School leaders, NAACP discuss positive changes in city district
By Amanda Tonoli
More than 40 faculty and parents were in attendance during the Wednesday night jointly hosted NAACP Youngstown City Schools Academic Achievement Conference.
City schools CEO Krish Mohip asked the crowd to set aside politics and beliefs about House Bill 70 and listen to the progress that has occurred over the last two years.
HB 70, also known as the Youngstown Plan, was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in July 2015. It enabled a state-appointed academic distress commission to hire Mohip to lead the district with complete operational, managerial and instructional control.
“We have a system that needs to be changed, [and] how it gets changed is irrelevant,” said Jimma McWilson, NAACP Youngstown branch vice president.
George Freeman, NAACP Youngstown branch president, said simply: “Our main goal is to educate the children.”
Mohip said it’s time to have an open conversation about the work the district is doing.
“We will discuss where we have found success and where we have found challenges,” Mohip said. “As a district, we can do this together ... right now, what we want to talk about are the children.”
Mohip first discussed the need to “shore up the failures in leadership positions in the past” by ensuring the right leadership is in place. Part of doing that meant that Mohip had to spend money on personnel.
“I don’t regret the money spent because it was money spent to help our children,” he said.
Christine Sawicki, district chief academic officer, introduced academics and the changes being made to help students improve their educational experience. Sawicki discussed the overall F grade given to the district by the Ohio Department of Education.
“The report card shows facts, but doesn’t show the whole picture,” she said. “Our children are making gains.”
Sonya Gordon, district chief of secondary education, talked about growth.
“Our students are making a year’s worth of growth in a year’s worth of time,” she said. “Our numbers are going up, but growth takes time.”
Timothy Filipovich, chief of academics, accountability and assessment, highlighted the Positive Behavioral and Intervention Supports. PBIS reinforces good behaviors and uses restorative practices so all students have the opportunity to keep being educated in the classroom.
The conversation moved to supports for students and teachers, assessments for students and eventually landed on a question-and-answer session at the end of the meeting in which audience members could voice their concerns.
The entire evening’s presentation will be posted on the district’s website under the “Parent” tab.