Distress panel orders funding expert for schools

By Denise Dick




Youngstown schools must contract with an expert on federal funding of school districts who is selected by the schools fiscal oversight commission.

The directive came Monday from the Youngstown Academic Distress Commission at the group’s meeting at the Mahoning County Educational Service Center.

“There’s some concern about the use of federal Title 1 dollars,” said Debra Mettee, commission chairwoman.

There’s no expert in federal funding at the school-district level, and that degree of expertise isn’t expected at the school- district level, she said.

The person contracted will work with the Ohio Department of Education fiscal department, the Youngstown Financial Oversight Commission and local experts on state and local funding to establish a “clear and accurate picture of the Youngstown City School District’s overall financial status and clearly establish the funding sources” for implementation of the academic recovery plan, the resolution reads.

At issue are Title 1 funds, allocated from the federal government to the district and aimed at economically disadvantaged students. The district has expressed concerns about whether it may use Title I dollars for some of the elements in the academic plan.

Specifically, the district is concerned about whether the federal money may be used to pay kindergarten teachers.

The academic recovery plan calls for an additional 30 kindergarten and first-grade teachers to reduce the student-to-teacher ratio to 15-to-1 in those grades.

“We don’t want to put the Youngstown City Schools in the position of losing any federal funding,” Mettee said.

The fiscal oversight commission recommended that such an expert be contracted, she said.

Both Mettee and James Hall, commission member, stressed that the work will be done through a contract. It doesn’t involve creating a position.

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