Youngstown Schools academic distress plan sparks dissent at board meeting

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Youngstown School Board is preparing a plan to have the district released from the control of the Academic Distress Commission.

There’s a first draft — and one complaint is the benchmarks set are not demanding enough.

Kim Miller-Smith of the Ohio School Boards Association made it clear to the Youngstown School Board Monday evening on the purpose of the plan in front of them.

“And it requires the district to demonstrate enough incremental improvement over the next three years to exit the Academic Distress Commission. That’s the sole purpose of this plan,” Miller-Smith said.

“It’s an inferior plan,” said meeting attendee Jimma McWilson.

McWilson led a small group who protested by holding signs reading “higher expectations” and “get the benchmarks higher” before the meeting. She said it’s hard to make expectations high.

“If your board and your top-level people are saying, ‘You know what, we only want you to get to 16% in the next four years,’ I mean, think about that. Who talks that way?” McWilson said.

The 16% she referenced is the math benchmark for third through fifth graders to be scoring proficient or above by June of 2025.

“What number would you like to see? 75%. If you can’t get the 75%, you know what 75% is? That’s a C,” McWilson said.

Miller-Smith disagrees — since the sole purpose of the plan is to get out from under the ADC.

“Your district, I believe, is on the right path,” Miller-Smith said.

School Board President Ron Shadd understands the argument for higher standards.

“The range that they might display is not symbolic to what we feel about our students,” Shadd said.

He’s planning for the day where there will be no benchmarks.

“We’re working towards a majority of our students and more being proficient in every area,” Shadd said.

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