The first pioneers of the Syracuse Township wished to give their children better opportunities than they could attain. To do this, they knew that they must have a school. A log cabin was built southeast of present-day Unadilla and then moved 6 miles east in 1860, which was designated as school land. Thirty-one students were enrolled. In 1865, money was allocated for a new school house on 1st Street in Syracuse. The school was later sold and became a barn that existed well into the 20th century.
In 1875, $4,000 was spent to construct a new school building on 3rd Street, near the northern edge of our current South Park. As the town grew, more classroom space became necessary to provide for the influx of greater numbers of students. In 1880, a second school was built on 7th Street, the site of the present elementary building. It accommodated the first through sixth grade children of the district. In 1887, it was noted that the school house in the park needed extensive repairs. The young people hoped that more space would be added, making the longed-for high school possible. Latin language classes needed to be offered because no university or college would accept a student who had not studied the language. In 1889-1890, the old school house on 7th Street was dragged to one side so it could still be used in the winter while a new building was constructed in the center of the block. The first floor of the schoolhouse held the primary and third through sixth grades. The seventh and eighth grades went upstairs where a long room also held the high school students – ninth, tenth and eleventh grades, which was taught by the principal. The high school was then able to allow a graduate to enter the University’s Latin School for one year and, with satisfactory work, to enroll into the University. Twelfth grade was not added until 1904.
The old school on 7th Street was then moved to Plum and Main Street where it became part of the Dey Hotel. The school building in the park (built in 1875) was then used as a knitting factory and later as a corncob factory. It wasn’t until 1941 that the town voted on a $49,000 bond issue to build a new school that would replace the 7th Street structure. The bond passed and a WPA grant was approved from the federal government. That building is still used today for kindergarten thru third grade classes. By the early 60’s, the building on 7th Street was extremely overcrowded. Both high schools in Avoca and Dunbar had closed, and those students were now attending Syracuse. In 1962, ground was purchased on Highway 50 north and a new high school was built in 1965. Through the years, the elementary building was updated and the high school saw extensive remodeling. Unadilla, Dunbar, Avoca and Otoe elementary schools all closed and the student population was consolidated in Syracuse. The ninth graders were moved to the high school and pre-kindergarten classes were established as part of the school system. By 2010, the elementary school was extremely overcrowded, so a new middle school was built south of the high school. This became the home of fourth thru eighth grade students. As of 2012, there are over 725 students enrolled in the Syracuse-Dunbar-Avoca District 27 schools and our enrollment numbers continue to grow.