Youngstown Schools’ Distress Commission meets for first time

A CEO, which will be hired to run the school district, is expected to be announced by June 7.

The Academic Distress Commission for Youngstown City Schools met for the first time on Wednesday.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Academic Distress Commission for Youngstown City Schools met for the first time Wednesday.

The meeting came five months after the commission’s formation and immediately after the appointment of its final member, Vincent Shivers. Shivers is a teacher at Choffin Career and Technical Center, where the meeting was held.

On Wednesday, the Academic Distress Commission named Jennifer Roller the vice chair of the board. Members also selected the Mahoning County Educational Service Center to help in a nationwide search for CEO candidates.

A CEO, who will be hired to run the school district, is expected to be announced by June 7. The commission is looking for someone who has senior-level experience, equivalent to a superintendent. Although an education background is not required, the commission says it feels that a preferred candidate will have that background.

The Academic Distress Commission was formed after Gov. John Kasich signed House Bill 70, authorizing a state takeover of the Youngstown City School District.

The Youngstown City School Board sued over the law in August, trying to keep it from going into effect, but the lawsuit failed. Five months ago, five people were appointed to the Academic Distress Commission.

Then, another lawsuit was filed over the nomination of Dr. Carol Staten to the commission by School Board President Brenda Kimble. The teacher’s union won its argument that Staten was not a teacher, as required of the appointee under House Bill 70.

On Monday, Staten was replaced with Shivers.

Commission Chairman Brian Benyo said Wednesday’s meeting was productive.

“I think after sitting on the sidelines the last three months, there were some doubts how productive this could be,” he said.

Benyo, along with some Youngstown Board of Education members, say damage has been done in the five-month delay of the commission meeting.

“The uncertainty it’s created within the district, uncertainty as a whole is never helpful,” Benyo said.

Youngstown City School Board member Dario Hunter said he hopes the commission can make up for lost time.

“I mean, if we were going to put into place a plan to try and revamp our educational system, we could’ve had the groundwork down for the upcoming school year,” he said.

School Board member Jackie Adair added that the legal battles have put a dent into the district’s financial situation.

CEO candidates will be screened by the end of May, and the person who is hired must have a plan in place by July 7.

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