The Springfield City school board passed a resolution calling for the end of the distress commission. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Springfield City Schools wants Ohio to stop taking over schools

The Springfield City School Board is urging the state government to stop taking over schools.

The board voted to issue a resolution to Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly urging them to discontinue a state commission used to take over districts when they score low on state report cards.

The Springfield City School District is not in danger of being taken over, School Board President Ed Leventhal said, but the board still feels strongly that the process should be done away with.

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“There is a concern and I don’t think we’re the only school district that has done this,” Leventhal said. “This is an ongoing issue of local control. The state has chosen in some districts to come in and take over local school district without the support and vote of local folks.”

In Ohio, Schools that receive an overall grade of an F on their report card for three consecutive years can become the subject of a state takeover by the Academic Distress Commission.

When a school is taken over by the Academic Distress Commission, the district loses its elected school board members. Instead, a new panel is chosen to run the school district. Three members are picked by the state superintendent, one member is appointed by the president of the local school board and one member is appointed by the city’s mayor.

There are currently three schools that are under state control: Youngstown, East Cleveland and Lorain. Dayton Public Schools are in danger of being taken over as it has scored an F on its overall grade card for two consecutive years.

Springfield City Schools scored a D on its overall report card in 2018, meaning it is not in danger of being taken over anytime soon.

Leventhal said the district still hopes legislation being debated in the state Senate that would end the commission will be passed into law.

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“The Springfield City Board of Education firmly believes in the principle of local control,” the resolution says.

State Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, told the Springfield News-Sun that he voted against the bill when it went to a house vote because he believes schools should be held accountable. However, he also agrees that report cards are not the best way of determining if a school is educating its students and the state needs to find a better way to grade schools.

“My issue is that a school district shouldn’t wait for an F to be focusing on improvement,” Koehler said. “They should be actively doing that all the time. If we get rid of the ADC, school districts still need to be held accountable to someone if they are struggling to educate children in Ohio.

“While I am big on local control, school districts like SCSD gets a lot of money from the state beyond the local property taxes that the school also collects. Therefore I believe the state of Ohio does have a vested interest in how a school is performing.”

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