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APS board approves Ellet CLC construction

2/16/2017 - West Side Leader
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By Maggie DeMellier

At its Feb. 13 meeting, the Akron Public Schools (APS) Board of Education approved the construction of Ellet Community Learning Center (CLC), with a guaranteed maximum cost of $47.75 million.

Board approval allows construction to begin immediately on Ellet CLC, which is expected to be open to students in September 2019.

The board approved a contract for Hammond Construction, of Canton, to act as construction manager for Ellet CLC at a cost not to exceed $960,415.

In other news, Board President Patrick Bravo said the district lost a cherished family member with the death of Ann Lane Gates, who died Feb. 5 at the age of 92. He noted she spent 30 years serving the district and she was the first African-American woman in Akron to secure a teaching contract at the high school level .

“We extend our thoughts and prayers to her family,” Bravo said. “She will be remembered by those whose lives were forever enriched by her contributions.”

In light of recent national events on the education front, Bravo urged educators and board members to continue their efforts to support public education locally and nationally.

“It’s incumbent on each of us to be vigilant and watch closely what’s going on in Washington, D.C.,” he said.

Also during the meeting, Kathy McVey, APS human resources director, introduced a presentation of the Peer Assistance and Review Program (PAR). The program, whose focus is to make APS the No. 1 urban school district in the United States, offers first-year teachers support, mentoring and guidance to bolster their success, she said.

The presentation highlighted the success of the program, which began in 2013, and noted its contribution to teacher retention. Of the 526 teachers who were served by PAR in 2013, 514 of them are still teaching in the district.

Board member Lisa Mansfield said she was pleased to see the positive results the program had on teacher retention. Board member the Rev. Curtis Walker asked whether similar resources are available to teachers who aren’t new.

McVey said there are programs in place for teachers who are struggling.

Board members Bruce Alexander and John Otterman, co-chairs of the Boards and Policy Committee, discussed the area heroin epidemic and its potential to impact the school system. The committee has been considering whether APS should make opiate-overdose kits available in some of the schools.

“Other school districts have implemented programs,” Otterman said. “We should be a leader in the community.”

Walker pointed out problems concerning any medications being available in the schools.

“Aspirin, EpiPens, what are we allowed to have?” he asked.

Bravo suggested a meeting of all board members to explore the issue, and Board Vice President Tim Miller agreed to schedule it.

In other business, the board:

  • passed a consent agenda that included a resolution to adopt the working definitions that have been developed for diversity, equity, inclusion and excellence in education;
  • approved the instructional improvement and in-service days, the alternative make up of calamity days (including online options) and the alternate school calendar for the 2017-18 school year;
  • accepted a grant from OMNOVA Solutions Foundation for $3,500 to fund the Let Me Learn program, provided by Joseph Coleman at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics High School and Firestone CLC; and
  • accepted a $50,000 grant from the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to support innovative projects and programs, such as a project in which students code their own robots.

Bravo announced the district will conduct two joint meetings with Akron City Council. The meetings are scheduled for April 12 and Oct. 11. More details will be available at a later date.

The board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway St.

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