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New Youngstown schools chief won’t have the luxury of time



Published: Sun, September 5, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

From all indications, Dr. Connie Hathorn is well qualified and ready to take on the enormous challenge of turning around the failing Youngstown City School District, but the new superintendent no doubt knows that his learning curve will be short.

Hathorn, who was selected Friday by the board of education to succeed Dr. Wendy Webb, will have to hit the ground running. He will be expected to move quickly in implementing the academic recovery plan developed by the State Academic Distress Commission and approved by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Deborah Delisle.

The expectation comes from Delisle.

A year ago, as she dispatched the distress commission to Youngstown to save the worst academic performing school district in Ohio, Delisle said that neither she nor commission members would be heavy-handed in their dealings with local officials.

Delisle envisioned everyone working together to resurrect the school district.

That was then. Now, the state superintendent has served notice that time is running out.

In response to a question from Vindicator Education Writer Denise Dick, Delisle said if Youngstown does not improve academically, she will take over the system and do what’s necessary.

How much time is she giving the distress commission, the school board and the superintendent? She didn’t say, but it is clear from her comments that the clock is ticking.

“We’re not going to continue to allow Youngstown to languish academically,” she said. “We’re going to take steps to ensure they improve and succeed.”

A significant step has already been taken by the commission and the state superintendent: They have put in place an academic recovery plan that includes benchmarks for improvement. Delisle said she will review the district’s progress on a quarterly basis.

That’s important, because with the new superintendent taking over in January — Webb is retiring at the end of the year — the school board and the administration will be under the gun to move quickly to adopt the recovery plan.

Superintendent search

The board and members of the commission interviewed five finalists from an original field of 31 applicants. The finalists also appeared at public forums, which concluded on Thursday.

While the school board has the authority to hire the superintendent and negotiate a contract, the distress commission was actively involved in the selection process. It means Dr. Hathorn, currently executive director of student support at Akron City Schools, has broad support.

During his appearance at the public forum, he offered the following pledge: “We’ll create a no-excuses school.”

It would be advisable for everyone involved with the district to be aware that failure to climb out of academic emergency this year has put Youngstown on the state’s radar.

Dr. Hathorn has his work cut out for him.


Comments

1UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 4 years ago

Dr. Hathorn was passed over in Akron for the same job which tells you something about his qualifications. He's black - no more needs to be said. Once again Youngstown doesn't get the best available candidate.

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2community4evr(2 comments)posted 4 years ago

give this guy some time to show us what hes got before trashin him. do u want state to take over and then we have no say? I support this guy!

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3Teacher12(27 comments)posted 4 years ago

We need an 'Oliver North' type that will enforce the student code of conduct. We've been using all those new educational style teaching techniques the State Board wants us to use for over ten years now....its called 'Best Practices'....Scores have dropped and gone up and back done. Or was this the plan of the State to wipe Youngstown of the map because of the teachers union. WE ARE THE ONLY BODY IN YOUNGSTOWN BESIDES A FEW PARENTS THAT WANT BETTER FOR THE CHILDREN OF YOUNGSTOWN. 20 WEST WOOD ST TALKS THE TALK, BUT DON'T WALK THE WALK.
THE VINDY DOES A NICE JOB BLASTING THE TEACHERS AND THE UNION. HOWEVER, DID THE FINE CITIZENS OF THE VALLEY KNOW WHY WENDY WEBB IS PUNISHING THE WEST SIDE SCHOOLS SUCH AS CHANEY HIGH SCHOOL. THERE STILL IS NO FULL TIME PRINCIPAL AT CHANEY. STUDENTS SCHEDULES ARE STILL NOT COMPLETED AND WE ARE ENTERING WEEK THREE OF SCHOOL. DO THE TEACHERS MAKE THE SCHEDULES......NO!!!!!!!! THE BOARD BLAMES THE STATE. I HALF AGREE. I SAY BOTH ARE AT FAULT. BOTH ARE SETTING THE TEACHERS AND STUDENTS UP FOR FAILURE.
I AGREE WE SHOULD BE SELECTING THE MOST QUALIFIED FOR THE POSITION, WE CANT TRUST THE BOARD TO DO THAT. WE HAVEN'T HAD A QUALITY SUPERINTENDENT SINCE THE LATE 1980'S

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4northsideperson(365 comments)posted 4 years ago

I don't envy anyone that is hired into this sisyphean position.. There is little reward, much to lose, and lots of criticism to go around.

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5walter_sobchak(1910 comments)posted 4 years ago

The fact that you would start a school year with no principal at Chaney was mind-boggling when I read this weeks ago. The fact that it still is the case tells you all you need to know about the Youngstown School System. I have a family member that is retired from a large Ohio school system. She was brought back in on limited service just so she could prepare the student schedules as it is the responsibility of the administration. Bring the state in and take the system over from the BOE on down. Do it immediately because it is inevitable.

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