By Denise Dick
The upcoming school year marks the third for an education group working to strengthen relationships between students and school personnel in the city district.
The Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations, based in Maine, began working in the city schools in fall 2012, aimed at improving school climate and ultimately student performance by giving students a voice in their schools.
It’s a three-year program.
“It’s a very important year,” said Douglas Hiscox, YCS’s deputy superintendent for academic affairs. “It’s a culminating year. All but the high schools are in the third year.”
Maintenance work will be required in the future, he said.
The district for the last few years has been focusing on three R’s: rigor, relevance and relationships. Rigor is the instructional elements; relevance is how what students are learning relates to the real world; and relationships is the piece upon which Quaglia as well as the outside provider working in the Programs of Promise at Wilson are working.
The principals hired this year will have to be brought up to speed on the programs. Because of retirements, reassignments, resignations and nonrenewals, Taft and Williamson Elementary schools and East High School and Chaney Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Campus each will have new head principals this school year.
Only the new principal at Chaney has been with the district, but the others are coming from other school districts.
The rigor and the relevance elements are things the principals are accustomed to from their previous assignments, Hiscox said.
“The relationship piece is unique to Youngstown,” he said.
The state paid for the Quaglia program the first two years, but the district had to find other means to pay for it this year.
The district received $97,374 from four local foundations to help cover the costs.
The four local foundations and amounts of their financial support are: Youngstown Foundation, $60,000; Rayen Foundation, $20,000; Community Foundation of Mahoning Valley, $12,374; and Home Savings and Loan Charitable Foundation, $5,000.
The remainder to fund the institute’s work, more than $100,000, is coming from federal Title I money.
Hiscox said the program has made a difference.
“In the buildings where we have had full implementation with fidelity, the way it’s intended to be done, we’ve seen improved attendance and higher test scores from the students who are involved with it,” he said.
Hiscox listed Harding and Paul C. Bunn Elementary schools and Rayen Early College Middle Schools as examples of such schools.