Leader Schiavoni Testifies For Bill To Improve Youngstown Schools
Bill would make changes to recent CEO takeover law known as the "Youngstown Plan"
November 29, 2016
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COLUMBUS - Today, Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) testified in the Senate Finance Committee for Senate Bill 230, which would make needed adjustments to further involve the community in school districts subject to academic distress commissions. Last year, a last-minute amendment was added to House Bill 70, now known as the “Youngstown Plan,” which replaced the structure and procedures for academic distress commissions. The amendment requires academic distress commissions to hire a CEO to run the affected school district.

“When the Senate passed the 'Youngstown Plan' last year, 14 members had enough concerns with the bill that they chose to present bipartisan opposition and vote against it,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Because of these concerns, members from both sides encouraged me to provide alternatives to the bill. Senate Bill 230 is that alternative.”

Since the passage of House Bill 70, Senator Schiavoni has conducted over 20 meetings with the community of Youngstown to gather thoughtful feedback on how to proceed with the “Youngstown Plan.”

“My goal was to find a workable solution generated by the community,” said Schiavoni. “I want to help improve Youngstown schools and struggling districts throughout the state going forward.”

Senate Bill 230 addresses many of the controversial aspects of the Youngstown Plan. Some highlights of the bill include:

  • Involves the Community in the CEO’s Improvement Plan
    • Changes the makeup of the Academic Distress Commission from 5 to 7 members to create greater balance between the Community and Columbus: 3 Superintendent appointees, 2 teachers, 1 parent, and one Mayoral appointee. 
    • Replaces the new law’s “Community Stakeholder Groups” with 11-member “School Action Teams” for each school building in the district. These will be made up of the building principal, teachers, non-teaching employees, and parents.
  • Adjusts Academic Expectations for the District, Clearly Defines Performance Standards, and Delays CEO Actions by 1 Year to Allow for Adjustment Time
    • Revises the criteria required for a district to transition out of Academic Distress to “a grade of C or higher on performance index OR value added” rather than an overall C.
    • Defines “high quality school” as it relates to the school accelerator and academic performance bonuses as having an “A” on either performance index or value added.
    • Delays CEO actions by 1 year, giving schools and teachers time to adjust and prepare.
  • Embraces the Original Intent of HB 70 – Community Learning Centers (CLCs)
    • The CEO must implement a CLC model in at least one of the buildings in the district.
    • Directs a portion of Academic Distress Commission funds to hire a district resource coordinator to help facilitate services to students and families. 
  • Ensures Transparency and Accountability with the CEO and District Improvement Plans
    • Meetings of the Academic Distress Commission and CEO are subject to open meetings and public records laws.
    • The CEO has to have 10 years of educational experience and experience working in impoverished communities. 
    • If the CEO decides to close a school, there has to be a detailed “Closure Plan” that is also presented in a public hearing. 
  • Supports Educators and Staff
    • Removes the ability for the CEO to modify or alter collective bargaining contracts. 
    • Eliminates provision that would dissolve the elected school board.

“This bill does not aim to repeal House Bill 70 or the CEO’s control. It’s intended to increase community involvement in its implementation,” stated Schiavoni. “We know that other school districts will soon be subject to the new academic distress commission law. I hope that, in the future, affected communities will have more input in the process than was granted to Youngstown residents.”

After the release of this year’s school report cards, the Lorain City School District will now be subject to state takeover with CEO control beginning in the spring or summer of 2017.

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