Bipartisan bill aims to repeal portions of HB 70

Staff report


State Rep. Joe Miller, a Democrat from Amherst, announced Friday he will soon introduce bipartisan legislation with Rep. Don Jones, a Republican from Freeport, to repeal portions of House Bill 70, the 2015 bill that brought on state takeovers of local schools in Youngstown, Lorain and throughout the state.

Miller’s Amherst is right next door to Lorain.

“Placing these districts under state control has been a disaster,” Miller said. “In each case, the Academic Distress Commission has been unable to work effectively alongside the district’s teachers, school leaders and community at large. After three years, we haven’t seen any evidence that state takeovers improve academic achievement. It’s time for us to restore local control and give struggling schools the support they need to succeed.”

Under Miller’s bill, Academic Distress Commissions will be dissolved, restoring local control over public schools and moving toward a building-based, bottom-up reform model.

Low-performing schools will be empowered to provide coordinated support services such as after-school enrichment and social/health services, a model Miller believes will better help all students maximize their potential.

Miller and Jones are seeking bill co-sponsors from legislators across the state. The legislation is expected to be formally introduced next week.

Brenda Kimble, Youngstown school board president, said the Youngstown board supports the bill.

“This is something that needs to happen,” she said. “I hope they’re successful because that means we are all successful.”

On Wednesday, the Youngstown City Schools academic team will explain improvements made throughout the district over the last couple of years. The event from 5:30 to 8 p.m. is a joint effort between the school district’s academic team and the NAACP Community Collaborative. It will be at East High School, 474 Bennington Ave.

After a presentation from the academic team at the meeting, parents will be able to ask questions, and principals and parent engagement coordinators from all district schools will be available to provide answers.

“We really have made a lot of progress,” said Chief Executive Officer Krish Mohip. “The state report card only goes so far, but there’s more to student achievement than the components measured there.”

Student growth has been demonstrated, for example, through test results in math and reading.

Although the district scored an F on the Gap Closing component of the most-recent state report card, the district saw significant improvement on several metrics, the school district said in a news release.

Youngstown schools saw a 39 percent increase in the Gap Closing component compared with the 2016-17 report card, from 3.3 percent to 42.3 percent.

The Gap Closing component shows how well the district met the performance expectations for the most vulnerable students in English language arts, English language proficiency, math and graduation.

The Youngstown district also saw a dramatic improvement in closing the reading gap among black students.

The reading gap is a measurement of the percentage difference between the actual performance of black students compared with the state average. The district’s reading gap for this group decreased from 54.6 percent on the 2016-17 report card to just 3.5 percent on the 2017-18 report card, a 51.1 percent reduction.

“We’ve achieved a lot of growth, but the report card focuses on proficiency,” Mohip said. “Students can’t reach proficiency without first realizing growth.”

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