Notes From Kenmore Meeting

by Rene Garrett

APS discusses school consolidation with Kenmore.

The following is taken from the meeting at Kenmore High School Monday, November 7, 2016:

Akron Public Schools city-wide rebuilding program is progressing as planned. In the next several years, all of our schools will become innovative Community Learning Centers. Declining enrollment and budget shortfalls will require us to consolidate buildings at the end of the 2016-17 school year. At the October 10, 2016, School Board meeting, board members voted to consolidate Kenmore High School and Garfield High School as part of this plan. 

You likely have many questions about your student’s reassignment to a new school. We hope this document will address your concerns.  

Q: How did APS decide which schools to consolidate?
A: We considered past and current enrollment, the number of APS students who live in and attend in the attendance zone, capacity and programming impacts on schools receiving redistricted children, and impact on Special Education and Career Technical programs.

Q: Where will our students be reassigned?
A: Students who attend Kenmore High School will be reassigned to a home school based on the newly established attendance zone. 

Q: When will this happen?
A: Kenmore High School  will merge at the end of the 2016-17 school year. Students will begin attending new schools beginning fall 2017.

Q: How much money will merging Kenmore save the district?
A: We estimate that the merger will save about $1.3 million annually including salaries and utilities. 

Q: What will class size be like with the combining of schools?
A: The district hopes to maintain its current class sizes in grades 9-12, but final enrollment numbers will determine if this is possible. 

Q: Will the teachers at my school go to my student’s newly-assigned school?
A: Teachers and other staff members at a school slated for merger will be assigned to schools throughout the district based on need. It is possible that someone in your current high school staff will be assigned to your student’s new school.

Q: Do students have to go to the reassigned school?
A: Students and their parents can choose to apply to another APS school through open enrollment.

Q: What will happen to the students who are open enrolled at Kenmore from within the district?
A: We’ll have them attend their home school, or they can fill out an application to open enroll to another school within the district.

Q: My child is open enrolled from outside the district. Do they have to go back to their home district school?
A: No, we can work with you on an open enrollment application for another school. Contact the open enrollment office at 330.761.2816.

Q: What is your time frame for open enrollment?
A: Open enrollment takes place from November 1, 2016 - January 6, 2017.

Q: Should we also mark second, third, or fourth choice on the open enrollment form?
A: Yes, particularly if you don’t want to go to your newly assigned home school.

Q: For students who receive Special Education services, will services follow them to their new schools?
A: The Director of Special Education is working through these decisions. We will work with parents and keep them informed once decisions are finalized.

Q: Will students enrolled in Career Technical programs be able to complete their programs?
A: The director of College and Career Services is working through these decisions. We will work with parents and keep them informed once decisions are finalized.

Q: What will happen to the building?
A: The building will be used as swing space for the combined Kenmore/Garfield High School.

Q: How will you help my child make the transition to the new school?
A: The staff at your newly-assigned school looks forward to welcoming your student. 

Q: When will the merger take place?
A: It will happen in the fall.

Q: Thank you for responding to the letters I’ve sent to you. Can we get a new building number from the state?
A: The Garfield number will come here. We are not allowed to close both, but we can change the name.

Q: What will my diploma say when I graduate?
A: Right now, I’m going to say “Kenmore - Garfield.”

Q: When you’re speaking about the merger, people keep saying “If you’re going to merge”; is it final or not?
A: The schools will merge in the fall.

Q: I have two at Innes and one at Kenmore, so my kids will need to go on a private bus. Can you guarantee that my kids will be safe on Metro?  
A: Innes will still be here in this community. We are looking at bus passes for all students. 

Q: When are you going to quit redrawing the lines where we always get the short end of the stick?
A: The main area that was redistricted was when we closed Margaret Park. We added students from Central Hower at the same time.

Q: What if kids still have letter jackets? We’re hearing that kids won’t be able to wear their Kenmore clothes.
A: I haven’t heard that. When we merge two buildings, we need to be respectful of the current traditions. They can wear their current clothes.

Q: When the levy was passed in 2003, the taxpayers were told the money would be used within the cluster. East has six new buildings. Ellet has spent F$90 million. Firestone has an $82 million school. STEM school. What has happened to our Kenmore schools? Seems like our money got filtered to other clusters.  
A: When we entered into the school facilities agreement, the minimum requirement to build a new school is 350. We had schools in Kenmore Cluster smaller than 350. As enrollment continued to decline, we’ve had to close many schools.  

Q: Two schools in East Cluster are sitting at 50% full. We could have closed one of those schools and given those funds to Kenmore.
A: Every two years, the state renews the enrollment projections.

Q: What will happen with all of the trophies?
A: We keep all of our memorabilia. Once the new building is built, we need to have the community team recommend what should happen with the memorabilia.

Q: Who is going to be here for the coaches? Our coaches do so much to support our children and keep them off the street.
A: We will be sitting down with the principals to determine coaches.  

Q: There are many students in college credit plus classes and in Dream Akron. What will happens to those programs?
A: College credit plus is available at every high school. As enrollment increases, we will be adding counselors to accommodate.

Q: What will the mascot be?
A: We want both communities to come together to determine a new mascot.

Q: Numbers have dropped. A few years ago, our numbers were higher. Why were we last in this process just like Garfield?
A: Actually, North is last because they are not even on the list. Kenmore wasn’t even eligible at the beginning because it was a newer building.

Q: We had 802 students years ago. We went up to 842 in 2012 even though the city dropped 7,000. Website says, “Each cluster will receive equal attention?” Did Kenmore receive equal attention?
A: Of course not because it’s related to enrollment decline. The majority of the elementary schools did not qualify to be rebuilt because they didn’t have the enrollment.

Q: Cost of Coventry HS was $21 million. Firestone was $83 million. I know Firestone is also a middle school and double the size as Coventry, but Firestone is far beyond $83 million.  
A: At Firestone, we have Akron School for the Arts, International Baccalaureate and the swimming pool. 

Q: More than 700 students open enrolled to Coventry. What if they come back to Akron?
A: I’ve talked with the superintendent in Coventry. Even if the state tells them they need to cut off open enrollment, they will probably let the students stay there until they graduate.

Q: This is going to happen whether we like it or not, but I want to know what will you do with the closed schools, such as Smith?
A: I’m working with the city for each of the properties to look at how to repurpose or redevelop sites.

Q: When will the community group be established to help with the transition?
A: ASAP. If you’re interested in serving, please come up at the end.

Q: Why does Garfield staff get to merge here vs Kenmore staff? It’s not truly a merger.
A: I think because of the number of students, there will be plenty of Kenmore staff who can remain.

Q: It’s not really about the mascot or the emotion. It’s the wrong decision, though. There’s no one who has done more for public education than I have. I stood with all of you and made promises. When you had to make a tough decision. This is a community of 20,000 residents. Do you think this decision is going to grow more students? What is the right thing for the students? There is no study that says if we put more students together, especially poor students, their performance will go up. There is more research that says small schools are better especially for poor students. We can’t follow the blind lead from the state. The state is wrong. They should look at us just like Manchester, but they don’t because they are poor. David, I’m sorry, I think the world of you. I know you don’t want to go out and ask for more money, but shouldn’t we try? How about doing something like the Ginn Academy in Cleveland? What if we put on a specific levy or something unique for Kenmore. If this is a temporary solution, that’s fine; but don’t make this a permanent solution. We have 20,000 students in this neighborhood. I apologize to the community that I didn’t demand that Kenmore be rebuilt first. It’s not keeping the commitment that you’ve made.  
A: (No reply)

Q: I’m the last senior class president. Why is it that Garfield staff get priority over teachers here at Kenmore? Do they get priority over other teachers? My music teacher has been here from the beginning.
A: When we’re combining buildings, the larger building keeps the state IRN. Kenmore staff will get priority transfer to open positions. Some of those staff will end up here, and others will go to other places where they’ve put in for transfer.

Q: Why do we have to relocate our ROTC program?
A: We’re not allowed to have two units in one building, so we’re going to have to find a home for one of the units. We will be working with staff to work through this.

Q: The teachers here are the reason why I learned how to be a reporter. My daughters graduated from here. We tried to have our grandchild come here, but we found problems with curriculum and accountability. We moved to Uniontown. We still own property here, so I’m still paying taxes. You’ve broken your promise. What do you say to the taxpayers who aren’t getting their return on their investment? Your curriculum is lacking, your report card is failing. Why haven’t the root causes of why parents have pulled their kids out of Akron. Until you address the root causes, you’ll continue to see enrollment decline.
A: Our district is complicated. We have students who excel, who have scholarships to college, who have behavior problems, who can’t speak English. Some of our families have challenges. Our staff gives 110%.  

Q: Decline in enrollment. What did you bring in to make people want to come here?
A: In all of our schools, we’ve hired the best teachers. We’ve brought in support for athletics. Innovation Generation Scholarship.  

Q: The Ohio State University does not have climate control band rooms.
A: Each building has a design team, so they worked through that with architects.  

Q: Everything has to be approved by you, the superintendent.
A: I make the recommendation,\; but the board, city council and state has to approve it. 

Q: Why not step down and resign since you haven’t followed through on the promise to the community?
A: Thank you.

Q: What will you use the Kenmore building for once the new school is built? You said on the radio that you might use this for employees.
A: When the interviewer asked what could we do with Kenmore? I talked about numerous options. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with this building. I have an athletic advisory that is trying to look at how to upgrade athletic facilities. We’re trying to reduce our footprint.

Q: Neither one of our schools wants to co-exist. We both love our colors, our name and our mascot. I’m glad it will be Kenmore - Garfield. I think it would be good to take one color from one school and then the dominant color from Garfield to combine. Or we could put the Cardinal on the Ram’s horn.
A: Creative ideas.

Q: I own many residential properties in Garfield and Kenmore. We started middle school sports.  
A: Joe Vassalotti, our athletic director, will work with you to look at future.

Q: Your job is a business. You need to run this like a business.You’ve lost so many kids to Barberton, Coventry and Norton. You’d think we should build something to compete. These communities built new schools with new athletic facilities. Then you’re wondering why kids are leaving. Why can’t we just build two schools for $25 million each vs spending $60 million on new merged schools? Why can’t we just fix up Kenmore with $10 million?  
A: In terms of renovation like we did at Innes, it would be on our local funds; we don’t have enough funds. 

Q: What if you put on a $10 million levy to rebuild Kenmore?
A: It’s the whole community that needs to pay for it.

Q: Where will the new school be located?
A: I will be giving the board various location options at our next board meeting with pros and cons. I’ve looked at many properties with many issues. If we have to buy property, then we won’t be able to put in the amenities into the school.

Q: I’ve heard from you that Ohio won’t let us do this or that; I want to know why the board doesn’t go fight the state. What will happen with the stadium?
A: Current stadium will be used.  

Q: I’ve heard nasty things about our students. That we have bad students and lesser students. My sister goes here, and I graduated from here. My sister just passed all of ACT; she is very successful in ROTC. I’m worried that there will be a bias against the Kenmore students.
A: I’m not going to tolerate when people talk negatively about Kenmore. We will have students come together and carefully transition.

Q: I was a 2008 graduate of Kenmore. I was here when Central Hower closed. I just heard that no honors classes are offered here anymore. I’m currently a teacher at Jackson, Ohio. When I notice there that Jackson is always adding honors classes with whatever funds he can find. We can talk about a new building. We can use those millions of dollars for academics. You’re telling kids that they don’t deserve an honors class. Why don’t you use the extra money to offer the academics they deserve?
A: The facility money can only be used for facilities.

Phone numbers you may need:

Kenmore High School Interim Principal, Douglas Faris, 330.773.6831
Secondary Education Executive Director, Mark Black, 330.761.3079 
Open Enrollment Office Supervisor Marianne Malecky, 330.761.2816
Special Education Office Interim Director Melissa Frymyer, 330.761.3145
College and Career Services Director Barbara Williams, 330.761.3130

APS discusses school consolidation with Kenmore.

The following is taken from the meeting at Kenmore High School Monday, November 7, 2016:

Akron Public Schools city-wide rebuilding program is progressing as planned. In the next several years, all of our schools will become innovative Community Learning Centers. Declining enrollment and budget shortfalls will require us to consolidate buildings at the end of the 2016-17 school year. At the October 10, 2016, School Board meeting, board members voted to consolidate Kenmore High School and Garfield High School as part of this plan. 

You likely have many questions about your student’s reassignment to a new school. We hope this document will address your concerns.  

Q: How did APS decide which schools to consolidate?
A: We considered past and current enrollment, the number of APS students who live in and attend in the attendance zone, capacity and programming impacts on schools receiving redistricted children, and impact on Special Education and Career Technical programs.

Q: Where will our students be reassigned?
A: Students who attend Kenmore High School will be reassigned to a home school based on the newly established attendance zone. 

Q: When will this happen?
A: Kenmore High School  will merge at the end of the 2016-17 school year. Students will begin attending new schools beginning fall 2017.

Q: How much money will merging Kenmore save the district?
A: We estimate that the merger will save about $1.3 million annually including salaries and utilities. 

Q: What will class size be like with the combining of schools?
A: The district hopes to maintain its current class sizes in grades 9-12, but final enrollment numbers will determine if this is possible. 

Q: Will the teachers at my school go to my student’s newly-assigned school?
A: Teachers and other staff members at a school slated for merger will be assigned to schools throughout the district based on need. It is possible that someone in your current high school staff will be assigned to your student’s new school.

Q: Do students have to go to the reassigned school?
A: Students and their parents can choose to apply to another APS school through open enrollment.

Q: What will happen to the students who are open enrolled at Kenmore from within the district?
A: We’ll have them attend their home school, or they can fill out an application to open enroll to another school within the district.

Q: My child is open enrolled from outside the district. Do they have to go back to their home district school?
A: No, we can work with you on an open enrollment application for another school. Contact the open enrollment office at 330.761.2816.

Q: What is your time frame for open enrollment?
A: Open enrollment takes place from November 1, 2016 - January 6, 2017.

Q: Should we also mark second, third, or fourth choice on the open enrollment form?
A: Yes, particularly if you don’t want to go to your newly assigned home school.

Q: For students who receive Special Education services, will services follow them to their new schools?
A: The Director of Special Education is working through these decisions. We will work with parents and keep them informed once decisions are finalized.

Q: Will students enrolled in Career Technical programs be able to complete their programs?
A: The director of College and Career Services is working through these decisions. We will work with parents and keep them informed once decisions are finalized.

Q: What will happen to the building?
A: The building will be used as swing space for the combined Kenmore/Garfield High School.

Q: How will you help my child make the transition to the new school?
A: The staff at your newly-assigned school looks forward to welcoming your student. 

Q: When will the merger take place?
A: It will happen in the fall.

Q: Thank you for responding to the letters I’ve sent to you. Can we get a new building number from the state?
A: The Garfield number will come here. We are not allowed to close both, but we can change the name.

Q: What will my diploma say when I graduate?
A: Right now, I’m going to say “Kenmore - Garfield.”

Q: When you’re speaking about the merger, people keep saying “If you’re going to merge”; is it final or not?
A: The schools will merge in the fall.

Q: I have two at Innes and one at Kenmore, so my kids will need to go on a private bus. Can you guarantee that my kids will be safe on Metro?  
A: Innes will still be here in this community. We are looking at bus passes for all students. 

Q: When are you going to quit redrawing the lines where we always get the short end of the stick?
A: The main area that was redistricted was when we closed Margaret Park. We added students from Central Hower at the same time.

Q: What if kids still have letter jackets? We’re hearing that kids won’t be able to wear their Kenmore clothes.
A: I haven’t heard that. When we merge two buildings, we need to be respectful of the current traditions. They can wear their current clothes.

Q: When the levy was passed in 2003, the taxpayers were told the money would be used within the cluster. East has six new buildings. Ellet has spent F$90 million. Firestone has an $82 million school. STEM school. What has happened to our Kenmore schools? Seems like our money got filtered to other clusters.  
A: When we entered into the school facilities agreement, the minimum requirement to build a new school is 350. We had schools in Kenmore Cluster smaller than 350. As enrollment continued to decline, we’ve had to close many schools.  

Q: Two schools in East Cluster are sitting at 50% full. We could have closed one of those schools and given those funds to Kenmore.
A: Every two years, the state renews the enrollment projections.

Q: What will happen with all of the trophies?
A: We keep all of our memorabilia. Once the new building is built, we need to have the community team recommend what should happen with the memorabilia.

Q: Who is going to be here for the coaches? Our coaches do so much to support our children and keep them off the street.
A: We will be sitting down with the principals to determine coaches.  

Q: There are many students in college credit plus classes and in Dream Akron. What will happens to those programs?
A: College credit plus is available at every high school. As enrollment increases, we will be adding counselors to accommodate.

Q: What will the mascot be?
A: We want both communities to come together to determine a new mascot.

Q: Numbers have dropped. A few years ago, our numbers were higher. Why were we last in this process just like Garfield?
A: Actually, North is last because they are not even on the list. Kenmore wasn’t even eligible at the beginning because it was a newer building.

Q: We had 802 students years ago. We went up to 842 in 2012 even though the city dropped 7,000. Website says, “Each cluster will receive equal attention?” Did Kenmore receive equal attention?
A: Of course not because it’s related to enrollment decline. The majority of the elementary schools did not qualify to be rebuilt because they didn’t have the enrollment.

Q: Cost of Coventry HS was $21 million. Firestone was $83 million. I know Firestone is also a middle school and double the size as Coventry, but Firestone is far beyond $83 million.  
A: At Firestone, we have Akron School for the Arts, International Baccalaureate and the swimming pool. 

Q: More than 700 students open enrolled to Coventry. What if they come back to Akron?
A: I’ve talked with the superintendent in Coventry. Even if the state tells them they need to cut off open enrollment, they will probably let the students stay there until they graduate.

Q: This is going to happen whether we like it or not, but I want to know what will you do with the closed schools, such as Smith?
A: I’m working with the city for each of the properties to look at how to repurpose or redevelop sites.

Q: When will the community group be established to help with the transition?
A: ASAP. If you’re interested in serving, please come up at the end.

Q: Why does Garfield staff get to merge here vs Kenmore staff? It’s not truly a merger.
A: I think because of the number of students, there will be plenty of Kenmore staff who can remain.

Q: It’s not really about the mascot or the emotion. It’s the wrong decision, though. There’s no one who has done more for public education than I have. I stood with all of you and made promises. When you had to make a tough decision. This is a community of 20,000 residents. Do you think this decision is going to grow more students? What is the right thing for the students? There is no study that says if we put more students together, especially poor students, their performance will go up. There is more research that says small schools are better especially for poor students. We can’t follow the blind lead from the state. The state is wrong. They should look at us just like Manchester, but they don’t because they are poor. David, I’m sorry, I think the world of you. I know you don’t want to go out and ask for more money, but shouldn’t we try? How about doing something like the Ginn Academy in Cleveland? What if we put on a specific levy or something unique for Kenmore. If this is a temporary solution, that’s fine; but don’t make this a permanent solution. We have 20,000 students in this neighborhood. I apologize to the community that I didn’t demand that Kenmore be rebuilt first. It’s not keeping the commitment that you’ve made.  
A: (No reply)

Q: I’m the last senior class president. Why is it that Garfield staff get priority over teachers here at Kenmore? Do they get priority over other teachers? My music teacher has been here from the beginning.
A: When we’re combining buildings, the larger building keeps the state IRN. Kenmore staff will get priority transfer to open positions. Some of those staff will end up here, and others will go to other places where they’ve put in for transfer.

Q: Why do we have to relocate our ROTC program?
A: We’re not allowed to have two units in one building, so we’re going to have to find a home for one of the units. We will be working with staff to work through this.

Q: The teachers here are the reason why I learned how to be a reporter. My daughters graduated from here. We tried to have our grandchild come here, but we found problems with curriculum and accountability. We moved to Uniontown. We still own property here, so I’m still paying taxes. You’ve broken your promise. What do you say to the taxpayers who aren’t getting their return on their investment? Your curriculum is lacking, your report card is failing. Why haven’t the root causes of why parents have pulled their kids out of Akron. Until you address the root causes, you’ll continue to see enrollment decline.
A: Our district is complicated. We have students who excel, who have scholarships to college, who have behavior problems, who can’t speak English. Some of our families have challenges. Our staff gives 110%.  

Q: Decline in enrollment. What did you bring in to make people want to come here?
A: In all of our schools, we’ve hired the best teachers. We’ve brought in support for athletics. Innovation Generation Scholarship.  

Q: The Ohio State University does not have climate control band rooms.
A: Each building has a design team, so they worked through that with architects.  

Q: Everything has to be approved by you, the superintendent.
A: I make the recommendation,\; but the board, city council and state has to approve it. 

Q: Why not step down and resign since you haven’t followed through on the promise to the community?
A: Thank you.

Q: What will you use the Kenmore building for once the new school is built? You said on the radio that you might use this for employees.
A: When the interviewer asked what could we do with Kenmore? I talked about numerous options. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with this building. I have an athletic advisory that is trying to look at how to upgrade athletic facilities. We’re trying to reduce our footprint.

Q: Neither one of our schools wants to co-exist. We both love our colors, our name and our mascot. I’m glad it will be Kenmore - Garfield. I think it would be good to take one color from one school and then the dominant color from Garfield to combine. Or we could put the Cardinal on the Ram’s horn.
A: Creative ideas.

Q: I own many residential properties in Garfield and Kenmore. We started middle school sports.  
A: Joe Vassalotti, our athletic director, will work with you to look at future.

Q: Your job is a business. You need to run this like a business.You’ve lost so many kids to Barberton, Coventry and Norton. You’d think we should build something to compete. These communities built new schools with new athletic facilities. Then you’re wondering why kids are leaving. Why can’t we just build two schools for $25 million each vs spending $60 million on new merged schools? Why can’t we just fix up Kenmore with $10 million?  
A: In terms of renovation like we did at Innes, it would be on our local funds; we don’t have enough funds. 

Q: What if you put on a $10 million levy to rebuild Kenmore?
A: It’s the whole community that needs to pay for it.

Q: Where will the new school be located?
A: I will be giving the board various location options at our next board meeting with pros and cons. I’ve looked at many properties with many issues. If we have to buy property, then we won’t be able to put in the amenities into the school.

Q: I’ve heard from you that Ohio won’t let us do this or that; I want to know why the board doesn’t go fight the state. What will happen with the stadium?
A: Current stadium will be used.  

Q: I’ve heard nasty things about our students. That we have bad students and lesser students. My sister goes here, and I graduated from here. My sister just passed all of ACT; she is very successful in ROTC. I’m worried that there will be a bias against the Kenmore students.
A: I’m not going to tolerate when people talk negatively about Kenmore. We will have students come together and carefully transition.

Q: I was a 2008 graduate of Kenmore. I was here when Central Hower closed. I just heard that no honors classes are offered here anymore. I’m currently a teacher at Jackson, Ohio. When I notice there that Jackson is always adding honors classes with whatever funds he can find. We can talk about a new building. We can use those millions of dollars for academics. You’re telling kids that they don’t deserve an honors class. Why don’t you use the extra money to offer the academics they deserve?
A: The facility money can only be used for facilities.

Phone numbers you may need:

Kenmore High School Interim Principal, Douglas Faris, 330.773.6831
Secondary Education Executive Director, Mark Black, 330.761.3079 
Open Enrollment Office Supervisor Marianne Malecky, 330.761.2816
Special Education Office Interim Director Melissa Frymyer, 330.761.3145
College and Career Services Director Barbara Williams, 330.761.3130