NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio – In January, North Royalton schools will establish a Culture and Communications Committee that will look to build better relationships and improve communication between staff, students and parents.
The committee will consist of staff from each school and department, along with parents and residents in the North Royalton district.
“The goal of this group is to focus on promoting a positive culture and developing a communications plan for the district,” District Superintendent Michael Laub told cleveland.com.
The district already has a communications plan but aims to improve it. New initiatives may include a phone app that sends parents news and emergency notifications.
“A positive relationship starts with good communication,” says Laub. “We will formulate something that addresses both internal and external communications, from the monthly newsletter to parents to internal logistics.”
In addition, the district will explore posting positive articles and messages about the school on its website and via social media, and thank its employees for their service, Laub said.
“In recent years we have seen a lot of negative messages everywhere,” said Laub. “There are a lot of positive things that happen to children and we should celebrate that.”
The Culture and Communications Committee is just one part of the district’s new comprehensive five-year strategic plan, unveiled earlier this year.
The strategic plan also calls for the assignment of a school resource officer or SRO in each of the three school buildings in the district starting in February.
Laub said each police officer spends around $70,000-$80,000 on salary, benefits and training, but the city of North Royalton has agreed to split the cost.
“We can find room for it within our budget,” said Laub. “It was something we really wanted to do and we found a way without adding to our overall costs.”
In addition, the district under the strategic plan will introduce “flexible groupings”, where children in a class are grouped according to their academic level.
“As children learn and grow, you can move them in and out of the group, based on their needs,” says Laub. “We changed groups, so they were flexible.”
The entire strategic plan is outlined on the school’s website.
Here are other key elements in the North Royalton schools strategic plan. The district plans to:
Sharpen pupil transitions. The district already has transition and orientation plans that help students move from elementary to junior high school, from junior to high school, and to vocational courses. Laub said the district wanted to make the plan more focused.
For example, the district will highlight to students the programs and services their new school offers that their previous school did not offer. For example, a high school will soon be introducing two advanced placement classes, and high school students need to know about that.
“All kids need something different,” says Laub. “We want to meet students where they are and give them special opportunities.”
Create College, Career, Workforce and Military Readiness Plans.
Laub said the district is already preparing students for life after high school. It offers college-preferred courses and partners with the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center in Brecksville to provide vocational education. The county needs to do more.
“We have to have clear pathways for all of our students,” said Laub. “We need to review what we have, clean it up, and then communicate that effectively to staff, students and families.”
For example, students and their families may not realize that district scholarship money isn’t just for those going on to college. It is also for students seeking career credentials, such as in nursing assistance.
“We created a video to convey that message,” said Laub. “Military lines are also important. If children are interested, we need to show them how to achieve it.”
Establish community service requirements. Now, the district encourages students to volunteer for worthy causes but don’t need them. That may change.
“Community service provides incredible growth opportunities for students,” said Laub. “Looks great on resumes and college applications because it shows a willingness to get involved and volunteer to help those around you.”
Train teachers in “english immersion.” In this approach, non-English speaking students learn English while concurrently studying their subjects, such as math and science. Techniques might include labeling various class objects, such as desks and computers.
This is particularly important as the district has recently experienced an influx of non-English speaking students from Ukraine.
“We knew we needed to create a new approach to help those students transition and be successful,” said Laub. “We think we did a good job but additional professional development will help.”
“Identify pathways to digital citizenship.” This means showing students how to use computer technology.
“We need to work on everything from technical skills to the right way to engage on social media to how to be safe when interacting online,” said Laub.
Explore adding mental health support. The district is already hiring school counselors and social workers but will consider adding more support opportunities.
“Parents and students don’t always know what support is available to families,” said Laub. “This includes school support and community support. We wanted to create a menu of items that clearly articulated what was available to those who needed it.”
Royalton North High School Performing Arts Center Renovation. The district is currently reviewing the costs.
“We haven’t done many updates since it was originally built,” said Laub. “Our biggest needs were sound, lighting and seating. All will need to be replaced to some degree over the next few years.
Build new locker room in high school stadium. Now, the stadium only has the home team’s locker room. The visiting team must use a nearby high school or high school during the pre-game and half-time. The District wants to renovate the old bus garage into the new home team locker room and move the visiting team into the home team’s current locker room.
“We are working with an architect to identify those estimates,” Laub said.
Renovate the bus garage. Laub said the district is working with architects to determine costs. The bus garage is on Royalton Road near West 130th Street.
“We have about 60 people going in and out of the facility every day and we have a total of two toilets,” said Laub. “So the toilet is a priority. We also have drainage problems and some bitumen that needs to be replaced.”