Upper Arlington City Schools News Article

Board of Education Update — March 12, 2024 Regular Meeting

The March 12, 2024, meeting of the Board of Education included presentations on the following topics:

District highlights

The Board of Education recognized Upper Arlington High School girls and boys swimming and diving for their accomplishments at the state championship meet on February 25. The girls team won their first team title since 2017 and their 13th state championship overall, and the boys team ended their season as state runners-up. The girls team also completed a championship sweep in three relays - the 200 medley, the 200 free and the 400 free. Senior Hayden H. also brought home an individual championship, winning the 50 free.

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

  • Upper Arlington Schools, with the support of the Upper Arlington Community Relations Committee and the Upper Arlington Education Foundation, held the 2024 hUmAn Connections Festival, a two-day event with both a community event and a school day activities for students and staff at Upper Arlington High School. The festival celebrated the diverse experiences and perspectives that make our community unique, and featured performances by Columbus Jazz Arts Group and the Harmony Project.

  • Jones Middle School held its third annual Belonging Week to educate students about disability, inclusion and belonging during Disability Awareness Month. This year's festivities included passing out friendship bracelets, filling the halls with posters to educate students about accessibility, and finishing the week with Jaren Woodland and Landon from the Land On A Cure Foundation who spoke about inclusion. This year was extra special because UAHS, Barrington and Wickliffe also celebrated Belonging Week alongside Jones. 

  • New swings have been installed at Wickliffe Progressive Elementary School - part of phase one of the new playground project. The castle playground, which has reached the end of its lifespan, will be decommissioned following the end of the school year. Wickliffe will be scheduling a community celebration for the castle playground prior to that to honor its place in the history of Wickliffe and the UA community. More details to come!

  • Upper Arlington Schools is proud to host the 2024 Summer Academy. Course offerings are now available, and registration will open on April 2. For more information, please visit www.uaschools.org/summeracademy.aspx

  • Upper Arlington Schools is just one of 56 districts to be awarded a new grant from the Ohio Department of Education and Workforce, funds that will support the launch of innovative new educational pathways for students. The grant provides $496,154 to purchase equipment and provide teacher professional development for the programs.  It will also cover the costs of physical updates to the facility at 1950 North Mallway Drive, the former district office, that will support these learning pathways and other programs.

Strategic planning update

Dr. Hunt shared that strategic inquiry teams have begun to meet to focus on each proposed priority area — engaged learning, well-being and belonging, and communication and connection. These teams include representatives from all stakeholder groups - students, staff, parents and community members.

Dr. Hunt will also be hosting two Coffee & Conversation events on March 13 from 6 to 7 p.m. and March 14 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Kingsdale Market District — as well as a Listen Learn Lead community engagement event on May 9 to share updates on the process.

Accomplishments: current strategic planning priorities

Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Siddens, Ph.D., and other members of the district administrative team shared a midyear update on the district’s progress on the strategic priorities for 2023-2024 and 2024-2025. This includes the ongoing work to develop a new strategic plan and utilize existing components to align to and inform the new plan.

The identified priorities for 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 are literacy; ready for what’s next; DEI, well-being and effectiveness; student voice; and continuous improvement. These priorities were presented to the Board of Education in October.

Significant accomplishments in these areas include: 

  • Implementing the new dyslexia legislation from the state of Ohio;

  • Creating new educational pathways for Upper Arlington High School students beginning in the 2024-2025 school year and securing state grant funding to support those pathways;

  • Working with Insight Education to conduct a districtwide equity audit and implementing events and initiatives to support new families and build community;

  • Engaging students through Dr. Hunt’s UAdventure, the equity audit and other efforts to gather feedback; and 

  • Regularly reviewing data to inform building goals.

Insight Education report

Chief Excellence and Engagement Officer Denise Lutz, Ed.D., shared an update on the Insight Education equity audit report. She offered a high-level look at the survey and focus group participants in the equity audit. Her presentation focused on the findings outlined in the overview of the report and Domain 1: Systems, Structures and Resources. In this area, the report makes the following recommendations:

  • Integrate findings into the strategic plan;

  • Identify a vision for equity; and

  • Develop a data analysis framework.

Remaining sections of the report will be presented at future meetings. 

Handbooks and Programs of Study

The Board of Education was presented with a number of 2024-2025 documents for approval, including: 

  • Middle School Program of Studies

  • Online Academy Program of Studies

  • Students’ Rights and Responsibilities Handbook

  • Student Life Handbook

  • Online Academy Handbook

  • SACC Handbook

The Burbank Early Childhood Handbook was pulled from the agenda and will be presented for approval at the Board’s regular meeting in April.

Policies - First Read

Deputy Superintendent Stephanie Siddens, Ed.D., presented changes to five policies for first read by the Board of Education. At the April regular meeting of the Board of Education, the Board will have a second read and will be asked to approve the changes. 

Summer projects

Chief Operating Officer Greg Thompson shared an update on summer projects, which will include: 

  • Window replacement in the older section of Barrington Elementary School

  • Asphalt work at the North Mallway building and Barrington and Windermere elementary schools

  • Roof repair and maintenance at Hastings Middle School, particularly above the auditorium, and the older sections of Tremont Elementary School 

  • Track repairs at Hastings Middle School and Jones Middle School and maintenance at Upper Arlington High School

  • The decommissioning of the castle playground at Wickliffe Progressive Elementary School

  • Turf replacement at the Tremont athletic fields

  • Renovations, funded by a state grant, at the 1950 North Mallway building to convert it as the location of the UA Hub

  • Ongoing security updates, including to the Burbank Early Childhood School entrance

In addition, the district is planning to purchase two school buses to maintain the district’s fleet and manage repair costs. 

Treasurer’s Update

Treasurer/CFO Andrew Geistfeld shared monthly financial statements reflecting February 2024. These statements show the district in a similar position as it was in January 2024. 

He noted two other items: a resolution of urgent necessity with the Tremont turf replacement project due to the quick turnaround needed for the project and the four resolutions before the Board of Education involving commercial property tax challenges.

You may visit our Upper Arlington Schools Board of Education page to access the March 12 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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