All 5 members now appointed to Youngstown Schools commission

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Friday, the Ohio Department of Education named three people to serve on the Youngstown City Schools’ new academic distress commission to improve the district’s performance.

State Superintendent Dr. Richard A. Ross named the following people to the commission:

  • Dr. Laura Meeks, former president of Eastern Gateway Community College;
  • Jennifer Roller, president of The Raymond John Wean Foundation; and
  • Brian Benyo, president of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition and member of Gov. John R. Kasich’s Executive Workforce Board.

With the Ohio legislature passing House Bill 70 earlier this year, a CEO will take over the school district and oversee the commission. There will be two others on the distress commission: Barbara Brothers, who Youngstown Mayor John McNally officially appointed Thursday, and Dr. Carol Staten, who was appointed by Youngstown School Board President Brenda Kimble on Friday.

Dr. Staten has worked in the school district for 30 years as a teacher and principal at Hayes Junior High School. She was born and raised in Youngstown and graduated from Youngstown State University.

By law, the distress commission had to be formed by Nov. 14. After that, the superintendent of public instruction will appoint a chairperson. Once the chair is appointed, the commission has 60 days to hire a CEO, who will develop a plan to turn around the school district.

A school district can transition out of academic distress if it receives an overall grade of “C” or higher and maintains a grade higher than “F” for two additional years when state inspectors do their yearly report cards.

If, however, the district has an academic distress commission for five years, the local school board will transition from an elected board to a board appointed by the mayor. The mayor will appoint board members from a pool of candidates selected by a community group representing parents, teachers, principals, the business community, higher education and the academic distress commission. Once the district improves, the community can choose to return to an elected board or continue with a board appointed by the mayor.

The Ohio senate passed the bill in June, and Youngstown City Schools  sued the state over the measure on Aug. 21. A Franklin County judge allowed the bill to stand despite the lawsuit, making her ruling on Oct. 13.

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