YCSD Gets Ready for New Year as Food Distributions Wind Down

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Tod Morris, principal at Taft Elementary School in Youngstown, hopped in the bed of his truck on Monday afternoon. Two other members of the Taft staff joined him in delivering 75 bags of food to residents on Youngstown’s south side.

Monday was another food distribution day for Youngstown City Schools. Other members of the Taft staff and volunteers stayed at the school to pass out meals to parents.

“We realize a lot of our families didn’t have transportation to come to the school to get the lunches, so we started to bring it to them,” Morris said. “We have a few addresses that we know where people need it, and others, we look for kids on the street that go to our school and some that don’t, and we stop, give them lunches, talk to their parents.”

The school district’s distributions are scheduled through July before preparations for the new school year begin in August. Rayen Early College High School will begin class on Aug. 10 while the rest of the district returns on Aug. 31.

YCS announced that class will be online to start the year, but students could return to school later into the semester. Morris said the school district is planning on staying online for the entire year and is focused on correcting some mistakes made during the spring.

“Right now it’s a lot of pieces, but they’re a lot of important pieces that we’ve put together,” Morris said. “It has not been finalized, but everything I see, I like. And it’s to make up for some of the critical errors that we made when we closed in the spring.”

Sarah Rivers, who has a preschooler and first grader attending Paul C. Bunn Elementary, said she received a message from the school district on Monday to determine which students needed internet access. But for Rivers, the more important issue is properly teaching her daughters while taking care of her other children.

“I have other kids running around and me trying to teach her what to do, and her not getting distracted by the other ones is hard,” Rivers said.

Morris said Justin Jennings, chief executive officer for Youngstown City Schools, will reach out to families in late July or early August. He said Taft Elementary will also contact the families before the school year begins.

Employees will visit families that don’t have the proper internet access or the devices needed to connect around the start of the school year, according to Morris. He said the correct technology and motivation will be essential for student success come August.

Morris said he understands that families will face challenges due to online learning. He said the food distributions allow the families and school staff to become better acquainted in the summer prior to the start of the year.

The food distributions will return at the start of the school year, according to Morris. He expects increased numbers of meals and improved communication between the families and schools.

“You lose that connection with the students, so that’s why [the food distribution] is important because you can reach out to the scholars, you can reach out to their families,” Morris said.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.