Upper Arlington News

Upper Arlington schools

Arkin, Pizzuti won't seek re-election to board

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Two longtime Upper Arlington school board members will not seek re-election in November.

Board President Robert Arkin and board member Margie Pizzuti said July 8 they will not seek a fourth term on the Upper Arlington Board of Education.

Both were first elected in 2001. Their terms expire Dec. 31.

Board members Robin Comfort, Stacey Royer and Nancy Drees will be up for re-election in 2015.

"This decision was exceedingly difficult, because I have enjoyed enormously my time on the board and have been proud to advocate for the strategic initiatives that have been important to our district's success," Arkin said. "I believe the time is right to step down and provide the opportunity for others to serve."

Pizzuti said she has been an Upper Arlington resident for the past 40 years.

"I have always believed that UA is uniquely defined by the exceptional quality of our schools and the passion our residents have for lifelong learning," she said. "I am gratified by the legacy that will endure and I am confident this is the right time to allow other leaders to seek this office to continue our district's promising path forward."

Arkin said the district is moving into an era of new leadership. New Superintendent Paul Imhoff's first official day on the job was July 1, after former superintendent Jeffrey Weaver retired.

"Fresh eyes are critical for any enterprise," Arkin said. "We can look forward to new leadership that will revisit assumptions, continue the commitment to fiscal prudence and strive to sustain and even enhance our outcomes for every student in our community."

He said he ran for election in 2001 based on his decades of educational background and experience. He is a professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

"I found I was able to draw on my background as an educator -- focusing my time and attention on the issues I have championed based upon my strengths and passion," he said. "I have seen our district move in directions that have sustained and enhanced excellence in the education of the children in our community."

He said he is "particularly proud" of the board's efforts to benchmark the district's academic performance against other districts in central Ohio and across the state and nation.

"We have raised aspirations of the district over the past 12 years and we now routinely look nationally for best practices," he said.

He said the district has embraced 21st-century learning initiatives and the integration of the International Baccalaureate program at the high school, leading Upper Arlington to be designated a "Lighthouse District."

Pizzuti said board members have worked "diligently and collaboratively" in the past 12 years to "secure the financial stability of the district through sound fiscal management."

She said the district's strategic plan has been the guide for the school board.

"This blueprint and roadmap has relied upon a sound 21st-century learning framework that includes leading edge, innovative educational initiatives at all levels," she said.

The district's strategic plan includes a nationally recognized commitment to service learning that ensures "our children truly are engaged and compassionate citizens of our community and the world," Pizzuti said.

Arkin said he has been impressed at every board meeting by the diverse range of collective accomplishments of students, faculty, staff, parents and volunteers, along with the community leaders who have collaborated "to assure our children receive the highest quality education in a public school setting."

"I've been able to watch my own three sons thrive in the schools and as a board member, to hand them their diplomas, give them a hug and then send them each on to college," he said.

Pizzuti said she is optimistic that Imhoff will bring the district a fresh perspective and "an energized team" to tackle both challenges and opportunities.

"In the words of Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the national Children's Defense fund, 'Service is the rent we pay for living. It is the very purpose of life ... not something you do in your spare time,' " she said.

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