CITY SCHOOLS Team will evaluate district's curricula

Workers wrote attitudes on paper, then burned them and buried the ashes.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A curriculum management audit and the status of capital improvements to school buildings topped the agenda during a Tuesday caucus of the Youngstown Board of Education.
Consultants will spend next week visiting every school in the Youngstown City School district to evaluate curricula and make recommendations for improvement, reported board member Shelley Murray. Murray chairs the committee overseeing the audit.
A four-member team of education experts from throughout the country will conduct the curriculum management audit, a diagnostic tool for designing plans to improve the quality of curriculum and instruction in a school system.
The audit team, Murray said, will also interview all senior district officers, board members and some of the staff.
Information on the school district's plans for staff development, capital improvements, student assessments, enrollment, computer facilities and curriculum guides have already been provided to the auditors, she added.
Status of renovations
Renovations under way at Chaney High School, if completed according to plan, will run about $500,000 over budget. According to architects, the overages are all in connection with renovation of the old building; the addition itself is still within its budget.
Board members also discussed planned renovations at Choffin Career Center. Because the building is occupied, board members must devise a plan to relocate some classes while work is under way. One suggestion was to move adult programs to space in other buildings.
During the regular board meeting, James Fortune Jr. of the Gleaners Food Bank addressed the board asking for the schools to involve young people in programs that would mutually benefit the food bank, community and schools.
Junior and senior high school students could volunteer to sort and distribute items in the food bank's warehouse, Fortune said, or could conduct food drives.
Symbolic ceremony
Before the meeting, board members, school administrators and employees representing secretaries, food service and maintenance workers, bus drivers and other school district employees held a ceremonial burning and burying of negative attitudes.
Workers wrote things such as low expectations, impatience, cynicism, sarcasm, and racism -- anything that they perceive has hindered progress in the schools -- on paper and then burned the pages and buried the ashes under a new crab apple tree planted as a symbol of progress.
"If you stay in the negative, you won't move forward," said Dr. Wendy Webb, district superintendent.
"We realize that symbols alone will not make progress, but with our goal of significant academic gains this year, we have to use several different approaches," Webb continued. "Our children deserve the very best, and in this renewal ceremony we commit ourselves to eliminate some of the negative attitudes that hold us back. When we are at our best, we can deliver better instruction and support to our children."

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