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APS class sizes down slightly

11/21/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

Every fall, the Akron Public Schools (APS) tabulates how many students are attending classes, as opposed to how many the district had projected, and adjusts the classes accordingly.

This fall, the kindergarten through sixth-grade average class size is 22.6 students, down 0.6 student from last fall’s elementary school attendance, it was announced at the Nov. 18 Board of Education meeting.

Student enrollment through fifth grade decreased 385 pupils from last year, according to the district’s report; when student numbers go down, so does the number of teachers.

Average elementary class sizes were as low as 16 and 17 students in the early 2000s, according to district records. That was because the Ohio Department of Education dedicated funding to help public schools reduce class size, said Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams.

That money ran out, she said, especially in the last five years.

“All of our classes, [kindergarten] through 12, have increased,” she said. “It’s one of the biggest impacts on our budget.”

The district works hard to keep classes reasonable in size in spite of the budget cuts, she said, because “we feel strongly that you can’t have a solid learning environment with large numbers.”

In other business:

  • In the Nov. 5 General Election, board members Bruce Alexander, Lisa Mansfield and Veronica Sims were re-elected to their seats. Newcomer Dave Lombardi also was elected. Board President Jason Haas, who chose not to run for re-election, welcomed Lombardi to the board’s table to observe. He will be sworn in as a member in January.
  • Superintendent David James reported he had recently received a check for $82,529 from FirstEnergy for the district’s efforts to reduce energy consumption.
  • Four of the new community learning centers (CLC) — McEbright, Schumacher, Windemere and Hyre — have movement-sensor lights, which go off when no one is in the room. The check — the district’s share in the electrical savings — will go into the General Fund, James said.
  • Chosen to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the meeting was Danaejah Toney, a sixth-grade honors student at Helen Arnold CLC whose favorite subject is math, especially algebra, she said.
  • James and board members expressed regret at the recent death of Adam Grigas, who was an All-American swimmer and alumnus of Firestone High School. He was employed by the district as a Firestone swim coach when he died.
  • Planning meetings for the future Firestone/Litchfield CLC will be held Dec. 5 at 3:45 and 6 p.m., in the cafeteria at Firestone High School, 333 Rampart Ave. Parents, staff and community members are invited to hear a progress update and give their input.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St. in Downtown Akron.

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