APS Enrollment Stabilizes

Investing in Instruction
Posted on 04/09/2018
Image of Ohio Department of Education graph for APS enrollmentEnrollment numbers for the Akron Public School District are a "bright spot" among equally encouraging data reflecting the district's management and spending, when compared with its peers, said CFO Ryan Pendleton.

Akron's peers include city school districts in Canton, Cleveland, Lorain, Euclid, Springfield, Dayton, Toledo, Cincinnati and South-Western, according to the Ohio Department of Education.

Data released by the state reveals Akron's enrollment, which had declined for more than decade, has remained level since 2016.

With about 27,000 students available to attend Akron Public Schools, about 21,000 are "in seats," Pendleton said.

Some options for schooling Akron children include private schools, online schools, charter schools and home school. The district is getting students back who left for online and charter schools, while fewer kids leave each year, he said.

"That to me is a win, if students through choice are not leaving the district," he said.

It's likely Akron's academic programming, including its evolution to College & Career Academies, is attracting students, Pendleton said.

The academies are designed to offer students core academic instruction in an area of interest to the student, in a small learning-community environment. The classwork is aligned with students' career objectives in such areas as healthcare, engineering, technology and business.

Akron Public Schools spends more on student support and instruction, and less on operations and administration, when compared with other urban school districts, according to the state's district profile reports (CUPP Report).

"We've reached an operational efficiency that's very respectable as far as taxpayer dollars," Pendleton said.

Occupancy levels are also a factor in the district's financial health. Over the past decade as Akron revamped its aging district; some schools were merged and many built new, resulting in fewer schools.

And although districts want buildings at 100 percent occupancy, population trends can tip the scales and result in overcrowding.

"You don't want to be paying to keep vacant buildings open, but it's also important to be flexible enough to work with population changes and be responsive," Pendleton said.

Based on the design of the schools, or cost per square foot, and the number of students enrolled, the district-wide average for occupancy is 82 percent, which meets the district's "best practices" levels of 80-85 percent, he said.

"We're seeing, heading into the next school year, that the dollars are where they're supposed to be," he said. "We're stretching dollars while still protecting programs."

The district formerly asked for a property tax levy every six years, he said. It's now in a position to aim for every eight years.

Image of Ohio Department of Education graph for APS enrollment
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