Upper Arlington school district leaders will focus on finalizing a three-year strategic plan in 2018, as well as the next steps in its bid to upgrade six of its school buildings.
Nov. 7, 2017, was a watershed date for the district when voters approved Issue 43. In addition to a 3.75-mill levy that will provide approximately $6.3 million annually for day-to-day operations, the vote approved a 5.17-mill bond issue that will generate about $230 million over 38 years to reconstruct Upper Arlington High School and its athletics facilities and to upgrade five elementary buildings.
As soon as spring, voters will see what they'll get for their added tax dollars, which will amount to an increase of $312 per $100,000 of home valuation annually.
"Work will begin on the fields and athletics space behind Tremont Elementary School in the spring of 2018," Superintendent Paul Imhoff said. "By the end of the year, initial work will be underway on the northern portion of the high school site.
"The first step will be to move the stadium to the south to make way for the new high school. Work on that building, as well as four of the five elementary schools, is slated to begin around March of 2019."
Imhoff said a tentative, yet detailed, timeline of the work is available on the district's website, uaschools.org/ facilities.
In the lead-up to construction, the district will hold community meetings and other outreach programs so residents can take part in the design of the projects.
"One of the most exciting challenges ahead of us is getting as many community members, staff members and students as possible to take part in the design process for our new high school and the new or renovated elementary schools," Imhoff said. "The master-planning process really drew its strength from the large number of people who shared their voices, and we hope the same will be true during the design phase."
Imhoff said anyone is welcome to join a building design team.
Those groups will meet several times in 2018 to review and provide feedback on the design processes for each school.
"There is also a districtwide green team that will look at sustainability for each school," he said. "In addition, we will be inviting residents who live within 200 feet of each of the construction projects to join a neighbor committee."
Building design team and districtwide green team information is available at uaschools.org/facilities.
School board President Robin Comfort said the design phase the district has started is why she chose to seek a third term in office.
"We have hundreds of community members who have expressed interest in taking part in this process and we welcome everyone to be a part of this design phase of our schools," she said. "It is historic and important for the Upper Arlington schools."
As for other 2018 priorities, Imhoff and Comfort both pointed to the full implementation of the district's three-year strategic plan, which was introduced in 2015. The plan consists of five goals: performance, personalization, accountability, efficiency and ownership.
The plan centers on investing in personalized learning strategies that reinforce district strengths and move it forward with greater student choice and ownership of learning.
According to the district's website, the plan also involves implementing an Upper Arlington quality profile to support efforts to enhance the strategic plan's five goals and that goes beyond state assessments designed for external accountability to address needs, talents and abilities of all students.
The plan also calls on district officials to identify and act on operational and facility efficiencies that build the reserves for making "strategic investments."
"All of our work revolves around the five goals in our strategic plan," Imhoff said. "This year, we were pleased to make progress in all of our goal areas ... We will continue the work to implement our strategic plan by combining the dedication and talent of our staff with the amazing support of our community."
Comfort called the strategic plan the "guiding light" that will continue to drive the school board's goals in 2018.
"It was developed by our community and provides the structure and focus for our work in all areas," she said.