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Board OKs $568K to renovate Rayen as school



Published: Thu, July 29, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

By Denise Dick

By DENISE DICK

denise_dick@vindy.com

youngstowN

The William Rayen and Irene L. Ward Building will be renovated into a school for students identified as at-risk because of academic or behavioral issues.

The school board, by a 5-2 vote this week, approved a resolution for the renovation, which is estimated at $568,725. The work will be on the Rayen portion of the building, which originally was a school building and then converted into offices.

Board members Michael Murphy and Lock Beachum Sr. voted against the resolution.

“My only objection is that I’m concerned about cost overruns,” Murphy said.

Beachum said he also worries about the price tag and believes a new superintendent, once selected, should have a say in the program’s location.

Board members Richard Atkinson, Anthony Catale, June Drennen, Rachel Hanni and Andrea Mahone voted for the renovation.

While the Rayen building is being renovated — which is expected to take about six months — the students will be housed in the former Hayes Middle School on Ford Avenue on the city’s North Side. Harry Evans, district facilities manager, said the estimated cost to operate that building for six months is $331,000.

Catale said the program is a partnership with Youngstown State University and expands on the Odyssey: School of Possibilities, which housed students in third through 12th grades with academic or behavioral issues. Odyssey was housed at P. Ross Berry Middle School, on Bryn Mawr Avenue.

The expanded program will accommodate students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the board president said. It’s expected to house about 300 students, absorbing those who attended Odyssey.

There was some discussion during the caucus before the regular board meeting of keeping the program at Hayes through this school year, but it was decided that wasn’t a good idea.

“Hayes is not a very nice building,” Drennen said. “One of the points that [Superintendent] Dr. [Wendy] Webb made is that the kids would be excited” about a renovated building.

The Rayen-Ward building is also closer to YSU and to the city’s cultural activities, she said.

“I think these kids deserve to be somewhere that’s nice,” Atkinson said. “With the university and the culture and the children’s museum, this is the type of atmosphere these kids need.”

The Irene Ward portion of the building will continue to house the city school district’s administrative offices.

At the same meeting, board members voted to “permanently loan” the Rayen School mural to the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. The mural, painted in 1958, was given to the school by that year’s graduating class. It was removed in January 2007 as the building was to be razed.


Comments

1palbubba(664 comments)posted 4 years ago

"THE KIDS WOULD BE EXCITED ABOUT A RENOVATED BUILDING." Yep its more exciting to trash something nice. $568,725 + $331,000 to house thugs who will leave without an education. Could you run a lockup for less and no renovation to make it nice.

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2Education_Voter(842 comments)posted 4 years ago

Mr. Atkinson's comments are unrealistic. These particular students are unlikely to be able to engage in field trips.
This is a school for anti-social behavior disturbed students. The only good things about this decision are freeing P. Ross Berry Middle School, and imagining these students sharing a space with the superintendent and office holders. :-) Oh. wait... Dr. Webb will be gone by the time they move in. :-(

At any rate, the school has qualified for a big federal SIG (School Improvement Grant) given through the state department of education. So that may be where they are getting the money.

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3walter_sobchak(1856 comments)posted 4 years ago

Let's be realistic about this. After reviewing Youngstown City School student's drop-out rate and standardized test scores, I would have to say that all students in the system appear to be "at-risk".

To be serious, why wasn't this issue addressed when they were doing their planning for school construction? It seems to me that the system has an inordinate amount of students with behavioral problems and they should have been considered. But, to drop such a large amount of money into renovating this building is a huge waste of money. Maybe they can get YSU involved in helping put these students somewhere else. I'm sure the university is "excited" about having a couple of hundred students with "behavioral" issues so close to it's campus, especially the new Williamson Building.

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4marilyn99(20 comments)posted 4 years ago

I could care less where students are classed, whatever building is fine with me. My concern is placing young students with high school students in the same building and, with students that are troubled. I have a problem with that. It doesn't work out in the regular school systems to place older students with younger ones. The younger ones always suffer at the hands of bullying older ones; It's a known fact parents some against to no avail on a daily basis. And you want to do it this way? Why? Hasn't the " Board" seen enough hurt in the Youngstown School System already or doesn't the Board care about anything but placement for funding? Shame on all of you who took part in such a calloused decesion. Marilyn

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5marilyn99(20 comments)posted 4 years ago

I could care less where students are classed, whatever building is fine with me. My concern is placing young students with high school students in the same building and, with students that are troubled. I have a problem with that. It doesn't work out in the regular school systems to place older students with younger ones. The younger ones always suffer at the hands of bullying older ones; It's a known fact parents come against to no avail on a daily basis. And you want to do it this way? Why? Hasn't the " Board" seen enough hurt in the Youngstown School System already or doesn't the Board care about anything but placement for funding? Shame on all of you who took part in such a calloused decesion. Marilyn

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6TB(1167 comments)posted 4 years ago

I don't think it's right to call out the school district for having to find an alternative placement for students whose behavior is SO BAD they can't be in a regular classroom.

In regards to planning for school construction, the responsibility for that goes to the state oversight committee. The local schools have little control over the process once you accept state money for buildings.

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