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APS recognizes partner agency, working on teacher evaluations

2/28/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Akron Public Schools (APS) officials recognized a partner that provides counseling services to students and heard an update on the implementation of a teacher evaluation system at the Feb. 25 Board of Education meeting.

Pastoral Counseling Services (PCS) received the 2012 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Community Partnership Award. The award was created to recognize outstanding partners that serve students, families and/or staff in the APS, according to district officials.

In presenting the commendation, board President Jason Haas said the organization has collaborated with the APS since 1998 to provide mental health services to students and their families. In its first year, it served 178 students; in 2013, it is helping more than 2,000 students. Those services also include alternatives to a suspension program for elementary students needing mental health and behavioral supports in lieu of a home suspension that aims to reduce disruptive behavior, as well as a full wrap-around service for at-risk students, he said.

“We couldn’t ask for a better partner or more deserving recipient,” said Superintendent David James.

The Rev. Byron Arledge, CEO of PCS, accepted the commendation.

Also at the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams presented information on the district’s efforts to adopt the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System (OTES).

McWilliams said according to Ohio Department of Education (ODE) requirements, school districts must develop a system to begin evaluating a teacher’s performance beginning in September, and district officials are currently developing that rating system based on criteria from the ODE.

She said creating the system is complicated because all teachers, including art, physical education, music and other nonacademic teachers, must be assessed. That assessment will be based equally on teacher performance standards and student growth measures.

A teacher’s ratings will be used to determine salary increases and teacher layoffs, she said.

“We can’t use seniority for layoffs after this starts,” said McWilliams.

Haas also reported district efforts to go paperless to reduce costs are continuing. Haas said each month 150 packets of 50 to 100 pages for board meetings are prepared and mailed out. [For more on that topic, see related story on Page 1.]

“We are excited about taking this next step,” said Haas.

He also said district officials are reviewing dress codes, electronic improvements and discipline policy and procedures to determine what is working and what needs to be changed.

Also at the meeting, the board approved:

  • a memorandum of understanding with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA), the Akron Summit Community Action (ASCA) and the city of Akron to construct a $4.3 million 20,000-square-foot multifunctional educational and training community facility at the Summit Lake Community Center site. The new facility will be used for ASCA head start classes, AMHA training rooms and two kindergarten rooms for APS that will cost the district no more than $600,000. The board also approved and accepted the APS portion of the construction contract with Cavanaugh Building Corp.;
  • the appropriation of $235,000 from the Ohio STEM Learning Network Donor Objective Letter — Battelle Support for the Akron Regional STEM Hub Investment to assist in the sustainability and development of the Akron Regional STEM Hub and to ensure connectivity between the Hub and the Battelle STEM Innovation Networks through embedded staff programs, using APS’ best practices;
  • the acceptance of a $85,658 Community Service Grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the district’s WAPS-FM 91.3 public radio station;
  • the appropriation of $18,108 of Race to the Top funds for purchased services to hire a one-half social studies teacher at the Akron Early College High School;
  • the retention of Walter Haverfield LLP, of Cleveland, for additional legal counsel as needed;
  • the acceptance of 20 pairs of tennis shoes from Shoes That Fit for students at Glover Community Learning Center (CLC); 124 books on tape from Melissa Springer-Mest for Voris CLC; and $500 from Summit Construction Co. Inc. as a patron-level sponsor for the Volunteer Banquet March 26 at Todaro’s Party Center.

The board also approved a number of service contracts and the purchase of 100 Hewlett Packard ProBook 6570b laptops computers, at a cost not to exceed $150,440.

Personnel items approved at the meeting included: accepting the retirement of 25 professional staff, effective May 31 to June 30 except for two, which are effective this month, as well as five other retirement/resignations; hiring three individuals as needed as athletic event assistants and Zachary Izeman as recreation enrichment specialist for the afterschool enrichment program at the National Inventors Hall of Fame School … Center for STEM Learning; and awarding 14 supplemental spring sports contracts.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for March 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St. in Downtown Akron.

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