Aurora schools superintendent highlights wins, promotes levy in State of the City event

As one of two headliners at Aurora’s Feb. 21 State of the City event, Aurora schools Superintendent Michael Roberto highlighted the district’s achievements and looked forward to even more.

Two years ago, the Ohio Department of Education (now the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce) rated each of Ohio’s 600+ school districts on a five-star scale in five different areas. Districts that earned three stars were deemed to be meeting state requirements; those that earned five stars significantly exceeded them. Aurora schools received a rating of five stars.

“Aurora is one of only six schools out of over 600 in Ohio to earn this recognition both years the state has used the five-star designations,” Roberto said.

The state also awarded the OHIO PBIS Gold Recognition Award to Leighton Intermediate School and Miller Elementary School for designing and implementing a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports program in both buildings during the 2022-23 school year.

Aurora High School gained recognition as a Purple Star School, awarded to military-friendly schools that “show a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military,” Roberto said.

The award is bestowed by the Purple Star Advisory Board, which is a partnership of the Ohio Department of Education & Workforce, Veterans Services and the Adjutant General.

Staffs at Leighton and Harmon Middle School were both recently listed in U.S. News & World Report, which rated Leighton in the top 7% of Ohio’s elementary schools (205 out of 3,034) and Harmon in the top 3% of Ohio’s middle schools (66 out of 2,446).

U.S. News & World Report arrived at its conclusions by using data taken for Ohio’s state math and reading tests. The grade schools join Aurora High School, which the news source once again recognized as one of the best high schools in the country, Roberto said.

“U.S. News & World Report evaluated 1,011 high schools in Ohio and over 18,000 across the United States,” Roberto said. “Aurora High School ranked as the number one school out of 52 high schools in the Akron metro area and within the top 1.7% (18th) of schools in Ohio, as well as within the top 2.75% (495th) of all high schools across the country.”

Such accolades are only possible through continued community support, he said. The Aurora schools have a 1.5-mill permanent improvements levy on the March 19 ballot. The levy would be earmarked for upkeep and repair of the district’s infrastructure, which includes roofing, roads, buses and boilers, he said. If approved, the levy would also help the district to pay down Leighton, which was built in 2001.

The county auditor estimates the levy would generate $826,000 annually, which amounts to $29 for each $100,000 of appraised value. Since it is a renewal levy (voters first approved it in 1989 and have continued that support at every opportunity since then), approval on March 19 will not raise voters’ taxes, he said.

Looking forward, Roberto highlighted the district’s potential new construction project, now in its third year of planning.

Though plans are not yet final, the district proposes to replace Craddock, which was built in 1911, with a new grade 9-12 high school, and to move Cradoock’s first and second grades, along with Miller’s preschoolers, to Leighton. That, Roberto said, would create more room for Miller’s kindergarten classes.

Grades 3, 4, and 5, which are currently at Leighton, would move to Harmon, and Harmon’s grades 6 through 8, along with the board of education offices, would occupy the old high school.

“This plan would provide much needed updated facilities and room to grow for literally the next generation of Greenmen,” Roberto said.

Staff and community meetings will be held throughout the year to develop a solid plan for a new high school: the district hopes to place a bond issue for that new school on the November 2024 ballot, he said.

Roberto directed people seeking up-to-date information on the planning process to the district’s website, Click on the link titled ACSD Facility Master Planning Project.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.