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New APS board members sworn in

1/16/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

In its annual changing of the guard meeting, which took place Jan. 13, the Akron Public Schools (APS) Board of Education swore in new members, honored the outgoing and elected new officers.

Current members who were re-elected this past November — Bruce Alexander, Lisa Mansfield and Veronica Sims — were sworn in. Dave Lombardi, who was elected for the first time in November, also was sworn in.

The new board then unanimously chose Mansfield as president and Alexander as vice president for 2014.

Last year’s president, Jason Haas, chose not to run for re-election in November. He had served on the board for six years, including two as vice president and two as president. Mansfield read a proclamation honoring him for his service, and board member the Rev. Curtis Walker called Haas a “faithful, honest, ardent advocate for what he believes.”

Sims added Haas had been “an extraordinary leader.”

In new board member assignments for the year, Alexander was appointed the board liaison for both the Buchtel and Firestone clusters.

In a short business meeting, the board approved the purchase, as urgent necessity, of an estimated $125,000 in computer equipment and wiring for 12 of the district’s schools. The technology is needed to carry out a mandate by the state of Ohio that all students must undergo computerized testing starting in the 2013-14 school year.

The state did not send money to pay for all of the computers required to test the students, said Superintendent David James. The district has no grant money available to pay for the equipment, he said, so the expense must come out of the General Fund.

School districts are now required to do pretesting in the fall, post-testing in the spring and mid-year testing, which was recently suspended because of the insufficient technological equipment, James said. The money and computers are needed “ASAP,” he said.

The 12 buildings in need include West Akron schools Crouse and Portage Path community learning centers (CLC). Even some of the new CLCs, with state-of-the-art technology, don’t have sufficient equipment for the simultaneous testing of so many students, James said, because the requirement didn’t exist when they were being planned and built.

In other business, the board approved the hiring of Andrew Ziccardi to be the new coordinator of school climate, part of the Student Services Department.

Dan Rambler, director of student services, said Ziccardi’s job will be to support principals, teachers, students and parents, working proactively on student behavior, discipline and attendance — any barriers to student achievement.

Ziccardi will spend “95 percent of his time in the buildings,” Rambler said, helping staff to prevent problems. Ziccardi was previously assistant principal at Innes Middle School.

The APS Board of Education’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St. in Downtown Akron.

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