Board Receives Two Compelling Reports

Digital Textbooks, Summer Nutrition
Posted on 05/15/2018
Image of APS Logo(as reported by Theresa Cottom, Beacon Jouornal)

Akron school board members heard two presentations Monday: one about partnering with the city for its annual Summer Food Service Program and the other about new social studies digital textbooks for kids in grades 4-12.

The board approved both proposals at its regular meeting.

Since the ’70s, the city has participated in the federally funded Summer Food Service Program, which provides free breakfast and lunch over the summer to any child under 18 whose family meets the income guidelines and lives in the city. The city is then reimbursed per meal distributed.

The city previously contracted with a caterer, who provided cold meals at more than a dozen churches, community centers and parks.

But last year, the city proposed the school district begin providing the meals and serving them at community learning centers instead.

On Monday, Laura Kepler, the food service director for Akron Public Schools, presented an expanded list of 45 feeding centers for this summer, 19 of which include Akron Public Schools buildings.

“I really feel this is a part of the intended goal of the CLCs,” Kepler said.

The district will charge the city $1.95 per breakfast meal and $3.05 per lunch, which includes staffing and delivery costs incurred by the district. Then, the city will be reimbursed with federal money at a slightly higher rate to cover its expenses as well.

The city distributed about 80,000 meals last summer.

“Kids enrolled in APS are familiar with the schools, and it will be an easy option for them to go to their school to receive meals all summer,” Ellen Lander Nischt, the city’s spokeswoman, said. “We expect to see the number of kids served to increase this year.”

Kepler also expects an increase as the district will be able to provide hot meals instead of only cold, of which kids tend to eat less.

The board voted unanimously to approve entering into the contract with the city.

“I’m glad to see we’re getting hot meals into the stomachs of our children,” said board member Bruce Alexander.

Digital texbooks
Adam Motter, the district’s social studies learning specialist, presented and demonstrated an array of new digital textbooks for kids in fourth grade and up to begin using next fall.

The online textbooks will have several interactive components, including in-text note-taking, informational videos and charts and Google Translate capabilities.

The new texts will increase students’ engagement and access to learning, Motter said, but the biggest change comes in the quantity of physical books the social studies department plans to order next year.

Motter proposed ordering about 1,600 physical copies of textbooks for next fall that students can check out if they need to. In 2008, the district ordered more than 20,000.

The rest of the students will be expected to access their textbooks online, whether at home or at school. They also can download pages at school to be used at home without internet access.

The digital transition comes as the district raps up its 1:World Initiative, where every student will have a Chromebook to take home by next fall.

“The timing was right for us … It certainly is a game-changer,” said Assistant Superintendent Ellen McWilliams-Woods.

The board unanimously approved the use of the materials, and it will vote on the total cost of materials at the next meeting.
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