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APS district hires new treasurer

8/14/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Becky Tompkins

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The new treasurer of the Akron Public Schools (APS) is Ryan Pendleton.

The Board of Education chose Pendleton through a search process that began last May, when Jack Pierson announced he would retire at the end of July. Pierson had been APS treasurer for 21 years.

The 40-year-old Pendleton comes to the APS from Barberton City Schools, where he has been assistant treasurer and then chief financial officer/chief operating officer for the past nine years. He is a resident of Sagamore Hills.

Board President Lisa Mansfield said the board was pleased to have 27 applicants for the position, nine of whom were interviewed.

She said Pendleton earned a bachelor’s degree from Malone College and a master’s from Cleveland State University, and he has done post-master’s work at Ashland University.

His contract is effective Sept. 1, but Pendleton said at the Aug. 11 board meeting when he was hired that he would start to work the next day, learning the APS system.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of the Akron team,” he said.

The board also approved Superintendent David James’ 58 personnel recommendations, from teachers and coaches to tutors and secretaries.

The new principal of the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Middle School will be Amanda Morgan. Morgan was formerly assistant principal at Jennings Community Learning Center (CLC), according to Human Resources Director Kathy McVey.

The board also approved hiring six deans of students, most of whom will be assigned to middle or high schools, McVey said.

James encouraged the board to consider hiring some specialists to help teachers and students, after specialist positions were cut in recent years because of financial necessity.

James said he would like to hire a director of data and accountability to keep up with all the changing reporting requirements, a person to improve the APS’ innovative course offerings and a digital learning specialist, for starters, he said.

This followed a presentation by Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams on the preliminary state report card feedback the district has received from the Ohio Department of Education. The final district report card for 2013-14 will not be released until September, she said.

But the preliminary results show increases in reading scores, which she said have been rising for the past four years. Last fall, there were 600 third-graders who scored “at risk” on the third-grade reading test, and after much work and intervention, that number is down to 11, she said.

The state standards keep changing, however, and the benchmark for state proficiency increased from 75 percent to 80 percent, McWilliams said. With the bar thus raised, APS performance fell in several categories.

Although the graduation rate increased to 78.4 percent, that ranks as an F, she said.

Mansfield complained about the moving benchmarks, saying that it’s difficult to explain to the public how almost 80 percent is considered an F by the state. “It’s like beating your head against the wall,” she said. “It’s demoralizing.”

The state is moving this school year to all-online PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) testing for math and language arts. The PARCC tests are aligned with the Common Core standards, McWilliams said.

The district has invested heavily in the past year on the required digital equipment, she said, and students practiced taking the tests online last year.

In other business, the board approved parking lot repairs and paving at Essex Elementary School and Firestone High School. Essex, which has been closed for two years, will reopen soon as a preschool, and its parking lot needs repair, said Director of Facility Planning Paul Flesher.

Firestone’s parking lot is seeing a great deal of wear and tear due to the construction of the new community learning center on the former Litchfield Middle School site next door, Flesher said, and it is not likely to last through the construction.

Weather permitting, both repaving jobs should be finished by the start of school, he said.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Aug. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St. in Downtown Akron.

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