Upper Arlington News

Guest column

Board promises better efficiency, communication


On behalf of all of the members of the Upper Arlington Board of Education, I express great disappointment in the outcome of Issue 51, the 5.8-mill operating levy that was on the Nov. 6 ballot.

As a board, we understand the clear message that the voters of Upper Arlington have sent to us. We believed that our ability to stretch a three-year levy to five years through prudent management of district resources was a remarkable accomplishment, especially during a difficult economic environment.

We now recognize that we need to redouble our efforts to communicate to all of our community stakeholders the complexities and ongoing challenges we face with the financial management of the district. Given this decision by the voters of Upper Arlington, we will be begin exploring reductions to programs, services and staff.

We pledge the board's continued, strong commitment to fiscal responsibility, seeking even more cost-efficient ways to operate our district and educate the children of our community.

First, we commit to reaching out to all of our stakeholders -- parents, teachers, classified staff, community and business leaders and organizations -- seeking feedback on the levy to determine the key issues that influenced the negative results.

Second, we commit to continue open communication with the community by providing the most comprehensive and objective data on the district's financial outlook and budgetary limitations, so that citizens are informed about complexities and challenges faced with the operation of a public school district.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will take the time to reflect on the messages we have heard from the UA voters and work diligently to understand the level of investment that our community's residents are willing to make in our schools. We will also evaluate the timing of the next levy and what will be needed to maintain our excellent educational environment.

To the levy campaign co-chairs and core team members, the hundreds of volunteers (teachers, administrators, staff, parents, business and community members) who provided their time, support and assistance during the entire campaign ... and all of those who worked on behalf of Issue 51, we say, "Thank you."

Your efforts were stellar!

Upper Arlington is a special place where we have a strong community that values education and understands the importance of a high-performing and high-achieving school system to the future vitality of our community. Our children deserve the best education that we can offer and we intend to continue to provide that within the financial limits of our district's funding.

We will move forward as a community and continue to assure that our children have access to educational opportunities of the highest quality.

Robin Comfort is president of the Upper Arlington Board of Education.