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Youngstown looks for ways to keep kids in the district

Published: Wed, April 13, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.





Almost as many city school students have left the district in recent years as remain.

A breakdown of Youngs-town students attending charter or community schools or leaving the district through open enrollment and vouchers since 2003 totals 5,050 as of this year. District enrollment is 6,405 students.

That’s part of the reason that Connie Hathorn, who took over as superintendent at the beginning of this year, devised a restructuring plan for the schools beginning next school year.

“We need to retain the students we have, and get the students who have left to come back,” he said. “First, we have to meet the needs of the students we have here.”

Hathorn said the number leaving Youngstown is high for a district of its size. He summed up his belief about the reason for the departures bluntly: “Lack of success.”

“Parents are not going to pull their kids out of a good system,” Hathorn said.

His plan will turn Chaney High School into a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math and visual and performing arts school where students will have to audition or apply for admittance. East High will offer students study paths including education, law and business.

Middle schools will be divided into one eighth-and-ninth-grade academy and two sixth-and-seventh-grade academies.

With 3,198 city school students attending charter and community schools this year, that comprises the biggest cumulative chunk of those leaving. The highest number of those, 621, have left Chaney, although each district school has seen the exodus — for examples, 339 from Martin Luther King Elementary and 327 from Williamson Elementary.

Open enrollment caused the next highest number of departures at 1,024 students. The Youngstown district doesn’t keep records of what city schools those students departed from, but this year, Austintown was the district receiving the highest number of city school students at 311. Lowellville was second with 151 city school kids.

For vouchers, the program that allows students in a failing school to attend a private institution, the district lost 828 students since 2006.

The problem may grow because Gov. John Kasich’s proposed budget would double the number of vouchers and eliminate the cap on the number of charter and community schools. Because state money follows the child, the district also loses funding in addition to the enrollment.

Lock P. Beachum Sr., school board president, said that for the past several years, the district has lost between 300 and 400 students to open enrollment or parochial schools, usually between seventh and eighth grades.

“Parents keep them in city schools through elementary school, and then they start transferring out in eighth grade,” he said. “A lot are going to the parochial schools, to Austintown. ... They’re not going to East, and for the last four, five years, they didn’t feel comfortable going to Chaney.”

The only way to stem that tide is to improve academic offerings, he said, adding that he hopes the restructuring plan accomplishes that.

“We have to have the kind of programs that are going to attract them,” Beachum said.


1jkf573(12 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

If the attitude that Messrs. Hathorn and Beachum display here prevails, then there is a chance for the Youngstown Schools to come back. In the long run, it's all about the product. Give students and their parents something worth staying for and they will stay.

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2Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

It all boils down to the wanna be gangstas that have no desire to be in school. The trouble makers. Get rid of them, home school them, and make there parent/s babysit them instead of the teachers. Case solved.

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3ytownoptimist(86 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm usually bullish about Youngstown but I have a 4 yr old daughter & have been told by city cops, politicians, teachers & citizens from all areas to not send her to Youngstown schools. I'm sorry but who wants to risk your child's health, mental well-being & future friends by even the smallest chance she'll be endangered. Furthermore, when your child makes friends at school, the parents inadvertently become friends. Do I want to be friends with these children's parents? Do I want my child to clamor for a play date at their homes, in dilapidated neighborhoods? The problems are farther reaching than just schools with under performing children. I have lost two sets of great rental neighbors as their children reached school age. The reality is that any parent who really cares about their child will not send them to Youngstown city schools and will find a way to not send them even if it means going without so your child can attend a private school, voucher or no voucher. How do you solve that problem - the problem of not only reality but perception? It has gone on too long, too far.

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4jethead11(139 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

This is an excellent example of the voucher system working. Youngstown City Schools will need to offer something to attract students, not just take for granted that kids will come because of their address. Just like a business, they will either innovate or die. And it sounds like they want to innovate and attract students. Parents will be given a better choice, and I hope the school system gives them a reason to come back. This could be a great thing for everyone.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

“We need to retain the students we have"

Perhaps you should teach those who left that it is OK to be attacked, robbed and threatened . The subculture has taken over the Youngstown schools and is in control . Morality and learning are not on the agenda .

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6snworb56(52 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Its a 2 way street...parents have to give the schools "teachable" kids as well. Some values and ethics have to begin at home. There is no substitute for good parenting.

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7computer_rick(137 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

i am very happy that the usual "blame the teacher" theme is not being played out here. At least we have gotten beyond that. I am not a teacher. Nor would I want to be. Take the same teachers in the Y-Town system, drop them in Canfield, and you will have the same result that you currently have in Canfield, lots of kids graduating H.S., and going on to College. Actually, maybe better, I would equate teaching in Youngstown to Marine Boot Camp, as opposed to the fluff life that the teachers in the 'burbs have always had.

Unfortunately, teaching in the Y-Town area has gotten even worse, with the charter schools cherry picking what few students there are whose parents care enough to do that paperwork necessary to get them out of, uhhh... Chaney, for instance. What up until just a few years ago has become an embarassment. Students basically rioting in the hallways. And not a thing the teachers OR the administrators can do about it. They are trying, bless their pointy little heads (the staff that is...) but what can you do when your raw material comes in damaged?

The Amish are allowed to pull their kids after what, 6th or 8th grade, because of their religion and they already know all they need to know as far as math, reading and writing. Why not give the same dispensation to the youths of the inner-city? Maybe your family business only requires some basic adding, subtracting, and multiplying? Let them out. Heck, give the whole family first class plane fair to zip code 90221.

I think, in the not-so-long run, that would really allow Jay to close down those sections of the city he wants to bulldoze. And save the local area some serious cash as well. It would kind of like be our little "thank you" back to L.A. for sending us all their "business consulting experts" back in the 1980's.

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8Stan(9923 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Until the family household has both a mother and a father whose income is from employment the decay continues . The kids are taught well at home . Too bad it wont get them far in life .

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9ValleyNative(174 comments)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

Of course, this article treats open enrollment as either positive or neutral at worst. I remember when my school opened up open enrollment. What a disaster. Hasn't been the same since. It doesn't solve any problem, it just spreads the problem to more districts.

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10killa_beez14(1 comment)posted 4 years, 3 months ago

all i ever hear about Chaney is how bad it is, how all the kids that go there are all ignorant gangbangers, how it's all nonstop rioting and fighting. but how many of you have actually gone or go to this school? show of hands please.

if you were actually enrolled at or worked at Chaney you would realize that this school isn't nearly as dangerous or unsafe as Vindy and all of you make it out to be. do you even realize how poor this school's security is, really? you could literally walk into this school any time after 9 and do laps around the entire building without so much as a glance in your direction from even the administrators. nowq think of how much damage could be done but obviously hasn't.

as for the so called riots and fighting, they don't happen nearly as much as Vindy makes them out to be. 80% of them are because of barbaric freshmen whose parents obviously don't care enough to raise their children right. the other 20 result from the idiotic decision to force every soon-to-be dropout to remain in school at all costs when they should just cut their losses and let the failures who don't want an education to just stay at home and let the kids who actually want an education to learn.

bottom line is this: not every student that goes to Chaney is a drug dealer, wannabe gangster, or just general juvenile delinquent (although most of them are unfortunately...). if you haven't already guessed, i'm a student at Chaney High. i'm a senior, top 25 in my class, 3.0 gpa, well on my way to graduating on time, and have been accepted to college which i will be attending in the fall. so, the next time you read one of the myriad articles by Vindy bashing Chaney and decide you'll go to the comments and make uneducated assumptions, remember that you're insulting the very same kids you seem so intent on protecting from the big bad YCSD

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