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Akron Public Schools about partnerships
Working with universities, courts, social agencies, and community leaders to improve performance.

Mark Urycki
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In The Region:

Akron School Superintendent David James says the future of the district’s budget is not clear but the future of the district is fine.  In his State of the Schools speech today (Thur) James said partnerships will make Akron Schools better.  WKSU’s Mark Urycki reports..

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David James' State of the Akron Schools speech

David James' State of the Akron Schools speech

David James answers questions after his speech

David James answers questions after his speech

First off, the criticism. The Beacon-Journal reported that Akron disciplines a greater proportion of black students than other big city districts.  James, who is African-American, defended that, saying that group comes with associated issues

“There’s a higher concentration of poverty.  A higher concentration of living in a home without both parents.  And those impact, I think, behavior.  I’ve had a lot of parents in my office when their kids get in trouble.  And it’s usually a single parent.  You can tell there’s a big difference when parents aren’t engaged.  And so for me, if we’re going to improve this, it’s going to be a much bigger effort.”

That effort already expands to working with the county juvenile court and the state Department of Education on alternatives.   Other partnerships include area universities to offer college credits and to expand science and technical classes.

“I’d like to see our schools expand, our services expand to an anytime, anywhere platform.  So students can access their courses no matter where they are.  I’d like to offer online instruction to increase course offerings that prepare our students for the world of tomorrow.” 

In the immediate future, the district has to work with legislators to clarify state funding for schools.  But they’ll write a budget expecting cuts.

“We’ll probably go in thinking the funding isn’t coming. Or it won’t be extra or it’ll change and we’ll just proceed on the information we have now.”

James would like to extend the school year and the school day.  He expects the 22-thousand student district will shrink to about 20-thousand students over the next five years.

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