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City schools CEO shares health care access, equity initiatives

Justin Jennings also reveals plans to launch clinics at East and Chaney high schools so Youngstown students will have access to pediatricians in the district.
CEO Justin Jennings 09102020
Youngstown City Schools CEO Justin Jennings

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown City Schools CEO Justin Jennings shared updates on clinics for students, equity initiatives and the first day of school during his monthly update Wednesday.

Here are the highlights of the meeting.

YOU Care Clinics

Within the next few weeks, YOU Care QUICKmed clinics will be launched at East and Chaney high school to provide pediatricians for students in the district. 

Denise Dick, director of communications and public relations for the district, said the clinics will offer family medical services and serve anyone with insurance, though nobody will be turned away.  

Jennings said students do not have access to pediatricians in the city limits of Youngstown.

“If that's the case, most of our scholars who live here, they have to go outside in order to get that healthcare,” Jennings said. “We want to make sure we have the opportunity to bring healthcare to them.”

Dr. James Kravec, a chief clinical officer at Mercy Health, said Mercy Health has two locations that offer family services to care for children at Wick Primary Care and Youngstown Primary Care. However, there are no pediatricians at these locations in the city. 

The clinics at the high schools will eventually be opened to the community, and there are plans to have medical stations available at each school in the district.

Diversity, equity and inclusion committee

Superintendent Joseph Meranto was appointed by Jennings as the chair on the diversity, equity and inclusion initiative, which is part of the YOUprint 2030 strategic plan for the school district. His focus will be to create and expand the committee throughout the year. 

Meranto said he wanted to first set up a core committee to look at the various subcommittees for equity including academic performance, culture and climate, accountability, health and wellness and talent management.

The committee currently is made up of Youngstown City Schools employees and members of Mahoning Valley’s Sojourn to the Past. Penny Wells, executive director of Sojourn to the Past, is the co-chair for the committee. Meranto said the committee is working to expand by partnering with more people and organizations in the community.

On Tuesday, Meranto assured Elder Rose Carter that the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods (ACTION) will be included in future plans of the committee.

“The initiative is equity, inclusion and diversity,” Meranto said. “We have a lot of work to do in this area, but we really feel that it is very valuable, especially at this time in our history.”

Meranto said administrators received the anti-racism presentation from students in Sojourn to the Past, which received positive feedback. The next step will be taking the presentations to all the buildings for the principals and staff.

Jennings said the committee is focusing on more issues than just race and that all students are included in the plan.

“When we speak of inclusion, we are talking about religion, we’re talking about sexual preference, we’re talking about our students with special needs,” Jennings said. “We’re talking about everything.”

First day of school

Youngstown City Schools started its first day of full remote learning Tuesday, which will last for at least the first nine weeks of the school year.

“There were some bumpy roads,” Jennings said.

He said some parents need to pick up devices for their child so they can start their online classes. The district is also still working with Spectrum to get WiFi service to those who need it. If in need of a device or WiFi, parents can contact the school district to get it set up. Parents can call 330-744-6900 or fill out an online form.

The district is also continuing with lunch distributions but had difficulties due to more people coming than expected.

Jennings also asked that people coming in large groups to call ahead so the district can be prepared with meals for everyone.


Ellen Wagner

About the Author: Ellen Wagner

Ellen Wagner reports on municipal services and budget cuts in Youngstown. She is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.
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