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Retiring Akron Superintendent Takes Post With Columbus Schools

Champion Middle School in Columbus.
Mary Rathke
Champion Middle School in Columbus.

David James is retiring this week after 29 years with Akron Public Schools, with the past 13 of them as the district’s superintendent.

James’ last day in Akron is June 30, but this isn’t the end of his career in public education. He’ll be heading to Columbus City Schools, where he previously was considered for the superintendent’s position in 2018 but ultimately withdrew. Now he’ll serve as the district’s deputy superintendent of operations, a role he said is similar to his previous job in Akron.

“It takes me kind of full circle because I did a lot of that type of work here with our facilities plan and supervising all of our support functions for eight or nine years before becoming superintendent,” he said.

James said this won’t be a short-term gig. He’s 59 and plans to work for several more years.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic and shifts in Akron’s board of education didn’t contribute to his decision to retire; it was simply time.

“There’s a time to enter the room and a time to exit. I’ve been here 29 years. I have 34 years in public service. It was time for a change, and I think people recognize that,” he said.

James announced his plans for retirement last August. He says he’s leaving the district in good hands with new superintendent Christine Fowler-Mack, a district graduate hired by the board of education in a historic move. She’s the first woman and woman of color to serve in the role.
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Retiring Akron Superintendent Takes Post With Columbus Schools

Abigail Bottar is a junior at Kent State University. She is pursuing a major in political science with a concentration in American politics and minors in history and women's studies. Additionally, Abigail is starting her second semester copy editing for The Burr.
A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.