AUBURN | The superintendent of Auburn schools, Constance Evelyn, presented to the school board Tuesday, an idea for a partnership between Syracuse University and central New York school districts that tries to improve access to quality education in elementary schools, especially for disadvantaged students.
The Schools of Promise partnership between SU's School of Education and local schools uses strategies of inclusiveness, democracy and social justice to ensure all students, including those with special needs, have access to a quality general education with special services if they need them.
The Auburn Enlarged City School District was recently designated as a focus district by the state because its special needs students and students living in poverty were not performing adequately on assessments and were not graduating at a high enough rate.
"We are failing, quite honestly, in our ability to get them to meet the standards," Evelyn said at the meeting.
The district must now work on an improvement plan to help the students improve.
Evelyn recommended to the board an "inclusive school reform approach" with an elementary school focus.
This approach is part of the Schools of Promise strategy, in which school leaders use a democratic planning process to schedule students and ensure that resources, especially human resources, are used appropriately so that special needs students can benefit from general education while getting special services they need in a timely manner that fits their schedule.
"Our students who are most at risk should have access to those services from day one," she said.
Evelyn showed the board data from other Schools of Promise schools in the Syracuse area and it showed students performed better academically.
"School reform must address ... students with disabilities," Evelyn said. "What I'm talking about is access to their curriculum and access to their peers."
Evelyn said nothing has been contracted yet with the Schools of Promise at SU, but two professors who coordinate the partnership will be visiting individually with building principals on Oct. 2 to learn about how Auburn delivers special services and uses resources.
In other news:
• The school board approved the creation of a new sub-committee on curriculum and instruction and appointed board members Kathy Rhodes, Dia Carabajal and Karol Soules as members.