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Schenectady looks to high tech to improve its high schools

Exterior of high school building with yellow school crossing sign in front
Jenna Flanagan
Innovation Trail

Schenectady’s School district looks set to undergo major changes in the coming year, courtesy of the School Board and the Superintendent of Schools, Larry Spring. He wants to re-energize and re-focus the district by reconfiguring the grades so all of the schools are K – 5, 6 – 8 and 9 - 12.

There are also plans to repair and upgrade some of the city’s older school buildings like Oneida Middle School which closed in 2012.

However, one of his long range goals would prepare Schenectady’s public high school students for Central New York’s growing high-tech industries.

Under the plan, the Steinmetz Career and Leadership Academy would be transformed into a high-tech high school offering students a chance to earn their high school diploma and become certified in a specialized field of technology.

“Thinking about how to push kids into fields that they might not necessarily have the opportunity to push into straight from High School.”

Spring says he wants Schenectady students attending Steinmetz to have multiple options when they graduate.

“Being a network technician, being a programmer, being able to write software applications, those kinds of things as a realistic career opportunity… That would actually lead them to a career that would enable them to provide for a family and have a life different than what they can imagine.”

The entire plan for Schenectady’s public schools was recently given the green light from the city school board. These changes however don’t come cheap, implementing them will cost between $25 and $30 million. The state is expected to pick up 97% of the cost leaving Schenectady’s tax payers with a $900,000 bill to be paid in $60,000 installments over 15 years.

Word on the planned changes to the city’s schools is just beginning to trickle out. Schenectady residents Gary Moore, Conciso Jamili Jr and Sean Carolina in the city’s downtown ‘Stockade’ district say a tech-oriented high school could work, if it’s done right.

  • “I think it would be really good for those students who don’t have those types of resources because it’s a district thing...
  • For us parents we are so happy, they’re doing the right thing...
  • That would be a good idea for kids if they decided to go to school.”

Superintendent Spring points out that plans to transform Steinmetz Career and Leadership Academy isn’t just about career preparedness. He says it’s also a chance for kids to prove themselves in a way they might not otherwise get.
“When you have a kid who’s graduating from high school and they’re walking out with 15 college credits and a certificate of employ-ability they have very real choices.”

Taxpayers will have a chance to weigh in on the plan. It is expected to be put to a referendum in January of 2014.

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