The year 2008 has been an eventful one for Upper Arlington City Schools, both in terms of positive developments and a couple of challenges.

The year 2008 has been an eventful one for Upper Arlington City Schools, both in terms of positive developments and a couple of challenges.

The following is a look back at some of the year's most significant developments.

The 2007-08 school year concluded on a positive note, with the district earning an "excellent with distinction rating," the highest possible rating on the Ohio Department of Education's report card.

ODE assigns the rating to districts that have shown growth for at least two consecutive years.

Despite the top-notch designation, the district continues to focus on areas of improvement, superintendent Jeffrey Weaver said.

"As good as we may feel about the test scores," he said, "we want each class to show improvement."

The district registered slight declines from the 2006-07 school year in some areas measured by the ODE. Fifth-grade reading scores declined about two percent. Eighth-grade scores showed declines in math, science and social studies.

"This isn't necessarily a decline from one year to the next because we're talking about different classes," Weaver said. "It was this year's fifth grade compared to last year's fifth grade," Weaver said. "It's a completely different group of kids."

There were also declines on 11th grade Ohio Graduation Tests in math and social studies, both down one percent.

"We know that each and every student needs to pass that OGT test to graduate, so that's critical information for us," he said. "We do look at test scores" to indicate areas in need of improvement.

Several construction projects throughout the school district got under way in 2008. Additions at Barrington and Greensview elementary schools broke ground this fall. The projects are funded from the district's permanent improvement fund, created with 2 mills of the 6.2-mill levy voters approved in November 2007.

Just in time for the 2008-09 football season, construction was completed on a new pavilion for the Upper Arlington High School Marching Band. Students, teachers and community members celebrated the pavilion's grand opening on Aug. 14, marking the culmination of five years of fundraising and planning.

The pavilion at the south end of the Marv Moorehead Stadium includes new bleachers to accommodate band students and a 30-inch brick wall that borders a plaza emblazoned with a black and gold "UA" logo.

An online threat of violence at Upper Arlington High School disrupted classes May 13-14. On May 13, authorities took into custody a 15-year-old student for posting threats on a Web site.

The FBI alerted Upper Arlington police that the student, whose identity was not released, was looking to obtain weapons and carry out an attack at the high school on May 14.

The student and his family cooperated with investigators, and he was referred to the city of Upper Arlington Juvenile Diversion Program. School officials did not disclose whether the district took separate disciplinary actions against the student.

Also in May, former Upper Arlington High School swim coach and art teacher Kevin Chapman resigned after pleading guilty to sexual battery and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.

Chapman was arrested Feb. 26 and placed on paid administrative leave from the high school, where he had coached the boys swim team since 1989.

The charges stemmed from allegations from a woman, now 28, who contacted police in February claiming that Chapman, 51, forced her to perform sexual acts while she was a 15-year-old student at UAHS.

The district ended the year on a positive note by announcing Dec. 4 a $175,000 gift from an anonymous donor that will support district-wide technology initiatives.

The Upper Arlington Community Foundation and the Upper Arlington Education Foundation are each passing on donations of $87,500, which will be divvied up among various academic technology programs.

Plans are to use the $175,000 as follows:

$75,000 for the district's Computers-for-Teachers Program.

$60,000 for classroom projectors.

$30,000 for professional development for teachers.

$10,000 for course management programs.

"This donation is very important in the development of our technology programs and our ability to advance as we begin the next iteration of our five-year strategic plan," Weaver said.

cbournea@thisweeknews.com