BoE votes to oppose HB70’s Youngstown plan

By Jason Hawk -

A state takeover of the Youngstown City Schools has educators bristling across Ohio, including here in Amherst.

House Bill 70, passed in June by the legislature, includes a rider that would strip the cash-strapped Youngstown school board of its power unless big changes are made.

Amherst school board members on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution opposing any such move.

“Essentially it’s undermining local control,” said superintendent Steven Sayers.

Greg Ring, superintendent of the Educational Service Center of Lorain County, has asked for similar support from other boards in the area. Sayers said the Ohio School Boards Association is trying to rally dissent against any state intrusion on local authority.

State lawmakers who passed HB70 point to a dozen straight years of academic distress at the Youngstown City Schools. Failing state report card grades continue to roll in.

An academic distress commission has not been able to make much headway in improving the struggling district’s performance.

HB70 had broad bipartisan support in Columbus.

It calls for severely under-performing schools to be converted to “community learning centers.” Late modifications to the bill require state control after three consecutive years of an F cumulative grade on the state report card.

State control would mean replacing boards of education with hand-picked panel members led by a CEO recruited from the private sector.

Opponents of the plan have called it a path to “dictatorship.”

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk