Upper Arlington News

School leaders preview 2014

Efficiency, accountability key for district

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Leaders of Upper Arlington City Schools said they expect the district to make "great strides" in 2014 by creating a new strategic plan and focusing on "efficiency, accountability and results."

Superintendent Paul Imhoff said his administrative team will continue to look for ways to reduce district expenses and operate more efficiently.

"We will continue to examine existing systems and processes in order to find ways to lower costs while ensuring a top-notch educational experience for students," he said. "Through our Efficiency Project, we are committed to using creative thinking, technology and shared services in order to improve our bottom line by $4.5 million by the summer of 2017."

Imhoff introduced the efficiency plan a few months before voters approved the 4-mill operating levy in November. He said the plan would include detailed steps with targeted cost-reduction amounts for each of the next three fiscal years.

He said "accountability" will be the second important focus for the new year.

"We will be formulating the next generation of the Upper Arlington Schools' Strategic Plan," he said. "We'll also be creating a report that we are tentatively calling the Quality Profile.

"These processes will allow us to clearly state the expectations of our community and offer a transparent update on our progress toward achieving those goals," he said.

Imhoff said the final area of focus will be "results."

"While Upper Arlington is already one of the highest performing districts in the state, we will aim for no less than being one of the best in the nation," he said.

Board Vice President Stacey Royer said she is excited to welcome two new school board members, Carol Mohr and Matt McClellan, in 2014.

"I was so fortunate to be able to work with the last board, who took the time to mentor me and I will work hard to mentor Carol and Matt," she said. "With our new members, we gain experience and perspectives in areas that we did not have, making us a well-rounded group."

Royer said she was involved in creating the last two strategic plans and is "anxious" to begin work on the new one.

"I am looking forward to helping construct a new vision that everyone -- administrators, teachers, students, parents and community members -- can support," she said.

She said creating a new vision for the future will help the district face new challenges and "improve on things we are already doing."

"Our plan will be results-based and will give us quantifiable data that we will use to improve student performance and district efficiencies," she said. "It will allow us to continuously evolve and become a nationally recognized educational leader."

Board member Robin Comfort said voters' approval of the 4-mill operating levy in Nov. 5 proved "excellence does matter" to the community and all involved with the schools.

"We will continue our pursuit of excellence in 2014 while examining opportunities to do our job more efficiently," she said. "Efficiency may be the buzz word of the year as we look at every opportunity to improve what we do and how we do it. Our new leadership team is committed to this vision."

Comfort said she also is looking forward to welcoming Mohr and McClellan.

"Board members will also be working on specific committees this year, which include finances, facilities, communication, policy and teaching."

Board member Nancy Drees said the Efficiency Project, the Quality Profile and the Strategic Plan "will put us on the right path and determine the district's direction and goals."

"The Efficiency Plan is our promise to the community to implement cost reduction measures that will extend the 2013 school levy to four years," she said.

She said the board will share the results of a community survey on efficiency this month, then collaborate with advisory groups and present a progress report on the project in May and October.

Community input also will be sought in creating the Strategic Plan and the Quality Profile, she said.

"Clear and measurable goals will guide our growth," she said. "Updating our Strategic Plan will be an exciting process for everyone involved. It will capture the vision of Upper Arlington Schools and place our schools on the track to become one of the best schools in the nation."

She said the Quality Profile will define measurable goals in academic and extracurricular areas.

"Benchmarks will be set to ensure that all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential inside and outside the classroom," she said.

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