The milestone we reached this fall — the opening of six new or renovated school buildings — reflects a vision from our community for not only the future of education in Upper Arlington Schools but also the long-term financial health of the district.
The call for creating a facilities master plan came nearly seven years ago from a group of community experts in various areas of business and financial management. This group, known as the Productivity and Efficiency Work Group, identified the cost of maintaining the district’s aging school buildings as their biggest concern and urged the Upper Arlington Board of Education to engage the community in a master planning process.
Beginning in the fall of 2015, the Board of Education launched a nearly three-year community-driven process, bringing together feedback from students, families, staff members and community members to determine the best path forward for our aging schools.
Very early on in the process, we learned simply maintaining and repairing our schools would cost approximately $189 million — and that didn’t factor in much-needed additional learning space for our growing enrollment. In the end, the community considered whether it was better to move forward with repairs or whether to renovate or rebuild our existing schools. Thousands of residents, students and staff members shared their thoughts through community meetings, volunteer building teams and online surveys on the best option for each school.
We also brought together a team of community volunteers with expertise in major facilities and construction projects, and this team - known as the Financial Advisory Board - weighed in on how to phase and fund the facilities master plan. After nearly three years and more than 8,000 touch points in the process, Upper Arlington voters endorsed moving forward with the first phase of facilities master plan - to build a new Upper Arlington High School and renovate or rebuild all five elementary schools.
At the suggestion of the Financial Advisory Board, the $230 million bond issue was supplemented by the historic Upper Arlington Legacy Capital Campaign that successfully raised more than $7.5 million toward construction costs and project enhancements to further the daily student experience in Upper Arlington Schools. Nearly 400 community members and staff members supported the Legacy Campaign.
The result of all of this work is the new learning spaces you see today. All of Upper Arlington faced the financial challenges posed by our aging school buildings head-on and came together to shape a financially responsible plan to ensure that we would not need to defer funding from educational operations. Thanks to the Upper Arlington community, for many years to come, we can continue to focus on what’s most important - providing the highest quality of education for the students of Upper Arlington.