Stop Charters in CNY

Wednesday November 2nd, 5pm

SCSD Board Room
725 Harrison Street
We need your voice to defend our CNY kids against risky charter schools. Please join public education advocates at the Renewal Hearing for the Syracuse Academy of Science Charter School, this Wednesday at 5pm. 

The two existing charters in Syracuse  have siphoned 19 million dollars away from the Syracuse City School District. That is a massive amount of money that could be used to provide the students of Syracuse with the resources that will lead to more success, not more divisiveness, larger class sizes and more segregation. 

We need our schools to be transparent and accountable. Charter schools are neither. We need great public schools to make every student a winner, not create winners and losers. 

Public school supporter, please show up to this meeting and voice your support for our public neighborhood and focus schools (ELMS/ LATIN/ PSLA/ MONTESSORI). SCSD needs to hear your voice as to why public schools are the best choice and that the funding that is being diverted away is hurting the success of the 20,000 students that attend them.

Please spread the word and join us on Wednesday, Nov 2nd. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 8.11.03 PMIt’s official. Syracuse School District superintendent, Sharon Contreras, has accepted a job as the superintendent of the Guilford County Schools in North Carolina.

The news broke less than a week after the end of another contentious school year for the Syracuse schools chief which included a disputed one-year extension to her employment contract. The compromise extension turned out to be the penultimate chapter in a saga (some say a tragedy for students) marked by difficult relations with teaching staff, a vote of no confidence by members of the teachers union, and serious concerns about the safety of students and staff during the school day (of course little of the controversy is listed on her official Wikipedia page, someone has done their due diligence to scrub any controversy from the virtual record).

Contreras began severing ties with the district quickly with an email to staff (see below) and the deletion of her Twitter account @scontrerasscsd in what has been dubbed #Contrexit.

There will certainly be many questions about her #Contrexit. Who will replace her? Will the Board of Ed choose another Broad Academy, reformy driven leader? Will Contreras take any of her “Talent Management” staff (yes, they really call it that) with her? Spoiler: Contreras’ chief of staff, Kim Bradley, left the district in November to take a job in…..(wait for it)….North Carolina.

Time will tell.

From: Contreras, Sharon
Sent: Tuesday, June 28, 2016 7:21:17 PM
To: All District Staff
Subject: Thank you!

Dear Colleagues,

Following the close of a successful 2015-16 school year I’m writing to inform you that my time with the Syracuse City School District has come to a close. Certainly this news brings mixed emotions. While I am excited and open to this new opportunity, I am saddened to be leaving a community I have come to love. I have been named Superintendent of Schools in the Guilford County School system in Greensboro, North Carolina and will begin the 2016-17 school year in that capacity.

Working alongside wonderful SCSD students, staff and administrators for the past five years has been a true honor. Together, we have implemented our districtwide strategic plan, Great Expectations, and we have seen great changes in our school buildings and the District as a whole. I am confident that these positive changes will continue in the weeks, months and years to come.

I sincerely thank each of you for making my first Superintendence an educational, challenging and fulfilling experience. I look forward to hearing about all the ways you will continue #makinggreathappen for the children of the SCSD in the future, and I hope you will keep in touch!


Sharon Sharon L. Contreras, Ph.D.
Superintendent, Syracuse City School District
725 Harrison Street Syracuse, NY 13210
Twitter scontrerasSCSD


Pressure mounted today outside Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan offices as hundreds of CUNY supporters protested proposed budget cuts to CUNY.  Both sides of the streets were lined with protesters as union leaders and activists were arrested in yet another act of civil disobedience in support of a state budget that supports the City University of New York’s quality programs and student services.

The crowd could be heard shouting, “C-U-N-Y, don’t let CUNY die!!” amid honks of support from passing motorists.  The Governor has proposed $485 million in cuts to state funding for the public university.

Among the first to be arrested today was Barbara Bowen, the president of CUNY’s Professional Staff Congress, the union representing over 25,000 CUNY faculty and staff.  Today’s rally echoed similar protests as far back as November in what is proving to be an effective escalation of tactics by CUNY supporters against the governor.  Cuomo and the state legislature face an April 1st budget deadline in Albany.

Watch live video of today’s arrests.

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 5.36.51 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 5.35.31 PMScreen Shot 2016-03-24 at 5.37.37 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 6.28.24 PM

Finally, Pennsylvania will see a budget passed after an unprecedented 387 day saga that left schools struggling to fund basic services.

It contains a $200 million increase in direct aid to public schools, albeit $175 million less than Wolf had wanted; it holds all taxes at current levels; and it increases state aid to Penn State, Pitt and Temple.




Here’s the latest installment in what’s sure to be a series of stop-motion Lego movies. Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 7.39.29 PM

You gotta see this app. Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 7.32.43 PM

My son (10) walked around the corner this afternoon asking about an app (Koma Koma) we had downloaded on our iPad a few months ago but never really dug into. I think I deleted it. He had an armful of Lego and wanted to make his own stop-animation movie.

So, we re-downloaded it, set up a little studio on the kitchen table, and within seconds we were filming his very own stop-animation Lego short. It’s easy to use with four simple functions: capture, play, delete, and save to gallery. This is literally so easy a 4th grader (probably even a 1st grader) could run it.

The app records one frame at a time and gives you a cool “onion skin” overlay after each capture which allows you so see a translucent image of the previous frame and line up the next shot. We kicked our production up a notch by importing the movie into iMovie; adding titles, sound effects, and credits; and exporting to our Facebook page so family and friends could view it. We found we needed a few more sound effects that weren’t available on iMovie (robot lasers, explosions etc.) so we recorded them on Garage Band along with some dialogue for the characters.  Check out our finished product here (hosted on Google Drive).

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 7.29.30 PM

Now, admittedly, 43 seconds did take us a good amount of time to produce (about 2 1/2 hours) mainly because we wanted to add sound, titles, etc. and I was refreshing my iMovie skills as I went, but a basic movie can be produced in as few as 5 minutes. Anything can be a character: toys, modeling clay, paper cutouts, leaves and twigs. What was amazing to me was how riveted my 10 year old was throughout the entire process. He mapped out the scene and dialogue with attention to details. He manipulated the app with no problem. He absolutely loved picking out the sound effects and recording the extras. Titles and credits were the icing on the cake, “We’re making a real movie!” he shouted. This is a great example of how immersed a kid can get in a project with an end goal in view and the potential for sharing their work with a broader audience.

The only feature that would make this app better would be the ability to record audio in real time on top of the video. A simple soundtrack function would make this a complete app for one-stop video production.  There’s probably a simpler way to add sound than involving iMovie and Garage Band, when I find it I’ll update this post. In the meantime, download the app here and read more about it here.  Have fun with your first production.

Screen Shot 2016-01-31 at 7.32.59 PM

Images speak volumes. Add images to your lessons, websites, and social media posts with ImgFlip, one of the fastest meme creators on the Internet. Upload your own images or choose from favorites, customize text, and it even works great on your phone.

Presenting a Tech 4 Teachers workshop at the high school today. It’s been a great afternoon of teachers sharing best practices in their classrooms. Refreshing to see teachers providing professional development for teachers.