Lawmakers say bill to take over Youngstown schools was rushed

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The state’s control over Youngstown City Schools isn’t in effect yet, but teachers and legislators have questions.

WKBN has learned that House Bill 70 isn’t written specifically for Youngstown City Schools.

The bill is written for any school in Ohio under the academic distress commission. However, Youngstown City Schools is the only district in the state in that category.

“We want to have more meaningful conversation. We would like to try to share our perspective,” said Paula Valentini, vice president of Youngstown Education Association. “We’d also like to try to understand how this bill is going to change the initiatives that have already been in place.”

Valentini and Rita Creed are vice presidents of the Youngstown Education Association. Both say the union plans to be more assertive after the passing of House Bill 70, which gives the state control over the Youngstown City Schools.

State Senator Joe Schiavoni voted no on the issue. He, along with Mayor John McNally and State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan, plan to hold a public meeting during the second week of July to gather input from teachers, parents and the community.

“Let the people come and learn about the bill. I’ll go through the bill specifically, go through how everything happened,” said Schiavoni. “Then, we are going to move forward from that and actually see how we can make improvements to this piece of legislation.”

Schiavoni says changes can’t be made until the legislature resumes session in the fall, at the earliest.

“The legislators in Columbus are willing to listen to changes. They have told me on both sides of the aisle. They understand this was rushed. Whether they voted for it or not, they are willing to listen,” Schiavoni said.

Governor John Kasich is expected to sign House Bill 70 into law this week.

A new five-person academic distress commission will be appointed within 30 days of his signature. Youngstown’s mayor will appoint one person to that commission. The Youngstown City School Board of Education will appoint another. The state superintendent will appoint the other three.

Schiavoni added an amendment to the bill that one of the three members must be a Mahoning County resident.

The state superintendent must then designate a chairperson.

The commission will have 60 days to appoint a CEO for the district.

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