I have always known Upper Arlington to be a community that supports education, but I recently saw firsthand just how deeply that support for our students runs.
On a Monday in late February, more than 500 people -- students, staff, parents, grandparents, alumni and other community members -- filled the high school auditorium and spent more than three and a half hours at a town hall meeting on how to keep our students safe at school. We were joined by UA police Chief Tracy Hahn and UA fire Chief Lyn Nofziger; the evening ended up being a great opportunity to learn about our safety forces and exchange ideas.
My thanks to everyone who attended and those who have taken the time to watch the video of that meeting available on our website, www.uaschools.org.
As I shared at the meeting, safety has always been a high priority in Upper Arlington schools, but it is an area in which we can and must do more. Our strong partnership with the police and fire divisions will continue to be our most important tool as we move forward.
Together we are launching a safety audit of all nine of our school buildings as well as our current safety procedures. We are researching how we can push ahead in this area and incorporate additional safety drills in an age-appropriate and productive manner.
We are looking at all aspects of the school day, including lunch and recess as well as after-school activities and special events.
While we await the results of the audit, we are also taking some immediate steps to improve the safety of our schools. Those steps include tightening visitor procedures to ensure all visitors to the buildings identify themselves and their reason for their visit.
There is much we want to share with our community and our families about school safety, but there are also many things we have to keep confidential for the safety of our students. As soon as the audit is completed, we will release the results that are able to be made public and share more about additional steps we plan to take to improve the safety of our schools.
As members of our community, we encourage you to stay involved in this dialogue on school safety. If you have general ideas or questions, you can always reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-487-5030. If you have immediate concerns, we fully believe in the importance of "see something, say something." In those cases, we urge you to reach out to the police or use the anonymous reporting system available on our website, uaschools.org, by accessing the first link, "Report a Student Safety Concern" under the Students & Parents tab. Or you may call 1-866-listen2me.
As we move ahead, it is extremely important that we continue to involve our students, staff, families and community members in this ongoing conversation about school safety. One great suggestion we received is to hold a town hall meeting on safety every year, and we plan to do that.
This is one of the most important issues facing communities across the country, and here in Upper Arlington, we will be stronger for addressing it together.
Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington schools. His office provides this column to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.