Tuesday, 08 November 2011 23:02

Akron Schools Levy Loses In A Squeaker

The vote was close, but the Akron Schools levy was narrowly rejected by voters in Tuesday's election results.

Unofficial returns show that the 5.5 mill levy - Issue 14 - lost by just a few hundred votes.

Akron school superintendent David James says that unless the result changes in final returns, the district has, as he put it, "a lot of work to do".

"So, we'll have some real difficult decisions to make, and we'll work with the board on coming to some recommendations," James tells AkronNewsNow.com, "and we'll be working with them very soon on doing that."

James says that the district wants to impact the classroom "as little as possible", but there's a $22 million gap to fill each year without the levy's passage.

He says they'll have to look at many costly things - including cuts that would affect personnel.

"We'll have to look at some of our health insurance plans, then look at personnel," James says, "because we're in the people business, and that's a large part of our budget."

James says the district wants to limit cuts to its programs, if at all possible with the large budget gap.

"You look at our STEM program, our performing arts program, IB program," James says, listing some of the district's best known programs, "we don't want to see those cut, or, sports, arts and music."

James thanked levy supporters and those who helped with the levy campaign, saying it was the right decision to go with a lower millage. James says with a much larger millage, "we're not even here (tonight)."

And despite not getting the win, unless provisional ballots and an official count overturn the unofficial returns, James says the vote count was pretty good, considering economic conditions.
 

Published in Local

It's Decision Day for the Akron public schools, as today's election features Issue 14 - that 5.5 mill levy that even school officials admit won't solve all of the district's daunting financial problems.

At Monday night's Akron school board meeting, Superintendent David James said that the levy means the difference between cuts, and much deeper cuts.

"In our five year forecast, we've already outlined about $9 million in cuts even if the levy passes," James tells AkronNewsNow.com. "If the levy doesn't, we're looking at approximately $22 million in cuts each year over the next three years."

James says even if Issue 14 passes, the Akron district will look at central office support and staffing ratios, health care costs, and the number of buildings the district operates.

But if the levy doesn't pass, James says deeper program cuts will be among the things added to the list.

The district can also start looking for a principal for the new "STEM" high school to be located in the old Central-Hower High School building.

The school board approved the position Monday night, at a starting salary of just over $93,000 a year.

James says the district's financial situation means keeping the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) high school going won't be easy.

"Those programs typically are a little bit more expensive, because we try to keep the class sizes a little manageable, in some of the problem based learning experiences that they have," James says. "But I'm confident that we'll be able to prevail and move that process forward."

James says they'll look for support from businesses and grants as well.

The "STEM" high school will initially only house 9th graders who went to 8th grade classes in the "STEM" middle school at the Inventors' Hall of Fame site, with other grades scheduled to be added later.

Published in Local
Saturday, 05 November 2011 14:47

LeBron's Voice: Yes On School Levy

NBA star and Akron native LeBron James hopes to make an assist...not for the Miami Heat, but for the Akron Public Schools.

The Beacon Journal reports that some 30-thousand Akron voters heard James' voice on robocalls this week, asking them to support the school levy on Tuesday's ballot.

James' message told voters that without Issue 14's passage, the schools face "massive cuts" and a "seriously threatened" future.

The newspaper reports that the levy campaign reached out to James to help, being long-time partners with LeBron and his LeBron James Family Foundation on such things as computer donations and educational activities focused on his annual Akron bikeathon.

The district says the robocalls for the 5-point-5 mill levy were aimed at not only levy supporters, but voters who still haven't made up their minds and those not yet contacted. 

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On the Web: Akron Beacon Journal, www.ohio.com

 

Published in Local

Two weeks out from the November election and the Akron school levy Issue 14, the school district is taking to the streets to get voters to the polls - via bus.

The district will use buses donated by transportation provider Peterman Services to transport parents, school staffers from schools to the polls this week, taking advantage of early voting.

The donated "plated" buses are able to be used for non-educational purposes.  Peterman helps the district to transport students outside of its regular system, like those going to community schools.

Business affairs director Debra Foulk says the "free ride" is not just for parents and school employees.

"It could be any adult, it could be a parent, anybody that is eligible to vote," Foulk tells AkronNewsNow, "that would like to come to our particular points of action on each one of those days."

The buses will leave from the North cluster today, from the Garfield cluster on Wednesday, and the East and Kenmore clusters on Thursday.

Foulk says those interested can call the school district for more information.

Published in Local

Akron City Council passed an ordinance supporting the Akron Public Schools 5.5 mill operating levy on the November ballot.

At-large councilwoman Linda Omobien says it was important for Council to get behind the APS.

"I strongly support public education, and in particular, the Akron Public Schools, because I know the fine job that  they have done over the years."

Omobien, a former school board member, says that the economy's struggles have led to the district asking for a new levy.

"I know firsthand how desperately  the APS is in need of funds to continue the fine work they're doing."

If passed, the levy would cost  owner of a median-priced home in Akron an extra $7 per month.  It would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $15 a month, or approximately $180 per year.

Omobien says the value of a good school system  improves the quality of a community.

If approved by voters in the Nov. 8 General Election, a 5.5-mill continuous operating levy  would raise $14 million annually for the district.

With the struggling economy, Omobien knows that additional taxes worry some Akron residents.

"People can always say that it's a burden, but when you start thinking about the investment that you would be making in our children and in this city it's worth it."

If passed, the tax would first be collected in 2012.

Akron Schools Superintendent David James expressed his gratitude to Council President Marco Sommerville and Council for their stance on Issue 14.

"It really shows their commitment to the school district and the city by supporting the levy because when you have strong schools, you have a strong community."

"Even with this levy's passage we still need to look at ways to save money for the coming years."

According to APS officials, recent steps the district already has taken to streamline operations including
the closing of five school buildings, eliminating 17 administrative positions,  cutting 82 APS personnel, including seven administrative positions, among other items.

The last levy the APS passed was in 2006.

In other business, Akron City Council passed an ordinance to elect former councilwoman Dr. Terry Albanese as a member of the City Planning Commission.

Albanese thanked Council for the opportunity to serve the city in another capacity and said she was looking forward to getting started.

Council also passed a resolution opposing Issue 2 and the repeal of Senate Bill 5,  the collective bargaining rights for local government employees.

Published in Local

Akron City Council passed an ordinance supporting the Akron Public Schools 5.5 mill operating levy on the November ballot.

At-large councilwoman Linda Omobien says it was important for Council to get behind the APS.

"I strongly support public education, and in particular, the Akron Public Schools, because I know the fine job that  they have done over the years."

Omobien, a former school board member, says that the economy's struggles have led to the district asking for a new levy.

"I know how desperately their in need of funds to continue the fine work their doing."

If passed, the levy would cost  owner of a median-priced home in Akron an extra $7 per month.  It would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 approximately $15 a month, or approximately $180 per year.

Omobien says the value of a good school system  improves the quality of a community.

If approved by voters in the Nov. 8 General Election, a 5.5-mill continuous operating levy  would raise $14 million annually for the district.

With the struggling economy, Omobien knows that additional taxes worry some Akron residents.

"People can always say that it's a burden, but when you start thinking about the investment that you would be making in our children and in this city it's worth it."

If passed, the tax would first be collected in 2012.

Akron Schools Superintendent David James expressed his gratitude to Council President Marco Sommerville and Council for their stance on Issue 14.

"It really shows their commitment to the school district and the city by supporting the levy because when you have strong schools, you have a strong community."

"Even with this levy's passage we still need to look at ways to save money for the coming years."

According to APS officials, recent steps the district already has taken to streamline operations including
the closing of five school buildings, eliminating 17 administrative positions,  cutting 82 APS personnel, including seven administrative positions, among other items.

The last levy the APS passed was in 2006.

In other business, Akron City Council passed an ordinance to elect former councilwoman Dr. Terry Albanese as a member of the City Planning Commission.

Albanese thanked Council for the opportunity to serve the city in another capacity and said she was looking forward to getting started.

Council also passed a resolution opposing Issue 2 and the repeal of Senate Bill 5,  the collective bargaining rights for local government employees.

Published in Local