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Columbus Education Commission Proposes Giving Mayor Greater Say in Running Columbus Schools

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Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Michael Coleman is the mayor of Columbus.

A commission appointed by Columbus' mayor is recommending a slate of changes that would give the mayor and other city officials a greater say in the Columbus school district's operations, but stop short of a mayoral takeover

WOSU's Mandie Trimble reports that the proposed changes include:

  • Creating a panel--separate from the district's school board--to spend $50 million in public and private funds on improving the district;
  • Replacing the district's current internal auditor with an auditor appointed mainly by city officials who could also advise the school board on levies; and
  • Hiring an "education director" in the mayor’s office who would become a non-voting member of the school board.

[Read the draft recommendations here.]

The Columbus Dispatch notes that the mayor's commission recommends the school board change how it operates:

The innovation panel would take the lead in pushing the board to do away with its “policy governance” model of running the district, in which the board handed the superintendent huge authority to make decisions without board interference or even substantial review.

While the board intentionally adopted that model, it has caused some problems for the district, to say the least.

The commission is also recommending changes affecting areas including pre-school, technology, charter schools, and how school staff are hired and fired.

In that last area, the commission's draft report says the school district should ensure that:

  • Principals have final approval over hiring teachers for their schools;
  • The district's central office and principals recruit teachers from outside the district to fill vacancies; and
  • Principals who don't have the ability to raise school performance are fired.

The commission is scheduled to vote on the recommendations tomorrow.

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