COLUMNS

School Notes: Upper Arlington taking steps in support of equity

PAUL IMHOFF
Paul Imhoff

On behalf of the Upper Arlington Schools Board of Education and the entire district staff, I want to express our steadfast commitment to eliminating racism and promoting justice and equity.

It is critically important that we continue this work in our schools as our nation engages in crucial discussions about racism and the systemic injustice that has created fear, pain and inequity for Black Americans for many generations. We are committed to eliminating racism, prejudice, bias and bigotry in our schools and moving forward with the vital diversity, equity and inclusion work that began in our schools several years ago.

We strive to ensure that every student feels a strong sense of belonging in our schools and is welcomed, respected, supported and celebrated while receiving the highest quality education.

In June, the school board went on the record by approving a resolution that takes a stand specifically on eliminating racism and bias in our schools. And board members went beyond that by setting several concrete action steps in support of diversity, equity and inclusion.

These steps include the creation of an Equity Advisory Board that brings together the voices of students, staff members, parents/guardians and professionals with expertise in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. This volunteer group of 12 to 15 individuals will play a supportive role in driving the diversity, equity and inclusion priorities for the district.

Residents may learn more about the Equity Advisory Board at uaschools.org. If you are interested in serving on the Equity Advisory Board, please submit a letter of interest and a resume detailing experience in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion to me by emailing superintendent@uaschools.org or by mail to 1950 North Mallway Drive, Upper Arlington, OH 43221. Applications will be due July 31, and I hope to have the advisory board formed by late August and hold its first meeting in September.

Financial update

By now, Upper Arlington residents should have received a letter in the mail from the school board about district finances and our financial plans for the future.

A lot has changed since we announced last November that we would return to voters in the fall of 2020, and because of that the school board has made the incredibly difficult decision to postpone our plans for an operating levy until November 2021.

We will have to take some difficult and necessary steps to be responsible stewards of our community's investment in our schools. I encourage you to read the letter, which is also available on our website, for more details.

2020-21 planning process

Finally, I want to provide a brief update on our three-phase process to plan for the fall and the upcoming school year.

As of June 24, state leaders and local health officials still were working on their guidelines for reopening schools, so we have adjusted our timeline accordingly and plan to have a final recommendation to the school board by mid-July.

The school board is committed to taking the time to hear from every possible voice in this process, and district leaders will return to staff and families to gather feedback on the prototypes before any decisions are made. Please watch our website for updates.

Paul Imhoff is superintendent of Upper Arlington Schools. Follow him on Twitter at @imhoffpaul. His office provides this column to the ThisWeek Upper Arlington News.