By DENISE DICK
About 60 people fanned out Friday afternoon, knocking on doors at the homes of city schoolchildren to remind parents that school starts Monday.
Krish Mohip, chief executive officer of the school district, dubbed it a “Welcome Back to School Canvass of Our Neighborhoods.”
Mohip has set 98 percent as the attendance goal for the first day. The canvass was a push to start that effort.
“Safety is first,” Marcia Dinkins, executive director of the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, told the volunteers.
She instructed volunteers in door-knocking etiquette, urging them to smile, be polite and leave a flier in the door if no one was home.
The group divided up by sides of town, and volunteers, including district administrators and staff, got maps of neighborhoods with students’ homes marked. Students live in 3,000 homes across the city, and volunteers planned to visit as many as they could.
Linda Hoey, parent liaison with the district’s Parent Pathways Institute, picked the South Side to canvass.
She drove and walked Kenmore, Cleveland and Chalmers avenues, knocking on doors.
People were receptive.
Vickie Adkins’ three grandchildren attend the city schools – two at Chaney Campus and one at Taft Elementary.
“This is the first time anyone has done this and I appreciate it,” she said. “Anything that’s for the kids is a good thing.”
Parents at each of the first several homes Hoey visited gave her permission to post a sign in their yards. The bright-yellow signs announce the first day of school.
Hoey joked and chatted with parents and students, and also provided her name and phone number to the parents and made sure they knew the parent advocate for their children’s schools.
She also briefed the parents and students about some changes: The district will provide necessary school supplies for all students this year, including book bags; and for the first three weeks of school, students don’t have to wear uniforms. Appropriate regular school clothing is allowed.
One mother joked that before she knew who Hoey was, she thought she might be a Jehovah’s Witness. The woman said she was about to tell her son to close the door.
She visited one South Side home where an East High School senior was the only person home.
“Do you take the bus?” Hoey asked.
He said he does, but he hasn’t gotten the bus information from the district yet.
“Do you want me to pick you up and take you to school?” Hoey asked. “I live right over there.”
She wrote her name and telephone number on the back of the flier and gave it to the young man.
“You can have your mom call me and she can come meet me,” Hoey said.
That way, the boy’s mother will know that Hoey isn’t someone with bad intentions.
“You give me a call if you want a ride to school,” she said.
Hoey also took the boy’s name, address and phone number to track down what bus he’s supposed to ride.
She took the information at other homes where parents or students said they hadn’t received information about their buses.
Leonard Pearce will be a seventh-grader this year in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics program at Chaney.
He’s interested in technology and engineering, he said.
Leonard’s mother, Erica Croom, said canvass was something new for her.
“It’s really appreciated,” Croom said.
Anissa Fareed, who has a daughter in Chaney STEM, said she keeps up with what’s happening at her children’s schools, but not all parents do. The canvass is a welcome event.
Nicole Moore has five school-aged children – one at Williamson and one at William Holmes McGuffey Elementary School, one at Mahoning County High School and one in the visual and performing arts program at Chaney.
She welcomed Hoey’s visit, too.
“It’s good that they’re letting you know what’s going on,” Moore said.