Upper Arlington News

Battelle, schools team on 'road map to the future'

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Upper Arlington school leaders are teaming with Battelle for Kids to create a new strategic plan designed to become a "road map to the future," according to Superintendent Paul Imhoff.

Imhoff and Battelle for Kids representatives Brad Mitchell and Greg Browning talked about the planning process at the Upper Arlington Board of Education meeting April 8.

"It's an exciting time for our district," Imhoff said. "We are writing a new book -- not a five-inch binder to be placed on the shelf, but a plan of action and a road map for the future."

Imhoff said the new strategic plan will be based on conversations he and other district leaders had with residents last fall during the levy campaign and the results of an online community survey.

"Residents wanted efficiency, accountability and results," he said. "From hundreds of conversations with those residents, we were amazed by the consistency of those three areas.

"We came up with three components for the plan and will have community members and staff members working in three groups: quality profile, efficiency task force and learning experience," he said.

Imhoff said the quality profile group will determine, "What is the best way for Upper Arlington schools to define, measure and communicate the educational quality and performance of the district?"

The efficiency task force will study, "What are the necessary and essential ways to improve school district operating efficiencies and effectiveness?"

The learning experience group will determine, "What must we do to ensure our curriculum, instruction, assessment, technology and facilities engage all of our students in relevant and rich learning experiences that result in post-secondary success?"

"It is time to deliver upon the promises we made to residents in the fall," Imhoff said.

He said there will also be opportunities for residents to offer feedback for the plan.

"We also want to talk to the kids and ask them what they think a quality learning experience is," he said.

Mitchell said a good strategic plan is "tied to execution."

"We want to develop a process that is informed by the best of the private sector to create a focused and results-driven plan, and the best from the public sector to include community collaboration, engagement and feedback," he said. "We expect to have solution-guided conversations with the community."

Mitchell said Battelle for Kids has been seeking out and studying some of the best educational systems in the world, in Singapore, Hungary, Finland, Canada and the United States.

"We've learned that great strategic plans cover about three years and focus on a few things that have the greatest results," he said. "They focus on results, align with a district's resources and are informed by feedback from residents."

Browning said the "heart of the project is to focus on what matters most."

"We are not going to either cut our way or spend our way out of our challenges," he said. "We need to get smarter using the resources we have."

He said the committee working on the plan includes 15 community members, Battelle for Kids representatives and school district leaders.

Phase 1 of the project will be a strategic analysis period from April through July, then in phase 2, from July through September, the committee will create the strategic plan.

"We should have a written report on the plan by Nov. 1 but will be keeping the school board and the community informed of our progress," Browning said.

Imhoff said he will give a presentation each month at school board meetings on the committee's progress with the plan. In addition, the district will post information on its website.

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