Ohio Governor Mulls Plan for Cleveland Takeover
Gov. George V. Voinovich of Ohio is expected this month to propose legislation that would allow Cleve0 land residents to temporarily put their troubled school district into state receivership and replace their school board and superintendent with appointed officials.
Although details of the proposal still are being developed, an aide to the Governor last week confirmed that the legislation would give vot0 ers in Cleveland--and perhaps oth0 er troubled districts in the state as well--a chance to remove their school-board members and replace them with appointed officials for two to three years.
Drafters of the bill had not decided as of last week whether it would pro0 vide for the governor or the city's mayor to appoint the interim board. The interim panel would return the power to elect school-board members to district voters after ex0 piration of the receivership.
Representative Patrick A. Sweeney, a Democrat from Cleve0 land, and Senator Anthony C. SinaH0 gra, a Republican from suburban Lakewood, have said they will spon0 sor the legislation for the Governor, who is a former Cleveland mayor. The proposal comes amid widespread calls for change in the 70,000-0 student Cleveland district, which has a 50 percent dropout rate and is fac0 ing a budget deficit projected at up to $34 million next year. 1'
A recent poll of 750 Cleveland residents by the Citizens League Re0 search Institute found that 59 per0 cent gave the school system a grade of D or F, and 48 percent blamed the school board for being most responsible for the schools' worst problems.
Backers of the receivership idea say it would lead to greater public involvement in education. "Through this proposal, we are going to allow the communities to take control of their school systems,'' said Timothy J. Cosgrove, the Governor's legisla0 tive and policy director. 6
But members of the Cleveland board question whether the proposal will empower parents or improve schools, and point out that the district already operates under a significant level of state control as a result of fed0 eral desegregation decisions.=
James M. Carney Jr., president of the Cleveland school board, told re0 porters that the district's woes stem from poverty and social problems, not from its governance system.--ps