AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There’s a battle in Austintown over who should sit in the superintendent’s chair, with some saying that current Superintendent Vince Colaluca’s contract should not be renewed.
Mandy Newman is leading that effort with a petition she released three weeks ago.
“It’s pretty serious and we did 400 signatures in a week, (and have 1,232 overall). So the people that are knowing, they don’t want him to come back,” she said.
The petition discusses wanting better busing and the fact that nearly 800 of the district’s 5,000 students don’t live in Austintown. People are beginning to ask questions.
“What’s happening? Why are we doing this? Why is open enrollment becoming out of control?” Newman asked. “It’s not that we don’t want open enrollment, we want to limit the numbers of open enrollment.”
Colaluca is in his eighth year as superintendent and his contract expires at the end of 2017. The window is still open for it to be renewed.
He blames the district’s state report card grade on changes made by lawmakers to how schools are graded.
“If the Austintown Schools was the only one that had a bad grade, we’d look and say, ‘Maybe we’re wrong in what we’re doing.’ But when 62 percent have a D or an F, there’s something wrong with the system,” Colaluca said.
He knows the petition will be presented Thursday night and anticipates a counter-presentation by the school board.
“I sleep really good at night and the reason why I sleep good at night is because I make decisions based on what’s good for our Austintown kids,” he said. “I know we’re doing great things there and I have no issues with it.”
Newman says the petition has nothing to do with Harold Porter, a board member who demanded Colaluca resign in 2012. An independent investigation found in 2014 that Colaluca’s claims of bullying by Porter were valid.
The group supporting the petition is threatening to vote out any school board member who votes for Colaluca’s contract to be renewed.
Amidst unrest surrounding the superintendent, the Austintown School Board chose a new member Tuesday. Alex Benyo is a 1987 Fitch graduate, longtime Austintown resident and president and co-owner of Taylor-Winfield Technologies, Inc. He will replace Lou Chine, who resigned in September.