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Lorain prepares for the next step under an Ohio Academic Distress Commssion
Only two districts in the state -- Lorain and Youngstown -- now have state oversight

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M.L. Schultze
Courtesy of AASA
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The Ohio Department of Education is taking its first look at the academic recovery plan submitted this week by Lorain City Schools.  Lorain is only the second school district in Ohio under state academic control, and WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports that it is trying to learn some lessons from the first – Youngstown.

LISTEN: Lorain takes a first step with its turnaround plan

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It’s not easy for school districts to end up under the oversight of so-called Academic Distress Commissions. Of the more than 600 districts in Ohio, only three have performed poorly enough to merit a hybrid state-local commission. And the state superintendent has exempted one of those – Cleveland – because it already has a massive overhaul underway.

Lorain’s plan, like Youngstown’s, addresses concrete measures such as literacy in early elementary school and attendance. But it also takes on fuzzier topics such as the climate and culture of the district.

William Zelei heads the Lorain commission. He says the entire state has a reason to want to see districts like Lorain, Youngstown and Cleveland turn around.

 “We have an ethical obligation to try to help every child be as successful as they can. I also think from a very pragmatic standpoint that every child who can be successful in school and become more successful as an adult propels both propels the economy forward and also reduces the need to for social services that might cost (more) money for the economy.”

The state superintendent has 30 days to approve or disapprove Lorain’s plan. But Zelei says some parts of the plan already have been implemented by the local school board and superintendent.

To be released from commission oversight, districts must meet the equivalent of a C on state report cards for two out of three years.


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