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Lorain City Schools no longer under state oversight following DeWine's new budget approval

Lorain High School
Posted at 1:27 PM, Jul 07, 2023

Gov. Mike DeWine approved Ohio's budget earlier this week and, with it, released Lorain City Schools from state oversight, returning control to the district.

The district had been under state oversight for more than a decade.

RELATED: Lorain leaders pleading with Ohio Senate members for more local control of schools after state takeover

 “We gained our independence on Independence Day, so we truly had a good reason to celebrate,” said Lorain City Schools Vice President Barbie Washington.

Washington believes the district fell under state control after not being properly funded.

“We are an urban district, and we aren’t funded correctly, and we didn’t have enough funds to properly care for our kids and give them the services that they need,” said Washington.

This issue Washington describes is a problem Pablo Montanez said he faced when he attended the district.

“I went to Lorain City Schools my whole life and felt it was better for my kids to go to Amherst High School or Amherst School District,” said Washington. “It’s better academically.”

Like Montanez, Quentin Rice said his educational experience at Lorain City Schools impacted him in a negative way.

“There was a lot going on around the time I was in school,” said Rice.

But he said conditions for his siblings have drastically improved since he left and believes the district regaining control is a step in the right direction.

“They said that it’s really improved, especially education-wise. They said a lot of the things are easier for them to understand,” said Rice.

“We are excited to get ready and down to business so we can focus on actually educating our kiddos,” said Washington.

State Senator Kent Smith (D-Euclid), who represents East Cleveland, calls for the state to consider giving the same opportunity to Youngstown and East Cleveland School Districts.

He says East Cleveland had been moving in the right direction before the state took it over.

“What they needed was more state support in terms of dealing with a high-poverty population. They didn't need to have local governance ripped away and their local leadership ripped away,” said Smith.

In a statement, East Cleveland Superintendent Henry Pettiegrew said the latest state budget bill is disheartening because he says the district demonstrated exceptional progress.

He adds the district deserves to chart its own path and build upon the positive momentum they feel they have achieved.

“They've gotten one district out of state control, but not the other two, and that's what that's what just doesn't make any sense to me,” said Smith.

While others continue advocating, Lorain City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Graham celebrates their success.

“This milestone would not be possible without all those who have supported our schools and families. We’ve also been blessed to have a caring and talented staff throughout these years, dedicated not only to our students, but to the strategic plan they helped to develop. Lorain Schools is moving in the right direction, and this is a direct result of every individual who commits to having a positive influence on our students each and every day," said Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Graham.

According to Graham, the district worked with local and state elected officials to get the district to where it needed to be in order to have state oversight withdrawn.

“I was in many meetings with our legislators — both in public and behind closed doors — and I can assure you that without exception, they fight for the people in Lorain,” Graham said, referring to State Senator Nathan Manning, State Rep. Gayle Manning, State Rep. Joe Miller and Lorain Mayor Jack Bradley as well as the Lorain City Council.

School officials also thanked the parents in the district for their support over the years.

RELATED: Homeowners in Lorain asked to throw school district a financial lifeline

“As a proud parent of students thriving in the Lorain City Schools, I want to thank all who have joined us in this fight for many years —the fight for the City of Lorain to self-govern our schools. We have a team of exceptional educators who are focused on serving our children and their families in ways that we know have the greatest impact on student achievement. At the same time, our schools have developed critical partnerships with our families to serve their unique needs, whatever they may be. I’m proud of our schools and our city and of what it means to be recognized for our progress by the state. It’s a great day for Lorain,” said Board of Education President Courtney Nazario.

CLICK HERE to read the Lorain City Schools progress on Ohio School Report Cards.

The district said it will host a back-to-school celebration on Aug. 6 at Black River Landing. The free event will feature food, music and family-friendly activities.

RELATED: Ohio's $86 billion state budget OK'd by governor, but with vetoes on tobacco regulation and vaccines

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