Upper Arlington News

UA schools will oversee Wickliffe program


The Upper Arlington Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution March 12 to close the legal entity of Wickliffe Progressive Community School.

The closure will be effective July 1. Treasurer Andy Geistfeld emphasized that Wickliffe as a program will continue to exist.

“When I say close, I think it’s very misleading,” he said. “The actual program will still exist, but it will be under Upper Arlington schools, which is its own legal entity.”

Geistfeld said the Ohio Department of Education has made it difficult for schools to operate as separate entities in the same district. Grant money has allowed the district to operate Wickliffe as a community school, but the dissemination grant is ending, Geistfeld said, and this decision will prevent the school from becoming a financial drain on the district.

Community members can expect a “transparent transition,” board Vice President Bob Arkin said.

“(All that is) really being eliminated are bureaucratic inconveniences,” he said.

Arkin also said closing Wickliffe as a legal entity offers a good time to reflect on the school’s accomplishments.

“It brought us quite a bit of grant support, and this was something that really leveraged our resources and allowed the district to do some really exciting things,” he said.

Grants allocated to Wickliffe allowed the school to work with the Making Learning Visible project at Harvard University for several years.

“It’s really afforded the district opportunities we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Associate Superintendent Debi Binkley said.

The formal process to close Wickliffe will be similar to the process the district followed when the Upper Arlington Community High School and the Upper Arlington International Baccalaureate High School closed in 2010, Geistfeld said.

In other business Monday, board members and administrators heard an update on the district’s plan to implement an International Baccalaureate program at the middle years (grades six to 10) level. The district was approved to pursue authorization this school year, and a verification visit is scheduled for April 23-25.

“The purpose of the visit is for IB to verify that we have the capacity to run the program in our district,” said Patricia Gray Mendoza, the IB middle years program coordinator at Jones Middle School.

A response is expected in two to six months, and if approved, the district hopes to begin operating a fully authorized middle years IB program in fall 2012.

Cynthia Ballheim, who oversees the IB program at UAHS, said Oberlin is the only school district in Ohio currently offering an authorized IB program at both the middle and high school levels.

Also Monday, the board approved contracts for two capital improvement projects. A contract in the amount of $105,949 will allow the district to replace the chiller at Windermere Elementary School, and a contract for $415,234.15 will allow for roof repair and replacements at multiple district buildings.