Akron Community Learning Centers is an aggressive,
15-year plan to remodel or rebuild Akron Public Schools and
transform the buildings into "community learning centers." With
joint funding from the state and local community, more than $800
million is available for this program the largest construction
opportunity in the history of Akron. CLCs benefit everyone.
Students get the best education possible, and taxpayers get the best value
for their dollars. During regular school hours, CLCs serve as
the modern school facilities Akron kids and teachers need. After
school, on weekends and during the summer, many can be used for
recreation, adult education, after-school and summer school
programs, and a wide variety of community activities.
Why rebuild and remodel schools?
Several years ago, a nationwide report on the condition of
school facilities ranked Ohio dead last. Ohio developed the Rebuild
Ohio plan to rebuild or renovate Ohio's 612 school districts. More
than $10 billion was set aside for the project. This money was part
of Ohio's share of a $206 billion national settlement between the
tobacco industry and a group of 46 states.
What is the Ohio School Facilities Commission?
The Ohio School Facilities Commission is the body created to
oversee the state's multi-billion-dollar school construction
program. The OSFC is financing 59 percent of the costs, while the Akron
community is responsible for 41 percent. Akron Public Schools is
taking advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
How is the project being paid for?
In May 2003, the residents of Akron overwhelmingly approved
Issue 10 a .25 percent income tax increase to fulfill Akron's 41
percent share of the funding. School and city officials knew it was
imperative to find an innovative way to raise the matching funds
without burdening Akron residents with increased property taxes.
Both groups knew they had to act boldly and decisively, or the city
and the schools would bear the tragic consequences of losing $409
million in state dollars and the opportunity to rebuild and remodel
Akron's schools. The tax is collected for 30 years the time required to issue and retire the bonds used to fund the
What won't the OSFC pay for?
The OSFC has very clear guidelines on what it will and won't pay
for. Examples of the latter include renovation or construction of
gymnasiums, fixed-seating auditoriums, athletic fields, land
acquisition, indoor running tracks, swimming pools and community
What if we want to add things to schools that the OSFC won't pay
These programs must be funded locally. These funds are called
"locally funded initiatives." Most locally-funded initiatives in
Akron are earmarked for reduced-class-size spaces and special-needs
classrooms. Akron Public Schools anticipates roughly $80 million
Many of our schools appear to be in good shape. Do we really need
to replace or renovate all our buildings?
Akron's average elementary school building is more than 70 years
old. School buildings this old are increasingly difficult to adapt
for modern learning. While our buildings are safe, behind the walls
you'll find plumbing,
electrical, and heating and ventilation systems that have difficulty
keeping up with the demands our building codes, climate control
systems and technology improvements require. Many buildings
have roofs in need of repair and replacement. Classrooms are too small for group activities and individual
instruction. Media centers and libraries are not adequately
equipped. Most buildings are not completely handicap accessible. In
short, it is unreasonable to expect teachers to teach and kids to
learn in buildings designed and built for the teaching methods used
a century ago. Akron Community Learning Centers ensures our
kids have the facilities they need to learn, achieve and succeed in
How much will it cost to rebuild or renovate a school?
Costs vary based on the size of the school. The average cost of
an elementary school is roughly $10 million. Middle schools range
from $6 million to renovate Riedinger to $18 million to rebuild
Jennings. High schools will be renovated with partially-new
I heard enrollment is declining at Akron Public Schools. Do you
really need all of those schools?
Every three years, the OSFC requires districts to recalculate
enrollment projections. Over the past 10 years, student enrollment
in Akron Public Schools decreased by 3,004 students. The enrollment
decline is due a combination of fewer births, fewer urban dwellers
and increased competition from charter and private schools. Akron
Public Schools latest projections show a continued enrollment
decline over the next 10 years.
The Akron Board of Education and the Joint
Board of Review approved revisions to the Facilities Master
Plan. The OSFC is currently reviewing the changes and is
expected to vote on the plan at the end of July. Click here to see the current
How big will the schools be?
The OSFC will only co-fund schools with enrollments of 350 or
more students. Most elementary schools are designed for an average
of 350-450 students. Middle schools are designed for an average of
700-750 students. High schools are designed for
an average of 1,000-1,200 students.
Who is monitoring the project?
There are numerous checks and balances to ensure the Akron CLCs project remains efficient and cost-effective. The OSFC
has stringent guidelines in place to govern how their funds can be
used. At the local level, Akron Public Schools, in collaboration
with the mayor and the city council, will monitor the project. A
10-member Joint Board of Review, comprised of five members from
Akron Public Schools and five members from the city, meets regularly. Akron Public Schools maintains
the ultimate responsibility for final decisions; but, if agreements
cannot be reached, arbitration will be sought. Other oversight
committees include a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise and Workforce
Development Advisory Committee, a 10-member Citizens Monitoring
Committee and a CLC Advisory Board.
Who is designing and building the schools?
The Akron Architectural Group is a consortium of five Akron
architectural firms and a nationally recognized minority firm. AAG
was jointly selected by Akron Public Schools and the Ohio School
Facilities Commission from among 14 applicants to design our
state-of-the-art community learning centers. The Akron Architectural
Group includes Braun & Steidl Architects Inc., GPD Group, Hasenstab
Architects, Moody Nolan Inc., TC Architects and URS. AAG architects work with Akron Public Schools facility planners, each assigned
to a construction site. The APS planning staff includes John George, Fred Herr, Gary
Reyna, Gerald Taylor and Kris Balchak. The OSFC adopted a
project-delivery system using construction managers to coordinate
design and construction. They hired the construction management team
of Ruhlin/Kenmore/Panzica/Stephens to provide construction
management services. The RKPS Construction Managers' Joint Venture
team includes Ruhlin Company, Kenmore Construction Company, Panzica
Construction Company and G. Stephens Inc. The role of the
construction manager is to plan, coordinate and manage all phases of
the construction process but not actually perform the construction
work. The construction manager establishes a central office in Akron
and sets up individual site offices at the schools to coordinate
daily construction activities. Akron
Public Schools solicits bids for each facility through the public bid process from
How long will it take to complete the entire project?
The project is divided into four segments and will take
approximately 15 years to complete. In each segment, facilities will
be rebuilt or renovated in every one of Akron Public Schools eight
clusters. Kids, schools and neighborhoods throughout the city
benefit during every phase of the program.
What are the benefits to students?
Studies show a direct tie between modern facilities and a
quality education. Our new schools will be equipped with the tools
necessary to keep pace with ever-changing technology and
21st-century jobs. Modern schools improve vocational and
high-tech training programs; and children learn in a safer, more
efficient environment. Akron Public Schools students will enjoy
cleaner, brighter learning environments; safer, more secure
buildings; better breakfast and lunch facilities; and more
opportunities for special-needs students. Rebuilt and renovated
schools keep students warm in the winter and cool in the
summer; promote better attitudes, a sense of pride and enhanced
self-image; and encourage better attendance.
What are the benefits to teachers?
Akron Public Schools teachers will utilize technology-ready
rooms with equipment; private, clean adult restrooms; and classroom
storage. New and renovated buildings instill pride and positive
attitudes; provide a safer, more comfortable working environment;
promote better communications with parents; and allow more
innovative, collaborative teaching as well as flexibility in
instruction techniques. Rebuilt and renovated schools include rooms
designed for small- and large-group activities; better lighting,
consistent heating and ventilation; air conditioning for
extended-year programming; up-to-date technology and equipment;
space to expand programs and after-school opportunities; and
improved, safer and better-equipped science labs at the
What are the benefits to the community?
The Akron Board of Education, Mayor Plusquellic and every member
of City Council understand that Akron's future is directly tied
to the success of its schools. They recognize that Akron's aging
buildings are an impediment to achieving the goals set forth by the
district. They believe kids and teachers in Akron deserve school
buildings as good as those found in wealthy suburbs. Senior and
community centers meeting the needs of the area will continue to
operate. CLCs built in those neighborhoods will focus on lifelong
learning and other educational programs that may not be available at
existing centers. In areas without senior or community centers, or
where facilities may soon need major renovation or replacement, CLCs
can be used, eliminating duplication of services and generating
savings for taxpayers.
What about the history of our schools? Will it be preserved?
Many of Akron's schools carry historical sentimentality for the
community. Akron Public Schools will take great care to ensure the
historical integrity of these buildings is not lost. When possible,
portions of the older buildings may be integrated into the new
How can I be involved in the planning process?
Parents and interested community volunteers are invited to
attend planning meetings for each school in the program. Input
gathered from those meetings is used to plan the new
I have more questions. Who can I contact?
E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or ask your child's school principal.