APS advances middle school plan
DOWNTOWN AKRON — During the Nov. 30 virtual meeting of the Akron Public Schools (APS) Board of Education, board members approved the College & Career Academies (CCA) Middle School Master Plan and the district’s five-year financial forecast.
Ellen McWilliams-Woods, APS chief academic officer and assistant superintendent, and her team of Mark Black, Tamiko Hatcher, Yvonne Culver and Megan Mannion, presented details to the board on how the district’s middle schools will transform to a CCA model similar to the one currently used in APS high schools.
McWilliams-Woods said the model helps students raise achievement levels and provides high-quality teachers and courses.
“[It also provides] mental health, mentoring and that wraparound support for our students and families so every single graduate is ready to move right into college, into a career or into the military,” McWilliams-Woods said. “Ultimately, we’re doing this as a central part of the workforce development in this community.”
With an emphasis on community and civic engagement, the CCA Middle School Master Plan is supported by funding, strategy and implementation partners, including the Akron Community Foundation, the GAR Foundation, The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The Akron Community Foundation is expected to fund a full-time partner broker position for the district.
Other key partners — ConxusNEO, Greater Akron Chamber, Summit Education Initiative and United Way of Summit and Medina — will help students connect with nonprofits and give them opportunities to learn through service projects in the community.
In a CCA Middle School Master Plan five-year forecast, McWilliams-Woods said the total budget is expected to be a little more than $3 million, which includes private grants, current General Fund money and federal funds, and new General Fund money.
This is just one upcoming expense for the district, and according to Ryan Pendleton, APS treasurer and chief financial officer, another reason for the district to put a levy on the May 4 or Nov. 2 ballot next year. If a levy passes in 2021, the funds would not be available to the district until 2022.
The district requires new revenue every six years, and it has been eight years since voters passed the last levy, according to APS officials. This past summer, the board discussed putting a levy on last month’s General Election ballot, but voted against it at the July 27 meeting.
“In 2021, [there is] the likelihood that we could be coming back after first of the year in a blended environment,” Pendleton said. “[We] could be extending the school year. There could be opportunities for intensives over the summer after a vaccine becomes available. Hopefully, in the first or early second quarters of the year, we could infuse a lot of resources into wrapping around kids to provide instructional days in-person, albeit significantly social distanced, and it’s going to increase our transportation costs.
“Why are we looking at a fiscal 2021 to fiscal 2022 significant jump? The assumption in fiscal 2022 is we are back in full-time instruction with all 21,000 of our students,” he added. “ … We do want to prepare our finances for a full, in-person instruction, blending that from the end of this school year into the start of next school year.”
Board member Bruce Alexander said he knows school levies are sometimes financially difficult for taxpayers, but “we’re going to need your help so we can continue the type of education we’re giving our kids.”
Board members also approved the following:
• the retirements of David Chaffman, Joe Gordon, Mary Graichen, David Hardwick, Isabel Kopp, Jacqueline Reed-Grimes, Jayne Rine, Willis Thomas and Tracey Wathen;
• donations from individuals and organizations, including $8,120 in coats and hat/glove sets from First Congregational Church of Akron to Mason Community Learning Center (CLC) for distribution to the student body; $2,000 in toys from the Marr family/Operation Homefront to Case CLC for student gifts and family engagement events; and $1,650 in music equipment from DonorsChoose.org to the East CLC school chorus; and
• an additional $500 in funds from the Akron Council of Engineering and Scientific Societies (ACESS) to APS Learning Specialist Katrina Halasa. This award, and the previously approved $2,000 from ACESS, will be used by APS chemistry teachers and students to conduct hands-on experiments related to plastics.
The next APS virtual board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m. For details, visit bit.ly/2V8oNVk.
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Cymerman, Abby. (2020, Dec 3) APS advances middle school plan. Akron.com. Retrieved from https://www.akron.com/articles/aps-advances-middle-school-plan/