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Lorain Schools holding emergency meeting to address levy, contract

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LORAIN — The Lorain Schools Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting Thursday.

A meeting notice was sent regarding an emergency meeting slated for 3 p.m. in the Lorain High School media center to discuss the levy and hold an executive session on employment.

While slated for discussion in an executive session, President Mark Ballard said he suspects the issue of Treasurer Josh Hill’s employment to come up during public comment.

Hill was hired by South Euclid Lyndhurst schools Monday, according to a news release from the east Cuyahoga County district. Lorain Schools issued a release Tuesday afternoon stating Hill has announced he will leave the district in August. But Ballard said the board is looking for a way to keep Hill in his contract with Lorain Schools, saying his sudden departure would be detrimental to the board and schools.

Initially, Ballard said the board was looking at the July 10 resignation deadline for teachers and whether it applied to administrators, before focusing on the validity of the contract.

“The expiration of (July) 10 did start the conversation but it ended up being more of it would be like LeBron (James) being in his first year of a four-year deal — he’s got a deal for another three or four years,” he said. “And that’s where we are and we have the right to say yes or no.”

Hill’s contract was initially with the Board of Education, which hired him before the district fell under state control. His contract was amended by CEO David Hardy effective March 1, 2018, to include the title of chief strategy and innovation officer. It runs through July 1, 2021.

Ballard said the board’s lawyer is looking into whether it can keep Hill, and if not whom the hiring of a new treasurer ultimately falls to — the elected board or CEO.

In the district new release, Hardy states his “administrative team will collaborate with the district’s school board to identify the best process in the selection of Hill’s successor, as the role of treasurer is a vital positioning regards to the future successes of both the district and the board.”

Under Hill, Lorain Schools moved out of fiscal warning and received an award for clean audits from the state. He has not submitted a letter of resignation to the district, according to Communications Coordinator Sarah Egan-Reeves.

As for the levy, Ballard said when the conversation started more than a year ago, there were two conditions the district needed to meet for the board to put the renewal on the ballot: removing Tony Richardson as the chairman of the Academic Distress Commission and either a change in the district’s administration or more open lines of communication and collaboration with the CEO.

Ballard said Hardy contacted him Monday evening about the levy.

If the levy is not placed on the ballot, the district stands to lose more than $21 million over the next seven years — $3.1 million a year. Without it, the schools will be in the red by the 2021 budget, according to Hill’s forecast.

The board has until 4 p.m. Aug. 7 to submit the issue to the Board of Elections.

Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or cwoytach@chroniclet.com.


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