North Community Meeting
North Community Meeting
Akron Board of Education
July 20, 2016
View Superintendent David James’s presentation on the building project and enrollment statistics.
Q&A from the North meeting has also been translated in the following languages:
Below are questions posed by members of the community in attendance and answered by APS Superintendent David James.
- How were the buildings that were rebuilt chosen?
We looked at worse first and other criteria, such as, neighborhoods previously negatively impacted, where we could move students into swing space, schedules for getting bonds sold with the city, serious boiler and structural needs, and enrollment.
- Why would we rebuild other high schools with declining enrollment when North’s enrollment continues to grow?
We’re looking at many options for North and other schools in the district. Last night, we talked about combining Kenmore into Innes as an option. North has Jennings built, so that’s why it is an option to move North there.
- Why were there overruns for Firestone and Harris?
There weren’t any overruns. Firestone is a combination of Firestone and Litchfield for 1,700 students.
- What are cost differences to move students from closed buildings?
If you move students out of buildings that are approximately 60% capacity or less, you save money. Transportation must be considered though.
- Could we build the International Institute into North similar to Helen Arnold and the Urban League?
These were two separate budgets that built Helen Arnold and Urban League. International Institute needs to move due to the Tallmadge Rd. construction. We will look at any options. We may be able to keep North in it’s current building. We want to look for additional partners where maybe they can help pay for renovations and further develop our Healthcare Academy here at North.
- The refugee population is the least likely to be able to accommodate transportation issues. Why would you do this to them?
We’ve heard this loud and clear and this is a very important consideration.
- Will residency lines from the entire district be redrawn to accommodate the loss of two high schools? If not, why?
The only option that would require boundary changes is if we combine 2 high schools. The struggle is the distance between 2 high schools when the boundaries are far apart.
- Why can’t North be refurbished?
We are looking at that. The boiler system is a problem here at North. Someone has suggested that we take the 25 million from the city and repair our remaining buildings, but the final cost to rebuild all of our remaining schools will cost over 100 million. I’m trying to see if we can get some capital partners to help renovate North.
- Where do most of our students in the district go to school?
Buchtel - 601; East 743; Ellet 1,045; FHS 1236; Garfield 722; Kenmore 534; North 827
- How will this affect North becoming a Healthcare Academy?
The ideal is to keep North the way it is and hopefully grow the population, then find a partner to renovate the building. Then maybe down the road find a permanent population.
- North HS will outgrow East within three to five years due to refugee population. North is the only high school with growing populations so shouldn’t it be rebuilt here?
Ellet has been a stable population. They have the highest population of residents going to Ellet. Compared to Kenmore, Buchtel and Garfield, you are right that they have seen more of a decline.
- Are you concerned that combining two rival high schools will cause discipline problems?
Yes, that is a concern and we’ve been looking at this very carefully. We’re taking this into consideration for our final decisions.
- The board gets money for each child, where does that go?
Two pots of money: operations of buildings - for teachers, books, etc.. and facility money from the state. The facility money is based on square footage and it is only used for facilities.
- Why was there not an option keeping North open?
There is an option where Jennings becomes the new North. This is the option where North stays open. We’re here to listen to new options.
- Why not move STEM HS to 400 West Market and North to Central Hower
400 West Market is not appropriate for a high school because of science labs and career education. Administration will most likely be moved there to save money by consolidating two buildings into one.
- What was the rationale for the options that included moving North to East?
We were trying to reach goal of getting all kids in a new building.
- What about sports programs?
If we combine North and East, the 2 sports programs would be combined. If North moved to Jennings, they could maintain their sports.
- Why weren’t handouts provided? The powerpoint is too difficult to read.
To save trees, we posted all of the documents and presentations on our akronschools.com website. We also posted all of the questions/answers on our website as well.
- Are we concerned about the loss of students to Cuyahoga Falls if North closes?
Absolutely. There was an article today about Coventry today and open enrollment. That is a concern of mine if we would lose students to Cuyahoga Falls.
- Do we have enough ESL staff across the district to accommodate students
- Have you considered suspending the construction of Ellet and using that money for other high schools?
No, we’re not going to suspend Ellet. There are very serious roof issues there. Entire parts of the ceiling are crumbling.
- How will the city pay for the increase in crime due to the increased number of dropouts?
I’m more concerned about students leaving for other school options vs dropping out.
- Have you looked at any historical data to see how long it took ESL students to assimilate to schools here and then you’ll be requiring students to make another change?
This is certainly a concern. We know the state will provide only limited dollars to rebuild our remaining schools and we want to make sure we can operate the buildings once we build them.
- What have you done to attract students to come back to APS?
This is what is so frustrating...we have excellent career education programs, we have scholarships for our students to University of Akron, we’ve done many strategies to attract students back.
- The enrollment numbers from the state look lower than our APS enrollment numbers? Will this be corrected?
The state numbers are just projections that’s why they are different.
- What are we going to do with the special needs students who need special care?
A particular concern for North is our students with disabilities. There are many concerns about moving them.
- If we stopped open enrollment, would this help with our numbers?
State law doesn’t permit us to stop open enrollment out of the district. We can only choose to stop open enrollment coming in. On our website there is a chart that shows all of our numbers from 1990 through 2016 with our funded enrollment. 26,863 students live within our boundaries. 6,899 choose to leave through open enrollment, vouchers, Peterson scholarship, charters, etc…
- Do we need three elementary schools in North Hill? Could one hold Jennings?
Harris couldn’t accommodate Jennings population. Harris is built for 475 or 500. We may need to merge Bettes into Harris.
- What will happen to the Early Childhood Education program at North that my daughter is in?
If we combine with East, we would look to see if we could continue the program.
- Does the school system consider alternative energy use in its new buildings to save money?
We haven’t done a lot with solar, but our new buildings seek to meet LEED Silver certification standards.
- How do you determine funding for a building based on square footage?
The state has formulas. For example, they look at the population, then apply a square footage calculation for each student. The career education programs have a different formula. When we work with a community to design a building, the state comes up with the allowable costs.
- Which option would impact the fewest students?
The option that would impact the fewest is keeping North where it is. Moving Kenmore into East and rebuilding Garfield/Kent as 7-12.
- With North being the largest school, why not fix it and move another school into North?
We’ve thought about it. One option that came up last night was looking at Central Hower. STEM HS only takes up 50% of Central Hower. We could look at moving the STEM HS into another building. There are many issues about moving North out of this building.
- If North is not good enough for our students, why is it good enough for a bio-med program?
We want all students to have a new building.
- How will the final decision be made?
I don’t make the final decision. The board and the city council through the Joint Board of Review make the decision. There are many barriers to closing or moving North. What these folks will need to do is look at how to spend the last state funds and then decide what to do with the last buildings remaining.
- Did you realize that 92,000 cars pass North on Route 8? This is free advertising on a massive scale. Kenmore and Garfield can’t do that.
Yes, I agree.
- Why can’t Kent be put into Goodrich?
Goodrich is even worse than Kent. The only hope for Kent is a 7-12 with Garfield.
- Upward Bound students question - did you consider the student and parent voices when making this decision?
We haven’t made the decision yet, but absolutely, students are the most important factor in the decision.
- What happens if we combine schools, but then become overcrowded when enrollment increases?
That’s part of the difficult decisions that need to be made. The population in our entire city has decreased. There are a lot of vacant homes. I need to be concerned about our senior citizens who are paying high water and sewer bills. We need to take care of our taxpayers and our students at the same time.
- Did the board look at building North into Jennings when Jennings was built?
If we could have turned the clock back, yes, I would have built North into Jennings. At one point the state said we could only have 4 high schools, I told them you’re crazy. They don’t understand how our community is based on our neighborhoods.
- If North is closed, will there be any career education programs lost?
If we move it into Jennings, we wouldn’t be able to move HVAC to Jennings for example. If we move North into East, we would need to look at each program.
- Do other schools offer the diversity of career education programs?
Yes, our other high schools offer a variety.
- When you combine high schools, will there be two principals and more security?
There will only be one principal, but more assistant principals and security.
- Why don’t you combine the middle schools and high schools across the city? Ellet/Hyre; Garfield/Kent.
Hyre is already built and there is not enough space at Hyre to build Ellet onto that property. Buchtel and East are combined. We’re looking at Garfield and Kenmore. Firestone and Litchfield are combined.