Youngstown parent upset district cut after-school program for older kids

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Last year, Youngstown City Schools offered after-school programs through eighth grade -- but not this year

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – After-school programs in the Youngstown City School District have made a big change. The program has been cut in half from last year.

Jennifer Jarrett has a son in sixth grade at Kirkmere Elementary in Youngstown. He has always gone to the after-school program but this year, he can’t.

“It’s not fair,” Jarrett said. “Either do it for K through 8 that your school offers or don’t do it at all. Period, point-blank.”

Until this year, students in kindergarten through eighth grade were offered after-school in Youngstown’s nine elementary schools and Rayen Early College.

Now the program is only offered to students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

“Every kid needs extra help,” Jarrett said. “Why would you give K through fourth help and not offer help for fifth grade through eighth grade?”

The after-school program is academic-focused and funded by different grants that change every year.

Superintendent Joe Meranto said this year, the district decided cutting fifth through eighth graders was a smart financial decision.

“We have to balance our funds and use our resources wisely to where it benefits and does the most good.”

Meranto said it’s important for the younger grades to focus on literacy and based on other factors, this decision is what the district thought was best.

“That was based on our experience last year talking to the principals, the teachers and the people that work those programs that felt that the attendance wasn’t what we expected, and to be honest, we want to get more bang for our buck.”

“I feel it doesn’t matter what the attendance is, it still isn’t fair,” Jarrett said. “If you’re going to do a program, do it right.”

She said her son deserves academic after-school help as much as any other student and feels like the district is forgetting the older kids.

“That they just don’t care about our kids fifth through eighth grade. I mean, they only have the services for kindergarten and eighth grade. What happened to no kid left behind?”

Meranto said if re-adding programs down the road is necessary, the district will look into options to make that happen.

For now, Jarrett thinks the program should be available to every student.

“Every kid is the same, period,” she said. “If you’re going to have it for kindergarten through fourth, you should have it for kindergarten through eighth or do away with the whole program.”

Jarrett said she plans to bring up the issue at a PTO meeting.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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