SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Students, teachers, and staff in Central New York’s largest district made their way back to the classroom on Wednesday.

Syracuse City School students at Salem Hyde Elementary were greeted with a warm first-day welcome by Mayor Ben Walsh, board of education members, and the district’s interim superintendent.

However, it wasn’t only the students’ first day. It’s also Interim Superintendent Anthony Davis’ first year leading the Syracuse City School District.

“This is what we do this for. When you get to see the kids actually come in and start the learning process, it makes it worthwhile.”

ANTHONY DAVIS, INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT, SYRACUSE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Heading into this school year was a big undertaking for Interim Superintendent Davis for many reasons, including the major staffing shortage the district was up against at the beginning of the summer.

“We started with about 300 classroom openings, and I’m proud today to say we’re down to 6,” Davis said. “We have those classrooms covered. We’re moving forward with continuing to hire.”

School safety is also top of mind for parents, families, and school administration this school year.

Syracuse City Schools have budgeted for an additional 40 school sentries to be assigned to buildings across the district. The sentries are employed by the district and serve as internal security officers.

In partnership with the Syracuse Police Department, 20 Special Patrol Officers, also known as “peace officers,” will be in each middle and Pre-K through 8 schools. Some will also provide support for the elementary schools.

“They’re not there to patrol our kids. They’re there to protect, so that’s most important. At this point, we feel as though we’ve done those things to secure our buildings and make sure our kids have a safe and secure opening.”

ANTHONY DAVIS, INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT, SYRACUSE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Metal detectors are also already in each of the high schools upon entry, but Interim Superintendent Davis said the conversation of improving metal detection technology in the middle schools continues.

At middle schools, it’s used sparingly, not everyday. If something is going on in the community, we absolutely make sure that those particular buildings that might be affected, we use them then. We just try to make sure the knowledge is there so that we can make sure everybody is protected.

ANTHONY DAVIS, INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT, SYRACUSE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Prior to the first day of school, the NewsChannel 9 Your Stories team received concerns from parents and families regarding the district’s transportation services.

Interim Superintendent Davis wants to reassure parents and families the district is providing transportation through First Student and Centro to all Syracuse City School students in need of services.

“People are unsettled. When we know about these situations, we jump in and try to make sure that folks’ needs are met. We listen to them and then we figure out solutions. This is not uncommon this time of year, but hopefully within the next week or two we have everything worked out.”

ANTHONY DAVIS, INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT, SYRACUSE CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

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