Upper Arlington City Schools News Article

5th State of the Schools highlights student work, strategic goals

Strings musicians from Jones and Hastings

Hundreds of families and community members gathered to celebrate what it means to be a Golden Bear during the district’s fifth annual State of the Schools in November.

Along with several impressive student performances, Superintendent Paul Imhoff provided the audience with updates on the district’s new strategic plan, the progress of the current construction projects, continued enrollment growth and future financial planning.

Imhoff shared videos highlighting the work behind the strategic plan’s two goal areas - whole learning and student and staff well-being.  The whole learning goal integrates rigorous academic content with the deeper learning skills students need to succeed in life — communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.  The student and staff well-being goal defines belonging and balance as elements that are critical to fostering a safe and inclusive learning environment where students and staff can thrive. 

“In UA, all means all,” said Imhoff.  “I’m incredibly proud to serve in a district where we are being intentional about the well-being of our students and staff, and a key part of that is focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion in our schools.”

Imhoff shared updates on the ongoing school construction projects, which are all on budget and on schedule.  He also provided an update on the district’s enrollment.  After 10 years of rapid growth, student numbers are expected to grow at an even faster rate during the next 10 years.

Growing enrollment and state funding that has stayed relatively flat for decades both contribute to the need for a new operating levy request in November 2020, Imhoff explained.  

“School districts like us have to come back to the ballot every few years for a brand new, continuing operating levy,” said Imhoff.  “There is no other way for a district to deal with inflation because all of school levies bring in a fixed amount of money.  So as property values go up, tax rates go down, and schools get the same amount of money.”  

Imhoff concluded his remarks with the presentation of the third annual Dr. Robert Arkin Service and Leadership Award in honor of Robin Comfort and Joanie Dugger, who both passed away in 2019.

Dugger was a longtime school volunteer and executive director of the Upper Arlington Education Foundation and the Upper Arlington Alumni Association.  

“Joanie was a key force in so many amazing programs and events in our community,” said Imhoff, “but wasn’t one to take credit for any of these things — she always enjoyed stepping out of the spotlight and letting others have a moment to shine."

Comfort was also a longtime school volunteer who served for 12 years on the Board of Education.

“Robin was a driving force behind the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion work.  She was also key in the facilities master planning process, providing the leadership along with her Board of Education colleagues that brought thousands of community voices into the process,” recounted Imhoff.

Learn more about the State of the Schools and watch a video of the presentation at www.uaschools.org/StateoftheSchools.aspx.

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