YOUNGSTOWN – The City Education Authority’s three-member House Bill 70 committee held a special meeting to outline a number of strategies to be used at a major conference later this year to outline how House Bill 70 will affect the school district Has.
During a one-hour virtual session on Saturday morning, board members Ronald Shadd, Brenda Kimble, and Tina Cvetkovich discussed key issues related to the controversial legislation they are seeking at the Ohio School Boards Association’s annual 2021 Capital Conference and Trade Show Jan. 7-9. November in Columbus.
The timing of the Saturday meeting was critical as the district has the deadline for the district to submit proposals to be considered for breakout meetings at the conference, Kimble said.
After its inception in February 2015, HB70, known as the Youngstown Plan, resulted in the state takeover of school districts that had failed. One of the provisions allowed a federally appointed chief executive officer to take complete academic, educational, and administrative control of distressed districts without any input from the elected school authorities.
The other school districts under the direction of the CEO are East Cleveland and Lorain.
“You can’t take away a church’s efforts to solve its own problems. That’s exactly what this calculation does, ”said Shadd, chairman of the board.
In addition, there has been little academic improvement under the model over the past five years, which also lacks accountability and control, Shadd said. He also compared HB70 to Ohio Senate Bill 5, which was repealed in large part due to a campaign by many police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other union members who believed that collective bargaining for Ohio public employees was limited.
Other key issues likely to be analyzed at the OSBA assembly in relation to HB70 are what the committee sees as the problematic history of the district under the law and the need for greater local and national advocacy between districts. Also included is a discussion of the lawsuit the Youngstown Board of Education filed in August 2015 in response to the passage of HB70 and to prevent it from taking effect. The lawsuit was settled last year following a 5-2 ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that favored the state.
Despite the defeat, the litigation highlighted HB70’s weaknesses and resulted in a moratorium that saved 14 other districts from being under the CEO’s control, Shadd continued.
Shadd said district programs that have been won and lost will be featured at the conference, along with labor rights and contracts, electoral rights, graduation rates, parents’ knowledge of the district’s operations, the impact of unilateral control on schools, and the expansion of Executive positions for those earning $ 100,000 per year or more.
There were many programs before HB70 was implemented, such as two reading programs that were removed after the legislation went into effect, said Cvetkovich, vice chairman of the board.
The committee also hopes to address certain positive outcomes under HB70, such as the importance it has shown for bipartisan work as well as a greater focus on needed improvements in the district, they said.
Shadd also said he is working with CEO Justin Jennings on repairing and transitioning the district.
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