On June 6, the Upper Arlington Board of Education took the first step toward putting our community's master plan for our schools into action.
This is significant not only because it brings closure to the two-year facilities master planning process but also because it fulfills a commitment made to a team of community volunteers back in 2014.
After spending months digging into the operational side of our district, the volunteers on the productivity and efficiency work team alerted the board of education that the growing cost of maintaining our aging buildings was their primary concern. They felt it endangered the long-term financial health of our district, and they urged the board to launch a community-driven facilities planning process as soon as possible.
The board moved quickly and our planning process began just a few months later. The guidelines were clear: Get as many staff and community members involved as possible and ensure the process is completely transparent.
Fast forward two years and we have a master plan developed through the hard work of more than 300 building team members, the feedback from thousands of survey respondents and the insight of several hundred more residents gathered through small-group discussions we called coffee chats.
I have always been impressed with our community's commitment to education, but I have been truly amazed by just how many people dedicated their time and talents to this process. In all, we had more than 8,000 points of contact throughout this process.
As I mentioned, on June 6, the board took the first step toward putting this community-driven master plan into action by approving the first of two resolutions required to place a combined operating levy and bond issue on the Nov. 7 ballot. The board expects to vote on the second resolution at the June 28 meeting beginning at 8 a.m. in the district's central office, 1950 N. Mallway Drive.
The bond issue would raise $230 million and fund the first phase of the master plan, which includes rebuilding the high school on Zollinger Road, renovating or rebuilding the five elementary schools, as well as addressing drainage issues and installing a turf field and baseball/softball diamonds on the district-owned land behind Tremont Elementary School adjacent to Northam Park.
The finalized master plan also calls for selling the district's central office and using the funds from the sale for relocation, potentially at the rebuilt high school.
The 3.75-mill operating levy would allow the district to continue offering the high-quality academic programs our community expects for its students. Because more than 90 percent of district revenues are fixed, periodic operating levies allow us to keep up with inflation and the rising costs of doing business.
This needed operating levy would be our lowest request in more than 35 years, and the bond issue would be our first such request in more than 20 years. Combined, these issues would add approximately $312 a year in property taxes per $100,000 of home valuation as determined by the Franklin County Auditor's Office.
For the average Upper Arlington home, which is valued around $400,000, it would amount to an additional $1,248 per year. It would be approximately a 14 percent increase in overall property taxes compared with 2017 rates.
I'd like to thank all of the community members who have given their time to be part of this collaborative process.
I also encourage everyone in our community to learn more about the master plan and the entire facilities process so you can make an informed decision in November.
We have a wealth of information on our website, uaschools.org/facilities. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-487-5030.
Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington schools. This column is provided to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News by his office.