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State Supt. Heffner: There’s work yet to be done in Youngstown



Published: Wed, November 30, 2011 @ 12:10 a.m.

State superintendent says improvement plan needs overhaul

RELATED: Heffner blames out-of-date system for children being unprepared

By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

A few months after the state told the Youngstown Schools Academic Distress Commission it needed to move faster to bolster student achievement, the state superintendent says the improvement plan needs an overhaul.

“You have the basis of a good plan, but there’s work yet to be done,” Stan Heffner, state superintendent of public instruction, said at a commission meeting Tuesday.

It’s time to transform the Youngstown schools, he said.

This may include different programs, different school days, magnet schools, community schools or innovation schools or some combination. Innovation schools are those where school personnel develop a plan for the building that must be approved by both the local and state school board.

Parents and students should have choices, he said.

“Youngstown could be a mosaic district if it wants to be,” Heffner said.

It was the first meeting since Heffner replaced three original commission members with his own appointees. He expects they’ll have a revised plan by February.

Richard Ross, a retired superintendent from Reynoldsburg schools, near Columbus, replaces Debra Mettee as chairman. Mettee, superintendent of Springfield schools, had resigned from the city schools commission.

Adrienne O’Neill, president of Stark Education Partners, and Michael Garvey of M7 Technologies of Youngstown, replace James Hall, retired South Range superintendent, and Sherri Lovelace-Cameron, a Youngstown State University chemistry professor.

Heffner said Tuesday that he wanted to “give those folks a rest.” Commission members aren’t paid.

He said the plan that was adopted by the previous commission earlier this month looked at what was being done in the city schools and how to improve it.

“I’m not sure it makes a better Youngstown,” the state superintendent said.

The plan, which had been developed with an Ohio Department of Education consultant, combined seven plans that had been in place in the district into one. That consolidation was done at Heffner’s direction when he attended a commission meeting in September.

At that same meeting, he said that the district needed to move faster to improve academic performance. The city schools moved one step from academic emergency, the lowest designation, one step up to academic watch, on the last report card.

But Heffner said last September that was nothing to celebrate as Youngstown students are still in academic distress.

The plan adopted by the commission earlier this month included eight components. Literacy is one of those components and Heffner said the district should move “full-steam ahead” with that.

The others need more work. The district needs to raise its expectations for students, he said.

Heffner said development of a new plan will be on a fast track by the commission.

The effort to improve the city schools has to include the school board members who are the elected representatives of the community, he said.

Both Knowledge Works and the Raymond John Wean Foundation have offered to help the district, particularly with community outreach efforts. The district must have involvement from the community to be successful.

Heffner said that help may come in the form of equipment or programs. The amount will be determined by those organizations.


Comments

1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

You think? The Y-town schools are just plain bad and the vast majority of parents don't care about any of it. They only care about getting that monthly welfare allotment WIC. I see no solution to the problem and throwing more money at it, won't fix it.

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2lovethebuckeyes(32 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

UnionForever, what's the matter with you? Aren't you a true American? There isn't a problem on the planet that our government doesn't believe can be fixed by throwing more money at it! Actually your comments are right on the money. We have so many systemic problems with public schools, particularly in the inner city and think we can fix them by building some new buildings. Frankly it's sad. Kids are going to grow up with the same dreams and aspirations as their parent, (no, I didn't forget the "s" they usually have only 1) nothing. No aspirations other than the proverbial free lunch.

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3Stan(9923 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Youngstown is in a state of decay that can only be transformed with job creation . Far too many students go to a home with meager resources . Drugs then eliminate any ability to concentrate on studying and the future .

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4Stan(9923 comments)posted 2 years, 11 months ago

Well THOMAS53 , if manufacturing jobs were available they could afford to pay for their keep . Dependency on government keeps the liberal votes to sustain the system on the backs of the productive . Only when the tax dollars dry up completely will we ever see a change . . ..

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