Board Review of David W. James is Favorable

Community Makes Sound Investment in Superintendent
Posted on 07/24/2018
Image of Superintendent David W. JamesEnrollment is up for the first time in decades, Akron Public Schools innovative approach to learning continues to create opportunities for students, the APS partnership with LeBron James is about to create a groundbreaking public school, and businesses and organizations are buying in to Superintendent David W. James' mission of making schools stronger with community participation in APS classrooms.

The Akron Board of Education, in its annual evaluation of Superintendent David W. James, scrutinized every aspect of his performance in areas such as continuous improvement, policies, collaboration, special projects and leadership.

In written evaluations, board members weighed in on James' performance in critical areas such as financial responsibility where they cited his work with CFO Ryan Pendleton on the cost-saving consolidation move to merge all administrative offices into one building at 10 N. Main St. The move is expected to save the district millions of dollars in the first several years alone.

Board members commended the superintendent for his leadership, vision and determination to see projects through in their development. Several expressed their support of his work and thanked him for his decision to remain at the helm of APS, after considering earlier this year a move to Columbus City Schools.

Board President Patrick Bravo felt James' had been strong in many areas of leadership. "The superintendent and his staff should be commended for their efforts to ensure that Akron Public Schools remains on the leading edge of curriculum and technology. The College & Career Academies of Akron, the I Promise School, the One:World initiative to provide each student with a Google Chromebook and digital textbook adoptions are all examples of the strength the superintendent and his staff have in this area," Bravo wrote.

Bravo went on to say the superintendent's efforts to recruit and retain top talent are strong, writing, "This is another area that continues to see significant improvement. Over the past few years, there has been a marked improvement in our HR efforts to recruit, develop, evaluate and retain quality staff."

Lisa Mansfield, board member and past president wrote, "The progress of College & Career Academies and the I Promise School are not just the highlights of the year, these are generational changes. More has been accomplished than most districts accomplish in a decade or more."

"Thrilled by the progress," wrote board member Morgan Lasher in comments directed at James' leadership on the College & Career Academies transformation of APS high schools. Lasher said she appreciated his "phased approach and the thoughtful partnerships" David James helped encourage and forge to make the academies project work.

One area, discipline, drew comments from the board's Tim Miller, who wrote, "I hope our community discussion on behavior, discipline and safety, along with the I Promise School model, adds to the vision and continuous improvement of the school environment. We need to look at a new element of learning for our students and support for our teachers so students can participate and thrive in our classrooms."

Miller and others also cited James' statewide leadership in public education and offered support. "David travels and participates in many organizations such as BASA (Buckeye Association of School Administrators) and Ohio Big 8 -- Ohio's eight largest urban school systems -- and other state and national committees. We'd like to know more about the subjects and topics he works on. This may help our learning curve and help form and develop policy needed by David to do his job."

Ginger Baylor called James "assertive and reasonable" in his execution of plans, initiatives and strategies. "He provides timely updates for important projects up to completion." Baylor also commended James for his understanding and his approach to technology. "He has demonstrated his concerns and support for the effective use of data and continued updates to technology."

James' work in the community, forming partnerships, is also a significant element in his success. Board member and past president, Rev. Curtis T. Walker, Sr. wrote, "Mr. James is very actively engaged in the community and continues to build partnerships. He has done a great job and has moved us into exciting new avenues."

Bruce Alexander, past president, wrote that he feels communication between the board and superintendent has "made some strides." However, Alexander said he could see there is "room for improvement" in that area. Alexander also wrote that he would like to see the superintendent take a "deeper dive into the district's strategic plan" so APS can "propel teaching, learning, professionalism and customer service."

The Board has agreed to extend the terms of Mr. James' contract for three (3) additional years, commencing on August 1, 2019, and ending July 31, 2022.

In addition the Board has agreed to increase the superintendent's base salary to $225,500 effective August 1, 2018.

Following a successful evaluation of the superintendent, the board shall increase the superintendent's base salary according to the following schedule:

August 1, 2019 - $5,000.00
August 1, 2020 - $6,000.00
August 1, 2021 - $7,000.00

Beginning on January 1, 2019, the superintendent will be provided with six (6) weeks of annual vacation versus the current five weeks of vacation.
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