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Councilors threaten to delay SCSD renovation plan

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Councilors threaten to delay SCSD renovation plan
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The Syracuse school board has approved a new plan for moving students to allow work to finally begin on a plan to renovate all of the district's school buildings. That project has been on hold for years. YNN's Bill Carey reports, though, that some common councilors are now threatening to delay the work even further.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It was clear the decision would be controversial. The Syracuse school board has been unable to finalize a deal to use the former Syracuse Developmental Center as so-called "swing space." The plan was to use that site to house students from various schools as renovation projects were underway at buildings throughout the district.

Scrambling to meet funding deadlines to get work underway in the next school year, the board narrowly approved a plan that would close two schools, Elmwood Elementary and the Bellevue Middle School Academy, freeing those buildings for use as renovation work begins at H.W. Smith and Edwin Weeks schools.

Now, at least two common councilors say they will move to block bonding for the renovation work unless yet another plan is approved.

"One in particular, Elmwood school, which has 56 percent of the kids walking to school. And that's kind of the model that we've been trying to accomplish in the city. So what sense does it make to close that school down?" asked Syracuse Common Councilor Ryan McMahon.

Republican Ryan McMahon and democrat Patrick Hogan are directing their criticism at School Superintendent Daniel Lowengard.

"Every single situation he has come up with has been, basically, a disaster. And this is the latest disaster," Hogan said.

The critics say they've offered suggestions on other potential swing space sites, but that those suggestions have been ignored by the city school district leadership. Lowengard has said those alternate sites would not meet state standards for use as classroom space. Still the councilors say they are willing to delay the renovation work, yet again, until a new plan is adopted.

"This isn't the way to do it. You know, to rehab the school on the backs of another neighborhood in the city of Syracuse. That's not the way to go forward," McMahon said.

It is unclear whether a majority of councilors will back the McMahon-Hogan effort.

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