Education

Take Note

March 17, 2004 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Tiny Target

The theory of many school improvement initiatives assumes that good schools will thrive and bad ones will improve or shut down.

But economic reality in Syracuse, N.Y., might claim one of the state’s best schools.

Solace Elementary School—one of just seven New York schools nominated for a prestigious federal award—is endangered because it is too small to be economically viable in a district that is facing declining enrollment and operating deficits.

But the school’s size—128 pupils, K-6, in eight classrooms—is one of the reasons for its recent successes, according to Maria Cimino, the principal of the school on the east side of the city in central New York.

“All of the research proves that smaller is better,” Ms. Cimino said, “but are we feasible in this severe budget crunch?”

No, according to a commission the school board convened to recommend ways to downsize the number of schools in the 22,000-student Syracuse city district. The district could save $1.2 million a year by shutting Solace and sending its students to nearby schools, the commission found. It proposed a total of $3.5 million in annual savings by closing two other elementary schools and converting others to K-8 schools or middle schools.

The district is planning to reduce its operating budget by $10.5 million—or 11 percent—for the 2004-05 school year. The school board was scheduled to vote on the school-closing plan this week.

Through a variety of research-based reading and mathematics programs, the school has produced a meteoric rise in test scores. Three years ago, just 41 percent of 4th graders passed the state math test, and 38 percent passed the state reading test.

Last year, all 4th graders in the predominantly African-American school aced the math test, and 91 percent passed the reading test.

Solace Elementary was one of seven New York state schools that the state education commissioner nominated for the federal No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon Schools award, which rewards schools for high performance.

While Solace may soon close, Ms. Cimino takes solace in knowing that some of its instructional methods are paying dividends elsewhere.

Two former “lead teachers” at Solace are now vice principals at other elementary schools in the city, and both schools are producing major student-achievement gains, she said.

—David J. Hoff

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Letter to the Editor EdWeek's Most-Read Letters of 2022
Here are this year’s top five Letters to the Editor.
1 min read
Education Week opinion letters submissions
Gwen Keraval for Education Week
Education In Their Own Words Withstanding Trauma, Leading With Honesty, and More: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our journalists highlight why stories on the impact of trauma on schooling and the fallout of the political discourse on race matter to the field.
4 min read
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.
Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP
Education In Their Own Words Masking, Miscarriages, and Mental Health: The Education Stories That Stuck With Us
Our reporters share the stories they wrote that rose above the fray—and why.
5 min read
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Crystal Curtis and her son, Jordan Curtis, outside their home in Plano, Texas. Crystal, a healthcare professional whose son attends school in Plano talks about the challenges of ensuring quality schooling, her discomfort with the state and district’s rollback of mandatory masking, and the complications of raising a Black child in a suburban district as policies shift.
Allison V. Smith for Education Week
Education Opinion The Top 10 Rick Hess Straight Up Columns of 2022
NAEP, pre-K, who decides what gets taught. Those are among the most popular or impactful posts of the year.
2 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty