By HAROLD GWIN
Efrain Maldonado fears his educational future is at risk.
The Youngstown Early College sophomore is concerned that the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees’ decision to end its involvement in the program, which is conducted on the YSU campus, could spell disaster for students who enrolled but may not be able to complete their education at YSU.
YEC is a partnership between YSU and the Youngstown city schools, launched in 2004 to provide selected students with an opportunity to earn college credit while completing their high school education on the university campus.
The trustees, voting last month as the board’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee, ended that partnership effective June 30, citing finances and a need to re-address priorities as the reasons.
Maldonado was among about three dozen students and supporters of YEC who showed up at another Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting Friday to see if the trustees might reconsider their position.
He didn’t address the committee but told The Vindicator that he is afraid students won’t get the same educational benefits and scholarship assistance that has been available to them at YSU if another academic institution takes over the partnership with the city schools.
The trustees’ action is cheating the kids out of their education, said his mother, Miriam Maldonado.
“They’re cutting them at the knees right now,” she said.
The committee did hear from two adults speaking on behalf of YEC.
The Rev. Lewis Macklin II, president of ACTION, a faith-based community-action group, and the Rev. Kenneth Simon, president of the Community Mobilization Committee, spoke on the need for the program to continue.
The Rev. Mr. Macklin said he wasn’t asking for a reconsideration of the trustees’ decision but wants assurances that a reasonable and suitable transition plan is put into place to ensure program continuity.
ACTION presented the trustees with petitions bearing 21,000 signatures asking that a transition plan be crafted to allow another institution to responsibly sustain and support a partnership with the city schools.
The newly formed Eastern Gateway Community College has stepped forward offering to take on the partnership but has said it will need help from YSU to do it, particularly in terms of space. EGCC would like the program to remain on the YSU campus for up to three years, with EGCC providing the college-level courses the students would take.
The Rev. Mr. Simon, saying he was disturbed by the trustees’ decision, said the board didn’t take into account the interests of the students involved.
He asked the board to reconsider ending the partnership.
Scott Schulick, chairman of the board of trustees, said that a joint committee appointed by him and Anthony Catale, president of the city school board, is working on a transition plan and may well come back to the trustees for some action to implement that plan.
The committee needs to be allowed to do its work, he said.