Report card data stands

for Aurora school district

When the final state report cards for the 2011-12 school year were released Feb. 27, Portage County district results were unchanged from preliminary data released last October.

Results had been delayed because of an investigation by the state auditor into attendance data scrubbing by some districts.

The results showed four Portage County districts getting "excellent with distinction" ratings -- Aurora, Field, James A. Garfield and Kent. Aurora has achieved the highest ratings for all 12 years report cards have been compiled.

State officials said there were especially strong gains in eighth-grade math and science around Ohio. But they said there is still much room for improvement.

Parents and other interested parties now will be able to see the full district report cards at

The latest report card shows that Aurora achieved a 108.8 performance index -- the highest in Portage County -- met adequate yearly progress and rated "above" in value added growth. The district met all of the 26 state indicators, and had an attendance percentage of 96.4 and a graduate rate of 97.5 percent.

Aurora High School ranked sixth and Harmon School 10th in performance index out of all Ohio schools.

Bus security is enhanced

The Aurora School District is implementing several school bus security upgrades. The changes will help to increase safety on buses. Cameras are being installed on the entire fleet of buses that capture not only video, but sound.

Along with the cameras, drivers will work with their student passengers to create an assigned seating arrangement. The seating chart will be helpful for substitute drivers and will aid in any identity issues that may arise.

Principals at each of the school buildings discussed the changes with their students on March 4. Any parents who have questions should call the transportation department at 330-954-2114 or the Board of Education office.

No decision reached yet

on smoking ban at KSU

A potential smoking ban is still up in the air following discussions last week at Kent State University.

Only a small group of faculty, students and staff attended a Feb. 26 discussion on KSU's policy, but every participant had a strong opinion on the topic.

Stephanie Clemens, a sophomore broadcast journalism major, said stricter enforcement of anti-smoking policies or an outright ban on tobacco use on campus would lead her to consider transferring to another university.

"I may be downgrading, but if you're going to take away my smoking rights, it's worth it," she said.

KSU planned the town hall meeting, along with two more on the Kent campus Feb. 28, to get feedback from the public on the university's tobacco policy after the Ohio Board of Regents, which oversees the public higher education system, recommended last summer for all public colleges and universities to ban tobacco use on campus.

Others spoke out at the Feb. 26 event in favor of a smoking ban. One thing all of the participants agreed on was that the current university policy, which bans smoking inside and within 20 feet of doors, windows and vents on buildings, is not working.

Two students place first

Two Aurora students placed first in their grades in the recent Portage County Math 24 competition. They are Sean Fritinger in fourth grade and Samantha Grohe in eighth. The pair were omitted from a list of other high achievers in the competition published in "School Notes" last week.

Food drive is under way

The Do Something club at Harmon School is hosting a food drive this week for the local Volunteers of America. The following items are needed: boxes of macaroni and cheese, canned soups, hamburger helper, tuna helper and canned chili. They can be placed in the collection box through March 8. Many families rely on this organization for food and they always appreciate the help that Harmon gives.

Physical exams required

Spring sports (baseball, softball and track) practices will start on March 11 at Harmon School, and athletes must have a current physical on file in order to try out and participate. New physicals can be turned into Harmon's office at any time or to the coach on the first day of practice. All other sports packet information should be turned into the coaches. Sports packets and physical forms are available in the office.

VCA sets various events

Valley Christian Academy on East Boulevard in Aurora is planning a 100-plus-family garage sale March 23 from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Also coming up are the Big Night Out benefit April 27 from 6 to 10 p.m., a military, police and fire appreciation day May 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the "Cinderella" drama production May 25 at 1 p.m. in Aurora High School's auditorium.

Portage workshop draws

teachers; 2 more coming

The Portage County Educational Service Center recently hosted a two-part educational workshop entitled, Activate Your Creative Mind: A H.O.T. (Higher Order Thinking), Brain-Based Core Curriculum. The workshop was funded by the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation.

Teachers from 15 districts in five counties participated in the two-day workshop, which was based on the premise that students entering the workforce must not only know and understand concepts but must be prepared to apply, analyze and synthesize knowledge in new and creative ways.

Kathy Frazier and Elaine Reynolds, residents of Portage County and co-authors of the book, "Power UP Your Creative Mind: Activate Creative Thinking in Your Classroom," presented the workshop.

Other workshops are being offered on March 21 and May 7. For information or to register, contact Rachel Smethers-Winters at the Portage County Educational Service Center, 326 E. Main St., third floor, Ravenna or at 330-297-1436, ext. 1506.

Two Portage districts eye

hiring new school chiefs

Two school districts in Portage County are searching for a superintendent. But only one is expected to make an appointment before the new school year starts.

While Crestwood is well on its way to finding its next superintendent, and expects a selection to be made next month, Field hasn't even started its search.

Dr. David Kircher of Finding Leaders, an executive search committee, said Crestwood already had 42 applicants a week away from its March 8 deadline. Crestwood's search started in January.

Superintendent Joseph Iacano, who will have been with Crestwood for a decade when he retires this summer, is completing his 35th year in education.

Field, which accepted the resignation of Superintendent Beth Coleman on Feb. 12, has had five superintendents over the past decade.

Board member Allyson Westover said the Field board's next scheduled meeting is March 11, and it has not made any decisions on what direction it would like to go.

-- Diane Smith, Record-Courier

Harmon students' dance is sponsored by the AOA

The evening of March 8 will be Aurora Orchestra Association's Harmon School spring disco dance/ice cream party, with a grand raffle prize of Beats headphones, plus other raffle baskets.

Students can pay the day of the dance, but everyone must get a signed permission slip from their parent or guardian to join the party.

Those who prepay for the dance will receive two free raffle tickets. The party this year is for Harmon students only, along with chaperones. A disc jockey will play favorite tunes, and ice cream with toppings will be available.

Permission slip forms and fliers with information are in the orchestra room and front office at Harmon School.