YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There is plenty of optimism surrounding a proposal to build a dormitory for at-risk kids on Youngstown’s east side.
The P. Ross Berry Middle School, now the Mahoning County High School, sits off McGuffey Road.
Behind the school, architectural drawings have been rendered to build two 200-bed dormitories for what would be a college prep boarding school for students in grades seven through 12.
For children dealing with a hostile environment at home, Mahoning County Juvenile Judge Theresa Dellick said it is virtually impossible to be successful in school.
“Are they getting molested by a family member? Are their houses being shot at, being robbed? Are there rats running through the house?” she said.
One of the dorms would be for boys and the other would be for girls. Architect Gregg Strollo and County Auditor Ralph Meachum are supporting the project.
“What was being done during the course of their day in school was being undone at night because of really, I want to say, the conditions they’re growing up in,” said Strollo.
Another supporter is Pastor Michael Harrison, whose inner city parish deals with at-risk students every day.
“To be able to better themselves and to be in a powerful and positive environment that supports the fact that just because you may be born in poverty doesn’t mean you have to stay there,” Harrison said.
First, the Ohio legislature must pass a law allowing a college prep boarding school to be built with public money. The estimated cost is $12 million, which will likely be a combination of state and private funding.
The land would be leased from Youngstown City Schools and once it’s running, the state would pay to keep it operational.
“If these children are not brought along properly, what’s the cost to society over the long run? It’s considerable,” said Meachum.
No names have been given to the two proposed dormitories, but the group said selling the name rights is a possibility.
They are hoping Governor Mike DeWine’s commitment to education and helping at risk kids will help.
If all goes as planned, they would like it to be running for the start of school in 2021.