YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – On Wednesday, members of the Youngstown community had the chance to meet the city school district’s new CEO. Justin Jennings talked about his plans to turn around Youngstown City Schools.
More than a hundred people came to welcome Jennings to the district. Next month, he takes over for Krish Mohip, who resigned as CEO earlier this year.
School starts in just a little over a month so Jennings was eager to talk with the community. He said trust is something he has to earn.
“I think whenever you come into a situation like this, it’s always a trust-earning thing and you get support by doing what you say you’re going to do.”
The state gave Youngstown City Schools an F on its most recent report card. That’s something Harding Elementary Principal Teri Coward said needs to change, starting with the language and making sure students are more prepared.
“Our students are scholars and not just coming to school, so [Jennings] definitely wants us to change our verbiage.”
“Our goal is just to make sure that all of our scholars are prepared for when they graduate from high school,” Jennings said. “Whether it’s a third-grade reading law or raising literacy, test scores, that’s what we’re here to do.”
Under House Bill 70, the state is in control of schools with low academic scores and an appointed CEO is in full control.
While this does bring controversy, Jennings said he’s been given support to help with the district.
“Everybody I’ve talked to has been supportive and even those who aren’t proponents of House Bill 70, they’ve still been supportive…to see how to move the direction of the district.”
However, School Board President Brenda Kimble said CEOs bring in their programs to help students, but the state hasn’t been paying for them.
“The past few years that Mr. Mohip has been here, we’ve actually used our finances that could’ve went directly…into the classrooms for programs.”
When asked if this has caused the district to go backward, Kimble said all you have to do is look at the report card.
Jennings is the second CEO for Youngstown City Schools. His official start date is August 1.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the school where Coward works. We regret the error.