David James, APS Superintendent, spoke with WAKR's Ray Horner about the last day of classes for Akron Public School students, what challenges the district experienced, and what lies ahead.
The long-time treasurer of the Akron Public Schools is retiring from the job this summer.
61 year-old Jack Pierson started as the Akron district's treasurer in 1993. He'll become treasurer of the Howland Local Schools district in Trumbull County in August.
Pierson is credited with keeping a steady financial hand on the district's $547 million dollar budget.
Akron school board president Lisa Mansfield says Pierson took the district out of serious financial straits and leaves it in much better fiscal shape.
School board members accepted his retirement notice at a special meeting on Tuesday.
The Akron district will start looking for its next treasurer, and will have Pierson's guidance through the end of July.
WAKR's Ray Horner sat down with Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James Monday morning to discuss the new principal coming to Kenmore High School, as well as the influx of international students at North High School.
He says the district is looking at a variety of candidates both internal and external and says they look to have a new principal in place by the fall over at Kenmore.
Two Akron schools hope to bring in an elite program that they believe will help them grow.
Firestone High School is already a part of the International Baccalaureate (or "IB") program.
Two other schools in the Firestone cluster, Case Elementary and Litchfield Middle, hope to join their high school.
Case principal Sharon Hill-Jones says that she sees the rigorous IB program as helping to fuel academic achievement.
"The IB program is research based," Hill-Jones tells AkronNewsNow.com. "And as a result of that, we have found that buildings that have been involved in the IB program have showed growth, and have closed the achievement gap."
Hill-Jones says they looked at results at the schools, and they knew something else could be done.
"We knew that we had great teachers, we had great student leaders," HIll-Jones says, "but as we looked at their grades, as we looked at how they were growing, as we looked at our state report card, we knew that there was something that we were missing."
Hill-Jones hopes IB will help mold student leaders as they move on through school and in society.
Implementation specialist Jennifer Victor says the schools are going through a long process to nab the "IB" status.
"We applied for candidacy, we will find out in June," Victor tells AkronNewsNow.com. "We will then become a candidate school which will last two years, and we'll then have an authorization visit to become authorized."
Akron Public Schools' Superintendent David James spoke with WAKR's Ray Horner about school discipline procedures and policies.
He says this is a small number of students that affect the day to day routine of school, but he believes that by taking a proactive approach with that group of students that cause problems, it would not only help the school system, but also those students as they transition into the next phase of their lives.
Dan Rambler, the Director of Student Support Services for Akron Public Schools, spoke with WAKR's Ray Horner about examining the district's discipline protocol.
After that melee at Kenmore High School that got over a dozen students in trouble, school safety is on everyone's mind.
That's why Akron Public Schools student services director Dan Rambler gave an update about efforts to keep schools safe at Monday night's Akron school board meeting.
Rambler says that you can't just issue suspensions and expect that to solve everything.
"A suspension alone doesn't impact student behavior," Rambler tells AkronNewsNow.com. "The important part is to continue to figure out what you're going to do with the student, because otherwise you're just going to keep re-suspending the student over and over again."
He says the Kenmore incident came into the school from neighborhood disputes.
"There's a number of causes within the community," Rambler says. "That wasn't a school issue, that was something that just happened at school, it was something that started in the community."
Rambler says the Akron schools are looking to expand measuring student behavior change, something that's already done in parts of the district.
"Some of the special ed programs are already designed to hold kids to wait until the behavior has been corrected, or the issues have been modified," Rambler says. "We want to continue to look at that, especially with our regular ed programs, to make sure that we can see the impact of the program, and that student behavior is changing."
Rambler says the Akron district has looked at other districts - like Cincinnati - to see what works...and what doesn't.
The Akron Education Association, the union represents teachers in the Akron Public Schools, is unhappy over how discipline is being handled in the Akron Public Schools. Some students have had expulsions overturned, and some teachers now say they don't feel safe in the classroom. APS Spokesman Mark Williamson joined Jasen to present the district's side of the controversy. AEA president Patricia Shipe will join us Thursday at 10:40.
Akron Public Schools students may not have to come to school extra days in June after all.
The Akron school board voted Monday night to pursue extra instruction to make up for the three extra "calamity" days the system called off this winter.
Akron school superintendent David James tells AkronNewsNow.com that the so-called "blizzard bag" option will consist of "assignments that our teachers will assign for our students for the three days that they were out, and those will go home, the students will complete them...and once all that work is turned in, we will not have to extend the school year."
James explains that the option - newly available in state law - is mostly a "virtual" blizzard bag.
"Our focus is going to really be online, working with the library system and some other community partners, to make sure computers will have the right link," James says, "and then, for those who may not have it, we'll actually have some time before and after school for kids to use our computers to get those done at the school."
If computer use isn't an option for any students, they'll get paper assignments to complete by the end of May.
He says the Akron Education Association has signed off on the plan, which needs final approval from the Ohio Department of Education.
James says he believes the district should plan for the option next year as well.
Students at one Akron school, Bridges Academy, will have to attend an extra day due to an extra day that was called off there.
The extra days are on top of the five days per year that can be taken off without being made up.
In other action at the Akron Board of Education meeting, an Akron school under construction has another hurdle, but officials say that won't delay its planned opening.
One contractor on the King Community Learning Center project has informed the Akron Public Schools that it's financially unable to do remaining site work like paving and landscaping.
APS had to replace another contractor on the King project due to problems with its work, and will have to go through the same process this time without competitive bidding.
District officials say the process will not affect APS plans to take possession of the remodeled King CLC in May, and won't delay the planned opening of King at the start of the 2014-2015 school year.
Any additional cost for the remaining work will be covered by the project's existing construction bond.
In executive session, the board approved a contract deal with educational assistants in the OAPSE Local 689 union.
The school year will extend into the second week of June for students in Akron Public Schools.
The district will not try to extend the school day to make up the necessary number of calamity days, which is an alternative to alterin the calendar under a bill that has cleared the legislature and expected to receive the signature of Governor John Kasich. Instead, students' last day will be June 10th. District Communications Director Mark Williamson says that extending the school day by 30 minutes is not logistically realistic due to transportation issues.
There is an exception: Students at Bridges learning center have to make up four days instead of three, so their last day is June 11th.
It's not guaranteed that there will be no more calamity days. If that happens, the plan will have to be altered.