We introduced the topics over the summer:
June: Can Dayton go from ‘overdose capital’ to a model for recovery?
July: The region must rally to fix the Dayton Public Schools
August: How do we get the economy to boom for all?
Reporter Katie Wedell looked at what solutions the community is using to combat the opioid crisis and what it would take to change Dayton's image as the "overdose capital" of the nation.
“The Path Forward is much appreciated and shows the dedication that Cox Media has in informing our community of the successes and positive outcomes the Miami Valley has experienced since being labeled ‘ground zero’ of the opiate epidemic facing our nation,” said Lori Erion, founder of Families of Addicts.
Wedell looked at local businesses that have found success in helping employees dealing with addiction.
Her reporting also found that veterans — about 10 percent of the total local population — have been more likely to abuse opioids. Some reports have shown veterans are twice as likely to die from an accidental opioid overdose as non-veterans. So she dug into what the Dayton VA Medical Center is doing about that and found that their comprehensive treatment could be a model for other organizations.
New challenge for recovering addicts: Finding a job
With millions in tax money pouring into the region for prevention, treatment and recovery, Wedell also examined whether the money is being spent on the most effective programs available. That story showed how a treatment drug is ending up on the streets and in jails.
Millions of tax dollars pay for drug treatment — is it working?
Throughout the series, the paper also chronicled personal stories of those who have overcome addiction in our community, showing that recovery does happen.
Local chef in recovery serves up message of hope
More addiction crisis coverage:
A day with Dayton’s overdose response team
Vets twice as likely to fatally OD — what the Dayton VA is doing about it
‘Life Changing Food’: This eatery hires only people recovering from addiction
Dayton Public Schools
Reporter Josh Sweigart has investigated how the district leaders plan to turn the district around. He began with examining the challenges facing Dayton Public Schools: low test scores, hemorrhaging enrollment, poverty and a historic lack of leadership.
He then dove deeper into some of these issues, such as the wide achievement gap between black and white students, racial disparities in discipline, chronic absenteeism, a large number of classes taught by substitutes and students who face staggering obstacles at home.
The Dayton Daily News investigation also found changing the way many of the roughly 1,000 Dayton Public Schools teachers teach is key to the district avoiding a state takeover.
The issue is so critical Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli took what she called an unprecedented step to shut down schools for mandated training for all of their teachers. She also has beefed up their curriculum department, increased classroom oversight and placed significantly more teachers on corrective action plans.
Sweigart also went to Youngstown, which is already under an academic distress commission, to illustrate for readers what a state takeover would mean for Dayton. He found that Youngstown hasn’t made a dramatic improvement under the system.
The team also encouraged dialogue throughout the community with efforts such as hosting a Path Forward: Dayton Schools Facebook group, a podcast and a town hall meeting at Omega Baptist Church that about 60 people attended. Several participants at the town hall, which included parents, community members and district employees, thanked the Dayton Daily News for hosting the event and leading the conversation about how to improve the schools.
Ripplinger said he’s heard a lot of discussion about the series on Dayton Public Schools, even outside the city.
“Even down in Springboro, people are concerned about Dayton Public Schools… asking how they can get involved, because it’s truly a community here,” he said. “It’s not just a Dayton problem.”
More Dayton Public Schools coverage:
Podcast Episode 1: Four questions
Podcast Episode 2: Let’s hear from the kids
Jobs and the economy
Reporter Lynn Hulsey has worked to identify the top employers in the region's economy — dominated by manufacturing, health care and government jobs — and examined whether or not they are positioned well for the future.
She also investigated what it will take to ensure the region's workforce has the skills demanded by employers now and into the future. Her reporting found training programs that are at capacity or have waiting lists and employers struggling to find workers in key industries.
The coverage of jobs and the economy has been extensive, said retired Air Force Col. Cassie Barlow, chief operating officer at the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education and a member of the Dayton Daily News Community Advisory Board.
The stories have been informative about what’s already happening in the region in terms of workforce development, where the in-demand jobs are and where the gaps are, she said.
“Lynn’s done a really good job as well of identifying all of the really good things going on in the community and who’s doing what,” Barlow said. “I’m looking forward to the next steps. What’s a good strategy… And who needs to come together based on what we found?”
More jobs and economy coverage:
What they said: Image of Dayton region cited as reason some employers don’t come here
7 things to know about Dayton’s economy
How to get involved
We need your help as we engage the community in a conversation about solutions to our biggest problems. We’ve set up Facebook groups around each topic so that you can have your voices heard. Our goal is to channel your ideas into solutions that work. So, let’s get started.
You can reach Katie Wedell or share your ideas on the addiction crisis in a variety of ways:
Social media: @KatieWedellDDN on Facebook and @KatiWedell Twitter
Join Katie’s Facebook group by searching The Path Forward: Addiction in Dayton
Here is how you can reach Josh Sweigart or share your ideas on Dayton Public Schools:
Social media: @JoshSweigart on Facebook and Twitter
Join Josh’s Facebook group by searching The Path Forward: Dayton schools
Here is how you can reach Lynn Hulsey or share your ideas on the local economy.
Social media: @Lynn HulseyDDN on Facebook and Twitter
Join Lynn’s Facebook group by searching The Path Forward: Dayton-Jobs and the Economy