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Government & Politics

Legislators Disagree on How to Help Failing School Districts

photo of high school hallway
High School hallway

One of the many things that will have to be worked out this week with competing versions of the state budget is the future of the commissions that have managed the state takeovers of the Youngstown, Lorain, and East Cleveland school districts which are some of the state’s largest districts.

The House budget dissolved academic distress commissions and replaced them with a new model.  The Senate version kept them while other options are considered. Senate Education Chair Peggy Lehner (R-Kettering) said leaving those failing districts to figure things out for themselves is dangerous.

“If they had the ability to do this on their own, they would have done it,” Lehner said.

But House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) said those commissions have been, in her words, nothing but problems.

“And will continue to be a problem if we don’t do something about it, and do something about it soon,” Sykes said. 

Districts can be taken over if they receive failing grades on their state report cards three years in a row. Dayton received Fs for two years. And nine other districts, including Canton, Columbus and Toledo, got their first F last year.