Upper Arlington City School District Superintendent Jeff Weaver said this week he needed to "put a little context" into a "humorous remark" he made at a public meeting that has been printed and used in anti-levy campaign literature.
Weaver addressed board members and the public at a school board meeting Monday, Oct. 8, at the Central Office.
"Any message needs to be received in the appropriate context," he said. "I responded humorously to my pending retirement by saying it was timely and I was 'getting out while the getting is good.' Those words were used out of context and seemed to imply something negative."
Weaver said he referred to an anti-levy brochure distributed by members of EducateUA, a group campaigning against the district's 5.8-mill operating levy on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The Educate UA brochure states, "Our superintendent with a compensation package that exceeds $270,000 pays nothing toward his retirement while collecting three retirement benefits. It should be no surprise that he stated in an Aug. 21 presentation for Issue 51 that his retirement, scheduled for the end of this school year, is timely. Or as he puts it ... 'I'm getting out while the getting is good.' "
Weaver said at the meeting that he has "devoted 43 serious years to education, with 33 of the 43 years as a superintendent."
"I still have nine months ahead of me as a superintendent, but to have had the ability to devote my last years to Upper Arlington schools and work with the staff has truly been a pleasure," he said. "I think it is best to put a little context into that humorous remark I made. Yes, it will be time to retire after 43 challenging years, but I am very happy to have the ability to finish my career at the finest school district in the country."
Board Vice President Robert Arkin said he had also seen the brochure.
"It is like the old saying, 'no good deed goes unpunished.' I personally think that brochure was a cheap shot," he said. "You have been an exceptional leader and I believe using that remark was unwarranted."
Also at this week's meeting, board members heard from senior Ashley Williams about her service-learning project. Williams began making stylish newspaper necklaces last year as a junior to sell at Global Gallery to support the construction of an orphanage in Bolivia.
The necklaces are made of folded and cut newspaper, strung with fair-trade beads from Bolivia. They sell for $10 each.
She created a Facebook page about the necklaces called Bolivia Children's Fund-Global Gallery.
Williams told school board members she made the first necklaces from newspaper articles describing what people were doing in their communities to have an impact on the world at large.
She said the necklaces were inspired by her attendance at a World Food Prize conference in Iowa at the beginning of her junior year, where she met John Kufuor, former president of Ghana.
That event led to the National Service Learning Conference in Minneapolis last spring.
She said she brought her ideas back to Ohio to a Tedx event held at COSI.
"We had to answer the question, 'If the world could use one thing, what would it be?' I thought the world needed more awareness," she said.
After the conference, Williams was invited to serve as high school ambassador of the OSU student organization, Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship.
She said selling the necklaces netted $1,500 for the orphanage in two months.
"This fall presented an opportunity to speak with Hastings and Jones middle school students and I taught 800 middle school students to make the necklaces," she said. "There are now after-school service-learning clubs at Hastings and Jones. I think it would be really cool if these kids made products of their own to sell for a cause they want to support."
Williams said her necklaces are now being sold at the Wexner Center.
Board president Robin Comfort came to the meeting wearing one of Williams' necklaces.
"After you spoke at Hastings, I must have told 150 people about that day," Comfort said at the meeting. "I'm impressed with your unique experiences and impressed that you have taken it to the next level. I think there is nothing better as an educator than to guide a young person to their passion. You may have enabled Jones and Hastings students to realize they can make a difference in this world."