School Looks to Launch Community Learning Center by June

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Mahoning Valley Community School should be operating from its new South Avenue location by June after the award of $1 million in state funding, officials associated with the school said Tuesday.

The state Controlling Board approved funds for the school from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services fund for youth resiliency capital projects during its meeting Monday. The money will support the purchase and renovation of program space for the school, according to Controlling Board documents.

The school plans to open its new location no later than June, where it will facilitate its summer work program, summer school and a new entrepreneurship program, MVCS said in a news release. The school is currently enrolling students for the 2023-24 year in grades seven through 12.

The community school purchased the former Ohio Job and Family Services building, 2026 South Ave., in 2023 to become its community learning center, according to the release. The first of its kind in the city, it will bring together wellness, education and resources to promote resiliency and improve outcomes for youths and families in the Mahoning Valley.

The state documents put the total project cost at $2.45 million.

“We have been looking forward to this project for quite some time, and to finally see this coming together so that we can provide this building for our students and families is incredible,” Jennifer Merritt, the school’s superintendent, said in the release. “We are beyond grateful for the support from OhioMHAS and the Mental Health and Recovery Board, as well as all of our community partners and the school districts with whom we work. We cannot wait to fill our classrooms.”

The school, a public community school sponsored by the Office of School Sponsorship at the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce, provides education to students that focuses on intensive credit recovery, industry-recognized credentials to get students workforce ready and on-site resources to ensure students have access to all of the supports necessary for their success.

A trauma-informed school that uses restorative practices to transform student discipline, it started in 2008 when Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick collaborated with local superintendents to develop a school for students who needed an alternative option.

“We are so proud of the collaboration between the juvenile court and the school in helping our children and families access the resources in this new community learning center,” Dellick said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.