AKRON, Ohio (WKBN) – Valley leaders are looking for ways to improve the Youngstown City School District, and Monday, that quest is taking Ohio Senator Joe Schiavoni to Akron.
Sen. Schiavoni, D-Boardman, will visit six schools to hear directly from teachers and students on what works and what does not work at districts across the state.
Schiavoni held a round-table discussion with up to 40 people, including parents, teachers, administrators and students as part of his trip to Akron on Monday. He said opportunities like this are key for lawmakers — hearing directly from people directly involved.
“It’s a good thing. I think that it empowers the communities that we’re going to see as well, because they get the feeling that people do care,” Schiavoni said. “Kids get a feeling that legislators care. Teachers get a feeling that people are listening.”
Buchtel Community Learning Center in Akron told the lawmaker its turnaround story. It among the state’s lowest five percent of performers, but now, the school’s graduation rate is higher than the district and state.
Buchtel accomplished this feat by rolling out a new, simplified focus plan, part of which was strengthening the student and teacher relationship — focusing on academic strengths and weaknesses and building on that. The bond encourages students to want to do better and holds them accountable, according to the school.
For one student, the tailored instruction and encouragement from her teachers helped her go from a 2.5 grade point average to a 4.1 GPA.
“Teachers, we’re more comfortable talking to them telling them how we feel about learning, and they help us out a lot, and I really appreciate that,” said senior Mia Giles.
Schiavoni said he was encouraged by what he has seen at Buchtel.
“You look at the work that’s done in the school — everything is about the community,” he said. “Everything is about working together. That goes a long way with these students you can tell that they really live by that. They work together. ”
Schiavoni said he believes the community approach is one of the reasons that he thinks the school is successful.
Schiavoni also asked questions to students and teachers about the challenges facing students with state testing.
He is going take everything talked about today see if there’s anything he can bring back to the Mahoning Valley and give to lawmakers
On Oct. 13, a judge allowed House Bill 70, passed into law June 24, to stand. The bill gave state lawmakers the power to name a CEO with control over the Youngstown City Schools.
The judge made that ruling after the district sued the state Aug. 21, saying that House Bill 70 was unconstitutional.