For the past two years, Upper Arlington Schools has remained focused on the priorities in the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan. Approved by the Board of Education in August 2019, the strategic plan identifies a focused set of recommendations that support the district’s mission - to challenge and support every student, every step of the way.
“The 2019-2024 Strategic Plan guides everything we do in our schools, and at the heart of it is our long-standing excellence in academics and our commitment to ensuring that our students are prepared to succeed in life,” said Superintendent Paul Imhoff, Ed.D.
The strategic plan identifies two priorities - whole learning and student and staff well-being - with continuous improvement serving as the foundational element of the plan.
Here’s a look at the progress on each priority area of the strategic plan. You’ll be able to read more in our Quality Profile, the district’s annual accountability report, when it is released in early 2022.
This priority area focuses on academics — the center of the Upper Arlington Schools experience. It builds on the district’s long-running philosophy of educating the whole child in order to set students up for success here and in their next step in life.
With this in mind, Upper Arlington Schools launched a new all-day kindergarten program in the fall to better meet the needs of developing learners so that they are able to grow academically, socially and emotionally. The Board of Education had been planning for this for the past few years - preparing to launch the program as soon as there was space available thanks to the completion of all five new and renovated elementary schools in August 2021.
“By transitioning from a part-day to a full-day program, we now have double the time in the classroom each day with our youngest learners to develop their skills in the core academic areas such as literacy and math,” said Andy Hatton, Ed.D., the associate director of learning and leadership.
Another major stride in this strategic priority is the implementation of the new multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) framework. Upper Arlington Schools is taking the lead in education nationwide by implementing MTSS so that every student is able to maximize their growth through differentiated and individualized instruction with a focus on the whole child.
“MTSS brings to life our mission to challenge and support every student, every step of the way,” Hatton said.
Student and staff well-being
Upper Arlington Schools believes well-being is critical to fostering a safe and inclusive learning environment where students and staff can thrive. “As Dr. Imhoff says, academics are our main business, but we also know that students who aren’t well can’t learn,” Hatton said.
To guide the work on this strategic priority, Upper Arlington Schools will be using feedback directly from students in order to understand the bigger picture of where they are as individuals.
Over the past year, Upper Arlington Schools has engaged students in two surveys focused on well-being — one for students in grades 3-12 and another for students in grades 7-12.
“These surveys will provide valuable feedback to inform our work to support students, which is critically important to academic achievement,” Hatton said.
The foundational element of the strategic plan is continuous improvement - and this applies to every facet of the district, from academics to finances. Over the past year and a half, Upper Arlington Schools has creatively stretched its financial resources by reducing its budget reserve; seeking out approximately $4.6 million in cost reductions, primarily through a three-year hiring freeze on new positions; and utilizing additional COVID-related funding made available to school districts.
“Looking to the future, as we continue to build on the tradition of excellence in our schools, our five-year financial forecast will be an important guide for us,” said Treasurer / CFO Andrew Geistfeld, who shared the new forecast in November of 2021. “This is an important check-in point for us as a district and help us keep a clear view on what our future impacts and needs are.”
You can read more about the five year forecast in the Treasurer’s Notes column in this newsletter, and you can find the new five year forecast on our website at www.uaschools.org/treasurer.aspx.