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City schools chief calls it quits

Published: Wed, May 12, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.


Wendy Webb





A glance at the career of Youngstown Schools Superintendent Dr. Wendy Webb, who is retiring.

Education: Graduate of the former Youngstown South High School; bachelor’s degree in communications and educational media and master’s degree in library science, both from Kent State University; master’s degree in administration from Youngstown State University; the first black person to earn a doctorate in educational administration from YSU.

Career: Served 35 years with the Youngstown Board of Education. She has been a high school librarian, speech teacher, supervisor of library and media services, and director of curriculum and instruction.

1998: Appointed assistant superintendent of schools.

2004: Appointed superintendent, replacing retiring Superintendent Ben McGee. She was the city’s first black female superintendent.

Personal: Great-great granddaughter of prominent black local architect Plimpton Ross Berry. A middle school on the city’s East Side is named in his honor.

Source: Vindicator files


Wendy E. Webb dropped a bombshell at Tuesday’s city school board meeting.

The superintendent of the city schools since 2004 said she intends to retire as of Jan. 1, 2011, after 35 years of service in the district.

The announcement clearly caught board members by surprise, and Webb confirmed she hadn’t told the board about her plans before publicly reading her letter of retirement during the board meeting.

Anthony Catale, board president, said the first he learned of the superintendent’s plan waswhen she read her letter. There has been no board discussion regarding any leadership change for the district, he noted.

“It was a complete surprise,” said Lock P. Beachum Sr., a longtime board member. “She has served the district well.”

She will be leaving with about seven months left on her $122,500-a-year contract.

Webb said she is giving the board early notice so it will have adequate time to conduct a thorough search for the next superintendent, and she promised to assist in making the transition a smooth one.

“I think it’s a good time,” she said, noting the district has a new five-year academic transition plan in place and is recovering from financial emergency.

During her tenure as superintendent, the district has gone through fiscally challenging times as well as positive transformation, she said.

She has overseen a $187 million school rebuilding program, but that construction brought the movement and relocation of thousands of students and hundreds of staff members, she said.

The loss of students to community schools, open enrollment and vouchers resulted in reduction in teachers and staff. All of those things were academically disrupting, but the district will come out of fiscal emergency and will be financially stable for the next several years, she said.

“Stability on all fronts is what the district needs to move forward,” Webb said.

The lifelong city resident said she has dedicated her professional life to Youngstown’s schoolchildren.

“My fondest memories are those when I was working in the schools on a daily basis, meeting, teaching and providing services to the children of the city. It is that interaction with students that has brought the greatest joy to my career,” she said.

She thanked the district’s leaders, staff, parents, churches and community members who she said have worked hard to make good things happen in the city schools, who believe that each and every child is entitled to advocacy, and who have recognized her dedication and encouraged her efforts.

Webb said her first love has always been children’s literature and that she may go back to teaching that subject at the collegiate level.

Catale thanked her for her service and the passion she brought to her job every day, adding that he hopes the district will be able to call on her expertise in the future. He joined the other board members and the audience in giving Webb a standing ovation.

Catale said he would like the district to conduct a national search for its next superintendent, looking for someone with urban administrative experience and the ability to move the district in the right direction while being as passionate as Webb about the students.


1Silence_Dogood(1656 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Why wait till Jan. 1st, you have not been of any value to this school sytem, so your absence will not harm ,it will only improve the situation. The State runs the show anyway, goodby.

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2kornersburgkid(57 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Good ridence......

Ditto to silence_dogood...it wouldn't hurt my feelings if she left right now. The sooner the better!

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3AKAFR1(322 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

You can search the world for her replacement. But, until the parents of these students become involved in their child's education, you will continue to get the same result.

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4boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I hope this episode follows her for the rest of her life. This woman took advantage of a failing school system at the price of 122,000 per year. If YSU hires this moron to teach childrens literature I will be shocked. She will no doubt con someone into hiring her for more than minimum wage somewhere, even though shes morally worth much less.

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5havinmysay(155 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

Wonder why she's leaving so abruptly? Things that make you go hmmm....Like others have said: Good riddance. Hope the board lives up to their word and actually finds someone with administrative EXPERIENCE. The kids in Youngstown deserve a fair chance.

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6thenerve(2 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

It's amazing how quickly some people can rationalize the ills of society and throw the blame lock-stock-and-barrel on Superintendent Webb. The reality is that most of the problems that she and the other educators in the school system are faced with, started before the kids ever left home. No educator can wave a magic wand and correct the mess that parents or in many cases the single parent has worked hard to create. We have become a society that has turned our backs on morality and a clearly defined right and wrong. Never before in history has there been so many single parent and multiple, daddy households. It's sad when you see brothers and sisters living in the same home with two, three and four different last names. Stop it. It's impossible to teach kids right from wrong if they constantly see the adults doing wrong. The school system wasn't designed to do the parents job. Stop blaming the superintendent for the moral decline and the irresponsible parents.

Also, for the naysayers, let me add, this is a multi-racial problem and is in every race. I invite anyone that is complaining to go back and check the archives, this problem existed long before Wendy Webb. The problems preceded her and unless society changes, they'll be there long after she's gone.

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7Lifes2Short(3882 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

If the kids don't want to learn, and the parents don't care whether or not their children learn, they won't learn, no matter what the school system does. It all boils down to the Parents or Guardians who could care less and not take responsibility for there children's education. If they would get off there lazy behinds and go to the PTA's and teach there kids right from wrong and how to study and have them go to school then problem solved. But they don't and the educators can only take so much.

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8toomuchapathy(14 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I still contend that Wendy Webb is just one person in the whole system, and one person cannot fix the youngstown city schools. She is very intelligent and had great intentions, but alas, intentions do not equal results. My only hope is that youngstown will LUCK out with her replacement, because my kind words for Webb do not apply to the school board, which is unexperienced, unprofessional, and not well read on educational policy!

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9boardmanneedschange(364 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

every year that school system went further downhill, there was 122,000 reasons to let webb go. the nerve, she may not have been the whole problem, but she sure didnt do much to stop the downhill slide.

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10borylie(946 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

The taxpayers are practically paying young girls to have babies. Very little being done to discourage this and therefore unwed mothers,single parent homes are not prepared to prepare their kids for school. Unprepared kids start off behind the proverbial eight ball and in most cases don't have a shot. Those that have influence will continue the pc bs and the others that should be pushing these so called leaders are too scared to butt heads with the pc crowd. What the heck do you expect? And besides the liberals in this country want more and more people dependent on government. This is where it starts

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11redvert(2226 comments)posted 5 years, 11 months ago

I haven't paid that much attention to what she has or has not done so I am not qualified to comment on her.

A couple posters here have called it correctly though. Until the parents take some interest it doesn't matter who replaces Webb, nothing will change!

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