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Lorain Schools CEO selects firm to craft outreach

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LORAIN — The New Teachers Project, or TNTP, will be heading the community engagement piece of the state House Bill 70 compliance as the Lorain school district delves further into the CEO transition.

At an Academic Distress Commission meeting Tuesday night, David Hardy, who was appointed as the new district CEO by the commission last month, announced the New York-based organization will begin working with the community to help determine the district’s path moving forward.

“They bring over 20 years of experience to this work,” Hardy said. “They deeply understand the work that it takes to deeply engage this community, and I thought we would benefit from them coming in to provide a lens. I could have come in knowing what I do about the district and tried to engage myself, but I felt this is their expertise who has no ties to this region, and we can get a clear understanding of what’s going on here, and we can engage more thoroughly and create that direction.”

According to TNTP’s proposal to Hardy that was posted to the school district’s website, the cost of the firm’s service will be about $75,000, although it’s unclear if the state or the school district will be footing the bill.

District spokeswoman Erin Gadd said she isn’t sure who will be paying, but House Bill 70 only requires the state to pay Hardy’s $190,000 annual salary. Hardy and commission Chairman Tony Richardson did not return requests for comment.

The total is three times what the commission spent on hiring Chicago-based Atlantic Research Partners to search for CEO candidates and to narrow the 37-person applicant pool down to five finalists.

Kenya Bradshaw, vice president for community engagement with TNTP, said the firm is looking forward to its work with the Lorain district.

“We believe that (Hardy) is dedicated to authentically engaging your community and that he will look at it (without bias), examining and sharing the state of Lorain Schools, and that aligns with our organizational values,” she said.

TNTP partner Christine Rhyner outlined the timeline moving forward, noting the organization’s 30-day clock to engage the community as stipulated by House Bill 70 began Tuesday rather than on the day of Hardy’s appointment because he signed his contract Tuesday.

“House Bill 70 has some specific requirements about what the new CEO must do in a certain number of days after being appointed,” she said. “Also, by Day 90 the CEO will present an improvement plan back to the commission. We are collecting data and information as possible to inform that plan and that plan will be released as a draft so the community can see how their input has affected the plan and can also offer feedback before it is presented.”

Rhyner noted a key for the district will be getting “the right teachers” in front of students in the classroom, something commission member and former Lorain Schools educator John Monteleone, wanted clarified.

“If I’m a teacher, I’m a little anxious right now because I’m hearing ‘placing the right educators in front of the students,’ and as a teacher, I’m wondering if you’re willing to meet me where I’m at to help make me where I’m at,” he said.

Rhyner replied that TNTP is simply working with the Lorain district in part to determine trends where gaps in instruction might exist, rather than evaluating teachers on an individual basis.

Members of the community, including former Lorain school administrator Jay Ferguson and Lorain NAACP President E. Jean Wrice, expressed support for Hardy moving forward, noting the academic distress the district is in didn’t happen overnight, and it’s up to them to help.

“People who come into the community should understand — be able to relate to (our minority students),” Wrice said. “I mentor in Lorain City Schools, I went to Lorain City Schools, and I worked in Lorain City Schools, so it’s like my baby, and I hate to hear people talking negatively about this community. I hope we’re going to come together as one. Let’s stop the nonsense. It’s not about the adults. It’s about the children.”

Contact Katie Nix at 329-7129

or knix@chroniclet.com. Follow her

on Twitter @KatieHNix.



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