School board reacts to report card

A new board member says school employees need to shape up or ship out.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The city school board's two newest members say the school district must improve its marks on the state report card, and soon.
"I'm actually remorseful about those results," Clarence Boles said. "Certainly, Superintendent [Ben] McGee ... is going to have to give some more answers for me to feel any way positive about this."
"I was hopeful that they would be higher," Jacqueline Taylor said.
Taylor and Boles took the oath of office Tuesday to join the seven-member board of education that oversees the 10,202-pupil school system, the Mahoning and Shenango valleys' largest.
John Maluso and Lock P. Beachum Sr. also took the oath to begin their second, four-year terms.
Beachum was elected board president for 2002, and Tracey Winbush won the vote for vice president.
2002 report card: The meeting's festive mood was dimmed a bit by this week's release of the school district's 2002 report card.
The district met five of 27 minimum performance standards on the report, up from four the previous two years. The marks mean the district remains firmly entrenched in academic emergency and could face state takeover if the scores don't improve.
Though not satisfied with the report, McGee emphasized this week that the district was close to meeting a sixth standard and improved in 18 of the 27 categories since last year.
"That's like your accountant telling you you're not as poor as you were last year, but you're still broke," Boles, who narrowly won a write-in election for a two-year unexpired term in November, said before Tuesday's meeting.
Wants ultimatum: He said the board must send a clear message: "Any educators and administrators who have come to believe and accept that substandard results are just another hard reality of teaching poor kids or black kids or minority children, they should retire immediately."
"I think we should do like General Motors and buy them all out," he added. "Let them retire and bring in some of these bright-eyed, bushy-tailed young college kids."
Beachum said he wants all district employees, including McGee, principals and teachers, held accountable for the report card marks.
"I will not be satisfied come next year and to see five standards again," he said.
Board member Gerri Sullivan noted that other urban districts have low marks. Cleveland achieved four standards, while Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Warren joined Youngstown with five each.
Sullivan and Beachum said that can't be an excuse. Beachum said the district's teaching staff works hard, "but in an urban district, it calls for a little bit more."
Taylor, elected to a full, four-year term, said students have the ability to achieve at a higher level.
"There's some things we need to change, improve our attitude and increase our expectations," she said.

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