School shift not advised

The superintendent of Youngstown schools said the transfer would push city schools toward fiscal emergency.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A hearing officer with the State Board of Education has recommended that Coitsville remain part of the Youngstown school district despite a request from Coitsville residents to transfer the area to the Struthers school district.
The recommendation was made for several reasons, said Ben McGee, superintendent of Youngstown schools.
First, he said, a transfer to the Struthers district would not offer the students access to additional or more comprehensive programs. Second, the loss of tax revenue that Coitsville provides the Youngstown district -- about $400,000 a year -- could push Youngstown city schools to the brink of fiscal emergency five or six years down the road, he said. A transfer would also disrupt the terms of a $33 million bond issue that was recently approved to construct and renovate city schools.
If Coitsville was joined with the Struthers school district, McGee said, what would remain of the Youngstown district would be solely responsible for the bond issue.
State board officials could not be reached to comment.
Other reasons: Joining Coitsville to the Struthers school district doesn't make sense geographically either, McGee said. Coitsville shares a three-mile border with Youngstown, while Bridge Street is the only link between Coitsville and Struthers, he said.
Struthers would also gain a disproportionate financial benefit, McGee said. The school district would not need to hire any additional teachers but would see an increase of about $500,000 a year.
"We're very happy about the recommendation," McGee said. "We think it was the right decision."
However, he cautioned that this is not the final decision. The state board has to vote on the recommendation and Coitsville can appeal, he said.
"This is just the first round, but it's important because often the state board accepts the hearing officer's recommendation."

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