Proposed Ohio budget would keep Youngstown Schools’ CEO in place

Local News

The school board isn't happy about it, but district representatives hope the state gives the CEO a chance to turn the schools around

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The state budget expected to be approved keeps the academic distress commission and CEO in place within the Youngstown City School District.

When Youngstown students head back to school next month, the state will still be in charge of the district.

“We’re glad that the legislature has, for now, opted to keep us intact,” said Youngstown City Schools Spokeswoman Denise Dick. “Research shows that it takes five to seven years to see results in school turnaround. We’re hoping the legislators take that into consideration as well.”

School Board President Brenda Kimble wanted the administrative power brought back to the elected school board.

“It doesn’t surprise me. I’m not happy with it, but I expected it,” she said.

Kimble was hoping the state would at least get rid of the commission and CEO.

The plan passed by the Ohio Legislature keeps all current academic distress commissions in Youngstown, Lorain and East Cleveland in place. It also creates a moratorium until October 1, 2020 in creating any new commissions.

“I’m really upset about it,” said Youngstown State Representative Michele Lepore Hagan. “I voted against the budget bill on that, because of that.”

Lepore Hagan wonders how there can be a moratorium for some school systems but not all of them.

“The school districts that are the commissions’ right now just have to stay in place. It’s really unfair,” she said.

Youngstown’s soon-to-be CEO Justin Jennings and Nick Santucci, who’s on the academic distress commission, both said the focus needs to be on the students.

“My focus is really to make sure that our scholars learn and I can’t control what happens with legislation, but I can control what we do here in Youngstown,” Jennings said.

“Regardless of what happens with legislation, we’re feeling pretty good about the way everything’s going,” Santucci said.

The state budget bill also calls for a 4% income tax cut and more money for children’s services. Governor Mike DeWine is expected to sign it.

House Bill 154, which eliminated both commissions and CEOs, passed the House but with the moratorium in place, it’s questionable if it can get through the Senate.

The Ohio Supreme Court is also hearing oral arguments on House Bill 70, which created the commissions and CEOs, on October 23. There’s a chance the court could rule HB 70 unconstitutional.

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