Kenmore Community Meeting
Kenmore Community Meeting
Akron Board of Education
July 19, 2016
Superintendent David James presented background on the building project and enrollment statistics: view presentation.
Julie Ann Sweet-Buntin presented on the numerous positive initiatives happening in Kenmore: view presentation.
Below are questions posed by members of the community in attendance and answered by APS Superintendent David James.
- For the 2015-16 school year, Kenmore had 534 students; 243 of those live outside of Kenmore, but attend Kenmore. 291 resident students live in Kenmore. Coventry has 600 APS students. Why not cancel open enrollment?
This is a legal requirement; although districts can choose whether they participate. Coventry has open enrollment, but districts like Copley do not. Student matrix.
- If Kenmore is closed and students are sent to another high school, what consideration has been provided to merge communities to reduce violence?
We will work carefully with administrators and teachers to provide transition activities to help reduce issues.
- If Kenmore moves to Innes why can’t we keep our sports?
Innes has much smaller square footage, so we will need to reduce open enrollment into Kenmore if it is housed at Innes. I know we’ll be willing to revisit this if we can truly find enough students to have a sports team.
- Why is FHS gold-plated at the expense of the rest of Akron?
The cost of FHS and Litchfield is about 78 million - this is a middle school and high school. Cost per pupil is $44,520 dollars. Buchtel’s cost 52 million - cost per pupil $45,676 per student. Total costs of projects.
- It’s our town, we should have a say, why haven’t we?
We have had 400 joint board meetings; school board meetings are open to the public; city council meetings are public; two slides in my presentation have been consistent everywhere I’ve presented. Enrollment vs projected enrollment and total costs change. I presented at the Kenmore Community Meeting when we were closing Smith and Lawndale. Our enrollment is declining and the state won’t fund students who aren’t here. Kenmore used to be a much more vibrant neighborhood. I drive through the neighborhoods with vacant homes; this impacts our enrollment. I’ve committed to Mayor Horrigan that I will work with him to boost our population. That’s not to say that buildings can’t remain open, but the board will want to know how we’re going to pay for it when this building can house 1,300 students and there are only 500 attending.
- If Kenmore moves to Innes can we call it Kenmore?
That’s up to the board, but yes.
- Changing school boundaries - why did you change boundaries which hurt enrollment numbers at Kenmore?
When you look at north of 76, we had a lot of students who went to other high schools. We changed the boundaries to reflect where students actually attended.
- How many years before Kenmore closed?
I can’t answer that.
- Why does the community like our elementary schools, but not our middle schools?
No one likes middle schools or middle-school children. Middle school is a hard time for kids; they’re trying to find themselves. It is a transition year. We’re trying to build a culture in our schools where older students serve as role models for students. In the past we had difficulty in this building, but then we had committed principals and staff to create a better culture here.
- Why wasn’t information shared at PTA meetings?
I’ve actually attended PTA meetings. Maybe it’s because it happened in other people’s neighborhoods that people didn’t realize.
- If we were told at the beginning that we would have cut down to four high schools, then why didn’t we make that change back then? Is this person who made that bad decision still on the job?
That would be me! When we first started, our enrollment projections said we would have 30,000 students. At the beginning, we believed we could rebuild every school.
- How much do we pay to lease Central Hower?
Central Hower’s rent is $350,000 for ½ the building. We might have to look at moving them into another school.
- Why does every option keep Garfield open?
One option is combining Garfield and Kenmore. One idea was to combine Garfield and Kenmore and come up with a whole new name with a new legacy. You all could help me find land for this option. (David asked if people thought this was a viable option and they applauded)
- Why is Kenmore shrinking, but Firestone and Ellet are not?
A lot of families send their students to Coventry or Springfield. Ellet is the most stable population. Some of the programs at Firestone bring in open enrollment.
- Where are the Kenmore online students going?
Online at home.
- When will Kenmore officials be notified if an online student is leaving?
Their enrollment remains at their home school.
- Will the children at Lawndale and Smith be bussed?
Some are transported. We look at difficult pathways to get to school.
- If the projection from our perspective that we would have 19,000 students at this time. Why do we only have funds for 1,200?
The decline in enrollment happens every year, so it’s hard to predict. Enrollment projections.
- Do you know why families are leaving APS?
I get a lot of parents in my office. It’s like the cable company. When you get upset, parents have choices now. You have to be able to draw the line. When a kid is out of line, a kid is out of line, but we have to understand that parents have choices.
- Why if the costs are going up do current schools have state-of-the-art equipment in them?
All of our buildings are state of the art.
- There used to be alternative programs (Annex) for students with behavior problems. Would you open another school to move disruptive students there so parents won’t move their students out?
We’ve expanded alternative seats.
- How many students leave for charter schools?
3,451. Enrollment changes
- Is the board open to out-of-the-box solutions like merging with other districts?
This is beyond our authority.
- Why were students relocated to other high schools? Was the plan to lower enrollment to eventually close us down?
Some of the maps when we had the Akron plan was to keep racial balance where students were bussed. We eliminated these zones.
- When will parents be notified of final decision?
Joint board in August and then board and city council needs to make final vote. We need to pare down options shown today and give you additional feedback.
- Has there been a reduction in school board members and administrators to reflect the drop in enrollment?
Not in board members, but yes, there has been a reduction in staff.
- Can Kenmore be renovated?
There are no longer parts for air conditioning. We would need $100 million for renovating the three schools. The cost of renovating must be two-thirds the cost of a new building otherwise.
- Why not bring back programs to increase enrollment?
We will need to look at that.
- When Rimer and Heminger combined, their ratings went down. Parents then leave. Why do parents leave?
I can’t answer that. I don’t know what parents are thinking.
- Why can’t we combine Innes and Kenmore and move 6th grade to elementary?
That is an option we can consider.
- Taken together, Kenmore has a large footprint, what will be the effect of this large area without a high school?
I think that’s why we’re here to get input from all of you to look at viable options to keep a school in this neighborhood.
- What will you do with the 300+ East displaced students?
That’s the problem with the option in the middle. There are 348 students that we don’t have room for. We might need to look at a 6th grade building.
- What has been done to bring students back?
We’ve expanded career programs. We’ve expanded our school programs and customer service.
- Why did you choose moving Smith to Pfeiffer when you considered closing it?
Pfeiffer has been declining as well. The state will not partner with us to build any more elementary schools.
- Why is Ellet not affected in all models?
When you go through from 2002 until now, you find there are many things we would have done differently. We knew we didn’t have enough space to combine Hyre and Ellet at either site. We had to rebuild Hyre. Their enrollment has been stable. Hyre and Ellet have the highest percentage of residents who send their children to those schools. Ellet also had safety concerns.
- Don’t you think Kenmore neighborhood could benefit from a new school?
- How will high school students get to school so far away?
We’ve been working with Metro to see if there is a way to get bus passes.
- Career education and ROTC programs…will any be eliminated or changed?
We will need to review space capacity in other buildings. If it was a combined building like Garfield and Kenmore, we would build it to accommodate. We need more land though.
- If I brought my child back to Kenmore, what will happen to the nursing program at Buchtel?
Your child can still attend Buchtel.
- Why can’t you keep Kenmore where it is so it doesn’t move?
That could happen, but there would be no funds to keep it maintained.