The I Promise School will continue to step up the number of children it serves, but will not add the first and second grades after an amendment to the school’s master plan by the Akron Public Schools board on Monday.

The school serves grades three through five, and will add a grade each year through the eighth grade.

The board amended the agreement to say grades one and two will not be part of the expansion plan, as previously envisioned.

District leaders said the change was due to a lack of sufficient space in the current building at 400 W. Market St., and the difficulty in identifying the most at-risk students in kindergarten.

The goal of the school, Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams said, is to target students who are not responding to traditional interventions in their current schools.

Every elementary school, McWilliams said, has interventions for struggling students. Often, she said, those are successful.

“We want to see if kids are growing,” McWilliams said. “And then the ones that are really not growing … are the ones that we want to target. We really need multiple years to look at that type of data.”

The school is a partnership between APS and the LeBron James Family Foundation and offers students and their families intense social and emotional supports and services.

The foundation also pays for additional teachers for each grade level so class sizes are smaller.

The school recently opened its doors for its second year of operation.

Superintendent David James said he didn’t expect to revisit the grade structure.

“I think that will be a permanent recommendation,” he said.

In other business, the board honored Judith White, a 50-year veteran teacher at Firestone High School who recently retired.

White was named an employee emeritus of the district after 22 years teaching in the International Baccalaureate program at Firestone.

“She had a huge impact on thousands of students over the years,” board member Lisa Mansfield said.

 

Contact reporter Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.