Youngstown School Board worries about new plan to divide district

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Youngstown Board of Education met for the first time Tuesday since CEO Krish Mohip announced his plan for neighborhood schools.

The meeting followed its basic structure, talking first about the newly-hired firm to conduct their five-year forecast. Following that, it immediately turned to Mohip’s plan and the concerns surrounding it.

The school board was the most vocal as Mohip sat and listened.

Fifteen minutes into the meeting, the conversation became heated as school board members voiced their discontent with his plan to reconfigure the district.

It started off with parent Tammi Givens standing up and speaking about Chaney High School’s visual and performing arts program.

“The VPA program has really brought out a lot in our children and…it gives them something to look forward to,” she said.

Board member Dario Hunter said dividing the district doesn’t seem to benefit the schools.

“The lack of any clear connection to the primary issues this district is facing, such as the low scores and the students who are leaving and going to other districts.”

He also argued that he sees no real plan to turn the district around, citing Joseph Nohra leaving his position as Chief Operating Officer to become superintendent at Liberty Schools.

“It worries me that this new regime is interested more in window dressing than really tackling the issues that will lead to our children performing better, learning better, and growing,” Hunter said.

That’s when the rest of the board chose to chime in with their issues with the plan, starting first with the student protests at Chaney High School Monday morning.

“It seems like our students weren’t actually in the conversation. They didn’t have a voice and they used that voice in a way where it did impact their instruction time,” Ronald Shadd said.

Jerome Williams questioned if poor leadership is at the heart of the district’s problems.

“Then we say we’re gonna change certain things that didn’t work. Well maybe they didn’t work because maybe the proper leadership wasn’t there, but the program’s good.”

Board President Brenda Kimble said dismantling the things that do work is “just ludicrous.”

Michael Murphy, however, said he loves the idea of neighborhood schooling.

Through it all, Mohip sat quietly, listening to each concern from the public and the board. Before entering executive session — a closed conversation — he took a minute to address the board’s concerns, noting that no board members attended the community meetings or Academic Distress Commission updates.

“They’re saying that we’re not being transparent as Dario was talking about not having a strategic plan in place. But we have an 88-page strategic plan and I have an 868-page document here that shows everything that we’ve been doing in regards to that plan and that’s the abridged version,” Mohip said.

The board motioned to enter into a closed conversation about an hour after the meeting began. There, they were to discuss an investigation into complaints about a school employee and other legal information.