YOUNGSTOWN (AP) — A city school system that was once among northeast Ohio’s largest has been surpassed in enrollment by a suburban district.
Hundreds of students from the Youngstown City Schools area now attend suburban Austintown Local Schools under open enrollment, The Vindicator newspaper (http://bit.ly/1JtG5zn) reported. For 2013-2014, Austintown schools logged a larger student body than the city for the first time, with 5,350 students compared with Youngstown’s 5,111.
Youngstown used to have five-figure annual enrollments but has lost thousands of students over the past decade, costing the district tens of millions of dollars. Some children switch to districts with open enrollment, while others go to charter schools or attend private schools using state vouchers.
All districts in the area have lost students due to population decreases, and open enrollment can help bring in students and the thousands of dollars in state funding that comes with them, Austintown Superintendent Vince Colaluca said.
“When we’re sharing students — maybe it’s unfortunate, but the law allows you to do that now — it helps supplement the kids we’re losing,” Colaluca said. He said the district isn’t allowed to ask why students leave their home districts.
Youngstown schools Superintendent Connie Hathorn said the district needs to demonstrate improvement and has tried to retain and attract students using programs that focus on certain topics, such as visual and performing arts or science and mathematics.
Though students continue to leave Youngstown schools, Hathorn said, the year-to-year drop in enrollment has been getting smaller.
“I think we’ve stopped the bleeding,” Hathorn said.