The first day of school has descended upon Akron Public Schools. A clean slate, a fresh start for many, whether they are a student, educator, administrator, or even a facility itself.

David James, the superintendent of Akron Public Schools, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show in studio to discuss the scholastic year ahead. James and Horner talked about the new academies that have popped up recently, as well as the I Promise School and Case CLC.

James also touched on the athletics and the arts in Akron Public Schools across the board, as well as the steady enrollment.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Tuesday, 24 July 2018 11:33

APS Adds to College, Career Academies

(Akron Public Schools) Today Akron Public Schools (APS) and Bridgestone Americas, Inc. announced the new Bridgestone Academy of Applied Engineering and Technology, which will bring a Firestone Complete Auto Care (FCAC) center to East Community Learning Center (CLC) in the Fall of the 2018/2019 school year. The center will give up to 100 students hands-on experience working with top-of-the-line automotive technology while learning business practices necessary to run a retail store. Bridgestone Americas will also become a Named Academy Partner in the growing community of businesses engaging in the new College & Career Academies of Akron for APS high schools.

Akron Public Schools will retrofit a portion of the existing Automotive Technology lab at East CLC in conjunction with Bridgestone Americas, which will donate materials, fixtures, and point-of-sale systems. The center will come complete with software programs, customer waiting area and equipment to service vehicles. Uniformed students will provide limited auto maintenance services to the local community while practicing exemplary customer service and business acumen. All revenue generated from service and sales will be reinvested into the program.

“The Automotive Technology program at East CLC has a long history of teaching students auto repair skills,” Chadwick Groom, East CLC automotive technology teacher said. “This collaboration with Bridgestone Americas will strengthen our curriculum by providing students with more advanced training while learning about customer service and business fundamentals.”

“Bridgestone is thrilled to be part of the College & Career Academies of Akron. This collaboration underscores our long-term, deep-seated commitment and ties to the Akron community and education in particular,” said Christine Karbowiak, Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Risk Officer, and Executive Vice President, Bridgestone Americas.“Bridgestone is a leader in innovation, and this training center is a tangible representation of Our Way to Serve, our corporate social responsibility commitment. The center reflects our dedication to educating the next generation of automotive and retail professionals, using the latest technology, operational procedures and business practices offered in our Firestone Complete Auto Care tire and automotive service centers.”

This new center was inspired by Maplewood High School Automotive Training Center, a public-private collaboration between Bridgestone Americas and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to benefit Nashville education. Since the beginning of the collaboration in 2015, Bridgestone has hired 17 Maplewood graduates as store teammates and 12 as interns at Firestone Complete Auto Care locations in the Nashville region.

“We are grateful for the investment Bridgestone Americas has made in our students at East CLC,” APS Superintendent David W. James said. “This collaboration marks another step forward in the transformation of APS high school education to College & Career Academies, providing all students with the opportunity to explore their world in greater depth and achieve success after graduation.”

APS was designated a Ford Next Generation Learning Community in May, 2017. Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, is supporting the transformation of public high schools into career-themed academies to better prepare students for college and professional success in today's competitive global economy. College and Career Academies of Akron are supported by the following key strategic partners: GAR Foundation, United Way of Summit County, ConxusNEO, Summit Education Initiative, and Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce.

The collaboration between Akron Public Schools and Bridgestone Americas, Inc. was formed with the help of United Way of Summit County. In May, APS announced that United Way would serve as a link between the College and Career Academies of Akron and local businesses to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students and to strengthen the education to employment pipeline in Summit County.

“United Way is proud to work with Bridgestone Americas, Inc. to bring the Bridgestone Academy of Applied Engineering and Technology to East CLC,” said Jim Mullen, United Way president and CEO. “Akron Public Schools, through their College and Career Academies, are transforming their educational model. Bridgestone’s investment will help them create exciting new learning experiences that will prepare students with valuable skills for future success.”


Published in Local
Tuesday, 13 February 2018 07:45

AUDIO: David James on Student, Teacher Safety

Ahead of David James's State of the Schools address on Tuesday at the Tangier, the focus has been on teacher safety and discipline. Several teachers claim the schools are not doing enough as far as disciplinary actions, and they lined up in protest in front of the Akron Board of Education on Monday night.

David James, the superintendent of Akron Public Schools, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show in studio sort out the outcries and give both the teachers union and the board a platform. James is concerned about the safety of the teachers, but also believes these assaults may be a case-by-case situations, as opposed to a widespread problem. He mentioned what is considered assault, which is a wide and varying scope, and that students have the opportunity for due process.

The APS superintendent mentioned the creation of alternative programs for certain students, including those who have special needs such as autism.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Thursday, 04 January 2018 08:38

AUDIO: David James on APS School Closings

2018 has begun, but not for a lot of schools. With the extremely low temperatures, schools across Northeast Ohio have canceled classes for students, thus extending their winter breaks. But how will these dates be made up?

David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools, talked to the Ray Horner Morning Show about schools’ protocol in calling off classes. In the past, the local districts had five allotted days to play with, but now high school students must have 1,001 hours to complete.

James says if Akron Public Schools has to miss more than the given calamity days due to weather or power outages, students will have to make up the time either after the school year or during spring break.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Tuesday, 15 August 2017 12:39

Police: Student, Teacher Denied Affair

Multiple authorities were contacted about an alleged student-teacher relationship, that had been ongoing for three years. Every investigating agency concluded that despite multiple text messages between the two, there wasn't enough evidence to prove such a relationship. 

Now, 36-year-old Laura Lynn Cross, a former English teacher at Buchtel High School, is charged with three counts of sexual battery, stemming from the relationship she carried on with a former student for all those years, and that resulted in her giving birth to the young boy's child. Cross was the boy's eighth grade English teacher, according to records, which is where they first met. 

Reports indicate that the teen boy's mother notified school officials, Akron Police, Tallmadge Police, Summit County Juvenile Prosecutors, and more, and got nowhere. Cross even won partial custody of the teenager, which is why he was able to move into her Tallmadge home back in 2013. A News 5 report indicates that the boy's mother didn't fight the partial custody ruling because she didn't want her son to "hate her." 

Tallmadge Police Chief Ron Williams says there just wasn't enough evidence to bring charges against Cross during the time of the previous investigation. He says both Cross and the boy were uncooperative in their investigation. In response to the News 5 report, Akron Public Schools tells the TV news outlet they launched their own investigation into the alleged affair last Friday. 

Cross is currently in Summit County Jail, being held on $100,000 bond. 



Published in Local

On Monday, the Akron Public School Board voted 5-1 to allow school resource officers to carry Narcan on high school and middle properties in the district. 

Narcan, or Naloxone, is the opioid overdose antidote that is applied to an overdose victim by a nasal spray. The resource officers who work on Akron school campuses are employees of the Akron Police Department and have been trained on how to use the drug. Bravo says that after the policy is officially passed, the School Board will decide who else on staff will be trained on how to use naloxone and where it will be stored on school campuses. He's hoping that will be decided by the Fall, and the start of the 2017-2018 school year. 

Akron School Board President Patrick Bravo told the Ray Horner Morning Show, "The opioid epidemic is here; and I think you can either choose to arm yourself for a possible emergency at some point, or you can choose not to, and we chose to do something proactive." 

As for the cost of the Naloxone program at Akron Public Schools, Bravo says the vendor they are looking at provides the doses free for the high schools for the first year. At $100 per dose, and two doses per resource officer, Bravo says the cost for the remaining middle schools will be around $2,000. He says the board will come up with those funds for the Naloxone doses. 

The latest numbers from the Summit County Medical Examiner's office show an average of 9 opioid or opiate overdoses a day in Summit County. "We're here to look out for the safety and security of not only the 21,000 students that enter our buildings every day, but the 4,000 full time and part time staff and all of the adult visitors and children," Bravo added. 


Published in Local
Tuesday, 27 June 2017 16:31

AUDIO: APS Board Members Talk Layoffs

The Akron Public Schools announced the elimination of 93 positions Monday, including 31 teachers and 35 tutors. Much of the blame for the layoffs was placed on the merger of Kenmore High School and Garfield High School.

Akron School Board President Patrick Bravo and School Board member Lisa Mansfield joined Jasen Tuesday to talk about what the layoffs will mean for students and whether some of the laid off staff members could still get jobs within the district.

Published in Jasen Sokol
The 2016-2017 school year has been over for a few weeks in the Akron Public Schools, and now they look ahead to the fall. However, they will do so with six schools consolidated to three, which means some will be without jobs.

David James, the superintendent of Akron Public Schools, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to discuss these changes. The closures of Kenmore High School, Kent Middle School, and Bettes Elementary will result in over 70 job cuts, all due to consolidation. However, these administrators may not be completely out of jobs due to what is called “priority transfer.” According to James, there is a fluid process where the affected teachers or other administrators, based on seniority, can fill other positions where those in place had either resigned or retired.

As for the Kenmore-Garfield merger, the students at the now-former Garfield High School will move into the Kenmore building in the fall. Then as the old Garfield building gets demolished, plans for the new school construction will be underway.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Tuesday, 27 June 2017 05:43

Akron Public Schools Announces Layoffs

The Akron Board of Education approved layoffs at their meeting Monday night, in the wake of the closures of Kenmore High School, Kent Middle School, and Bettes Elementary.

Those staff reductions consist of three admin positions, 31 teachers, 35 tutors, five office support staff, and more. Superintendent David James, says of the cuts, "In the end, this is what necessitates (being fiscally responsible with taxpayer money) for Akron Public Schools."

See the full statement from Akron Public Schools below: 


Due to three building closures (Kenmore High School, Kent Middle School and Bettes Elementary) and the district’s continued efforts to operate in a fiscally responsible manner, the Akron Board of Education approved staff reductions for the 2017-18 school year at its regularly scheduled board meeting tonight, Monday, June 26, 2017.

The areas of reduction include:

- Three administrative positions

- Thirty-one teaching positions

- Thirty-five tutor positions

- Five office support positions

- Thirteen custodial services positions

- Three full-time, hearing impaired interpreter positions

- Three part time, hearing impaired interpreter positions

APS has already made numerous reductions through attrition (e.g., retirements, promotions and resignations). As additional openings occur, staff will be eligible for recall per their collective bargaining agreements and board policy. Superintendent David W. James said, after (Monday's) vote, “We must continue to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars. In the end, that is what necessitates this eventuality for Akron Public Schools. It is most unfortunate that we must let go of outstanding educators and staff due to our economic position. My hope is that staff will be recalled to vacancies that occur to enable them to continue their service to our students and families.”

Published in Local

Akron Public Schools Athletic Director Joe Vassalotti spoke with Brad Russell Monday to shed some insight into the team colors and nickname for Kenmore/Garfield High School.

The school will be housed in a new location down the road, but for now the Kenmore/Garfield Golden Rams will be located on 13th Street SW in Akron.

For the full interview with Joe Vassalotti discussing some of the coaching changes in the APS, click here.


Published in Sam and Brad
Wednesday, 31 May 2017 09:30

Akron Fire Closes Two APS Schools

Akron Fire responded to a call in the 1000 block of Copley Road early Wednesday morning, just before 7 a.m. 

Upon arrival, the house was engulfed in flames. Five adults were in the home at the time of the fire; one of them, an adult male, was treated by Akron Fire/EMS on the scene and did not require further medical attention. 

All of the residents have been displaced, and Akron Red Cross is assisting with their needs. 

At the time of the fire, Copley Road between Packard Drive and Hardesty Boulevard was closed to traffic. 

Because of smoke from the fire and the location, Akron Public Schools closed Buchtel High School and Buchtel Middle School for the day. Both schools are expected to be open Thursday. 

The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. 

Published in Local
Thursday, 30 March 2017 06:02

APS Approves Teacher Deal

Akron's school board with a yes vote, following a vote taken Sunday by teachers on a new three-year contract. The deal provides for salary hikes ranging from one and a half to two and a half percent and also boosts the share of health care premiums workers pay.

- - -

(APS) At 8 p.m. tonight, the Akron Board of Education School Board voted in favor of a new, three year contract for its teachers, members of the Akron Education Association (AEA).Teachers voted in favor of the agreement Sunday evening. The three year agreement increases salaries:

1.50% retroactive to 7/1/16
2.25% effective 7/1/17
2.50% effective 7/1/18

The agreement also calls for employees to pay up to 2% more for health care premiums for the 17-18 school year and up to 3% more in the 18-19 school year.

Published in Local

After 38 seasons as the head coach of the Ellet Orangemen football team, Joe Yost resigned from his position Friday morning.

Athletic Director of the Akron Public Schools, Joe Vassalotti joined the Sam and Brad Show on Friday to talk about his legacy for the Ellet community and how he impacted the lives of many young people.

Vassalotti coached against Yost during his own coaching journey.  He said when people think Ellet, and especially Ellet football, you think Joe Yost.


Yost won 234 games as the Ellet head football coach and accumulated many other accolades throughout his coaching career including multiple City Series Championships.

Vassalotti said Yost plans on taking some time to himself and still being active in the Ellet community.

Joe Yost could not be reached for comment.

The full interview can be heard here.


Published in Sam and Brad

Longtime head football coach for the Garfield Golden Rams Bob Sax stepped down as the head coach after 15 seasons at the helm.

Both Kenmore High School and Garfield High School will merge next fall (Fall of 2017) and they will be looking for a new leader.

Akron Public Schools Athletic Director Joe Vassalotti spoke with Sam and Brad on Monday to talk about that process.


He plans on teaching mathematics at Kenmore/Garfield next year.  

Published in Sam and Brad

North High School's Academy of Health and Human Services got a big boost from Akron Children's Hospital this week.

The hospital pledged $400,000 to the Akron Public Schools. $250,000 of that will go to the health care academy, while the other $150,000 will come in the form of internships, teacher externships, and other experiential learning opportunities.

Children's Hospital President and CEO Bill Considine joined Jasen to talk about the donation and the business community's thoughts on the career academy model being rolled out at North.

Published in Jasen Sokol
On Wednesday, the superintendent of Akron Public Schools addressed the state of the district over the last year and what is to come for the rest of 2017.

David James joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to recap what was brought up at Quaker Station. Among the topics were the health academy, the financial state of the district, and the update on the Kenmore-Garfield project.

A point of discussion was the research into students who may not necessarily be college material. James has been looking to help keep these students interested in the trades engaged and career oriented.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Wednesday, 01 February 2017 12:48

Email Threat Sent To Firestone Teacher

Firestone High School was on heightened alert Wednesday morning after a "non-specific" threat was emailed to a teacher Tuesday night. 

Akron Public Schools Director of Student Support Services and Security Dan Rambler confirmed that the email was sent to a specific teacher, but was so vague and non-specific in nature that they couldn't pinpoint any specific threat. "It's an email address that nobody has been able to determine the source yet," Rambler tells 1590 WAKR.

While non-specific, Akron Public Schools, the high school, and Akron Police were not taking any chances. A robo-call was made to parents of Firestone High School students Tuesday night to notify them of both the threat and security measures being taken at the school. 

Those security measures, Rambler said, were mobile metal detectors the school has on site, placed at entrances and throughout the school. He confirmed they will likely remain in place throughout the remainder of the week. 

No arrest has been made and Akron Police Lieutenant Rick Edwards says detectives are working to determine the IP address of the email. 

We'll have updates on this story as they are made available. 

Published in Local
Friday, 13 January 2017 05:12

West Thornton Victim ID'd

The name of the 17 year old shot and killed on West Thornton Street Wednesday has been released -- and the Akron schools are mourning. Ernest Anderson, Jr. was killed, a 19-year old wounded after an argument.

The Summit County Medical Examiner reported Anderson died from gunshot wounds to the head and the torso.

Anderson was a student at East High School; the district released a video of Anderson working

Akron superintendent David James said ""we are deeply aggrieved by this tragic episode. Another student, another life filled with promise has been extinguished by violence. We are thinking of his family and the entire East CLC community." 



Published in Local

UPDATED 4:50 a.m. The victims of Saturday's fire that left four dead and two injured were identified by their pastor. Rev. Zach Prosser of Celebration Church in Akron told the adults are Omar Riley and Shirley Wallis, who had been together for 12 years. Their daughters, nine year old Aniyla and and eight year old Shanice, also perished in the blaze. Prosser identified the 12-year old victim as Wallis' daughter Shaniya, who was listed in critical condition at Akron Children's Hospital.

Another victim, Jennifer Grubbs, was also injured when she jumped out of the attic from the flames according to her fiancee. He was not in the home at the time of the fire. The flames first showed in the back of the house according to a neighbor's home security camera video, according to reports.

Previous coverage

An early morning Saturday blaze left four people dead, two injured. The Akron Fire Department reports the house fire at 266 East Tallmadge Avenue was "heavily involved" when they arrived about five minutes after the call at 1:33 a.m. Arriving firefighters were able to pull five of the six victims from the home. Among the dead are an eight and nine year old; News5 reports a 12-year old jumped from a second floor window to escape the flames and is in critical condition. An adult was also pulled from the home and was also injured.

Video from the scene is at the News5 link above

Names and other details of the victims were not released. There is no cause of the blaze at this time. 

No smoke detectors were found in the home, which reportedly was a rental property. The American Red Cross is reminding area residents smoke detectors are free throughout northeast Ohio, and the Akron Fire Department provides free installation in partnership with the Red Cross. Mayor Dan Horrigan said he was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy...and will see to it hat the victims' families and the survivors are supported in this time of great sorrow and need."

The children were enrolled in Akron Public Schools, one at Seiberling Elementary and another at Forest Hills Elementary. The 12-year old is a student at Hyre Middle School. APS spokesman Mark Williamson said ""Akron Public Schools and its community of families are profoundly saddened by this loss of two precious children and other members of their family. Three of our schools have felt this tragedy, deeply, and will be visited by our counselors this week for assistance. We offer our heartfelt prayers."

There was also reaction from LeBron James and the LeBron James Family Foundation; the children were members of his Wheels for Education program. James tweeted he was "unbelievably saddened to hear the news. My heart hurts...our family lost two bright, bright stars." 

- - -

(Akron Fire Department) Firefighters responded to a two and a half story residential house fire. Upon arrival the first floor was heavily involved in smoke and flames. People were reported to be trapped inside so an immediate interior fire attack was taken for rescue. The call came in at 01:33 and by 01:38 the first Engine was on scene.

Through the heavy heat and smoke (no visibility) 5 of the 6 victims were pulled from the house within the first few minutes of arrival. The cause of the fire is still under investigation but it was noted that smoke detectors could not be located throughout the house.

The fire caused four fatalilties. Two adults and two children, 8 and 9 year old. Two other victims were transported and are still ithe hospital. Unknown condition at the time of this press release. Names, relationships, and genders were not given while investigation is on going. One firefighter was transported for minor injuries and released.

(American Red Cross) We are deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from a home fire in Akron early Saturday morning. Our hearts go out to the families affected by this tragedy.

The Red Cross partners with many Fire Departments in Northeast Ohio, including the Akron Fire Department, to provide and install smoke alarms, free of charge, to any resident who requests the alarms. We also provide valuable fire safety information, and help residents develop plans to escape from their homes should a fire occur. The initiative is call Operation Save-A-Life.

Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan helped launch Operation Save-a-Life at a home in Akron earlier this year.

Akron residents can call 330-535-2030 to request a home fire safety inspection and free smoke alarms. In Cleveland, residents can call 216-361-5535. Youngstown residents may call 866-319-7160. Elsewhere
throughout Northeast Ohio, residents can log onto to request smoke alarms for their homes. 

We are grateful for our partnerships with so many fire departments, corporations and community groups for helping to provide this valuable, potentially life-saving service, and we urge all residents to check their homes for working smoke alarms, and to contact us at the numbers or website above if they need smoke alarms for their homes for working smoke alarms, and to contact us at the numbers above.

(City of Akron) Early this morning the Akron Fire Department responded to an advanced-stage fire in a three-story house on East Tallmadge Avenue.

The Fire Department acted quickly to extinguish the flames and rescue the individuals inside. Tragically, two adults and two children lost their lives in the fire. One adult and one child have survived and are being treated for their injuries.

"My family, the Akron Fire Department, and the entire Akron community, are profoundly saddened by this devastating incident. Any time our community experiences a loss such as this, it reminds us how precious life is," said Mayor Dan Horrigan. 'My deepest sympathies and prayers are with the family members of those who lost their lives, as we continue to pray for strength and healing for the survivors being treated. We will see to it that the victims' families and the survivors are supported in this time of great sorrow and need.

There is no higher duty we have as city leaders than to protect the health and safety of our residents and I thank the Akron Fire Department for their bravery in responding to this fire and for their attempts to rescue those trapped inside. I offer my full support and confidence as the professionals work to investigate the cause of this fire." 

(Akron Public Schools) "Akron Public Schools and its community of families are profoundly saddened by this loss of two precious children and other members of their family. Three of our schools have felt this tragedy, deeply, and will be visited by our counselors this week for assistance. We offer our heartfelt prayers."


Published in Local
Tuesday, 08 November 2016 08:53

AUDIO: APS Superintendent Faces The Community

In the continuing saga of the Akron Public Schools shakeup, members of the community have a long list of questions. Former mayor Don Plusquellic had one of those lists.

David James, the superintendent of APS, reiterated his thoughts on the consolidation on the Ray Horner Morning Show. James maintains his initial thoughts in that schools like Kenmore and Garfield cannot continue to operate if they’re less than half capacity.

The state of Ohio will foot the bill for 59% of the new CLC, and James says they will do their best to maintain the history and legacy of Kenmore and Garfield schools. In terms of the new site, the superintendent believes the issue is finding vacant land at a low price, if not free.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 14:16

APS Holding Public Consolidation Meetings

The Akron Public School district is holding a number of parent meetings over the next few weeks about the district's proposed consolidation changes.

They include one meeting each at Garfield High School, November 2nd, and at Kenmore High School, November 9th.

The Akron district plans to combine those two high schools at a location not yet unveiled.

There are also meetings at Bettes Elementary, Roswell Kent Middle School and at Innes CLC to discuss merger plans involving those schools.


(Akron Public Schools, news release) Akron Public Schools has a series of parent meetings scheduled for the coming weeks to discuss consolidation plans and keep families informed of upcoming changes.

The communities of Firestone Park, Kenmore and North Hill are the three being asked to join school administrators and Board members to participate and ask questions on the following dates:

Thursday, October 27, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Bettes Elementary School to discuss plans to consolidate with the new Harris-Jackson Community Learning Center
Tuesday, November 1, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Roswell Kent Middle School to discuss plans to move students from Roswell Kent to Innes CLC
Wednesday, November 2, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Garfield High School to discuss plans to merge high schools with Kenmore
Monday, November 7, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Innes CLC to discuss consolidation with Roswell Kent
Wednesday, November 9, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Kenmore High School to discuss plans to merge with Garfield

Parents are encouraged to attend.

Published in Local
Thursday, 13 October 2016 11:49

United Way Adds iC.A.R.E. To Programs

Since its inception three years ago, the iC.A.R.E. student mentoring program has been a partner with Akron Public Schools, providing in-school mentoring to students grades K through 12. 

On Thursday, the United Way announced that iC.A.R.E. is officially one of their programs now, offering an expansion of services in the Akron Public Schools system and more mentors for students. 

Jonathan Greer, director of the iC.A.R.E. program with the United Way of Summit County says it's a perfect partnership, and "it's awesome to see how our agency is really expanding and doing impactful work within the Akron Public Schools district." 

Greer says they're looking to have more than 1000 students, and in turn mentors, involved in the program this year. iC.A.R.E. prides itself on being a one-on-one student to mentor program, so the "more the merrier," Greer says. 

For more information on how you can be a mentor in the iC.A.R.E. program, visit You can also read more in the official press release below: 

iC.A.R.E in-school mentoring becomes United Way program

AKRON, Ohio – October 13, 2016 – United Way of Summit County has welcomed a new member into its family of community impact programs and initiatives. Created in 2013, the iC.A.R.E Mentoring program provides Akron Public School students in grades K-12 with nurturing and supportive role models.

Unlike other mentoring programs, which generally involve activities outside of school hours, iC.A.R.E works within the school system, coordinating with administrators to ensure that students can spend time with their mentors without taking time away from their academic work.

Since beginning in Summit County three years ago, iC.A.R.E has grown significantly, now serving nearly 300 students with a roster of more than 200 mentors. Volunteer mentors spend one hour per week with each mentee, helping children and young adults excel academically, build confidence and acquire the skills needed to face difficult life challenges.


“It’s a great source of stability for students,” says Jonathan Greer, director of iC.A.R.E Mentoring for United Way. “More than a third of Akron public school students change schools each year, but mentors follow their mentees from school to school.” Indeed, the results are often striking – absenteeism rates for students who are mentored through in-school programs have been shown to decrease by nearly 50 percent.


“It’s simple: kids go to school more when they have a mentor,” adds Greer. “It makes a huge difference when they can spend time with an adult who isn’t a disciplinarian, just a friend.”

It seems as though students agree. The program boasts a retention rate of above 90 percent.


For United Way, the acquisition of iC.A.R.E provides another opportunity to expand its impact in the local community. With the increase in recognition and resources that comes with being a United Way program, the organization hopes to have more than 1000 students involved in iC.A.R.E Mentoring this school year.

United Way has recruited a team of ten AmeriCorps VISTAs to help coordinate volunteer efforts and expand the program. The organization hopes to attract further funding for the program in the future through nontraditional sources such as grants.

Further, United Way will take advantage of its large network of corporate partners whose employees could serve as mentors in the program. Just as with other United Way engagement opportunities, volunteers can gain the satisfaction of helping to improve their communities. Corporations who encourage their employees to participate as mentors can also enjoy the benefits of greater employee satisfaction and a more upbeat and motivated workforce.


Ultimately, the addition of iC.A.R.E to its roster of programs will help United Way continue to advance its mission to improve education across the local community. With more than a quarter of Akron public school students not graduating high school in four years, investments in programs like iC.A.R.E, which help students succeed in school, can make an enormous difference in the lives of children and young people.


“iC.A.R.E is a natural fit for us,” says Jim Mullen, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Summit County. “It will allow us to drive volunteer engagement – consistent with our increased focus on engaging our partners in the work we do – and it will create a measurable impact in the lives of students and families in this community.”


“This program is a great investment in the future of this city,” he adds.


"The difference in our school climate, our students and their performance is marked and measurable," said Akron Public Schools Superintendent David W. James, in talking about iC.A.R.E's influence on grades, attendance and discipline.  "We have actually been working with mentoring programs for several years now, and Jonathan's approach is working at APS."


For more information on iC.A.R.E Mentoring, visit Individuals who would like to volunteer as mentors should contact Jonathan Greer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Corporate groups should contact Sarah Catherine Teixeira by phone at 330-762-0317 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About United Way of Summit County

United Way of Summit County advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Our focus is on Education, Income and Health because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life. We train a spotlight on critical issues, engage with private and public sector leaders and coordinate agendas with partners to leverage Collective Impact. We invite everyone to be part of the change by giving, advocating and volunteering. When we work together in common purpose, we LIVE UNITED. For more information about United Way of Summit County visit

Published in Local

The rumors of potential mergers in the Akron Public School district have swirled for some time, and now the news has been confirmed. Most notably, Garfield and Kenmore High Schools will join as one in the near future. David James, superintendent of Akron Public Schools, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to discuss this particular merger. James and city council president Marilyn Keith have previously discussed plans for a brand new CLC, and the tenants would be the schools with a diminished population. At the start of the 2016-2017 school year, Kenmore High School is at 33% capacity. According to James, the project will cost $58 million, and 59% of it will be paid for by the state. Team meetings on where to build the new CLC will begin in 2017, as the plan is to find a site equal distance between Kenmore and Garfield.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

A new long-term partnership between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron-based Signet Jewelers is set to provide more mentoring opportunities for Akron Public School students.

Michele Campbell, executive director of LJFF, said the partnership allows for Signet employees to train and become one-on-one mentors for 3rd-8th grade students.

"We have 1,129 students and we need more mentors," said Campbell. "With Signet right in our backyard and committed to our program and committed to this community, it's going to allow us to have more mentors , one-on-one, with our children."

Several students joined Campbell, APS Superintendent David James and Signet officials for the announcement at Litchfield Middle School Friday morning. It's safe to say that Jayden Shippe, 13, is enjoying his time spent with the LJFF.

"I love this program," said Shippe. "I love the fun trips , the mentors and how we get to go to Cedar Point every year ad I love how they're giving us a scholarship to [The University of Akron.]"

Shippe said the mentoring program has been beneficial and helped him succeed in the classroom. 13-year-old Mikhaila Bonds said it's more than just helping with work in the classrooms.

"We just talk," said Bond. "They're like a counselor."

Campbell said volunteers will work directly with United Way of Summit County's iC.A.R.E Mentoring program, to offer training.

Published in Local
The proposals on what to do with Akron Public Schools’ consolidation continues, and six options are on the table being carefully reviewed. The state of Ohio will only fund one high school, which should have a capacity of over 1,000, and that would mean two of the smaller schools will have to be merged.

APS superintendent David James and treasurer Ryan Pendleton joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to recap Monday night’s meeting with Akron city council. James says the engineers are actively searching for property to build this new school, but due to high costs, the facility will most likely be constructed on APS property, specifically Garfield.

Pendleton says he feels excited about giving the Garfield and Kenmore areas new technology-rich facilities.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

What schools will be closing? What schools will merge?

Those questions have been on the minds of Akronites for months as the Akron Public Schools decide how to proceed with the plan to build new buildings in the face of reduced funding from the state. A new option, the sixth option presented to the public, would lead to the mergers of Kenmore and Garfield High Schools along with the consolidation of Kent and Innes CLCs at Innes and the consolidation of Bettes and Harris CLCs at Harris. Superintendent David James joined Jasen to talk about the new option and when a final decision could be made.

Published in Jasen Sokol
It is no secret that Akron’s population has dwindled in recent decades. With a decreased population comes decreased enrollment in schools. The question that needs to be asked: can Akron keep all these high schools in business?

One of those schools is Kenmore, and there has been word it may merge with another school, as the building is less than half capacity. There has been pushback, however, and Matt Lance is leading an effort to save his alma mater.

Matt joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to discuss the petition to raise awareness of their effort to keep Kenmore afloat.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Sunday, 11 September 2016 11:08

UPDATE Ellet High Still Closed By Fire

UPDATE 3:58 PM 9/12/16: Akron Public Schools announced Monday afternoon that Ellet High School will be closed again Tuesday, as cleanup continues.


(Previous coverage) Ellet High School will be closed Monday as smoke damage is assessed following a late-evening fire Saturday that apprently started in a room used for building maintenance and the school's construction program.

Firefighters were alerted by an alarm triggered around 11:00 p.m.

Damage estimates haven't been released but the worst of the fire was contained to the room and adjoining area, although firefighters did find hallways filled with "light smoke" on their arrival at 304 Wolf Avenue. AFD responded with multiple alarm calls that included four fire engine trucks, a medical unit, a pair of battalion commanders and additional shift commander on site as well as an arson investigator. Firefighters used a foam truck which also doubles as a ventilation truck to help exhaust the smoke from the building.

ElletFireDamageAkron Public School opted to keep the school closed tomorrow while clean-up and investigation into the cause continues.

- - -

(Akron Fire Department)Akron Fire responded to a private alarm at 304 Wolf Ave Ellet High School. Companies on scene
investigated the building and found light smoke in the hallways. The alarm was upgraded to 2nd alarm that includes 4 Engines ,2 Ladder trucks, 2 Battalion Commanders, Med unit, Shift Commander, and Arson investigator. After a search of the building room to room, Firefighters were able to locate the fire and extinguish it.

Foam Truck 660, which is also a large commercial ventilation truck, was called in to assist in ventilating the smoke from the building. Unknown at the time of this press release of the extent of the damages or where at in the building was effected most.




Published in Local
The finishing touches are going into the new Firestone High School. Though not everything will be completed by the first day of school, according to the superintendent of Akron Public Schools, the bulk of the project will be all done.

David James, the APS superintendent, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to gloss over the Firestone/Litchfield project. James says this has been a process directly from listening to the community as far as input in the school. He believes this building will serve a larger purpose for the surrounding community, not just for the students.

The open house at the new facility will be on August 28th.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Some tough questions lay ahead for Akron Public Schools in the near and distant future. APS brass understands the concerns from the community on the future of the local schools, but can the buildings function with such decreased enrollment?

Superintendent of Akron Public Schools, David James, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to recap his address at Kenmore High School from last night. Enrollment, or lack thereof, was at the forefront of the conversation, with talks of closing or merging schools being mentioned. A possibility brought up was having Kenmore merge with Innes CLC, among other brainstorms.

James was asked why not keep the status quo. The superintendent said some of these schools are only at half capacity, and by merging the students into a magnet school, it will help cut costs and save taxpayer money. James also said they will receive state funding from the state level soon.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER
Wednesday, 15 June 2016 11:45

APS Offers Food Education To Families

Some local communities have faced the issue of poor access to fresh and affordable food. It's a problem the Akron Public School District is well aware of, which is why they have created a summer event to educate families on how to purchase and cook a fresh meal.

"We know that our community has a need for increasing the access to quality, fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable costs," said Carla Sibley, director of community relations.

The two-event, "From Fast to Fresh" program will give families a chance to visit local farmers markets and learn how to prepare healthy meals on a budget.

"We have food deserts in our community and we also know that many of our families suffer from illnesses and health conditions that are often times related to what they eat."

Sibley calls the program a link between a healthy lifestyle and quality education.

The first event will take place on Thursday, June 16 at the Akron Summit County Public Library in Highland Square. Families will take a tour of the Countryside Farmer's Market and Mustard Seed Market & Cafe.

Guest will also tour the newly opened Hattie's Food Hub on Douglas Street in Akron on July 14. 

More information can be found on the district's website at

Published in Local
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 16:25

Weapon Rumors At Jennings; Nothing Found

Police and Akron public schools security searched an Akron school Wednesday afternoon after rumors of a weapon at the school, but nothing was found.

Those rumors resulted in the doors at Jennings CLC being locked - in what the district calls a Safe School Watch - at about 3 PM.

Police and security searched both the building and grounds at Jennings and interviewed students.

Dismissal was delayed by a half hour, and classes at Jennings were not disrupted...and the district called families of those who attend the school.

The district and police are encouraging students who may know anything about the reports to come forward.

(APS, phone call to Jennings families) Dear Jennings Families:

Just before 3 this afternoon, Akron Public Schools placed Jennings CLC on Safe School Watch.

Akron police and APS security conducted a thorough search of the building and grounds and interviewed a number of students after a report surfaced of a weapon on the premises.

The thorough search turned up nothing, there was no interruption of learning and we delayed dismissal by 30 minutes.

During Safe School Watch, all doors to the building are secured to prevent entry or exit from the premises.

We continue to ask for your help and support in encouraging students to let us know if they ever hear any student might be involved in something that could pose a security concern for Jennings students and staff.

Our thanks to the Akron Police Department for its hard work every day. We work closely with law enforcement on procedures and plans to maintain safety in our schools for students and staff.

Security will be enhanced this week at Jennings due to this report. We will keep you apprised.

Published in Local

Akron Public School officials are hoping to attract more teachers to the district during a statewide education job fair this weekend. The Ohio 8 Coalition Job Fair in Columbus will conduct on-site interviews for those interested in teaching in a number of Ohio school districts, including Akron and Canton.

APS Recruitment Coordinator Teresa Kossuth says they're in need of educators who can teach english as a second language -- especially in North Hill where many refugees have settled.

"Because our diverse population of students is growing, we have the need for teachers who have an endorsement to teach english as a second language," said Kossuth.

Some of Ohio’s largest school districts are looking to hire YOU! Find out more about the Ohio 8 Job Fair, coming to...

Posted by Ohio 8 Coalition on Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kossuth said one of their main priorities is to find passionate teachers.

"While some of the challenges may be greater in teaching in an urban district, the rewards tremendously outweigh that."

The job fair will be held at the Embassy Suites North in Columbus on Saturday, March 12 at 9 a.m.

Click here for more information.

Published in Local
Thursday, 25 February 2016 17:53

Districts: School Report Cards A Moving Target

New tests and new standards meant tougher grades for Ohio's school districts in the most recent state report cards, released Thursday.

Akron Public Schools recorded a D in "Performance Index".

But APS assistant superintendent Ellen McWilliams-Woods says that is difficult to compare to past results.

She says districts were warned by state education officials that results would likely drop this year due to the testing and Common Core changes. reports that only six Ohio school districts got an "A" under the "Performance Index" this year, compared to 37 last year.

Despite "F"s in 4 year graduation rates and in the "indicators met" category, APS is happy with A grades in year to year measures of student progress.

McWilliams-Woods says state testing will change again for this school year...with Ohio moving away from the controversial "PARCC" test.

She says APS will put in its own assessment system that won't change for years.


On the Web: Ohio Department of Education School Report Cards (2014-15):

Published in Local
In the last year, Akron Public Schools, like many districts, encountered its share of negatives, but the positives have been quite impressive.

David James, the superintendent of Akron Public Schools, joined the Ray Horner Morning Show to review his State of the Schools Address from Tuesday. James touched on the amount of growth and progress he has seen from the students across the board. Compared to other urban area school districts, APS has seen their test scores rise.

James took tours of the schools, and believes the improvements in the classrooms are “a testament to the teachers.”

A negative that was mentioned during the speech was the downtrend in the graduation percentage, but James also said he is impressed with the amount of scholarships.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

Firestone High School had a short lockdown Friday morning, after tips led to the discovery of marijuana at the school.

Two Firestone girls were found possessing a small amount of marijuana.

APS spokesman Mark Williamson tells that a third student, a boy, was found with drug paraphenalia in his locker. They say that discovery was not related to the other drugs found.

School resource officers took about 25 minutes to search for the drugs, and all three students were suspended.

Williamson says classes were not affected during what the district calls a "safe school watch".

Published in Local

The North High School Vikings have a brand new football coach, and he is looking to instill toughness, discipline, and a sense of tying the program into the community.

Sonil Haslam joined the Sam Bourquin Show Monday afternoon to talk about how he's going to put his imprint on the program.

He said that he's ready for the challenge of being a head coach.

"I'm pretty excited," says Haslam. "We have to reach out and embrace what we have, and there's tons to do, trying to get things right for the kids."


The City Series is a grind, and with the schools, Haslam says the same group of kids walk the halls at North and the other schools within Akron, so it's all about garnering support and instilling pride in the school and in the community in regards to the football program.

"It's all about peaking interest and getting guys involved," he says.

 Coach Haslam also states that  support from the school, the North Hill community, and the district is important for building the program as well.  Haslam, graduate of East HS, has coached at St. Vincent-St. Mary, Firestone HS, and Archibishop Hoban HS as an assistant.

Published in Sam and Brad

Treasurer of Akron Public Schools, Ryan Pendleton, joins Ray to talk about the plan to consolidate schools. Pendleton tells Ray about how much money the district will save and discusses other ways the district will benefit from the consolidation.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER


WAKR's Ray Horner talks to the Superintendent of Akron Public Schools, David James. James explains what plans have been made for the district. He tells Ray what how the consolidation will help save money and help the district in the long run.

Published in WAKR RAY HORNER

Athletic infractions and $10,000 in fines have been handed down to the Akron Public Schools, as a result of the Ohio High School Athletic Association's investigation into problems with eligibility at APS.

Tim Stied with the OHSAA says that 16 ineligible athletes were found at five of seven APS high schools.

"We had seven kids that didn't meet the academic requirements to be eligible," Stried tells WAKR's Sam Bourquin, "and there were seven kids that had transfered in that ended being eligible retroactively, but these schools had never requested an eligibility ruling for them in the first place."

The five high schools, according to an OHSAA document, are Buchtel, East, Firestone, Garfield and Kenmore.

Stried says they started looking into APS after realizing the district didn't run standard eligibility questions by them.

The Akron schools have instituted a new eligibility checking plan under new athletic director Joe Vassalotti, which will help knock down the OHSAA fine from $12,500 to $10,000.

Stried says he's confident that the Akron schools understand what needs to be done, and should be OK moving forward.

Published in Sam and Brad

The Akron Public Schools are looking at implementing a new plan to ensure 100% compliance with the OHSAA regulations.


This proactive approach stems from a ruling during the 2014-15 school year when the OHSAA had determined the APS committed infractions as it relates to eligibility.

APS Athletic Director Joe Vassalotti joined the Sam Bourquin Show Monday to talk about the plan and how to better educate parents, student-athletes, and others about the eligibility rules.

"We want to be transparent and do things right here and follow the bylaws of the OHSAA as exactly they should be."

Vassalotti says that among other items, building athletic directors will be checking eligibility earlier, as well as making sure student-athletes grade point average is where it should be.

He says by being 100% compliant, student athletes get the concept of doing things the right way.

"We need to follow through to make sure all paperwork is turned in in a timely manner, and ultimately we want them out there competing with their teammates."

Published in Sam and Brad