Issue 43, a combined $230 million bond and 3.75-mill levy, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enact our community’s vision for the future of Upper Arlington’s most precious assets – our children and our schools.

This combined operating levy and bond issue will enable UA schools to continue the current level of academic programming and fund the first phase of our community’s facilities master plan.

A vote for Issue 43 means we get to maintain the excellence that matters to our community. It provides for a new high school and new or renovated elementary schools that include up-to-date science labs, appropriately sized classrooms and modern security features.

The single biggest threat to our district’s future is the condition of our aging school buildings, and without Issue 43, we will be facing a future with a very different school district. Third-party physical assessments of our current school buildings show that we need to spend $188 million over the next 15 years just to keep our outdated buildings up and running for the long term.

In addition to that $188 million, we would need to spend millions more to add trailers to many of our schools to accommodate enrollment growth.

To cover these costs, the district would have to make major cuts to all areas of the budget, and because the classroom budget is where the vast majority of the district’s money is spent, instructional programming would be drastically reduced and our chance of having the new and renovated facilities desired by our community would be off the table. That is not the future we want for our UA schools and community.

Issue 43 is the result of a truly amazing collaborative process that brought together hundreds of community volunteers and gathered feedback from thousands more of us, including many of our neighbors and friends.

For the past two-and-a-half years, these volunteers have been working to study the needs of our aging schools, along with the very real issues posed by our growing enrollment. It may be hard to believe, but this landlocked community is one of the 10 fastest-growing school districts in Ohio. Our schools are renowned across the country and they are drawing more and more young families to our community each day.

In addition to the community’s plan, a team of 10 highly experienced local business leaders reviewed the master plan and found it to be a sound and practical approach to our facility needs. The members of the Financial Advisory Board encouraged the board of education to pursue the high school and elementary schools in the first phase because it is a wise business decision. This results in a lower cost to taxpayers than phasing the work out over time.

Please join me in voting for Issue 43. The schools’ facilities master planning process brought our community together. Let’s enact the plan that so many of us were a part of developing. Let’s provide our students with up-to-date labs and more secure schools. Let’s preserve the academic excellence that is synonymous with Upper Arlington. Excellence Matters!

Heidi Orsini is a member of the executive committee for Citizens for UA Schools. She is director of Physician Referral Marketing at The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center.