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New APS positions will support students

10/10/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

Two new Akron Public Schools (APS) staff members will help improve the school climate by increasing the focus on student support and counseling.

At the Oct. 7 meeting, the APS Board of Education approved the creation of two positions, each of them new but a revised version of a previous job.

Before he became director of student services, Dan Rambler was a coordinator of student services, focusing on areas such as disciplinary hearings and attendance, he said.

The board created the new position of school climate coordinator, student services, to replace Rambler’s old job, now vacant. This employee will provide behavior support, said Superintendent David James, encouraging positive behavior and focusing on behavior intervention and anti-bullying measures.

This coordinator will work mainly in the school buildings, Rambler said, to have more impact on student behavior before problems send the student downtown for discipline. It will be a more proactive position, with the staffer working to prevent behavior problems — “all those things that interfere with student achievement,” he said.

Filling another vacancy created by an employee’s retirement, the board also approved the position of program manager for school counselors. This employee will report to Mark Black, executive director of secondary schools.

The program manager will oversee the school counselors and align what the counselors are doing with both mental health/psychological counseling and college and career advising, said James. The focus will be on helping students with college and career readiness, he said.

Black said the new position will provide someone to help improve the district’s climate and streamline what the counselors are doing.

The two new positions were open as of Oct. 8.

Board President Jason Haas reported the opening of the school year this fall went well, with things “getting off on the right foot.” He thanked everyone involved in the APS for the team effort that made it happen.

Haas also said James will begin reporting at the school board meetings on the status of the district’s building projects. The district is in the process of transforming buildings into community learning centers, most of them new, with 59 percent of the funding coming from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

Haas said James’ updates would occur over the next several board meetings.

In other business, the board approved the purchase of eight new Thomas-Built buses for district-wide student transportation, which has increased significantly with the state-mandated busing of charter school students.

The buses will be purchased from Myer Equipment for $772,000.

Following an executive session, the board voted to award step pay increases to administrators and nonbargaining staff members, who have not received step increases for four years, according to Haas. The cost of the raises, which will be retroactive to July 1, is not yet known. The raises will not “recover” steps lost during the four-year freeze, Haas said.

The board’s next meeting is set for Oct. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St. in Downtown Akron.

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