies that we had done came up with the exact same figure of $3,500, which is a 65 to 70 million dollar annual price tag. The SCSD was looking at a similar amount, in the 75 to 80 million dollar range, as their proceeds from the Fiscal Equity law suit settlement.

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