YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Since 2015, House Bill 70 has given the state of Ohio control over three school districts — Youngstown City, Lorain, and East Cleveland. Lawmakers and members of those districts want the control back.
Rev. Kenneth Simon led Tuesday’s Zoom call to talk about this. Local lawmakers, members of all three districts, community leaders and parents joined him.
HB70 gives the state control over struggling school districts, allowing CEOs to be the authority over the schools.
“At that time, then Gov. Kasich claimed the problem with the Youngstown City Schools was our elected school board members rather than institutional racism, or poverty or a community that had been passed over,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D – 58th District).
The Youngstown City School District has received a series of F grades on its state report card, but some argue the system is wrong.
“I think there’s a problem in the state of Ohio. I think it’s flawed,” said Sen. Michael Rulli (R – 33rd District).
Youngstown School Board member Ronald Shadd said before House Bill 70, the school had $23 million in surplus. Now there’s a $29 million deficit.
He said they’ve also seen the removal of many programs for the schools, including reading and STEM.
“Now the problem is they’ve been removed, they have not been replaced. We’ve seen a district model that is unsustainable.”
“The district was supposed to offer Spanish, performing arts. They took all of that,” said Ester Thorpe, a parent.
Many are saying the district has hired too many for administrative roles, claiming it’s taking money out of the classrooms.
“We continue to lack even basic classroom supplies and resources. Basic things, such as pencils, and resources, such as textbooks,” said Larry Ellis, president of the Youngstown Education Association teachers union.
Teachers are still working under a contract that expired three years ago.
“Most of the teachers in the district have not even seen a basic cost of living increase since this has happened,” Ellis said.
Right now, House Bill 154 is working to replace HB70. It passed the Ohio House and since May 15, is sitting in the Senate Education Committee.
It’s meant to identify issues within school districts.
“Once we identify those, how to get the proper wrap-around services and the attention needed,” said Rep. Joe Miller (D – 56th District).