Youngstown City School Leaders Fear State Takeover May Mean Loss of Local Control

Youngstown's enrollment has been on a steady decline. Photo courtesy ODE.
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New legislation passed in both the House and the Senate yesterday calls for transforming the way Ohio handles continually underperforming schools. The reform is directly aimed at turning around failing schools in Youngstown. StateImpact Ohio's Amy Hansen reports some school leaders fear a state takeover will wipe away local control. 

Under the new plan, once a district receives three failing grades in a row on state-issued report cards, the state will step in and create a five-member commission to oversee the schools.

The group would then appoint over a Chief Executive Officer who would have the power to control class sizes, decide curriculum, and hire or fire staff, as well as other administrative responsibilities.

The first schools affected by the law are Youngstown City School District, the only district currently in the highest level of academic distress.

At the request of the governor’s office,  the legislation was introduced and passed within 24 hours –a point that doesn’t sit well with Youngstown school board president Brenda Kimble.

“There was no local input, nobody in the community was alerted or spoken to, no board members, no city council people, nobody in this community gave any input,” she said.

But Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Gov.John Kasich, said the reforms were long overdue and the new support system will “bring hope to these kids, parents and educators.”

Districts can regain control of their schools once they earn a “C” on their report card and spend two years getting out of academic distress.

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