YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On his way out the door as interim superintendent of the Youngstown City Schools, Stephen Stohla uttered a line he has used many times before:
“Everybody knows how to run a school because they used to go to one.”
Stohla spent two years with the Youngstown Schools. His contract as interim superintendent expired June 30.
Stohla has been replaced by Joe Meranto, director of the Choffin Career and Technical Center. Meranto also has the title of “interim” superintendent. A permanent superintendent is expected to be named in the next two weeks.
“I really, really think that Joe Meranto’s a good choice,” said Stohla.
When Meranto’s appointment was announced, a Youngstown School official said the plan was to have the new superintendent be a liaison between the school board and CEO Krish Mohip, a plan Stohla said was “not a bad idea.”
Stohla is 69 years old and has spent 47 years in education as a teacher, coach, principal and superintendent.
“I was very appreciative of the board hiring me two years ago,” said Stohla. “I just got tired of the legal hassle, and my wife has some medical issues right now. I’m just going to sit back.”
When asked how Mohip was doing so far, Stohla said, “I won’t answer that.”
And when asked if he had an opinion on House Bill 70, the law that resulted in the state takeover of the Youngstown Schools, Stohla’s answer was, “Not one that I’m going to share.”
But he did say that the powers given to the CEO through HB 70 gives someone like Mohip “unique advantages.”
Stohla said he was asked to apply for the CEO of the Lorain Schools, but he declined. He was also one of the six of 35 applicants interviewed for the Youngstown CEO position that was eventually given to Mohip.
Stohla did, however, have comments on his dealings with school boards.
“I really believe they all have the best interest of kids. But I’ve worked with 38 different board members, and I’ve had 38 different ideas of what that is,” he said.
He also talked about what he called the unique problems of urban school districts.
“You take our kids. You allow charter schools to have our kids, you allow parochial schools to have our kids, you allow open enrollment kids to leave,” he said. “A lot of those kids that are special needs aren’t accepted anywhere else, which, to me, is illegal.
“There are some wonderful teachers [in Youngstown City Schools]. They’re very dedicated and they love kids,” he said. “But, I mean, if you have kids worrying about eating or sleeping, or they’re homeless, it’s hard to make them understand how important math and science are going to be. I never thought I’d have to cancel school because of snow and some of our kids might not eat.”
Stohla said he has no complaints about the two years he spent in Youngstown. He said inroads were made during the year he was in charge and also this past year.
“We’ll just have to see how some of the programs pan out,” he said.
Stohla also wouldn’t rule out getting back into education some day. He said he’s retired four times already.
“My wife says I’m retired, but never say never.”