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APS district’s revenue projections subject to change

4/25/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

The good financial news for the Akron Public Schools (APS) is the first-half local tax collection for fiscal year 2013 came in higher than projected by $685,000.

APS Treasurer Jack Pierson told the APS Board of Education April 22 this helps offset the collection from the last half of calendar year 2012, which took a big hit from the city of Akron’s TIF (tax increment financing) tax-abatement deals with businesses.

The APS had not known about these pending tax-abatement agreements, which had been awaiting approval by the state of Ohio, according to APS officials. Following their approval last fall, the district had to pay back to the city more than $3 million in tax money retroactively, Pierson had reported at the time.

He said Monday there are at least seven more TIFs awaiting approval in Columbus that they know of.

In fiscal years 2006 through 2009, Pierson said, the district received around 97 percent of what had been calculated for tax revenue. But last fall, that number fell to 86.6 percent of the estimated revenue, he said.

This fiscal year’s actual revenue is 91.47 percent of projected revenue, he said. “As of today,” he said, he was projecting a collection of about 95.8 percent for the next four years. He stressed “as of today,” saying that the projections are subject to change, possibly daily.

The district is still up in the air financially, awaiting a final two-year budget from the state, which is being debated and revised in Columbus.

In other business, Carla Sibley, APS director of community relations, reported on the district’s progress in increasing community engagement, customer service and community partnerships. Project Ujima, for example, is active in the Buchtel cluster schools, promoting discussion circles and supporting reading achievement, she said.

The APS’ Parent Engagement Project (PEP) will meet May 22 at 6 p.m. at The University of Akron’s Martin Center to foster communication and help build a positive parent/school climate, Sibley said.

The APS has community partnerships to help support families with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, Akron Children’s Hospital, the Akron Council of PTAs, St. Hilary  School and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, among others, she pointed out.

To help address the concerns of parents who come to the Board of Education building to talk to someone about an issue, Sibley said the district instituted a new meeting request form last fall.

The visitors fill out the form specifying what their concern is, and then either Sibley speaks with them or she directs them to another appropriate person, such as the director of student services for disciplinary issues or the director of business affairs for a problem with busing, or the director of elementary or secondary education.

The new form is working well, she said, in giving parents an opportunity to put their concerns in writing and then speak with the appropriate person about those concerns.

The student chosen to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the meeting was Emma Gibson, a third-grader at Case Elementary School in West Akron. Board President Jason Haas introduced her as “a superstar student” and said she has been on the Honor Roll this entire school year. Her principal, Sharon Hill-Jones, called Emma a student leader, Haas said.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for May 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway in Downtown Akron.

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