YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Educators, parents and the Youngstown community are learning more about future plans for the Youngstown City School District and how House Bill 70, the law that put a state-appointed CEO in charge of the district, will impact education.
A public forum was held Wednesday at Choffin Career and Technical Center, where representatives from the Ohio School Boards Association addressed the community and answered questions.
House Bill 70 was passed by the Ohio Legislature in June and allows the state to step in and take control of failing school districts. It is the foundation for the so-called Youngstown Plan, targeting the Youngstown School District.
Under the plan, an appointed academic distress commission will choose a CEO with the power to fire and hire school employees, among other duties related to day-to-day operations of the district. The commission was appointed by the state superintendent, Youngstown Mayor John McNally and Youngstown City School Board President Brenda Kimble.
But the teachers and leaders who are against House Bill 70 say the bill is simply putting more control in the hands of people who are not at the community level. Eric Germann, president of the Ohio School Boards Association, said the main issue local leaders have with the bill is a lack of a voice for the local community.
“I think it puts more of the control of the schools into an unelected CEO-type position, which they don’t necessarily hear. They don’t necessarily hear what the local board hears,” Germann said.
Family members and teachers all voiced their opinions and gave suggestions as to what can be done to fix the problem.
“It’s infringing on voters’ rights. We should have the right to vote in our school officials, and they should have the right to govern over that funding that is sent through this district as part of taxpayers dollars,” said Youngstown City School Board President Brenda Kimble.
Kimble said there is a plan in the Senate that would amend the bill, but added that lawmakers in Columbus are unwilling to move forward on the changes.
For now, local leaders are doing what they can to gather support in the community.
Several prominent figures in Youngstown support House Bill 70, saying that changed is needed in a district that has ranked at or near the bottom of the state with its test scores for years. They say that those in charge have done very little to correct the issues at the district.
Supporters include Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel, Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber President and CEO Tom Humphries and Bishop George Murry, of the Youngstown Catholic Diocese.