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HOWLAND Panel reviews Harding plans

By Denise Dick

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

A school Web page, mentoring programs and grants for technology have been implemented using an improvement plan's framework.
HOWLAND -- Ideas and suggestions for improvement at Warren G. Harding High School more than four years ago provided the framework for a plan, but now more work needs to be done, school officials say.
About 120 people from the community gathered 41/2 years ago to form the strategic planning team and to outline a direction for the high school, pointing out strengths, weaknesses and suggestions. Team members met Monday at Avalon Inn for an update.
The plan resulted in the school's mentorship program, technology initiatives including development of a Web page, and programs designed to encourage students to attend college and prepare them for it.
"What we need to do for the next three years is determine what we want to do," Harding Principal Bill Mullane said. "We need to take the time to figure out what we envision for our children."
The district received a $185,000 grant last month to improve achievement and increase graduation rates at Harding. The grants are funded mostly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ohio Department of Education and KnowledgeWorks, a $200 million foundation that helps finance education initiatives in Ohio.
The money will be used to design a plan to turn larger, impersonal, inner-city high schools into smaller, more personalized learning arenas. Those districts whose plans are deemed the best will receive additional funding to implement their plans.
Team members, which include parents and representatives from education, labor, industry and elected officials, will help determine if the plan designed with the grants will help Harding meet the goals outlined in the continuous improvement document.
Mullane said team members will be invited to a 45-minute orientation to learn about the high school and then asked to make a return visit on their own. "We need to determine what from our original report we should still be working on," he said.
Work on project
Robert Faulkner Sr., school board member, said the district also is working with the Mahoning Valley Vision for Education, a project sponsored by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber. The project focuses on educational issues facing Valley schools and ways to address them.
Some of those issues include attendance and graduation rates and the number of students who go on to higher education after high school.
"Our Valley, in fact our state, we're one of the lowest in the nation" in students who pursue education after high school, Faulkner added.
The district recently received a federal grant aimed at preparing students for college and encouraging them to go.