Upper Arlington News

UA board OKs higher pay-to-play fees for 2013-14

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Upper Arlington Board of Education approved higher fees Monday, May 13, for high school and middle school athletes as part of budget changes that will include departmental cuts for the 2013-14 school year.

The district had announced in February that athletic pay-to-participate fees would be increased, from $85 to $100 per sport at the high school and from $42.50 to $50 per sport at the middle school level.

Last month, the board approved the non-renewal of contracts for 29 teachers hired in the past two years.

Treasurer Andy Geistfeld said the higher fees and staff cuts are necessary to achieve reductions in operating expenses of about $6 million over the next two years -- a response to the loss of the 5.8-mill operating levy in November 2012.

One new administrator hire was approved at the meeting, though, to replace resigning Communications Director Dan Donovan.

Karen Truett, currently director of communications for Olentangy schools, will replace Donovan June 17. School board members approved a two-year contract for Truett at an annual base salary of $85,000.

New Superintendent Paul Imhoff introduced Truett to the board.

"We had a great group of candidates for this position, but Karen quickly rose to the top," he said. "Everyone we talked to about Karen told us about her vision and the amazing things she has done."

Truett said she is happy to begin a new position in Upper Arlington.

"I'm excited to be here and to work in a unique school district with such a tradition of excellence," she said.

Two Upper Arlington High School seniors, Corey Hayes and Abby Goddard, talked to school board members about an academic internship program that was eliminated for next school year because of budget cuts.

Nancy Botti, career development specialist at the high school, said the internship program offered "an opportunity for students to get out in the professional community and serve as interns."

"It is a way for students to start whittling down choices for their future careers," she said. "I hate to see this going away for next year. It has truly been a valuable opportunity for students."

She said students were able to choose a different internship site every nine weeks.

Goddard said she worked on the Obama campaign during her internship.

"I had two periods reserved for academic internship," she said. "I worked on the campaign about 12 hours a week, at door-to-door canvassing and phone banking. One of the things I did for the campaign was talk to Washington Post reporters when they called.

"I also greeted President Obama when he visited Columbus and got to ride in his motorcade," she said.

Hayes said he is interested in going to medical school, so has worked on internships that involved medical tasks, even "cutting up cadavers at OSU." He said the internships helped with his capstone project on preventing concussions, something with which he had some experience as a varsity soccer and basketball player.

"I was able to present testimony about preventing concussions to help in the passing of House Bill 143," he said. "I also recently worked in a neurology clinic and next year plan to major in neuroscience at OSU."

Hayes said he was also offered a summer job at an optometry clinic because of an internship he had at the clinic.

Botti will retire at the end of the school year.

"I worked with hundreds of students over the past 15 years," she said. "I know that all of the students I worked with benefited from the authentic experiences they received from this program."

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