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Campaign aims to get pupils back



Published: Fri, September 1, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



The campaign urges parents to give the city schools another chance.

By HAROLD GWIN

VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown city schools have a message for pupils who have opted to attend charter schools or other school districts: "We Want You Back."

The district has lost more than 3,000 pupils over the last couple of years to charter schools and open enrollment, which allows them to attend school in other public school districts.

Youngstown started classes in fall 2005 with 9,237 pupils enrolled, but the number had dropped to 8,875 by early October.

The state says the losses are expected to continue, predicting that Youngstown will lose 400 additional pupils this fall.

To combat the loss, the school district has launched a "We Want You Back" campaign, following the lead of Youngstown Board of Education member Kathryn Hawks Haney, who began wearing a button with that logo weeks ago.

Cites improvements

The campaign urges parents and pupils to "Take A Look At Us Now!" and cites the district's academic improvements as one reason why children should come back to the city schools.

The district's Youngstown Early College High School at Youngstown State University was rated as excellent on the latest state local report card. The program, now starting its third year, has a waiting list of applicants for the first time.

Overall, the district itself moved from academic emergency to academic watch and narrowly missed making the higher designation of continuous improvement, said Dr. Wendy Webb, superintendent.

The campaign got a rousing kickoff at a recent board of education meeting, where four district employees entertained the board and crowd with a musical rendition of "We Want You Back!" sung to the Jackson Five tune "I Want You Back."

John Allen, district ombudsman, wrote the lyrics, and Linda Hooey, mentoring program coordinator, sang the lead.

Allen and M. Mike McNair, supervisor of community relations and public information, and Joseph Meranto, principal at Choffin Career & amp; Technical Center, sang backup in their best Motown impersonations.

The lyrics urge parents to give the schools another chance, pointing out that many changes have been made to improve the educational effort, including a project to rebuild or replace 14 of the district's buildings.

The campaign also offers a list of 10 reasons why parents should put their children in the city schools, starting with the fact that Youngstown pupils compete and win in regional, state and national competitions every year in academics, sports and the arts.

Warren City Schools also launched a similar effort last week, touting the benefits of public schools versus charter schools in a full-page newspaper ad.

gwin@vindy.com




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