Upper Arlington City Schools News Article

Board of Education Update — August 8, 2023 Regular Meeting

The August 8, 2023, meeting of the Board of Education included presentations on the following topics:

District highlights and updates

Superintendent Robert Hunt, Ph.D., shared the following highlights and updates from the district:

  • The second-annual Partnership for Authentic Learning and Leadership conference, held at Upper Arlington High School;

  • New Teacher Orientation, which welcomed more than 50 new teachers, intervention specialists and administrators to the district;

  • Start Strong, a new initiative providing professional development to new and existing staff over three days prior to the start of the school year;

  • The administrative retreat, held for one day at the Graf Center on August 1; and

  • The kickoff meeting for the Upper Arlington Education Association, the district’s teachers union, and the district administrative team.

Dr. Hunt also shared an update on his transition into the role of superintendent. He thanked the Board of Education, the Upper Arlington Schools staff and the community for their support, professionally and personally, as he took on this role and his family moved into the community this summer. While much of the start of his transition has been spent on hiring and looking at the organizational structure of the district, he has recently been able to shift to meeting with community leaders, organizations and individuals. This started with the Listen Learn Lead sessions in the spring, and he will continue to proceed with meetings and opportunities to continue to understand what makes the Upper Arlington community so special. 

Listen Learn Lead update

Dr. Hunt shared an update on the findings from the Listen Learn Lead sessions conducted in the spring. Seven sessions, for staff and community members, were conducted, and there were 578 participants, including 359 students.

He shared the following key recommendation areas and themes that emerged from the feedback:

  • How to make UA Schools even better

  • How to be great leaders 

  • How to build relationships with students, staff and community members

  • How to support students in developing the skills identified in the Profile of an Engaged Learner

  • How to address other areas of concern

He identified the following celebrations: academic offerings, quality of staff and facilities, and an accepting culture for students to thrive. Focus areas included relationship building — meaning that the superintendent needs to be active, present and visible through both formal and informal opportunities. Potential areas of improvement included further STEM and innovation opportunities, consistency, and acceptance around diversity, equity and inclusion. 

He shared his appreciation for everyone who has participated in the process and invited community members to review the briefing report, available on the Listen Learn Lead webpage.

Organizational structure

Dr. Hunt shared an update on the new organizational structure for the district, which is FTE (full-time equivalent) neutral for the district. The notable changes include:

  • The change from two associate superintendents to a single deputy superintendent

  • The changes of titles and/or responsibilities for the roles of Chief Talent Officer (human resources) and Chief Excellence and Engagement Officer (previously Chief Technology Officer)

  • The addition of a Director of Operational Technology to support the Chief Excellence and Engagement Officer 

  • The roles of the Director of Elementary Education (which includes Burbank Early Childhood School) and the Director of Secondary Education

Human resources update

Chief Talent Officer Matt Jordan reinforced what Dr. Hunt had shared about the new teacher orientation and the Start Strong professional development initiative. He also noted that the Board of Education had the following topics to consider:

  • Job descriptions to approve for the Chief Excellence and Engagement Officer, Chief Student Services Officer and Chief Talent Officer

  • Job descriptions to rescind for the past associate superintendent positions 

  • Recommended Board policy changes involving technical corrections 

Excellence and engagement update

Chief Excellence and Engagement Officer Denise Lutz, Ed.D., shared an update on the partnership with Insight Education Group to identify and implement strategies that support a culture of well-being and a sense of belonging in the district. The partnership will utilize a comprehensive approach that includes a needs assessment/equity analysis to inform the short- and long-term Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) action steps, goals, programming and professional learning in the district. This work will support the strategic planning process and align with the recommendations of the Equity Advisory Board.

The district has already begun working with insight Education on initial planning. This includes surveys for families and focus groups this fall. The district expects to receive a draft copy of its report prior to winter break. 

Operations update

Chief Operating Officer Greg Thompson shared an update on summer projects across the district. The projects included: 

  • Security enhancements (secured through American Rescue Plan grant funding) — including two-way radios, additional cameras/door controls, cell signal boosters and security film

  • Kitchen equipment and dish room remodel at Hastings and Jones middle schools

  • “YES Team” painting projects (105 jobs/8 weeks)

  • Asphalt sealing at the Graf Center, Greensview Elementary School and Wickliffe Progressive Elementary SChool

  • Hastings Middle School asphalt and basketball hoop replacement

  • UAHS Golden Bear Boulevard LED ticker

  • Tennis court resurfacing at Jones Middle School

  • The Marv Moorehead Stadium turf and pad replacement

  • Barrington Elementary School roof section replacement on the portion of the building that was not renovated through the master plan construction phase

  • Window replacement at Tremont Elementary School, which also was not part of the master plan construction phase

  • A historical mural in the UAHS athletic corridor, which was completed with Upper Arlington Legacy Campaign funding

Thompson also highlighted two agenda items involving bus routes for the 2023-2024 school year and a resolution declaring transportation to be impractical for certain identified students.

Board of Education work sessions

Dr. Hunt shared that the Board of Education will be holding a retreat September 25 and 26 at the Hocking Hills Lodge and Conference Center. This will be a check-in on Board norms, collaboration, advocacy and the strategic plan. He commended the Board for taking the time at two work sessions in May and June to talk about how they want to govern and how the administration can support their work.

Board of Education Action - Board Norms

The Board of Education discussed and approved a document entitled Board of Education Operating Norms. These norms were established collaboratively in order to support the Board and district leadership in working together respectfully, efficiently and effectively.

Treasurer’s Update

Treasurer/CFO Andrew Geistfeld shared monthly financial statements reflecting June and July 2023. He highlighted two agenda items involving annual transfers and the  return of advance funds, as well as change orders related to summer projects.

He also shared an update that the biennium budget, incorporating the Fair School Funding Plan, was approved by the governor. The key for the Upper Arlington Schools is the minimum state share — which means that total state funding levels for the district will increase by approximately $2 million for the upcoming fiscal year. It is projected that the district will receive an additional $800,000 the following year as well.

Geistfeld noted that this helps school districts like Upper Arlington move closer to the per-pupil amount as auxiliary and parochial schools, which is a positive for the school district and the community. 

You may visit the Upper Arlington Schools Board of Education page to access the August 8 meeting agenda and video recording. To view the meeting presentation, please click here. For meeting dates and more information about the Board of Education, please visit www.uaschools.org/board.

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