Upper Arlington News

School notes

Efficiency project offers a chance to take stock

By PAUL IMHOFF
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Excitement is building for our students' return to school next week. Our building maintenance projects are concluding, our teachers are preparing their classrooms and practices are under way for our fall athletic teams and the marching band.

While we are making the final preparations for the upcoming school year, we also are enacting a plan that will help the district prepare for the 2014-15 school year and beyond.

The Upper Arlington Schools Efficiency Project will create a more focused, agile and sustainable school district.

We'll take a good, hard look at our goals and implement changes to eliminate overlap and streamline practices, increasing the focus on student and instructional needs. During this process, we also will seek out efficiency measures to reduce our costs by a cumulative amount of $4.5 million by the end of 2016-17.

These efficiencies will not affect students' educational experience; the savings will be realized through the use of technology, creative thinking, partnerships and shared services.

Why are we engaging in this effort, and why now? The primary reason is that it is simply the right thing to do. Every organization that strives to be the best in its field needs to pause and take stock. It's time to check the compass and make sure all of our programs are leading toward a robust academic experience for Upper Arlington students.

A second reason for this project is the financial benefit to the district and our residents. The cost-reduction measures that will be enacted through this project are a key factor in the district's ability to reduce the amount of additional funding it is requesting from voters.

Last fall, residents were asked to vote on a 5.8-mill levy that would have lasted three years. This year, residents will see a 4-mill request designed to last four years. The district is able to ask for less and do more due to a combination of this project, some additional revenue sources and the staffing reductions implemented earlier in the year.

The most important factor in making this project a success will be gathering feedback from all of the district's stakeholders. We want to hear everyone's ideas regarding ways to be more efficient while holding fast to the commitment to provide a world-class educational experience for students.

In October, we will release a survey designed to get at the very core of this issue.

There will be some multiple-choice questions, but there also will be opportunities for open-ended responses. You'll be able to access an electronic version of the survey on the website. Copies will be available throughout the city, including at each of the district's facilities.

Once the results are in, we'll use this feedback, along with input from advisory groups, to create an action plan. And we will keep the community informed every step of the way.

You'll be able to see everything on our website.

I hope you'll take the time to participate in this project and join us on our journey to becoming a more focused, efficient and sustainable school district.

Paul Imhoff is superintendent of the Upper Arlington school district.

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