YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown City Schools CEO Krish Mohip is re-configuring school buildings in the district next year.
Mohip said the district is failing its students and their families.
“The state has commented many times that we are not providing equitable education for our children.”
He unveiled the latest plan to reconfigure the district, doing away with many of the changes made only five or six years ago.
Instead of shifting entire grade levels to one side of town or another, the focus will return to neighborhood schooling.
“We have looked to research and we have looked to districts across this country to see what they’re doing, and we realized that there are some things that we had to make sure happened. From day one, I was told that the neighborhood schools were missing,” Mohip said.
He said the change is being made to bring pride back to the schools and reduce time students spend on the bus.
“So that parents can easily make it to a child’s school. So that teachers, and administrators, and our parent advocates can easily go and see parents at home when they need.”
The proposed changes will convert the district’s elementary and middle schools into nine Pre-K through 8th grade facilities. The buildings for Harding, Kirkmere, Williamson, Wilson, Taft, Paul C. Bunn, McGuffey, Volney Rogers, and Martin Luther King, Jr. will be split as feeder schools for East and Chaney high schools.
In addition, bussing will be available for any student living over a mile from their school. STEM, visual and performing arts, foreign language classes, and sports programs will be offered for all grade levels at all buildings.
Mohip said the previous ideas of splitting grades and bussing students from one side of town to the other for STEM courses or performing arts was simply not working.
“It makes it difficult for our teachers when we have handpicked our students and put them into special programs when the fact remains, is that every child deserves a special program. That special program is called high-quality instruction in the Youngstown City Schools.”
Chaney will return to a 9th through 12th grade school. Rayen Early College Middle School will expand from a 6th through 8th grade to a 4th through 8th grade, and will remain in the Chaney building.
Youngstown Early College will remain a 9th through 12th grade school, offering students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree upon graduating from high school. It will remain in Fedor Hall at Youngstown State University for the start of the 2017-18 school year. In January 2018, it will move to the Ward Rayen building on W. Wood Street.
“All of our decisions are in response to what has been told year in and year out, what our data says around how our children are performing,” Mohip said
He said the decision was made after five community meetings, which were held to garner input, as well as staff meetings and an online survey.
“At our five community meetings as well as just in my conversations with parents and community members, one theme I heard consistently was the idea of returning to neighborhood schools…That will help bring back pride to the community and to the schools.”
Mohip admitted he explained his proposals to Youngstown Mayor John McNally a couple weeks ago, and McNally expressed concerns about yet another round of changes in less than ten years’ time.
McNally said what he thinks the district truly needs is stability.
“I think a lot of families in the community on different sides of town are probably gonna support it but again, at some point in time, we’ve got to get to a point where our students know where they’re gonna go to school, our teachers know where they’re gonna teach, our principals know what they’re gonna be doing, and the community knows.”
Still, the mayor said he hopes this proposal does work in the long-term.
Youngstown Education Association President Larry Ellis said he’s concerned about Mohip’s plans to change over existing buildings for use by students of widely different ages — and all between now and the start of classes in the fall.
“Are the facilities adequate? Because a lot of our newer elementary buildings were built for elementary kids, so now you’re gonna have eighth graders with restroom facilities, desks and things…That’s all gonna have to be addressed over the summer.”
Mohip said work on the changes started late last December. He expects to have them in place by the start of the new school year this September.