Royal Oak named one of best cities to raise kids

By Megan Pennefather • MIRROR STAFF WRITER •

Royal Oak found a sunny patch amid all this regional gloom: BusinessWeek magazine recently deigned the city as one of the nation's best cities to raise children.

The magazine in November released its second annual roundup of the "Best Places To Raise Your Kids," and Royal Oak was one of only three Michigan cities named to the list. Ann Arbor was the top community in the state, while Royal Oak and Shelby Township were named runners-up.

The honor came as no surprise to City Manager Tom Hoover.

"We've got great neighborhoods, great services," he said. "We've got a very vibrant downtown. We've got it all, and we try to use it to our advantage."

School performance, affordability and safety were the top three criteria considered in compiling the list, but cost of living, air quality, job growth, diversity, local parks, museums and theaters were also factors. Towns with populations of fewer than 50,000 and median household incomes of less than $40,000 or more than $100,000 were not considered.

The honor came when the city is facing ever-increasing budget problems, as revenue continues to dwindle and costs of services inch up. Hoover said though economic times are tough in the city, Royal Oak is still a draw for many people. "All around, there are good places to live," he said.

Royal Oak school district Superintendent Thomas Moline said the honor says a lot about the quality of the city's schools. "That is a credit to the school district, and we continue to work hard on that," he said. "The community has put a lot into the schools in the last three years."

While teachers and staff certainly deserve part of the credit, he said, it's also important to look at the parents.

"Certainly, it's the instruction," he said. "But it's coupled with the high expectations by the parents, and when you have that, you have a vibrant community."

But is it vibrant enough for the superintendent himself to live there?
Of course, he replied. "I wouldn't live anywhere else."


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