No renewal levy under CEO Mohip


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RELATED: Academic commission hears of progress

By Amanda Tonoli

atonoli@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Youngstown school board members will not give their OK to the renewal of a 10.7-mill levy.

“It’s not that we don’t want the levy, but as an elected board, we are or should be able to look over taxpayers’ dollars, and since [CEO Krish] Mohip, that’s been impossible,” said Brenda Kimble, board president. “We don’t feel like we should go back to the community and request more funding from them without the accountability and with the law as it is.”

The school board will meet at 5:30 p.m. today at Youngstown Rayen Early College, 20 W. Wood St., to discuss finances. The board did not meet the filing deadline for the May primary, which was Feb. 6.

When it was last renewed in 2015, the levy was expected to generate $5,291,000 annually for four years.

It originally was passed in 2008 and renewed in 2012.

The cost to the owner of a $50,000 home was $164 per year.

Kimble said there are simply no checks and balances with the way the district is being run under Mohip.

“We don’t have answers if they [the community] comes to us and says, ‘Where is that funding?’” she said. “There is no communication.”

And the lack of communication isn’t a result of House Bill 70, Kimble said, but is because of Mohip’s rule.

HB 70, also referred to 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. The bill gives Mohip complete operational, managerial and instructional control.

Asking for a levy is one of the areas in which the CEO has no control.

“Nowhere in HB 70, in that law, does it say the board can’t get information,” Kimble said.

Mohip said over the next 12 to 18 months, decisions will have to be made with regard to what financial situation the district is in.

“I don’t know why we would ever try and fund our schools at a lesser amount,” Mohip said. “At this point, we have a strong forecast and a positive surplus. Without this levy, there will have to be a cost savings. We would have to make some really tough decisions with over $5 million a year to be removed from the budget.”

As far as spending, Mohip said more was spent than the board was comfortable with, but it had to be done “to make the district whole.”

Some of the costs included getting one-to-one technology for students and educators, STEM opportunities and more.

“We had to invest last year to continue these programs,” Mohip said.

Mohip is finished working in the district as of July 31, and the Academic Distress Commission plans to have a new CEO by that time.

“Until there are changes made with the leadership, we will discuss [the levy] at a later date,” Kimble said.

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