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APS board accepts donation from foundation

7/17/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron Public Schools (APS) Board of Education members celebrated the news July 14 that Akron native LeBron James will return to Northeast Ohio to play basketball for the Cleveland Cavaliers after four years in Miami.

“In our hearts and APS, LeBron James never left,” said board President Lisa Mansfield. “Now he’s changing his ZIP code to match his heart.”

James announced July 11 he decided to end his contract with the Miami Heat and instead play for the Cavs.

During the meeting, board members accepted a donation of $50,000 from the LeBron James Family Foundation to support 360 students in the district’s summer technology camps.

The funding is part of James’s Wheels for Education program, which provides educational support for APS third-graders, said board member the Rev. Curtis Walker. James has been a generous donor to the schools, and “We always appreciate what he does for Akron,” said Walker.

The board also accepted a $102,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Child Nutrition to provide more fresh fruits and vegetables for APS students at no cost to them.

This is an expansion over a similar grant last year that provided for three schools, said Debra Foulk, executive director of business affairs. This year four schools will get the fresh food: Crouse, Findley, Leggett and Seiberling Community Learning Centers (CLCs). The district will buy from local vendors when possible, said Foulk.

In other business, several new administrators were hired or promoted for the coming school year.

Erica Glover will become dean of students at Buchtel CLC. Glover has been an intervention specialist and administrative intern at Buchtel.

The new dean of students at Firestone High School and Litchfield Middle School will be Tracey Lambdin. Lambdin, an Army/National Guard veteran, is also an intervention specialist who has been a behavior and climate coach at the Bridges Learning Center, said Human Resources Director Kathy McVey.

Both were hired effective Aug. 11.

Treasurer Jack Pierson summed up the end-of-the-fiscal-year finances with good news and bad news.

The good news is that revenues were up $130,000 over projections while expenditures were $200,000 less than projected. One big area of expense reduction was in salaries, he said.

“We’ve reduced staff and staff has gotten younger,” he said.

But there has been a huge increase in expense due to the money that follows students if they leave APS to go to a charter school or a private school via vouchers, he said.

Five years ago, such “tuition” cost the APS $36.8 million, he said, while in fiscal year 2014 that amount has jumped to $50.8 million.

“This has added $14 million to the budget,” he said.

He has made a five-year financial forecast but said the reality could be much different if the state funding formula changes or if the government phases the tangible reimbursement out completely.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for July 28 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St. in Downtown Akron.

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