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Lawmakers Considering Changes To School Takeover Process

Students in the classroom
Columbus Neighborhoods

Lawmakers are looking over several different bills that would revise the way the state handles school districts in academic distress. There seems to be a consensus that changes are needed, but there seems to be a debate on exactly how to go about it.

It’s been nearly four years since former Gov. John Kasich pushed for a last-minute change to a bill that gave the state the power to takeover a school district in academic distress.

There are three bills circulating in the Statehouse to change that process:

  • HB127 - Prohibits the creation of any new academic distress commissions
  • HB154 - Dissolves the current academic distress commissions (Youngstown City Schools, Lorain City Schools), and replaces with a new system
  • SB110 - Modifies the current process with changes that give more power to local officials

Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) says it’s important to discover if the process is working.
“And if it wasn’t what other factors might be at play to discover why it isn’t working and how we can improve on it,” Obhof says.

He wants to talk to the House and Gov. Mike DeWine to figure out the best path forward.

The state appoints a CEO to lead an academic distress commission when a school district receives an “F” grade on their report card three years in a row.

Columbus City Schools earned an F. That means, without improvement, the district will face a takeover after the 2019/20 school year.

According to the Ohio Department of Education, Dayton City Schools received its second-consecutive “F” grade in 2018.

The following districts received their first overall “F” in 2018:

  • Ashtabula City Schools
  • Canton City Schools
  • Columbus City Schools
  • Euclid City Schools
  • Lima City Schools
  • Mansfield City Schools
  • North College Hill City Schools
  • Painesville City Schools
  • Toledo City Schools
Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.