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Akron Public Schools Gain Academically, Struggle Financially

Akron Schools Superintendent David James delivered his 13th state of the schools report.
Akron Schools Superintendent David James delivered his 13th state of the schools report.

Akron Public Schools Superintendent David James gave a positive report , with a twist, during his 13th annual state of the schools address Wednesday.

The Akron school district is seeing positive academic gains, James said, and an increased number of career credentials were earned, based on 2018 data. That’s due, in part, to the college and career academies model piloted at North High School in 2016 and rolled out this year across the rest of the district.

James said the academies offer students a modern version of vocational education, giving students hands-on experience in areas of their choice.

“It’s better now because we now have information from employers on what skills they are looking for, what jobs are open and our kids have an opportunity to have a step up on the competition in terms of whatever they want to do and being prepared for it,” he said.  

As state and federal funding for schools remains flat, James said the Akron school board will begin crunching data to determine whether to put a levy before voters.

The Akron School district has not had a levy on the ballot in eight years.

“Clearly we’ve cut expenses, rearranged programs and reduced staff to get it this far,” James said. “But that is no longer a good alternative. In my opinion, without a new levy we will have to make cuts to educational programs and staff placing at risk the progress that we’ve made.”

James said the Ohio Department of Education reports that the Akron district spends less on administration and operations than other similar districts.

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Jennifer Conn joined WKSU in February 2019 as Akron reporter.