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Youngstown superintendent: 3 schools to close, others to reconfigure

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - For the second time since becoming Youngstown City Schools superintendent, Dr. Connie Hathorn has introduced a major revitalization plan that will close some schools and reconfigure others.

Hathorn said they have 8,600 seats in the district and only 5,300 students to fill them. As a result, changes need to be made and that means closing some school buildings. As part of his new revitalization plan, Hathorn plans to close three schools and reconfigure others.

Youngstown Board of Education President Richard Atkinson agreed with the decision.  "This was a decision that had to be made. We're losing students. We couldn't keep on having the buildings we have, it's too much of a financial burden on us," Atkinson said.

Volney and P. Ross. Berry Middle School are listed  to be closed.

Hathorn said it all comes down to choice.  "We're going to close that 8th grade academy and send them to East and Chaney. But at the same time, we're creating choices for 8th graders. They can go to the discovery program at Kirkmere or they can go to the early college or STEM or East."

Hathorn said students as young as third grade will be able to go to different schools based on what they and their parents want to focus on academically. He said he believed choice will encourage children to be more active and stay in school.

The school board passed the resolution which was already approved by the Academic Distress Commission.

Only one board member voted no and that was Andrea Mahone.  "I just don't agree with taking younger kids and putting them with older teenagers. I also don't like the idea of closing buildings," Mahone said. "I understand we need to save money but I believe there has to be no compromise for our children the education has to come first, and I think there's other things that can be done."

Hathorn said P. Ross Berry could be the new home of district offices and the I. L. Ward Building would close to save money on utilities.

Much of the plan would take place in time for the start of the new school year this fall.

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