Youngstown board wants more information
By Amanda Tonoli
Youngstown Board of Education members questioned a lack of information coming their way during Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
After district Treasurer Sherry Tyson reported that although she had nothing to report during the meeting due to a recent move from the Irene L. Ward building, 20 W. Wood St., board member Jackie Adair questioned why that should matter.
“I get everyone is in flux at the moment with people at West Wood Street moving over to East [High], but that should not prevent us from conducting our business in a proper way,” Adair said.
She continued to unleash her discomfort with the lack of information when Superintendent Joe Meranto handed out a list of new phone numbers, positions, school designation and room number for various positions the board inquired about.
“If you need to get a hold of anybody, now you know where everybody’s at,” he said simply.
Adair said although she appreciated some kind of result from Meranto, she is looking “for more substantive information.”
“I want to know what is or is not going on in the school district,” she said. “I have not heard a mumbling word about the last state report card. Where do we stand on reading and math scores? Science teachers need to bring sleeping bags to school and never leave based on the abysmal science scores we have.”
Meranto argued he can only provide what he is provided.
“Then why are you here?” Adair asked. “You can’t answer any questions and can’t give us any information. I need to hear from you about our academics and behavior problems in district.”
Meranto responded he can merely take the board’s requests and try to fulfill them.
“[Do] you understand I have no power?” he said.
“I’m a sheriff without a gun. I’m a superintendent because the law says you need to have a superintendent. ... But I’m not going to quit and run away or back down. Someone’s got to be here fighting for this district and these damn kids. I’m here to try to work with everybody.”
Board member Dario Hunter replied, “Just come with answers next time.”
Adair added not having pertinent information is a big problem.
“Our children are dying on the vine,” she said.
“We don’t have the information to share with our parents because of whatever is going on behind closed doors. This is public business.”
When Michael Murphy, board vice president, attempted to move on with the meeting by discussing moving future board meetings to other schools and having a report from whichever school the board meets, Adair again stuck with her concerns about moving their meetings.
“We were kicked out of 20 W. Wood St. without anyone asking and now us elected folk have to try to find a place to meet – that’s a bigger issue for me,” she said. “It just shows a continuing disregard for our elected position in this doggone school district.”
As the hourlong meeting came to a close, Meranto said he respects each of the board members regardless of the arguing.
“It’s not personal,” he said. “I respect the debate, it’s how you get ahead and solve problems.”