Akron: Education and Research
Elementary and Secondary Schools
In 2001 Akron Public Schools committed to a 10-point contract with the community, vowing to heighten academic standards, raise test scores and graduation rates, keep schools safe, cut costs and limit growth, execute and enforce contracts with parents of students, move students into alternative school programs as necessary, provide continuing education for teachers and administrators, work closely with community partners, monitor the budget closely, and delay requests for more operational monies until the 10 points of the contract were met (which happened as of the 2004-2005 school year). Akron Public Schools is a large district that boasts a student body that is approximately half African American and half Anglo-American, along with representation from Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino, and American Indian cultural and ethnic groups. The district's diverse language program is a source of pride.
A plethora of specialized programs and studies are offered in classes that meet all state standards for education. Team and individual sports, music, and art offerings have been supported in Akron Public Schools, demonstrating the district's commitment to individualized learning. The district has incorporated alternative school facilities that serve students who are at risk of dropping out of the general school population or who pose a discipline problem.
In 2003 the district embarked on an ambitious 15-year plan to renovate existing school structures into state-of-the-art community learning centers. The updated facilities will serve as modern school buildings for Akron Public School students during the day, and in the evening will be available for community programs, adult education, recreation, and after-school enrichment activities.
The following is a summary of data regarding Akron public schools as of the 2004–2005 school year.
Total enrollment: 27,595
Number of facilities
elementary schools: 39
middle schools: 10
high schools: 8
Student teacher ratio: 15.2:1
Funding per pupil: $9,360
The city of Akron is also home to a number of private middle and high school programs, most of which are operated under the auspices of religious institutions. A Waldorf school is located in nearby Copley, Ohio, and several Montessori schools are located in Akron and surrounding communities.
Public Schools Information: Akron Public Schools, Administration Building, 70 N. Broadway, Akron, OH 44308-1911; telephone (330)761-1661
Colleges and Universities
With the unlikeliest of mascots (Zippy the Kangaroo), the University of Akron has a student body of 24,129. The university functions on the semester system and offers more than 200 undergraduate majors, more than 100 master's degrees, 17 doctoral degrees and 4 law degrees. The university has adapted to economic trends in the Akron area by instituting a College of Polymer Science and Engineering; other degree programs prepare students for careers in nursing, education, the fine arts, the social sciences and more.
Adult vocational education is available at several institutions in the Akron area, including the Ohio College of Massotherapy (OCM). Enrolling approximately 250 full-time students, OCM combines classroom and experiential work in pursuit of an associates degree in Applied Science or a diploma in Massage Therapy. Specialized healthcare programs in x-ray technology or nursing can be studied through the local hospitals organized under the Summa Health System, including St. Thomas Medical Center and Akron City Hospital.
Other institutions for post-secondary education include Southern Ohio University's northeast campus, the Academy of Court Reporting, Wooster Business College, Akron Barber College, Stafford Flight Academy, Advanced Career College, and the Akron Machining Institute.
Akron is a mere hour south of Cleveland and within easy reach of the main campuses and branches of several post-secondary education programs. Kent State University is located about 24 miles to the northeast of Akron.
Libraries and Research Centers
Akron and its surrounding communities are served by the Akron-Summit County Public Library system, which is comprised of a main library facility in Akron, 17 branch libraries, and a bookmobile. The library system provides access to more than 1.2 million books, approximately 250,000 audio-visual materials, and 1,800 periodicals. The main library houses a number of special collections centered around local history; one of the newer collections has preserved musical contributions of local Summit County performers from the past to present day. Photographs, books, articles, and other materials chronicle the history of the rubber industry, the World Series of Golf, and the Soap Box Derby in Akron. Each branch of the library system offers a variety of reading and education programs for children, teens, and adults throughout the year. Book delivery is available for homebound readers.
Located on the fourth floor of the Summit County Courthouse, the Akron Law Library promotes "the study and investigation of law and legal research . . . " to its membership of attorneys, judges, magistrates, and other court personnel. More than 81,500 volumes are on hand for browsing, along with an increasing number of audio-visual formats. Library members can also utilize online legal research resources, and three professional law librarians are onsite to assist with research questions and access to materials.
Future legal eagles conduct research in the Law Library associated with the law school at the University of Akron. The library maintains a comprehensive selection of books, audio-visual materials and periodicals related to the legal profession, supporting the academic work of students and the pedagogical efforts of faculty members. The university also provides a general library service for students in other degree programs, with materials including electronic books, government documents, maps, periodicals, and printed books.
The University of Akron is the site of breakthrough research efforts such as an examination of the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program, with procedural revisions expected as an outcome, and applied polymer research taking place in the Institute of Polymer Engineering. The institute works with a variety of businesses in the polymer industry, providing lab equipment and personnel trained in research and testing techniques. The Polymer Engineering program has gone so far as to convince nationally-recognized glass artist Dale Chihuly to create a large-scale polymer sculpture for the campus, with installation expected during the summer of 2005.
Public Library Information: Akron-Summit County Public Library, 60 South High Street, Akron, OH 44326; telephone (330)643-9000
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