Spring break for many Columbus students begins next week.
City and school officials want them to be safe and have announced some plans to help them stay busy. Mike Foley explains.
Columbus City Schools Superintendent Dan Good says the district’s schools are safe but acknowledges the greatest safety challenges are found beyond the school walls and outside regular school hours.
“Too many lives of current or former students have been violently taken since the beginning of this school year, often in circumstances late at night or in places that students shouldn’t be. This is alarming, and it’s heart-wrenching. And we must say as a community united in one voice – no more. More importantly, we must act. Spring break is fast approaching for our students, a time when our city’s children and the young adults won’t have the daily structured safety of school buildings and classroom activities to rely on. So it’s incumbent upon all of us in the community to help us afford our students a safe spring break by offering activities and support during those ten days.”
Before a press conference at Linden McKinley High School, students broke into small groups with city officials, school personnel and other community advocates to say what’s on their minds. Some students wanted additional tutoring to prepare for the state standardized tests that occur the week they return. And many requested additional hours at the city’s recreation centers. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther delivered on that request.
“In addition to regular hours, recreation centers in Linden, Beatty, Barack, Barnett, Adams and Dodge will have extended hours from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and our amazing APPS program will provide additional programming – soccer, basketball, NCCA Final Four watching parties. We heard art and ways for our young people to express themselves will be another important part of that work.”
Ginther says increased police patrols, the special units that target gangs and additional plain-clothes officers will all continue. But he says the city also wants help from all residents.
“Keep your porch light on. Report street lights that are out to 311. See something, say something. Report criminal activity and suspicious activity to police. Participate in your neighborhood block watch and if one doesn’t exist, start one. Get to know your neighbors. And if you belong to a place of worship, determine what programs and activities you can offer to help kids safe and productive. And most importantly, be a mentor.”
Ginther says the Columbus Metropolitan Library system will offer tutoring programs for all grades and college prep workshops. Columbus City Schools will also dedicate a portion of its website to track and list additional opportunities for students during the break. After the school year, the city plans to launch a summer youth employment initiative to help young adults secure employment and paid internships.