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Senate Overhauls House Plan To Repeal And Replace School Takeovers

Ohio Senate Education Committee holds hearings on HB154
Andy Chow
Ohio Senate Education Committee holds hearings on HB154

Senate Republicans have made several big changes to a bill, HB154, that would have repealed and replaced the process used to takeover failing schools. 

The new process would create a school transformation board made up of state officials and governor appointees. That board would oversee an improvement plan from school districts that continue to see Fs on state report cards.

If a struggling school district enters into a contract with a school improvement expert or organization then it has six years to achieve better grades. But if the district receives six consecutive F grades, then a process similar to the current academic distress commission model would go into effect. 

Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) says this plan take his original bill that focused on community learning centers and adds more state bureaucracy.

"You're bringing more money to Ed consultants. You're moving taxpayer money away from the children, away from the communities that need it the most," says Miller.

Lorain City Schools is in Miller's legislative district. Lorain, Youngstown, and East Cleveland are the three districts under academic distress commissions. The latest state school report card issued Fs to Youngstown and East Cleveland. However, Lorain saw improvement with a D on its report card. Only two other districts received an F on this year's report card, Springfield City and Jefferson Township.

Supporters of the new proposal say it gives school boards more authority while still providing input from the state. Senators also point out that their plan includes a root cause analysis that takes a close look at issues affecting failing school districts.

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