Upper Arlington News

Responses bolster plans for efficiency measures in district


Superintendent Paul Imhoff and Treasurer Andy Geistfeld told the Upper Arlington Board of Education Monday that results from an online survey indicate support for an efficiency project designed to find $4.5 million worth of budget savings by the end of 2017.

"These results are similar to what Andy and I have heard during our many meetings with residents," Imhoff said. "It really supports what we are doing with the efficiency project."

Community members weighed in on some of the possible options to find those savings when they took the survey.

Regarding fiscal efficiency, 41 percent of respondents said district leaders are doing a good job with the school budget; 18 percent said the district is doing an excellent job; 23 percent gave the district a ranking of fair; 9 percent said the district is doing a poor job when it comes to the budget and 9 percent said they "don't know."

Under safety and security, 48 percent of respondents said it was good; 37 percent said excellent; 11 percent gave a ranking of fair; 2 percent gave a ranking of poor and 2 percent, don't know.

As far as quality of education is concerned, 60 percent said the quality of the UA schools is excellent; 36 percent said they are good and 4 percent, fair.

Regarding steps that might lead to better efficiency, the most frequently mentioned suggestions were to eliminate paper forms; reduce paper waste; use technology in the classroom and for communications; and reduce teacher salaries and benefits.

Respondents made it clear they do not want class sizes increased to save money, however, with 84 percent "strongly opposing" larger class sizes.

Areas to find efficiencies were ranked beginning with reduction of paper waste; better use of technology; energy efficiency; teacher salaries and benefits; administrative costs; shared services; reduction or elimination of programs and scheduling changes.

"As I read this, I keep coming back to the idea that we're on the right track," Imhoff said. "I'll be honest: When I look through the comments, some of it is hard to hear, but we need to be aware of that.

"I think our commitment to efficiency is the right one and our commitment to students must be absolute," he said.

Geistfeld said the next step will be to continue to meet with advisory groups.

"We are starting to have those meetings and explore the pros and cons of some specific measures in order to really get down to pinpointing how we will impact the bottom line by $4.5 million by 2017," he said.

New meeting day

In other business at the Jan. 13 meeting, board members elected new officers and made committee assignments for 2014.

They also established a new meeting schedule, deciding to meet on Tuesdays instead of Mondays this year. That means next month's meeting will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, at the Central Office, 1950 North Mallway Drive.

Stacey Royer was elected board president and Nancy Drees was chosen as vice president for the year.

Drees was appointed to the Business Advisory Council; new school board member Carol Mohr was named the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) legislative liaison and the OSBA Student Achievement liaison; Royer was named the PTO Presidents' Council liaison; Robin Comfort will be board representative on the Upper Arlington Education Foundation board of trustees and new member Matt McClellan will be the board's representative to the Metropolitan Educational Council.