Youngstown Schools CEO introduces new team amid board infighting

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Youngstown Schools CEO Krish Mohip announced an impressive line-up of leaders for his team Tuesday night, including a member of Congressman Tim Ryan’s administration. That came after the school board fought for three hours and accomplished nothing.

  • Greg Slemons – Chief Financial Officer: Slemons will serve on a 12-month contract at an annual salary of $133,000. A graduate of Youngstown State University, Slemons has over 28 years of experience as an Ohio school treasurer. He’s erased school operating deficits, maintained 5-year facility plans, developed and implemented district-wide reorganization plans and has advised on legislative issues at the state level.
  • John Laplante – Chief Information Officer: Laplante will serve on a 12-month contract at an annual salary of $123,000. His most recent position was Executive Director of ACCESS, the Internet and Application Service Provider for 28 Mahoning and Columbiana public school districts, including Youngstown. Laplante has worked with the school district for the past 12 years through tech support. Laplante will now have the resources and time needed to update the district’s network infrastructure.
  • Joe Nohra – Chief of Operations: Nohra will serve on a 12-month contract at an annual salary of $115,000. He grew up on city’s north side and began his teaching career at Youngstown’s Hillman Junior High. Most recently as Struthers’ superintendent, Nohra helped facilitate a successful one-to-one digital device launch, programming in entrepreneurship and a new math curriculum. His position as superintendent was vital in keeping Struthers fiscally solvent through some of its toughest years, Mohip said.
  • Lori Kopp – Chief of Student Services: Kopp currently serves as the district’s Executive Director of Student Services and will have a title change. She will move from a 10-month to a 12-month contract. Kopp will receive an increase in salary based upon her per diem rate and days worked.
  • Joe Meranto – Chief of Career and Technical Education: Meranto currently directs Choffin Career and Technical Center. He will see his contract increased from 10 to 12 months and will receive an increase in salary based upon his per diem rate and days worked.
  • Pat Lowry – Director of Strategic Initiatives: Lowry will serve on a 12-month contract with an annual salary of $75,000. He has 24 years of classroom teaching experience and 16 years as an advisor to U.S. Representative Tim Ryan. Mohip said Lowry brings a global perspective to the district that will help them in their goal of developing the whole child.

The district will also share services with the Mahoning County Educational Service Center to provide alternative education options for students, staff training, structuring in-school interventions and human resources.

Mohip was supposed to hold his own CEO meeting at 7:30 p.m. – two hours after the start of the school board meeting at 5:30.

The purpose of the meeting was to nominate candidates for board president and cast votes. Even after three hours of raising voices and throwing accusations, it didn’t happen.

“How ’bout they say something about saving our d**n kids? I got on this board to work and help the kids,” said board member Jerome Williams.

Board members spent the first hour discussing current President Brenda Kimble’s nomination. Some accused her of illegal actions.

“Ms. Kimble has engaged in activities that at the least, is self-interest and at their worst, could be alleged to be criminal,” said board member Dario Hunter.

Hunter nominated Jackie Adair – a discussion that took another hour. Adair nominated Hunter.

Mohip got involved after the board treasurer stormed out, overwhelmed and crying.

The board voted to extend the meeting another hour to cast the votes. Still, they didn’t cast a single vote and decided to adjourn.

Parents said they are scared to speak out about the situation publicly. However, some called the board’s actions childish and asked members to give Mohip a chance.

“I don’t want to grandstand, I don’t want to take away their school board. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m getting in their way or stopping them from having their meeting,” Mohip said.

However, he said there needs to be a change.

“We cannot continue to expect the changes that we all expect as a community if we don’t make the investment in this leadership.”

During his CEO meeting, Mohip told parents that as of Tuesday, at least 70 students are not eligible to graduate.

He will also bring back some professional development companies, like Capturing Kids’ Hearts. Mohip said programs like this were implemented before, but didn’t go deep enough.

The board will try for a vote again Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at a special meeting.