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What is Akrom CLCs?
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What is Akron CLCs?
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 construction project.

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 outreach programs.

What if we want to add things to schools that the OSFC won't pay for?
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 in LFIs.

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 today's world.

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 construction.

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 plan.

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 area contractors.

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 middle-school level.

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 buildings.

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 buildings. 

I have more questions. Who can I contact?
E-mail your questions to apsnews@akron.k12.oh.us, or ask your child's school principal.

Updates!


The Joint Board of Review met on September 22, 2014. Visit the Oversight page for a list of the Joint Board's minutes.

Videos:
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CLC overview
2. How to get involved

City of AkronAkron Public SchoolsOhio School Facilities Commission

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