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Akron teachers reach tentative agreement

By John Published: September 30, 2010

           This just in from Akron Public Schools:

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Polymers to Polygons! State math teachers conference coming to Akron

By John Published: September 30, 2010

1000 math teachers from around the state will meet in Akron on Oct. 14 and 15 for the 60th Annual Conference of of the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

On the agenda are the state's new Common Core math standards, including the requirement of all Ohio high school graduates to pass Algebra II, beginning with this year's ninth-graders. The educators will be meeting at the John S. Knight Conference Center and Akron City Centre.

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State names promising schools for overcoming poverty

By John Published: September 30, 2010

The Ohio Department of Education has named 13 area schools from 8 districts "Schools of Promise."  They were among 161 schools  statewide with high levels of poverty recognized for their efforts based on last year's state report card.

Springfield Local Schools:
     Roosevelt Elementary School
     Young Elementary School

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Let's pack our bags for Gliese 581g - a newly discovered habitable exoplanet

By John Published: September 29, 2010

Check out the details in Wired:

''The threshold has now been crossed,'' said astronomer R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, one of the planet's discoverers, in a press briefing September 29. ''The data says this planet is at the right distance for liquid water, and the right mass to hold on to a substantial atmosphere.''

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Superman movie: reform, jihad or just a movie?

By John Published: September 29, 2010

The new "Waiting for Superman"  movie  is sparking lots of conversation about education reform. Here are some different takes on the film, by the same filmmaker, Davis Guggenheim, who made "An Inconvient Truth" about Al Gore's public presentations on global warming.

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Area students named national merit/achievement semifinalists

By John Published: September 29, 2010

The National Merit Scholarship Corporation has announced semifinalists in two competitions.

Three area students are among 1,600 semifinalists selected out of 160,000 juniors who took the qualifying test  for the National Achievement Scholarship Program, which has recognized promising black students from around the country since 1964. They will compete for 800 scholarships.

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Credit flexibility parent meetings begin next week

By John Published: September 28, 2010

Akron Public Schools is still tweaking its credit flexibility policy this week in anticipation of parent meetings beginning next week to explain how high school students can test out of certain courses or complete an individualized project instead of sitting in class. Credit flexibility is  a state creation, but each district has to decide how it will be implemented. See brochure here.

Here's the schedule of parent meetings:

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Akron school board vice president opposes Issue 17

By John Published: September 28, 2010

      Akron school board vice president Jason Haas, speaking for himself only, told the board Monday night in public session that he will vote against Issue 17.
     That's the charter amendment that would divert about $13 million in income tax revenue currently devoted to the school construction project to safety forces over the next three years.
     The city now wants voters to approve the diversion of a third of the income from that tax increase for safety forces for three years, adding five years at the end of the collection period.
     Superintendent David James said when the proposal was announced that he didn't foresee the diversion affecting the building schedule.
     However, Haas said that no one he's talked to sees it that way.
     ''In the days following the announcement of this ballot issue, several dozen people reached out to me by email, by phone calls, by stalking me wherever they could find me in town,'' Haas said. ''Not one, not a single person, was in favor of the proposal. The most common complaint was simple: 'I voted for new schools, not this.' I echo that sentiment. I too voted for new schools.''
     Haas said the proposal puts the district in a difficult position.
     ''While it's true that voters have a chance to vote up or down on this issue, it's bothering those that I've talked to that it's even being put to a vote,'' Haas said. ''They believe a trust has been broken because in the 2003 campaign, we said this money would never be used for anything but school construction. And yet here we are, seven years later, discussing that very thing.''
     He said he understands that local governments are in a bind because of decreased tax revenues.
     ''But I wish this ballot issue wasn't being held up as a temporary or permanent solution to an economic problem,'' He said. ''This proposal puts APS in a bad spot by having to explain a baffling financial system and looking like we support breaking a campaign promise. It's for those reasons, when I vote, I will not be supporting Issue 17.''

This was also posted at the Akron Beacon Journal education blog, First Bell.

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Akron waives state requirement to collect student weight data

By John Published: September 28, 2010

     Akron Public Schools will seek a waiver from a new state requirement to collect and report data on student weight as part of legislation enacted in June to reduce childhood obesity.
     Ohio Senate Bill 210, also known as the Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Act, requires school districts in Ohio to conduct body mass index (BMI) screenings each year for students. (Click on the above link to the Ohio Department of Education for frequently asked questions and other documents).
     The testing would be for all students in kindergarten, third grade, fifth grade and ninth grade.
     A BMI score, which may indicate whether someone is overweight, is calculated with a formula based on a child's height and weight.
     All districts must report individual results to parents, who can opt out of the test, and also must report aggregate BMI data to the Ohio Department of Health by June 1 each year, according to the state. 
     However, districts may obtain a one-year waiver of the screening requirement.
     As of early last week, the state had received waiver requests from 124 districts or more than one in six in the state.
     Akron Superintendent David James said Akron wants more time to figure out who is going to perform the measurements, how the information will be integrated using the district's new computer software for student data, and whether any student privacy concerns need to be addressed before beginning to collect the data.

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School board OKs operations budget for '10-'11

By John Published: September 28, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

The Akron school board agreed on Monday to spend about $300 million on operations for the 2010-2011 school year almost 2 percent more than last year.

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Billboard campaign in SW Ohio targets teachers' contracts

By John Published: September 27, 2010

The Cincinnati Enquirer wrote last week about a Michigan-based group's  billboard campaign aimed at criticizing teacher sick leave benefits and step increases in pay schedules with provocative slogans such as ``Did you get a raise for not dying this summer?"  (a reference to step increases for years of service). Fordham Institute's Flypaper blog also takes note of the campaign

Here's the description of the Education Action Group Foundation founder and vice-president from its Web page.

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Miller-South and NIHF-STEM top urban middle schools in state

By John Published: September 24, 2010

The Flypaper blog at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute looks at some high performing charter and district middle schools, including Columbus Collegiate Academy, a Fordham-sponsored charter school that ranks 4th among Big 8 urban middle schools based on their Performance Index scores on the 2009-2010 state report cards.

But check out Fordham's chart, which ranks Miller-South School for the Visual and Performing Arts  Number One, followed by Number Two, the National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) middle school. Hyre ranks 7th and Litchfield comes in at 12th.  Note: these rankings don't include Cincinnati or Dayton schools because Fordham was looking at schools that serve middle grades ( so no K-8 schools or 7-12 schools) are included.

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Hudson one of 100 best places for young people

By John Published: September 24, 2010

Today's story about two Buchtel High seniors receiving grants  to improve dropout rates talks about one of the programs of America's Promise Alliance, the organization General Colin Powell founded in 1997.

That organization also has recognized Hudson as one of the 100  best communities in the country for young people, focusing on the efforts of Hudson Community First.  

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Two seniors at Buchtel rewarded with grants

By John Published: September 24, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

A national organization that Gen. Colin Powell founded gave out 36 grants of up to $20,000 each this month to students around the country with good ideas about how to encourage their classmates to stay in school and graduate.

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Education in U.S. gets big screen close up

By John Published: September 24, 2010

Christine Armario and Dorie Turner
Associated Press

The troubles of the U.S. education system are getting a big screen close-up.

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Ceremony celebrates new Leggett school

By John Published: September 24, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

A children's choir sang the school song at a dedication ceremony for the new Leggett Community Learning Center on Thursday.

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Akron's oldest school gets replaced

By John Published: September 23, 2010

School officials dedicated the new Leggett Community Learning Center this evening. It's been more than 120 years since a new elementary school was dedicated in this neighborhood south of the University of Akron. We'll have a story in tomorrow's print edition, but here's a video of the children singing the Leggett school song.

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More on Fathers Walk

By John Published: September 23, 2010

Folks seemed to have enjoyed reading about the Army dad who traveled across the country to walk his son to school Wednesday morning. Scroll down in this blog or click here for the story and video.

Our news partners, WEWS Channel 5 caught up with Staff Sgt. Darrell Stamps Sr. and did a nice piece that aired last night. See it here.

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Highland blaze ruled arson

By John Published: September 23, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Fathers take lead in walk

By John Published: September 23, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Nearly 4,000 area dads and other male caregivers walked their children to school Wednesday in the third annual Fathers Walk.

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Army dad deploys across country to walk son to Akron school

By John Published: September 22, 2010

John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer


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State Fire Marshal rules Highland Middle School fire an arson

By John Published: September 22, 2010

     The State Fire Marshal has ruled the blaze that required the evacuation of more than 800 students on Monday was intentionally set.
     ''They do have additional interviews to complete,'' Fire Marshal spokesman Shane Cartmill said Wednesday afternoon.
     ''With that many people in the building at the time, there's a lot of follow-up work to do. The [Medina County] sheriff's department and the Fire Marshal investigators will continue to work through all of that.''
     The Fire Marshal eliminated all accidental causes and concluded that the fire, which originated in a shower area of the east gym that was being used for storage, was an arson.
     ''It's an ongoing criminal investigation so we just cannot release a lot of additional details at this time,'' Cartmill said.
The fire was started just after first-period classes, which required an evacuation of the building that serves 820 students in grades 6-8.
     Fire and smoke damaged the gymnasium, several classrooms and two hallways.
     District spokeswoman Dawn Marzano said the fire caused $350,000 in damage, according to initial estimates.

Release from the State Fire Marshal's public information officer this afternoon after the jump:

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Army dad flies across the country to walk son to school

By John Published: September 22, 2010

     U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Darrell Stamps Sr., stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, flew across the country last night so he could walk his 5-year-old son, Darrell Stamps Jr., to school this morning  at the new Portage Path Community Learning Center
     Portage Path was among all but a handful of Akron elementary schools (along with Perkins and Litchfield middle schools) to participate in the Third Annual Fathers Walk. Organizers also arranged walks at Revere Middle School, Brunswick Middle School in Medina County and some schools in Stark County and in northern Summit County both today and yesterday.
     The last time Sgt. Stamps saw Portage Path, where he went to school, it was about to be torn down. The new Portage Path school was dedicated on Aug. 30. He was quite impressed with the new school.

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Former Canton school official convicted of molesting student to be released early

By John Published: September 22, 2010

     A former Canton City Schools administrator sentenced in July to 18 months in prison Monday for molesting a Timken High School senior in 2008 will be released early, according to the Canton Repository.

Heath also barred Irvin from any contact with the victim and any person under the age of 18, without the approval of a probation officer.

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Highland Middle School fire damage at $350,000

By John Published: September 21, 2010

     Highland Middle School will be open today for classes after a fire on Monday required an evacuation of the building.
     The fire started Monday morning around 8:20 a.m. in the shower area of the boy's locker room in the east gym.
     That area, along with the band and choir room will not be available for classes, according the district, but all events and activities will proceed as scheduled.
     ''No cause has been determined yet and the initial damage is estimated at about $350,000,'' said district communications director Dawn Marzano said Tuesday afternoon.

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Knocking down neuro-myths

By John Published: September 21, 2010

How many times have you heard that "right-brain" people are more creative while "left-brain" people are more logical and analytic?  If it's a figure of speech, fine. But if it's meant as a scientific description or a prescription for teaching practices, than you're headed down the rabbit hole of another neuro-myth (playing Mozart for your babies makes them brilliant!). The brain is much more dynamic than that, especially in complicated tasks such as reading. So says cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham in the Washington Post's education blog, The Answer Sheet.

We have known for at least 30 years that this characterization is incorrect.

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Locker room fire forces middle school to evacuate

By John Published: September 21, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Fire closes Highland Middle School

By John Published: September 20, 2010

      Highland Middle School was evacuated this morning after a teacher noticed smoke in the boys'  locker room of the east gym around 8:20 a.m.
       The staff got all the students (enrollment is about 820 sixth through eighth graders) safely out of the Granger Township building and over to the nearby high school. Most parents have picked up their children and the few remaining will spend the rest of the day in a study hall and ride the bus home.
       Firefighters haven't told the school yet what started the fire, said district communications director Dawn Marzano, but there is smoke and fire damage.
      She said classes are definitely canceled for tomorrow and possibly longer, depending on on what firefighters determine this afternoon.

       The Plain Dealer has some photos:

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White House to announce $5 million STEM effort

By John Published: September 16, 2010

Washington Post reports new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiative here.

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Sex ed, yes. Birth control? Not so much, says CDC

By John Published: September 16, 2010

A Centers for Disesase Control and Prevention survey of teens finds that although 97 percent of of males receive formal sex education before turning 18, only 62 percent were taught about birth control methods. 96 percent of female students received formal sex education, but only 70 percent were taught about birth control. The data is taken from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth.

CDC report here.

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University of Toledo visits APS on Friday

By John Published: September 15, 2010

     Representatives from The University of Toledo will talk to Akron Public Schools students on Friday about its unique scholarship program that covers 100 percent of tuition for four years for qualified students.
     The presentation begins at 9:15 a.m. at the former Central Hower High School, at 123 S. Forge St.
     The Blue and Gold Scholar Award is a four-year, renewable scholarship that covers the total cost of tuition and general fees, after state and federal aid and other UT scholarship monies are applied, according to the University of Toledo.
     It is open to seniors attending a high school in the the state of Ohio or Monroe County, Michigan.
     To qualify, students must have a cumulative B average, fill out a federal financial aid form, show Pell Grant eligibility, and apply to the University of Toledo.
     The scholarship pays whatever tuition isn't covered by federal or state aid.

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Not a deficit of attention in ADHD

By John Published: September 15, 2010

Via the Frontal Cortex blog at Wired, this paper from The Dana Foundation about a more accurate way to describe Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

Parents of children with ADHD, for example, may find it hard to fathom that a child who can spend hours engrossed in a video game has a problem with attention. Teachers may be confounded by a student who is fully engaged in a music lesson but is distracted or disruptive in other classwork.

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Re-enactment brings war era to life

By John Published: September 15, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Revolutionary lesson plan

By John Published: September 14, 2010

I spent part of a beautiful day today at Archbishop Hoban High School, where social studies teacher Jason Edwin Anderson put on an incredible living history lesson for about 375 fourth and fifth-graders from private and public schools around the area, including Robinson elementary school, which is down the hill from Hoban

The students and staff, dressed in Colonial-era garb, showed the students various aspects of 18th century math, history, economics and science, focusing on Ohio's only Revolutionary War fort, Fort Laurens,  down in northern Tuscarawas County near Bolivar. In the battle scene at the end of this video, the kids are throwing little plastic balls.

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Whittier Elementary School a Blue Ribbon winner

By John Published: September 13, 2010

Whittier Elementary School in Massillon is among 254 public and 50 private named  Blue Ribbon Schools this year by the U.S. Department of Education. The schools will be honored at an awards ceremony Nov. 15-16 in Washington, D.C.

List of all the winners available here.

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New license plate to boost student driver ed

By John Published: September 13, 2010


Photo courtesy of Ray Sanderbeck

Ray Sanderbeck, whose 15-year-old daughter, Michelle, was killed in a traffic accident in 2006, has led the effort to improve driver education with driving simulators through the Michelle's Leading Star Foundation, named for his daughter.

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Ambassador to Haiti speaks at Walsh Jesuit

By John Published: September 13, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

CUYAHOGA FALLS: It's time for American diplomatic efforts in Haiti eight months after an earthquake killed 230,000 people and left more than a million homeless to pivot from humanitarian assistance to reconstruction.

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State Report Cards online at First Bell

By John Published: September 10, 2010

The First Bell education blog now has state report cards for our area from the 2005-2006 school year though the most current report cards for last year. Look for them in the right hand column, just below the links for local school districts (reminder, I've linked to the Summit County districts, but there's also a  link in the middle of the list that will take you all districts in Ohio with a Web site).

The report card data was compiled by our computer assisted reporting manager, David Knox, and appears on Ohio.com each year and is reproduced in the print edition each year. Now you can click on all that data in one place. We break it down by district, high school, middle school and elementary school. We  also have data on local charter schools.

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Police report filed after sleeping boy, 5, taken to school bus garage

By John Published: September 9, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

A Summit County sheriff's deputy was so angry that a Green bus driver skipped his street Tuesday afternoon without dropping off his 5-year-old son, he filed an incident report with the sheriff's office.

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Last word on that Coventry math problem

By John Published: September 8, 2010

Folks from Triumph Learning called today (I'd hoped to speak to someone yesterday from the textbook publisher) and they confirmed that indeed, the scanned version of the problem that appeared in the photo  is from the first edition of their  textbook and was corrected  for the second printing in  April, 2008.  The text is now in its seventh printing.

If there's a cautionary tale in all this for teachers, it's this: ask the publisher's permission to scan pages for projection on a Smart Board so you don't get caught with out-of-date information. But again, the problem the girl in the photo was asked to solve, and in fact did solve, is not the problem that appears on the board. The kids have the updated textbooks, it's the scanned version that was out of date.

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Words fail, but she's right

By John Published: September 8, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Fifth-grader Kayla Connelly answered the problem correctly.

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What's wrong with this picture?

By John Published: September 7, 2010

This photo of Kayla Connelly, a fifth-grader at Erwine Middle School in Coventry is on our front page today, illustrating a story about how Erwine and Coventry Junior High have achieved positive results on the state math tests by doubling the time they spend on math each day.

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District tallies results with focus on math

By John Published: September 7, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Connie Hathorn to lead Youngstown

By John Published: September 5, 2010

Congratulations to Connie Hathorn on his new job as the Youngstown Superintendent.

Vindicator has the details here.

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Dial M for Mind: NeuroPhones in education

By John Published: September 3, 2010

The National Science Foundation is funding development of a mobile phone technology that would transmit the brain's electrical signals over wireless technology, which could have profound implications for educators.

 The grant abstract  is described here:

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Hamster Cleaner 3000 a winner

By John Published: September 3, 2010

Congratulations to National Inventors Hall of Fame 6th grader  Brandon Smith, who won a $1000 U.S. Savings bond in Time Warner Cable's  ''Coolest Creation'' contest sponsored by Local on Demand channel 411.

His principal instructional leader Traci Buckner announced that he had won at the dedication ceremony for  the new school yesterday morning.

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CHEERS FOR STEM

By John Published: September 3, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Former Akron administrator seeks top job in Youngstown

By John Published: September 2, 2010

Longtime Akron Public Schools administrator Connie Hathorn is a finalist for the superintendent's job in Youngstown, according to the Vindicator.

Hathorn was with Akron for 19 years, finishing his tenure as executive director of student support services.  Budget cuts this summer eliminated his senior position (and the job of communications director,  held by Karen Ingraham, also a 19-year APS veteran).

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Fordham Institute/Catalyst Ohio dig into report cards

By John Published: September 2, 2010

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute a staunch defender of the charter school movement nationally and the sponsor of six charter schools in Ohio has a detailed analysis of the 2009-2010 state report cards here.  They dig deep into Akron here.

Akron charter students were much more likely to be in Academic Emergency (29 percent) than Akron district students (6 percent) . Akron district students also were much less likely to be in the lowest rating compared with district students in the Big 8 as a whole (21 percent). Of all the Big Urban 8 charter students, 28 percent attended schools in Academic Emergency, about the same as Akron charter students).

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School group suggestions aim for peace

By John Published: September 2, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

An independent panel created to find common ground between school districts and charter schools made four recommendations to the Ohio legislature Tuesday that both sides of the contentious debate support.

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Several Akron schools win state science award

By John Published: September 1, 2010

To qualify for the Governor's Award, each school conducted a local science fair with 20 or more students, sent one or more of these students to one of the Academy's 16 district science days, and involved students in one or more youth science opportunities beyond the classroom such as State Science Day, visits to museums, mentorship programs and extended field trips.

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Old School House bell-raising Sept. 13

By John Published: September 1, 2010

This in the email from Progress Through Preservation:

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Charter schools should be funded directly

By John Published: September 1, 2010

The Ohio School Funding Advisory Council subcommittee charged with finding better ways for district schools and charter schools to co-exist has issued its recommendations. Click on  NEW! Report released by the Traditional Public/Community School Collaboration Subcommittee for the full report.

The top recommendation is to pay charter schools directly instead of churning  the state money through the home district of each charter school student and then deducting the charter school funds from the state money the district receives. This deduction-transfer system has always raised a key question because districts combine state aid with the money they raise locally through tax levies: Are local taxpayers funding charter schools that they have no control over? Charter school proponents have always argued that the money for charter school students is pure state money, unmingled with local taxpayer money.  Many public school treasurers would beg to differ, including Akron's Jack Pierson, who is on the subcommittee.

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Federal money to pay Akron teachers

By John Published: September 1, 2010

By John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

Akron Public Schools can expect about $6.6 million in federal help to pay its teachers.

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Organizers cancel East Akron parade

By John Published: September 1, 2010

John Higgins
Beacon Journal staff writer

East Akron has celebrated Labor Day with a parade every year since 1972, but not this year, because organizers say it's gotten too big and is no longer about the neighborhood.

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