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Youngstown school board approves Hathorn's restructuring plan

Published: Wed, March 13, 2013 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Denise Dick



City school board members gave their blessing to a restructuring plan that will close three buildings and reconfigure and re-purpose others.

The board voted 5-1 Tuesday to approve Superintendent Connie Hathorn’s plan he says will provide more student choice, improve academics and reduce costs.

Andrea Mahone voted against the resolution, and Rachel Hanni was absent.

President Richard Atkinson and members Marcia Haire-Ellis, Lock P. Beachum Sr., Michael Murphy and Brenda Kimble voted for the plan.

Haire-Ellis said she decided to support Hathorn’s plan after the superintendent told her the plan’s academic goal is to improve the district to “effective” on the state report card and to increase enrollment.

The Youngstown Schools Academic Distress Commission adopted Hathorn’s plan last week, making it part of the district’s academic-recovery plan.

Mahone said she’s concerned about closing school buildings, which will make them available for charter-school use.

Both P. Ross Berry and Volney Rogers middle schools and University Project Learning Center will close next year. Berry is a school for eighth-graders, while sixth- and seventh-graders attend Volney. UPLC, the district’s alternative school, is in the former Mary Haddow School.

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

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 the speciality areas, while sixth- through eighth-graders may choose an area of focus.

The remaining six elementary schools that 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 High School would remain a visual and performing arts and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math school for sixth- through 12th-graders. But both Chaney and East High School 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 juniors and seniors but become an all-day program rather than having students spend part of the school day at either East or Chaney.

Mahone said she’s concerned about the seventh- and eighth-graders being housed in the high schools and the risks that poses to the younger children.

Although Hathorn said the younger students will be kept separate from the older ones, she questions whether that can be done.

“I’m scared,” Mahone said. “I don’t know how to support it.”

Two years ago, eighth- and ninth-graders were housed at P. Ross Berry under Hathorn’s first restructuring plan, and Mahone said that didn’t work.

This school year, students who were in ninth grade for a second year or beyond were housed at Choffin in what the district dubbed the ninth-grade academy.

“It changed the whole atmosphere of Choffin,” Mahone said. The school saw more discipline problems, she added.

“The things we’ve been behind him [Hathorn] on haven’t worked,” Mahone said.


1severthis(42 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

I'm concerned about Volney's closing. Will it become an abondoned - new - building in what once was one of the city's prime neighborhoods? What a shame and a waste. The original building, which is still fondly remembered by residents in the area, was far mre appealing to the eye than the chain-linked cold sterile abomination that replaced it. All it needed was razor wire to complete the look. Now will Schenley with be graced with an abondoned hulk? Goood job and a great demonstration of planning foresight and vision. What ever happened to doing one's homework and fiscal responsibility? How much again is the superintendent paid annually?

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2zz3(921 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

City leaders have created over the years NO and I repeat NO prime neighborhoods in Thugstown anymore thanks to them. Move kids out of their neighborhoods, brings kids from other sides of town, build new buildings we don't need! And a severe number of other stupid plans over the years. How about we get rid of all the school board and let it be a volunteer position by the parents. They couldn't do any worse. I'd be ashamed if I were anyone of them!! And now the cornersburg area will suffer with an abandonded (NEW) building for cockroaches to strip and destroy. Wow no wonder Forbes in Feb 2013 listed Thugstown as one of the 20 worst cities in the US.

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3Knightcap(682 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Volney will make a good clothes and blanket drop off for all the homeless who find their way there. Feel bad how the westside deteriated over the years. Like a cancer that started on the lower end and moved up to Meridian and heading to Conersburg.

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4ytown67(22 comments)posted 1 year, 4 months ago

Volney will become a Charter School. Its a brand new building they will come in and take it over and open it up and take more students from the City. A city School System which has proven cannot educate a flea.

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