Non-renewing a school for non-traditional students


Official cites academic reasons for shuttering alternative charter school

By Amanda Tonoli

atonoli@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A school for nontraditional students has not been renewed by its sponsor organization and will close.

Life Skills Center of Youngstown charter school on Market Street will be closing at the end of this school year – July 1 – for academic reasons, said Charter School Specialists President Dave Cash.

Life Skills Centers are alternative education charter schools accommodating students age 16 to 22 who have dropped out, or are at risk of dropping out of from high school.

There are several in Ohio, and the city school had 83 students enrolled.

The schools focus on assisting students who are seeking alternatives to traditional public schools but still wish to obtain their high-school diplomas.

Charter School Specialists is under contract by St. Aloysius Orphanage of Cincinnati, Life Skills’s charter sponsor, to provide sponsorship services to the schools. St. Aloysius performed an evaluation similar to the Ohio Department of Education’s report card and decided not to renew the contract with Life Skills, Cash explained.

“Life Skills did not perform well enough,” he said. “The school appealed the decision, but we have decided to uphold our decision based on the high-stakes review.”

Cash said the determination came after reviews showing low scores and little to no improvement.

The review also evaluates financial performance, which was a factor in the assessment which determined Life Skills’ future, Cash added.

“What we [Life Skills’ employees] do is not easy work, but it’s important work,” he said.

Students have the option to return to their home districts.

Denise Dick, Youngstown City Schools spokeswoman, said Youngstown schools will welcome former Life Skills students if they choose to enroll.

“They can enroll in either East or Chaney, depending on where they live,” she said. “Since Life Skills served many dropout recovery students, they may choose instead to enroll in Youngstown Virtual School, which is housed at Choffin.”

Friedkin Realty, a Youngstown company that owns the Market Street building, has hopes for a new tenant.

Alan Friedkin, Friedkin Realty’s owner, said although Life Skills – which has been at the same location for 15 years – is leased through the summer, the company is looking for someone to fill its space.

“We are talking now to a few potential operators,” he said.

“We don’t want another place in Youngstown to sit empty.”

Friedkin Realty, 3223 Belmont Ave., is open to interested tenants, but Friedkin said the space is ideal for a school. For information, call 330-759-2383.

Friedkin added that he was not yet given formal notice, but Life Skills principal Denise Jones gave him a heads up.

Jones could not be reached to comment.

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