Here’s what’s happening at Valley schools this year

Mahoning Valley schools are ready to open their classroom doors for a new academic year, and some have made changes in facilities, personnel and curriculum. In addition, many groups, such as the United Way, Huntington Bank, Great Clips, Cocca’s Pizza and 21 WFMJ-TV – The Vindicator’s broadcast partner – will be donating bookbags to schools that express need throughout the valley. Here are updates as provided to The Vindicator:


The district will reduce the number of principals from 13 to 12. Superintendent Vince Colaluca said the move is an attempt to reduce costs as the district expects 100 fewer residential students and 150 fewer open-enrollment students. Previously, the district had three principals in the elementary school, intermediate school and middle school with four principals in the high school. Now, the elementary and intermediate schools will have two principals. A new assistant principal of instruction and continuous improvement will serve both schools.

Colaluca said eliminating one principal from the elementary and intermediate schools would save about $100,000. Last year, principals in those schools received between $66,000 and $83,000.

Administrative changes are assistant high-school principal David Purins left the district; Robin Vickers, elementary- school assistant principal, will take on the new assistant principal role for the elementary and Austintown Intermediate School; Marc Pupino, AIS assistant principal, will also move to the high school as an assistant principal.

Also, the school board approved an agreement between the district and former AIS principal James Penk. Penk had been on administrative leave during an internal investigation into his conduct. As part of the agreement, Penk was moved to the high school to serve as an assistant principal, which Colaluca said was a demotion.

Jeff Swavel, AIS principal, will be moving to the high school to serve as an assistant principal, but Colaluca said this is not a demotion and Swavel will receive the same pay; Michael Sauner, Fitch assistant principal, will take Swavel’s role at AIS; Ben Baldner, Fitch assistant principal, will take Penk’s role at Austintown Middle.


The district has a new treasurer, Nick Ciarniello.

Longtime Boardman High School teacher Morris Jadue was hired as assistant principal due to the former assistant principal taking a job in another district. Full-time communications coordinator Amy Radinovic, who previously worked for the Mahoning County Educational Service Center, was hired.

Debra Brothers is the new transportation supervisor. Also, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the district’s first graduating class. The district will host celebratory events throughout the school year.


Brookfield schools hired new high-school principal Adam Lewis, new elementary-school principal Stacey Filicky and new special education coordinator Jeri Hamilton.


Bradley Yeager, formerly the Campbell Memorial High School vice principal, has been promoted to principal. Brian Nichols will take his place as vice principal. Kristin Fox will join Campbell as the new special programs coordinator and assistant principal.


Champion started construction on a new kindergarten to grade 8 building in the spring next to the high school on Mahoning Avenue. The existing elementary and middle schools will be demolished.

Champion bought 120 Chromebook computers to be distributed to students in grades 4-8. The other students in the district will be getting Chromebooks over the next two years.

There is a new assistant principal for the elementary school, Ed Kempers. There’s a new science curriculum for kindergarten to grade 4. Instead of books, however, the curriculum will be electronic.


Students in grades 5-9 will receive Chromebook computers with students in grades 10-12 getting them later.

Security updates for each building will include secured entrance vestibules.

Elementary students will have direct bus transportation without transfer points, and a new high-school engineering course is being offered.

The district has a new non-punitive, random drug testing program for students who participate in athletics, those who purchase a parking pass or participate in marching band.

Joseph Simko is the new principal for the Howland Springs building.


Jackson Milton Middle/High School purchased a 3D printer that will eventually lead to the opening of a small in-school manufacturing shop. Students will be able to design apparel, posters and banners and print products for customers.

The elementary school added a second preschool unit in addition to archery to the physical education curriculum.


The district in Cortland is constructing a new kindergarten to grade 8 building, starting construction last summer behind Lakeview Middle School on Wakefield Drive. Lakeview, which started school Aug. 15 to accommodate its construction schedule, will finish school May 16 to give the district time to demolish the current middle school, build a parking lot and move items from the current schools to the new building. The existing elementary also will be torn down.

Lakeview has a new middle school principal, Ashley Handrych.


Joseph Nohra is now superintendent.

There will now be STEM classes at the elementary and middle schools. Elementary preschool will now be all day with busing and there will be after-school programming and tutoring beginning in January. There also will be a redesigned gifted program.

In the fall, administration will be creating a strategic plan with parents, residents, business owners, staff and students.


Lordstown is building a new track and soccer field that officials expect to be ready for the spring track season. The soccer field will be ready next year.

The high-school media center is being changed to an innovation center with a grant paying for three 3-D printers. The facility will become a “maker space” for making and inventing things and a research center with upgraded technology.

The district has a new K-6 principal, Rich Zigarovich, who is also special-education director. The district also added a food pantry.


As part of a district “rightsizing” effort that began a few years ago, parts of McKinley Elementary (previously home to fifth- and sixth-grade) will close this school year. Eighth-grade students will use one floor of the McKinley building, while all

fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade students will be housed at Poland Middle School. Office staff will now operate out of the middle school, and all guests will have to enter through that building.

Ed Kempers and Mark Covell, previously principals at McKinley and Poland Middle, retired. David Purins is now head principal of the schools, and Lisa Iberis is associate principal. Other new hires include a new assistant technology director and a school psychologist. The district previously contracted with the ESC for psychology services.

The district will adopt a new math series for kindergarten through fourth-grade students.

Another change is to elementary students’ school day. Superintendent David Janofa said during contract negotiations with teachers, an agreement was reached to create an additional 25 minutes of instructional time for students.


The new Raider Stadium, located behind the board of education office on Columbiana-Canfield Road, is complete.


The school board approved a three-year superintendent contract for Pete Pirone Jr. who is replacing Joseph Nohra.

The board also approved the promotion of Bethany Carlson from principal to lead principal at Struthers Elementary. The district hired Joan Jones, formerly an administrator in the Hubbard and Austintown districts, as a Struthers Elementary principal with a three-year contract. Dave Vecchione, formerly an elementary-school principal for the McDonald school district, will be the new Struthers Middle School lead principal.


Warren has new administrators: John DeSantis, principal of Lincoln grades 6-8; Tracey Ryser, principal of McGuffey grades 6-8; Heidi Cope-Barker, Willard supervisor of school improvement; and Rocco Adducci, supervisor of school truancy.


The Barnes & Noble student bookstore on Fifth and Lincoln avenues, featuring a full-service café serving Starbucks products, is open for business.

The vacated bookstore location in Kilcawley Center has been converted to a student lounge area and offices for Student Government. Disability Services is now in the vacated SG offices on the second floor of Kilcawley.

Phase II of The Edge student apartments, located along Rayen Avenue and behind the new bookstore, will open for the start of fall classes.

Renovations to Meshel Hall, including relocation of Computer Science classes and labs to the third floor, will soon be finished.

YSU and LRC Realty broke ground on the Enclave residences and retail, on the corner of Wick and Rayen avenues. The privately funded project will include nearly 200 bedrooms and is expected to be open for the start of fall semester 2018.

Minor renovations to Bliss Hall lower level for new graduate programs.

General campus upgrades, including steps at University Courtyard extending from Wick Oval to Walnut Street, concrete repairs at the fountain outside Kilcawley, and landscaping at Veterans Plaza.

Gov. John R. Kasich has appointed student Lexi Rager to a two-year term as a student member of the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees. Her term runs through April 30, 2019. Also, Molly S. Seals serves a term ending April 30, 2024; and Capri S. Cafaro serves a term ending June 30, 2026.

Claire M. Berardini was named the new associate provost for Student Success.

Jennifer Pintar, chairwoman of the Department of Kinesiology and Sports Science at YSU, was named associate provost for Academic Administration.

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