News Today – South Side Education News & Notes

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Coventry Local Schools BOE recognizes outgoing member

COVENTRY — During a Dec. 6 Coventry Local Schools Board of Education (BOE) special meeting, which took the place of this month’s regular meeting, members wished outgoing board member Ron Reed well.
Reed did not seek re-election in the Nov. 2 General Election, and Laura McGraw, who won the board seat, will take over Jan. 1.
Coventry Superintendent George Fisk thanked Reed for his service to the district. Reed said the district has had an amazing turnaround financially and said his four years serving on the board have been enjoyable.
“The district is heading for a great future,” Reed said, adding the board has proved money can be spent wisely.
Treasurer Lisa Blough also provided the board with a financial update during the meeting. She said by refinancing the construction bonds for the new high school, $9.5 million will be returned in savings to property taxpayers in the district over the remaining 27 years of the bonds. The district has also made additional cost-saving moves, including refinancing a 2020 loan, saving approximately $120,000, and ending an agreement with Petermann Bus, which is expected to save the district $300,000 a year for the next four years.
Also during the meeting, the board heard several holiday songs performed by the Coventry High School band. New Coventry High School Band Director Brandon Cummings also provided an overview of the band’s activities this fall and said he is “very blessed” to be in a district that values the arts.
Cummings also said the marching band participated in the Ohio Music Education Association’s State Marching Band Finals Nov. 6 for the fifth time in school history. The band received an overall rating of II (Excellent), which matches the rating it received in its four previous state finals in 1981, 1982, 1984 and 2018.
The next BOE meeting is set for Jan. 5 at 6 p.m. at Coventry High School, located at 1135 Portage Lakes Drive.

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— Eric Poston

 

REAL TALK presentation to focus on politics in education

GREATER AKRON — The League of Women Voters (LWV) REAL TALK virtual program on “Protect Honesty in Education: The Impact of Partisan Politics on Ohio Education” will take place Dec. 15 at 7 p.m.
This event, presented in partnership with the Honesty for Ohio Education nonpartisan statewide coalition and Akron NAACP, will be moderated by Jenny Hamel, education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.
LWV officials stated the discussion will focus on the importance of protecting honesty in education and the impact partisan politics is having on public education at the Ohio Statehouse, State Board of Education and school districts. Speakers will examine how education is being weaponized through race and identity in an assault manifested through harmful legislation that censors education around racism and sexism, political pressure to repeal anti-racism and equity frameworks, and concerted efforts to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in local school districts, according to LWV officials.
Speakers will include 
Laura Kohler, former president of the State Board of Education, and Kayla Blake, student leader of SPEAK.
Coalition 
panelists 
will include Tim Johnson, policy advocate, Ohio Poverty Law Center;
 Liz Kirby, superintendent, Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District; and State Board of Education representatives Meryl Johnson (District 11), Antoinette Miranda (District 6) and Michelle Newman (District 9).
To participate, register at realtalklwv.org/honesty-in-education.html.
REAL TALK is a diversity, equity and inclusion program amongst four LWV chapters in Northeast Ohio (Akron Area, Greater Cleveland, Hudson and Kent), in partnership with the Akron NAACP, The Freedom BLOC, Ideastream Public Media and WKSU. The program examines the inequities and disparities within education, public health, criminal injustice and democracy. For more details, visit www.RealTalkLWV.org.

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APS board hears financial forecast

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Ryan Pendleton presented the Akron Public Schools (APS) district’s five-year financial forecast at the APS Board of Education meeting Nov. 29.
Pendleton stated this legal document, overseen by the State Auditor’s Office and the Ohio Department of Education, is a tool that allows the district to sign long-term contracts and is a reflection of the district’s fiscal health.
The forecast presents a picture of the district’s finances from 2021 through 2025, when the last of the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds are to be used, Pendleton said.
“In May 2020, the district was facing a financial crisis and was levy imminent,” Pendleton reported. “As we recover from the pandemic and utilize ESSER funds, we must be mindful of our strategic investments and their sustainability.”
Pendleton called the forecast a “reset” because “it is no longer compared to the forecast before it because so many components of it are new.”
Superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack also referred to APS’ climate and culture as “reset plans,” with the district seeing positive results due to the focus on health and safety, student and staff wellbeing and supports, and academic recovery and acceleration toward meeting or exceeding district standards.
She said administrators at Innes CLC took input from students, staff and families and have seen a reduction in fights and other disruptions in school hallways. Modifications also were put in place at Forest Hill CLC, and school leaders reported the teachers are happier and able to “connect with the kids on a creative level.”
“At East High School, they reintroduced this concept of expectations around the school,” Fowler-Mack said. “So they truly did a reset with the children and working in collaboration with the staff. They said that they are starting to see evidence of it in students’ grades and in hallway behavior and improving tardiness to class.”
Fowler-Mack also stated COVID-19 “still is real and amongst us,” adding that between last April and Nov. 20, the district’s ongoing clinics have provided the COVID-19 vaccine to 1,072 students, and flu shot clinics Nov. 15-22 have “outpaced our expectations,” with the clinics providing shots to 463 students.
In addition, the superintendent reported the human resources department is continuing to recruit tutors and substitute teachers to address the district’s staff shortage.
The next board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sylvester Small Administration Building, 10 N. Main St. in Downtown Akron. It also will be available to watch online at bit.ly/2V8oNVk.

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— By Abby Cymerman

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