About 100 people attended the North Royalton School District’s (NRSD) State of the Schools address, presented by North Royalton School Superintendent Greg Gurka. The event, promoted by the North Royalton Chamber of Commerce, was held on Tuesday evening, February 26, at the Performing Arts Center at the North Royalton High School
School Superintendent Greg Gurka began the presentation by stating the district’s mission: “Inspire and Empower Learners.” He added, “Inspire Great are two words that are now familiar with the North Royalton/Broadview Heights communities. Our District continues to look at embracing the 4C’s for student-centered learning: communications, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. We are inspiring great education, great opportunities, and great tools and resources for bright futures.”
Gurka said that since the last address, which was focused on the May ballot response, the focus now is to show the progress made since that time “both in the decision and soon-to-be construction of our new facilities, and the progress we are making in our classrooms to inspire great each and every day. . . Next month, we will see the construction begin right here at North Royalton High School, and shortly thereafter we will see construction occurring both at our middle school and at our elementary site. This strategic plan will keep us focused on the tasks that need to be accomplished, both physically and academically, to make sure this transition to the new buildings is successful.” The 2018-2023 North Royalton City School Strategic Plan was then discussed, broken down into the categories of Student Achievement, Communication and Community Engagement, Professional Development and Financial.
Student Achievement: “Our focus is on aligning our curriculum at all grade levels and creating a positive climate that supports the whole child,” said Gurka. “This is done through alignment of the standards, curriculum maps and assessments through Teacher Based Teams at the building level. We have also implemented programs at each level to meet, diagnose and assess the individual needs of the students and provide them with supports.” He talked about various programs that were offered and the results of the state report card and district quality profile. He also recognized Albion Elementary School for being honored by the State of Ohio for earning the overall A award.
Communication and Community Engagement: “Our immediate goal in this area is to engage and communicate to the community the design and construction process, as well as what we are doing on an ongoing basis with the overall maintenance of the District’s facilities,” said Gurka. He noted the various publications, media outlets, meetings and presentations that are utilized to help the district communicate and engage.
Professional Development: The “goal is to create professional development opportunities for all staff to best meet the needs of student learning,” said Gurka. “We will provide certified staff professional development opportunities to enhance best instructional practices and provide classified staff professional development opportunities to create a supportive learning environment. Our focus will be on collaboration related to shared spaces.”
Finances: “Our fourth goal is to develop a plan that will financially maintain, support and sustain the North Royalton City Schools beliefs, vision and mission,” said Gurka. “We will publicize, market and inform the community regarding aspects of the District’s budget and elements that impact financial status and promote fiscal responsibility. We also will explore alternative funding sources and enhance business partnerships.” He said that the bottom line is strong, made possible through “sound financial decision making in budgeting, staffing, purchasing and a sound investment strategy.” He went on to say that “Our day-to-day operating processes will allow us to continue to extend our last operating levy which was approved in 2009 and was slated to last three years. In the past State of the Schools presentations, I have spoken about how we hope to extend that levy until 2018, then it was 2019 and last year I said 2020. While we are still on course to extend that levy through 2020 and most probably 2021, the reality is with school funding in the state of Ohio, we know that we will need to be on the ballot for a new operating levy sometime in the future unless the state funding mechanism changes.”
Gurka also talked about the three A’s – Academics, Arts and Athletics. “When talking about meeting the individual needs of students, each of these are areas that help our children flourish.” He then highlighted various examples of each area.
Gurka addressed school safety by saying that “In the past year, our District has provided staff, students and bus drivers training in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) to deal with safety situations. . . In addition, we implemented several security measures, which included locking main school entrances and identifying visitors with cameras and intercoms before allowing them inside. We also began limiting school building access to students before regular school hours. We continue to work closely with the North Royalton Police Department, who can see live feeds from our school security cameras on their desktop computers, tables and smart phones. Officer Jon Karl, our school resource officer, is stationed at the high school, but is available to any school building as well. The police are also in our middle and high school parking lots and officers are always visiting the elementary schools to talk with the students. School personnel, administrators and custodians carry radios that can connect them directly to the police. Students and staff also routinely practice fire, tornado and lock-down drills.” He added that “All of our new buildings and the middle school will also have secure entrances, camera systems and the ability to isolate and lock down parts of the building. All of these safety measures, along with the bullying-prevention program we began several years ago, are designed to make our schools safe for students and staff, while still providing a caring, nurturing environment.”
Gurka ended by saying that “moving from good to great was amplified with the passage of the bond issue in May of 2017. Many long hours went into securing the bonds and beginning the visioning and design processes for both the high school and elementary school projects. This has only intensified this school year as we look forward to construction beginning at North Royalton High School in approximately one month from today.” He then gave a recap of the building program projects and stated that the new elementary school, which was scheduled to open in 2020, is now targeted to open in August of 2021. The Middle School HVAC has been completed and the new entryway will start in June and be completed for the new school year. The High School project will be done in three phases and will begin this month and be completed in the fall of 2021.
Hammond Construction Project Manager Jeff Adams then discussed the upcoming construction and traffic changes that will be taking place starting just after Spring Break. (See School Construction story in the next edition of the Royalton Recorder).
Contributing Writer