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Lorain seeks teacher for new academic distress board

LORAIN — The Lorain school board president will begin his search for a an Academic Distress Commission appointee in the coming months as the district begins its transition to a CEO.

“We’ve had some discussions, and we know as we advance in these stages of House Bill 70, the board will be tasked with making an appointment,” said Tim Williams, who was re-elected school board president at a Monday organizational meeting. “The appointment has to be a teacher in the district presently and the appointment is an expression of what the board wants.”

Williams must replace one of five members of the school district’s Academic Distress Commission as the current one will disband in March. The new commission will select a CEO who will take over the district as laid out in House Bill 70.

The school district is the second in the state, after Youngstown, to fall under the purview of HB 70 after poor state test scores caused the district to not meet growth benchmarks.

The CEO will take all governing powers away from the school board except for its ability to place levies and bond issues on the ballot.

Superintendent Jeff Graham likely will lose his position and, in the second year a CEO is in place, he or she will have the power to close “failing” schools or change them into charter schools.

Williams said because of the appointee’s power in selecting a CEO, people are likely going to be calling board members wanting to be considered, but first and foremost they have to be a teacher in the district.

Williams said there is some confusion as to whether that person has to be a current teacher or if he can be an administrator with a teaching certificate.

“We’re going to stay away from parsing that,” he said. “The perception they want is instruction in the classroom and how it relates to student instruction. We believe there are enough folks that we can find an effective appointment. We’ve been meeting with the mayor who makes an appointment also. Our objective is to stay out of ambiguity.”

Other things discussed at the meeting included the board’s committee assignments for the coming year, where one board member was left out.

Jim Smith, who was not at the meeting Monday because he said he wasn’t feeling well, wasn’t appointed to any of the board’s two-person committees because Graham said there were issues with secrecy.

“We want to be able to engage the board in some of our ideas early in the process,” Graham said. “And sometimes at the brainstorming stage, we’re just working through ideas that aren’t necessarily ready to be released yet.”

Graham said Smith had told him in the past that he intended to share everything he learns as a board member with the public, and Graham said there were just some instances where that wasn’t going to work.

“It just doesn’t make for an effective meeting sometimes if people are sharing things they aren’t supposed to,” he said.

Smith said he “had no problem with” not being included on any of the committees.

The board also made a slight adjustment to its meeting schedule. While meetings still will take place at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of the month, they now will be taking place in the teachers lounge off of the high school’s Lighthouse Grille as opposed to the library.

Williams said this was to create easier accessibility to the meetings.

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129 or knix@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @KatieHNix.



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