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Akron schools to cut senior staffers

By John Published: July 22, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Two senior Akron Public Schools administrators might be out of a job Monday when Superintendent David James is expected to make budget-cutting recommendations at the next school board meeting.

James will recommend that the jobs held by Connie Hathorn, executive director of student support services, and Karen Ingraham, executive director of communications, be eliminated and their duties distributed among the remaining staff.

Hathorn, 59, and Ingraham, 62, both have been with the district for 19 years.

''It was one of the most difficult things that I've had to do,'' James said. ''They're two great employees and I just wish them a lot of luck and I'll say this: anyone in this community would be lucky to get either one for a position.''

The senior staff cuts are part of a budget-reduction plan the board approved in May that cuts staff by 110 employees, including 84 teachers.

The plan saves $8.2 million annually, but the district's projected budget still shows an $8 million deficit in the 2011-2012 school year.

''Everyone in the district has to be part of our efforts to reduce costs,'' James said. ''I just felt strongly, in looking at my senior staff, that these are unfortunately the moves I had to make.''

James has also identified two assistant principals who are retiring. He will recommend eliminating those positions.

''Those will be the four I will talk about on Monday,'' James said. ''There could be the potential for a couple more reductions.''

Hathorn's salary for the upcoming school year is $132,588 — the highest administrator salary after James. Ingraham's salary is $113,549.

''We're living in such a difficult time, economically,'' said the Rev. Curtis T. Walker Sr., the school board president. ''But at the same time, we have to make some very hard decisions economically so that the school district can move forward. It's going to touch individuals' lives and it's going to make a difference in what we do and a lot of people are going to be affected.''

Hathorn started his career as a junior high physical education teacher in Pine Bluff, Ark. Over the next 14 years, he also taught health and driver's education in the high school and served as an assistant principal for a year.

Former Akron Superintendent Terry Grier was superintendent of the Darlington County school district in South Carolina when he hired Hathorn to be principal of Mayo High School in 1989.

In 1991, Grier, who had become Akron's superintendent, hired Hathorn to oversee about half the principals in the division that comprised Buchtel, East and Ellet high schools and their feeder elementary and middle schools.

Hathorn eventually became the executive director of human resources until October, when he was reassigned to become executive director of student support services.

Ingraham was hired in 1991 as communications director and currently oversees a seven-member staff that maintains the district Web site and provides internal communications for employees and schools, and handles the district's television programming, radio station and printing services.

Her department won seven national marketing awards in the last school year, including an Emmy nomination of Best Children's Program for Ask Gilby.

The communications department developed the nationally syndicated television program Ask Gilby about a curious Dalmatian puppy to reach preschool-age children and help prepare them for kindergarten.

John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792 or Read the education blog at



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