Wednesday, April 25, 2018

CEO Mohip has blueprint for saving Y’town schools

Published: 9/8/16 @ 12:00

The long-awaited recovery plan for the academically troubled Youngstown school system made public this week conveys a sense of optimism that’s in sharp contrast to what has been the reality for the past six years.

In 2010, the urban school district was placed in academic emergency by the state of Ohio. That designation came in the wake of a declaration of fiscal emergency by Ohio Auditor David Yost.

In both situations, state-mandated commissions were appointed to take charge of the district’s economic and academic affairs.

Fiscal emergency was lifted in 2011, but the urban district remains under the control of the academic commission.

The three-year recovery plan aims to pull the system out of its tailspin.

It is the creation of Krish Mohip, the new chief executive officer appointed by the commission. Mohip, an administrator in the Chicago school system when he was hired for the Youngstown job, began his new assignment in late June.

The CEO has spent a great deal of his time conducting a top-to-bottom evaluation of the 5,300-student district. He summed up his findings in the introduction to the recovery bluepint:

“Since 2010, Youngstown City School District has been in Academic Emergency based on failure to meet state minimum targets for academic performance. On the surface, the district’s current state can seem disheartening, but the district has strengths to leverage and is taking action. We are digging into the root causes of our challenges so that together, as a community, we can make significant changes so that our students have a better present and future.

“The Youngstown City School District is analyzing and monitoring a vast array of measures to ensure the district provides the instruction and support every student needs to succeed.”

The 27-page plan, complete with graphs and tables, is a blueprint for the academic recovery of the district.

But for those of us who have watched with dismay as the system has gone from bad to worse, Mohip’s positive outlook seems premature.

After all, there have been numerous attempts by past superintendents, some qualified, others not, to save the district. The results, both academic and financial, speak for themselves.

But after an hour of hearing CEO Mohip discuss his vision for the troubled urban school system and the recovery plan he has developed, we find ourselves pulling for him to succeed. Why?

Consider this comment during his meeting Tuesday with Vindicator editors and writers:

“All my decisions will be student-based, and, when you make student-based decisions, it sometimes makes adults uncomfortable. I’m not here for anything else or anyone else but the children of this district.”

Although the academic distress commission must approve Mohip’s blueprint titled “Working Together, Our Students Succeed,” we believe it should be given a chance. The CEO has come up with a well thought out, realistic set of goals. In addition, he has laid out in great detail the steps to be taken to achieve those goals.

A story on the front page of Wednesday’s Vindicator focused on some of the aims listed in the plan. The target date for accomplishing them is the 2018-19 school year. Here are the significant ones because of their impact on classroom learning:

Daily student attendance should rise from 91.2 percent to 96 percent.

The four-year high school graduation rate should go from 75 percent to 90 percent.

The percentage of seniors with a post-high school plan should go from 44.6 percent to 100 percent.

The percent of revenue spent on teaching and learning should go from 63 percent to 70 percent.

The plan also addresses a long-standing problem in the urban school district: the lack of parental involvement in the education of the city’s children.

“The district commits to opening its doors, engaging in supportive partnerships on behalf of the students, and providing parents additional services and opportunities to engage in their child’s education,” the plan says.

That’s all well and good, but Mohip and the academic distress commission must know that the only measure of the recovery plan’s success is the state report card. A failing grade in any category will trigger a public backlash.

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