Youngstown Schools commission distressed over future

Youngstown Schools Academic Distress Commission

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown City Schools Academic Distress Commission met Monday afternoon and things got heated.

“What in the world are we meeting for?,” commission member Ronald Miller said.

It was the first meeting since the Youngstown Plan was announced by the state, which will ultimately disband the current commission and put the district under the rule of a CEO. Two members of the Ohio Department of Education were at Monday’s meeting.

They spoke about both House Bill 70, which created the Youngstown Plan, and the Ohio Department of Education’s spring review of the district. Some members of the Academic Distress Commission were not happy with what they heard.

“What House Bill 70 did was really to set in motion a process that is going to, if carried through, lead to the termination of public schools here in the city of Youngstown,” Miller said.

The Academic Distress Commission as it is now will be disbanded and replaced with a new group led by an appointed CEO later this fall. That group and the current ADC in the meantime, will be tasked with analyzing the results of the ODE review of the district that was completed in May, and making necessary changes.

“We will have to continue examining the academic recovery plan to make sure it is still effective and in place. To hear reports about how they are doing in that respect. And to continue on until we are eventually replaced,” Academic Distress Commission Chairman Dr. Joffrey Jones said.

Jones said the commission still has a purpose, but it is time for something new.

“Clearly we are not making the changes here academically, the achievement improvements we need to be making for the children of Youngstown. And there are many reasons for that,” Jones said.

Commission member Reverend Kenneth Simon said one of those reasons is that the ADC didn’t have a chance to succeed.

“This has been designed for failure all along,” Simon said.

An explanation of House Bill 70 from Ohio Department of Education representatives did little to quell concerns.

“This is going to have great ramification throughout the state. This could be precedent setting for districts throughout the state of Ohio, that the state can by action, by legislation, take over operation of local schools,” ADC member Dr. Paul Williams said.

The three-hour meeting wrapped up with a firestorm during the public comments section.

“What you got? We have been talking about this for five years. What you got? We got nothing from the board, nothing from the community,” an audience member said.

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