Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, 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.
“Everything we do remains rooted in our strategic plan,” Superintendent Paul Imhoff, Ed.D. said. “We are proud of the progress we have made since we launched our strategic plan in the fall of 2019, and we know there is still a significant amount of work to do as we strive to provide the highest quality of education and best experiences possible for each and every one of our students.”
The 2019-2024 Strategic Plan identifies two strategic priorities - whole learning and student and staff well-being - with continuous improvement serving as the foundational element of the plan. The Quality Profile, the district’s accountability report, provides the community with an annual update on our progress.
This priority area focuses on building on our district’s long-running philosophy of educating the whole child in order to make it a daily reality.
With this in mind, Upper Arlington Schools will be launching a new all-day kindergarten program beginning this fall with the Golden Bears Class of 2034. The Board of Education has been planning for this for the past few years - with the goal of launching all-day kindergarten as soon as the construction projects at the elementary schools are completed in August 2021.
“The Board of Education strongly believes in all-day kindergarten,” Imhoff said, “and they believe it will better meet the needs of our developing learners so they are able to learn and grow academically, socially and emotionally.”
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. The district’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is a crucial part of this.
“We are at the beginning of this journey and our work on all aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Imhoff said. “There is still a tremendous amount of work to do to ensure that every member of our school community feels welcomed, valued, supported and embraced.”
Part of this work will involve looking closely at the K-12 curriculum. As an initial step, all five elementary schools are implementing an expanded third-grade local history curriculum that spans 1800 to the present and includes the significant contributions of Pleasant Litchford and other individuals to Perry Township before it became Upper Arlington. The history curriculum update is the result of the work of a team of local volunteers, including local authors Diane Kelly Runyon and Kim Shoemaker Starr, whose book, Secrets Under the Parking Lot, delved into the story of Pleasant Litchford and the Litchford family cemetery site adjacent to the current Upper Arlington High School building.
The district is also continuing to work with descendants of Pleasant Litchford and other community volunteers to determine the next steps for honoring the history of the Litchford family cemetery site.
The foundational element of the strategic plan is continuous improvement - and this applies to every facet of the district, from teaching and learning to finances.
Amid the pandemic and economic crisis in the summer of 2020, the Board of Education called on the district to creatively seek out cost savings and dip into the budget reserve. So far, the district has achieved approximately $4.6 million in cost savings, primarily through a three-year hiring freeze on new positions, with the exception of all-day kindergarten and the new executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We are committed to being a responsible steward of our residents’ investment in our schools,” Treasurer/CFO Andrew Geistfeld said. “Going forward, we will continue to seek out efficiencies that preserve the overall student experience while also responsibly planning for growing enrollment in the coming years.”
To view our Quality Profile and learn more about our strategic priorities, please visit www.uaschools.org/qualityprofile.aspx.