LORAIN MORNING JOURNAL | Apr 12, 2017 | By CAROL HARPER
Increased requirements for high school graduation mean Lorain High School needs more support to keep students on track.
Lorain City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Graham met with community members April 12 at an open door session at Lorain County Community College City Center at 201 W. Erie Ave. in Lorain. Each month he visits with folks at a different location around the city.
Graham said a recommended ratio of students per guidance counselor at the high school level is 350 to one.
“We have to take a look at that,” Graham said. “We’re looking to add supports. We don’t really know what that looks like right now.”
Because three pathways are available for youth to graduate high school, and because of tougher state requirements, more effort is needed by adults and students, he said.
The district may not add more guidance counselors, he said. Because students need help in social services areas, and mental health counselors may be added to address needs more wholistically, he said.
Or teachers and administrators may step up and help guide students toward graduation, Graham said.
Lorain High School spent 12 weeks in testing alone, Graham said.
“That’s outrageous,” Graham said. “The reality is there is too much testing. Someone said, if you have a low birth weight child, do you feed the child, or do you weigh the child? We spend all of our time weighing the child.”
In another issue, one parent complained of roof leaks at General Johnnie Wilson and Longfellow middle schools.
Graham said finding a leak is difficult, because drips usually are not directly beneath the hole. He added, “That’s no excuse.”
On a positive note, Graham said enrollment at Lorain Schools increased by 300 students across the district so far this year.
Last year the number of students held steady, instead of a projected annual drop of 220 students, he said.
Erin Gadd, director of communications and community engagement at Lorain Schools, 2601 Pole Ave., said the upswing shows families have more confidence in the district, so they’re returning.
Latino and Hispanic families, especially, are increasing every year, Gadd said, adding about 40 percent of the student body identifies as Latino or Hispanic.
Graham said the district’s English Language Learner program is “not very good” because of previous cuts to the program for financial reasons.
“We have 100 students transfer into our high school last year that were Hispanic or Latino,” Graham said. “We have a lot of language issues just at the high school, and we aren’t addressing them very well.”
One boy said to help him most the school should “find somebody who speaks biology in Spanish,” Graham recalled.
“Forty percent of our students are Hispanic,” Graham said. “We need to have more teachers ELL certified, and we are. We have to make sure that no matter what building you walk into or call, there is somebody who speaks Spanish that you can talk to.”
A woman said the parent piece in education is “hugely significant.” She added that in some districts, the parents and children receive English tutoring classes together so they can help each other.
“There are a number of things we’re doing to better serve families,” Gadd said. “There is now bilingual support in my department. Melvian Mendez is available to translate for families. Also, a group of individuals meets with parents.”
And the district translates documents, Gadd said.
El Centro at 2800 Pearl Ave. offers a Padres Comprometidos program to explain the education system and how to work with teachers on behalf of students, Gadd said.
In another point of conversation, Graham said 700 students take college classes at the Lorain High School campus.