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Restructuring plan unveiled



Published: Thu, March 7, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.

photo

Youngstown Academic Distress Commission member Michael Garvey, left, and Adrienne O’Neill, chairwoman, listen to a presentation Wednesday about Superintendent Connie Hathorn’s plan to revitalize the school district.

RELATED: Youngstown school board president wants Hathorn to stay

By DENISE DICK

denise_dick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Three school buildings would close next year, two more would change functions and grade alignment would change in several others under a restructuring plan presented Wednesday by Superintendent Connie Hathorn.

Hathorn unveiled the plan, called “Revitalization II: Increasing Student Achievement Through Choice,” at a Youngstown City SchoolsAcademic Distress Commission meeting. He said the plan addresses the high number of empty seats, reduces the number of schools in academic emergency or academic watch and reduces costs.

“Education in Youngstown will be defined by student choice,” Hathorn said.

The plan is projected to save more than $5 million annually with that savings expected to compound. James Reinhard, the district’s

fiscal monitor, said that the savings combined with an end to the loss of students from the district would stave off the district’s projected deficit. Last December, that deficit was projected to hit $48 million by fiscal year 2017.

With the plan and an assumption that the student hemorrhaging stops, that amount decreases to about $2.6 million by FY 2017.

Under Hathorn’s plan, both P. Ross Berry and Volney Rogers middle schools and University Project Learning Center would close next year. Berry, on the East Side, is a school for eighth-graders while sixth- and seventh-graders attend Volney, which is on the city’s West Side.

UPLC, the district’s alternative school for second through 12th graders on the East Side, is in the former Mary Haddow School.

Wilson, also a sixth and seventh grade school, would become the district’s new alternative school.

For the 2014 to 2015 school year, Berry would be considered for the district’s administrative offices, which are now housed in the Irene Ward Building on Wood Street. Volney would be considered for a choice school.

By offering students and parents choices, the superintendent believes that students who have left the school district will come back. A marketing plan is under way to target students from Youngstown who attend charter schools.

The academic distress commission passed a resolution approving Hathorn’s plan as part of an updated academic recovery plan for the district.

Several community members attending the meeting also voiced support for the plan. Henry McNeil, president of the Youngstown Baptist Pastors Council; Herb Washington, owner of H.L.W. Fast Track; Janice Strasfeld, director of the Youngstown Foundation; and Angela McCoy, a member of the parents advisory board, all said they back Hathorn’s plan.

Kirkmere Elementary would house a “Discovery program,” or choice school, for third through eighth graders, offering specialty courses in Spanish, engineering/math, visual arts, performing arts, investigative science and creative communications.

Third through fifth graders will explore all of the speciality areas while sixth- through eighth-graders may choose an area of focus. The program will have an open application process through a lottery. Student test scores would count at the student’s home school rather than as a separate school.

Kirkmere’s student capacity is 500, but its enrollment is only 282. Hathorn hopes to boost enrollment to 482 with the change.

The remaining six elementary schools which house students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade — Paul C. Bunn, Harding, Martin Luther King, William Holmes McGuffey, Taft and Williamson — will become pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade schools.

Chaney would remain a visual and performing arts and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math school for sixth through 12th graders. But both Chaney and East will offer a Career-College Prep Program for seventh and eighth graders.

Those programs will be self-contained within the buildings with younger students separated from the high schoolers.

Choffin Career and Technical Center would remain a career and technical school for 11th and 12th graders but become an all-day program rather than students spending part of the school day at either East or Chaney. Choffin students would remain eligible to participate in sports programs at East.

Harding, East, UPLC, Volney, Wilson and Berry were all designated in either academic watch or academic emergency on the 2011-2012 state report card.

“We cannot operate that way,” Hathorn said.

With the reorganization plan, three of them close, one becomes an alternative school and one changes grade alignment.

Based on progress so far this year, Hathorn expects Harding’s designation to improve next year.

Besides the closing of buildings next year, the projected savings comes from staff reductions. About 60 positions including administrators, teachers and other staff will be eliminated, some through attrition.

The latest restructuring marks the second in the school district since Hathorn’s arrival. In March 2011, he announced that Chaney, formerly a traditional high school, would become a STEM and VPA school for sixth through 12th graders. Middle schools also were realigned at that time.


Comments

1kids2028(87 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

Build a new Volney Rogers, when NOTHING WAS WRONG WITH the other one. and than Close it. Smart move you Morons.!!!! No wonder these kids can't learn, they must feel like checkers - moving all over the place.

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21970mach1(1005 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

"By offering students and parents choices, the superintendent believes that students who have left the school district will come back."

That is unrealistic. Maybe some, but the problems in Youngstown schools are pretty big.

At least Hawthorn is coming up with some ideas to try anyway.

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3Ytownnative(1062 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

And I believed the numbers I played on the lotto last night would win. I think I had a better chance of that coming true then students flocking back to Youngstown city schools.

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4danikytn(248 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

I like some aspects of the plan. Offering more choices at the middle school level will help those children, such as mine, who are currently excelling. I would never have sent my kids to Wilson, or P. Ross, but the idea of a "Pre-early college" sounds great. This will give the children who are doing well, the opportunity to get a head start in preparing to enter the excellent YEC program. My kids currently attend Taft, i take them there myself from near Hubbard. I love Taft, the teachers, the building, and principal. Ive had no issues with their education. My children still score "Above average" " Excelled" on all the Ohio tests. This school like any other, is what you make of it. Parents HAVE to make the choice to be involved in their childrens education, in their childrens lives, period. If you provide a stable home, discipline, morals and love, then they will succeed in all things, including school. The problem with Ytown schools, is not the buildings, or the staff, its the parents, or lack their of. I will continue to support Taft, and all the wonderful things they do there, they are a bright spot in the district. I will also look forward to exploring new options for my children as they edge toward middle school. Please do not give up on ALL of the kids, so many of them are trying so hard, despite or in spite of what can be harrowing life experiences. Before you rant and judge, come and see for yourself the good things that are happening in Youngstown schools!

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5OhioAtty666(19 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

Blame at least part of this mess on racial politics. When the School Board should have constructed a new, centralized high school in the downtown area, the whites and blacks fought each other and got a rebuilt Chaney and a new East High. Now Chaney is an academic school that no child who wants a traditional high school experience will attend, and East is in an area of such advanced urban blight that parents won't permit their children to attend, not to mention that it's location is inconvenient to reach from most of the city. White Folks and Black Folks in the City of Youngstown, you all should be proud of yourselves! Not!

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6Ytownnative(1062 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

Ohio atty I'm just wild guessing here that you have no family in the Youngstown city school system. But you do have an opinion on something that does not effect you.
Boardman, Canfield, or Austintown?

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7walter_sobchak(1979 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

EV,
"The plan is to destroy the Youngstown City Schools."

In all reality, what in the system is really worth saving except for maybe Choffin? Maybe it is time to split the system and send some of the students and teachers to neighboring systems such as Boardman, Austintown, Lowellville, etc. I'm sure the teachers would love to work in a school that involves actual teaching. THAT should go over like a lead donut. But, since we all want our local BOE's instead of a county system, it won;t happen. Of course, my kids are done with school.

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8kellyj(1 comment)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

I lived in Youngstown my whole life. I had 3 children in ycs last year. One of them had learning issues. We fought with the school all year for testing, and were even told by the teacher that he was 'unteachable". He did poorly and hated school. After such a frustrating year we were able to buy a house in Austintown. In one school year our son went from 'unteachable' to A and B student. In fact all 3 kids are doing much better. All I can say is I wish we had moved sooner and we'll never look back!!!! Even Dr. Hathorne is trying to get out.

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9Madchemist(5 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

My children were in the Youngstown public schools. My daughter attended Kirkmere and Volney, my son Kirkmere and STEM. I removed my daughter from the school district because there was a marked change in her behavior and attitude with attending Volney. As the year progressed she didn't care about her grades and she became a very angry person.

Both of my children are gifted but the program was stopped by the time my son entered 4th grade. We chose to put him in STEM. He liked the curriculum and teachers but could not stand the behavior of the other children. He stated that the teachers spent more time yelling at the misfits than teaching. After half a year in the program he begged me to transfer him to another school. I removed both of my children from the school system and have NO plans to send them back.

The teachers were competent, my children's math scores are better than their friends who have attended Catholic schools. The problem is not the teachers, it is the behavior of the children, which starts with the parents and how the child is raised in the home. You can throw all of the money in the world at the Youngstown schools, but until you fix the home life for many of the students, nothing is going to change. There are great students in the district willing to learn but the classroom experience is marred by the behavior of a few.

One final comment, if you have ever attended a music concert or awards ceremony a the Youngstown School District you can understand why the children don't behave in the classroom. Their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles...... are constantly talking on their cell phones, talking to each other and yelling rude comments. I saw that type of behavior for 8 long years and I don't miss it at all. How can you expect the children to behave when their role models can't?

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10Bigben(1996 comments)posted 1 year, 9 months ago

kids2028 "Build a new Volney Rogers, when NOTHING WAS WRONG WITH the other one. and than Close it. Smart move you Morons.!!!! No wonder these kids can't learn, they must feel like checkers - moving all over the place."

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

This.

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