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MAHONING VALLEY Bonds approved for new school



Published: Fri, June 29, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The issuance will cover the cost of building a new school.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Mahoning County commissioners approved the issuance and sale of $4 million in revenue bonds to cover construction costs of an elementary school adjacent to Millcreek Children's Center.

The community school, commonly known as a charter school, will house grades K-3 for the 2001-2002 school year and grades K-4 the following year. Commissioners approved the bond issuance Thursday.

Although the state provides operating funds for charter schools, it does not provide money for facilities, that's why the revenue bonds are so important, said Sister Jerome Corcoran, who oversees Millcreek Children's Center.

The facility is a nonprofit Ohio corporation that just happens to be operated by a nun. It is not a religious organization, Sister Jerome noted.

Although Millcreek Children's Center is a separate entity, it has housed the community school since the elementary school started.

With 60 children enrolled in the preschool and another 120 in grades K-2, it was pretty crowded, Sister Jerome said.

Larger enrollment: When the new school is completed later this year, Millcreek Community Center could enroll as many as 80 preschoolers and the community school could accept as many as 180 students.

"We like to keep the classes small because children learn better that way," Sister Jerome said. Because the community school's focus is on young children, it is unlikely to go beyond fourth grade. It started by offering kindergarten classes and has added a grade each year.

"We have two degreed teachers in every classroom. They team teach -- they are equals," added Sister Mary Dunn, the community school's principal. The community school is a nonprofit public school that, like the preschool, also just happens to be overseen by a nun.

Individualized education: Having two teachers in each classroom "keeps our student/teacher ratio at about 12 to 1," Sister Mary said.

It also permits teachers to divide the curriculum or to present the same material in a different manner to two groups of pupils "because all children learn differently," she added. "It allows for large group instruction, small group instruction and individual instruction."

Small classes and plenty of special attention appears to have paid off, Sister Dunn continued. Sixty percent of second-graders at the community school passed all five parts of the off-year proficiency test.

Children in kindergarten took the Metropolitan Readiness Test, Level II. They ranked in the 53rd percentile, and 4-year-olds at Millcreek Children's Center ranked in the 68th percentile after taking the Level I test.




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