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Cleveland schools escape state takeover, but not Lorain
Ohio's education chief says a state takeover could stall the Cleveland transformation plan

Ida Lieszkovszky
In The Region:

The state’s top education official was in Northeast Ohio Monday to announce the fate of two local school districts: Cleveland and Lorain. Both were slated for a state takeover following fouryears of poor academic performance. But as StateImpact Ohio’s Ida Lieszkovszky reports, the state plans now to take over only one district.

School officials on academic distress commission

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State schools’ chief Richard Ross made his first stop of the day at the Cleveland schools’ headquarters. After years of getting F's on its state report cards, the district was due for a state takeover. That means forming an academic distress commission of state and local folks to oversee the district’s progress. But the district applied for a waiver exempting it from a takeover and Ross agreed. 

"An academic distress commission makes sense in some places," Ross says. "But an academic distress commission is not the right choice here."

Ross says that’s because Cleveland already has a plan in place: the Cleveland Plan legislation passed last year that includes reforms aimed at improving the district. 

"Adding another layer of involvement would only hinder the momentum for change in your community," Ross says. 

Cleveland schools’ superintendent Eric Gordon says there are already enough people overseeing the district. 

"It’s a whole bunch of taxpayers that made a big commitment to this community and it’s our job to get that done," Gordon says. 

But Ross says an academic distress commission does make sense in Lorain, forty minutes west of Cleveland. 

Tom Tucker is the superintendent of Lorain City Schools. 

"I'm glad they're here," Tucker says. "We can do better, we have to do better and we need to change. And that isn’t always easy."

The district passed a levy last fall for the first time in two decades, but only after laying off more than 180 staff members to deal with a 12 million budget hole last spring. 

Lorain is only the second Ohio district to undergo a state takeover for poor academic performance. Youngstown was the first in 2010.

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