The decision to accept the position of city manager for Upper Arlington and to move my family to Ohio from Michigan hinged upon many factors. While we had been thinking about making a move back for some time, there were few communities that offered the full spectrum of amenities and services that we were seeking.
One of the most important considerations was assuring our two sons' educational opportunities would continue to be of an exceptionally high level. So it's no surprise that Upper Arlington stood out as an ideal community, not only for me professionally, but for our family and the future of our children.
Within a matter of weeks of attending UA schools, both boys were happily ensconced in the curricula, rapidly making new friends and enjoying the many extras available to our community's children. One year on, my wife Carol and I are delighted with the educational experiences they are enjoying in their new school system, and we know we made the right choice.
Achieving and sustaining an exceptional educational system within a community is no small feat. It's clear that the Upper Arlington school district has for many years been able to deliver on its promises to UA families and children. A strong school system is one of the primary foundations upon which a healthy community like ours relies. The generations of Arlingtonians who return to their hometown when it comes time to raise a family are making an informed decision based on their own successes in the UA school system.
Each year, we also welcome new families who may not have a childhood connection to UA but who recognize the academic opportunities that will be afforded their children and know they are making a good financial investment by purchasing a home in a community that is supported by an excellent school system.
Two years later than originally anticipated, the UA school district has placed an operating levy - Issue 51 - on the November ballot, to fund day-to-day operations such as salaries, utilities, books and transportation. The school district was able to extend the life of the 2007 levy by implementing a series of cost savings measures, such as a two-year teacher salary freeze, a one-year administrator salary freeze in 2012, reductions in health care costs and increased employee contributions, delayed hiring and holding some positions vacant following retirements, as well as participating in purchasing consortiums.
These cutbacks were achieved while continuing to maintain the high standards of educational and extracurricular programming that we deserve and expect for our children.
Today, passage of the operating levy is critical to support the UA schools' mission moving forward. With approximately 78 percent of the UA schools' revenue generated from property taxes, a successful operating levy will help recoup the pending loss of $2.6 million in revenues from the state, and help cover various inflationary factors, along with providing for the needs of a growing student population.
It takes reinvestment from all in the community to support the school system from which we all ultimately benefit, regardless of whether we have school-age children. I strongly encourage you to learn more about this issue so that you cast an informed vote on Nov. 6.
A Citizens for UA Schools campaign is under way, with extensive information to be found at www.ualevy.org. The campaign also has a Facebook page featuring regular campaign updates and news of current events focused on Issue 51.
Theodore J. Staton is Upper Arlington's city manager.