Youngstown School District | Defining partnerships

By Denise Dick


The city school district is trimming its large list of partnerships, bringing such support more in line with the needs of students.

The district encompassed more than 400 partnerships with various companies and individuals, but what constitutes a partnership must be more clearly defined, according to a report by an Atlanta consultant.

The report by Kronley & Associates was paid for by the Raymond John Wean Foundation at the request of the Academic Distress Commission.

“The absence of shared understanding about what a partnership is has not, however, diminished enthusiasm for them,” the report says.

Educators see partnerships as a “tangible manifestation of support for education. This support is considered important because it goes beyond words; active involvement with the schools signifies ‘skin in the game’ for individuals, firms and organizations,” according to the report.

To streamline the partnership process, Superintendent Connie Hathorn implemented an application process.

“They have to work in one of five areas: academics, behavior, safety and health or career and finance,” Hathorn said.

If partnerships don’t fall into those categories, the district won’t use them, he said.

Previously, he said, the district accepted assistance from well-meaning individuals who, for example, may have offered to help tutor students in math.

But the tutoring is effective only if the individual can provide it in the areas where it’s needed by the student.

The Kronley report lists seven recommendations regarding partnerships in the city schools:

Embrace partnerships as a primary strategy in promoting career and postsecondary success.

Define partnerships and distinguish them from other volunteer activities.

Prioritize partnerships by aligning them with district goals, setting expectations for them and ensuring that every partnership is monitored and assessed for results.

Distinguish school partnerships from district partnerships and empower, reward and assess schools on their success in developing and supporting partnerships that meet their needs and leverage community interest and capacity.

Engage stakeholders from multiple sectors in the partnership enterprise.

Communicate the value of partnerships, connect regularly with partners and periodically celebrate partnership contributions.

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