(you can go to Akron.com to get this story, too)
Here's a breakdown of what we're going to lose if Issue One doesn't pass on May 2, in all of the Akron Public Schools:
-33 teaching positions
-2.5 guidance counselors
-2 educational assistants
-$1 million from the textbook budget
-Central-Hower High School
-Hotchkiss Elementary School
And if all that doesn't save them enough money, they'll get rid of these, as well:
-personnel from all areas
-elementary art and music
-high school visual and performing arts
-additional schools will be shut down
APS board cuts $23 million from budget
By Jeff Gorman
DOWNTOWN AKRON — The Akron Public Schools (APS) Board of Education cut $23 million to balance its 2006-07 budget and warned of future cuts if the 7.9-mill operating levy does not pass in the May 2 Primary Election.
The board announced the reductions at its March 13 meeting.
The cuts include the elimination of 33 teaching positions, as well as 10 custodians, five administrators, four secretaries, 2.5 guidance counselors, two educational assistants and a librarian. The elimination of those jobs will save $3.36 million.
The school board also will eliminate $1 million from the textbook budget, as well as $181,617 in supplemental contracts for Central-Hower High School and Hotchkiss Elementary School. Those buildings will close this year.
Most of the savings will come from the $18.5 million in payroll, which will be deferred until after the 2007 fiscal year.
The cuts will balance the 2006-07 budget, while reducing the projected deficit for 2007-08 from $40 million to $33 million.
The school board also released a list of programs that could be eliminated if the levy, which is Issue No. 1 on the ballot, fails. The list includes personnel from all areas; athletics; career education; foreign languages; computers; elementary art and music; high school visual and performing arts; additional building closures; and more. Those cuts, if needed, would save an additional $6 million to $9 million.
“That’s what’s at stake,” said Superintendent Sylvester Small. “The state requires that we have a balanced budget.”
“We have already cut $30 million and 400 jobs from our budget to avoid a deficit of $70 million to $80 million,” said school board President the Rev. Curtis Walker. “If this levy fails, we risk a state takeover, the loss of local control and the loss of all of the progress we have made.”
The 7.9-mill levy would raise $23 million annually for the school district. It would cost $224 more per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.
Earlier in the meeting, the board accepted donations of $5,000 each from the Akron School Administrators Association and the Ohio Association of Public School Employees.
The board also accepted a grant of $110,000 from the GAR Foundation. The money will pay the salary of the principal of the planned Math, Science and Technology school at Inventure Place. Small said the new principal should be hired by June 30.
Also, Chase Bank (formerly Bank One) donated 600 books to Margaret Park Elementary School.
Several fifth-graders from King Elementary School wearing lab coats attended the meeting. Their teacher, Debbie Deidrick, talked about how the students are using Palm Pilots (handheld computers) to assist in their studies. The students demonstrated the devices for the school board and media. The program also included a Family Science Night, in which members of the community came to the school for a demonstration of the students’ new skills.
The King students’ parents helped to fund the Palm Pilot program with $6,000 in donations. SRI International also sponsored a study on the students’ use of the Palm Pilots.
King School was also a topic of conversation at the meeting of the Joint Board of Review, which met before the school board meeting. The joint board oversees the school reconstruction project.
The joint board heard a presentation from Progress Through Preservation, which advocates the renovation of historical school buildings.
Lauren Burge, of the architectural firm of Chambers, Murphy and Burge, talked about the historical significance of the King and Firestone Park elementary school buildings. She also talked about how the buildings could be renovated rather than being demolished and rebuilt.
She said the renovations would save 14.4 percent over the cost to rebuild Firestone Park and 7.7 percent of the cost to rebuild King.
However, the Ohio School Facilities Commission, the state agency overseeing the school construction project, will not renovate a school unless the cost of renovations would save at least 33 percent.
The next APS school board meeting is scheduled for March 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the administration building, 70 N. Broadway. The Joint Board of Review will meet at 4 p.m.
OKAY. So we definitely need to be taking action. I'm going to crosspost this everywhere, in order to get ideas and spread the news. Here are some ideas people have come up with so far to get the word out:
-street corner sign-holding parties
-emails to everyone you know
-snail mail to everyone you know
-posting on as many Akron/Ohio internet communities as possible
-Meetings around the city, in public places, inviting everyone you know
There is a myspace group specifically for this issue: http://www.myspace.com/safe2006
So, that's about it. Feel free to email me with comments/ideas/rants at firstname.lastname@example.org. My name's Deanna, by the way, and I'm a junior at in the Visual and Performing Arts Program in an Akron Public School. Spread the word to vote yes on Issue One!