Yellow Springs School Board

Schools end year in black

At the July 9 school board meeting, Treasurer Joy Kitzmiller reported that the Yellow Springs school district ended the financially challenging 2008–2009 fiscal year in the black.

Despite a stumbling economy which led the district to receive $153,160 less than expected in Kitzmiller’s projected budget, during the year the district avoided a spending deficit for the second consecutive year, she said, reporting that at the closing of the books, revenues exceeded expenditures by $2,777.

While this is a very small amount, Kitzmiller noted that many area districts are facing a budgetary crisis, and will need to attain loans to begin the school year, a practice board member Angela Wright noted has happened in this district in the past.

Given the recession, board member Richard Lapedes asked that board members receive tallies on what each school employee makes in a year when factoring in co-curricular contracts, stipends for team leader positions and any other additional activities-based pay into the standard step scale.

“Paying over and above the salaries and step increases for each and everything that every teacher does” is a past practice that deserves careful consideration in the present time, Lapedes said, given the reality of declining district revenues.

While these stipends are in current contracts, Lapedes urged that board members familiarize themselves with fiscal information “below the aggregate,” since these co-curricular amounts add up to a sizeable chunk of the district budget.

“It’s $150,000,” Kitzmiller said, referring to the total cost of co-curricular, team leader, advisor and monitor positions currently in the budget.

Anne Erickson seconded the idea that board members should be willing to look over the budget with a fine-tooth comb, given that stipends add up to a sizeable chunk of the district budget.

Kitzmiller attributed this year’s budget surplus to district employees “holding the line” on spending throughout the second half of the 2008–2009 school year, spending $225,636 less than the estimated allowance.

The district begins the 2009–2010 school year with a $2,880,558 unreserved balance. Kitzmiller stated she expects to hear from the state at the end of the month regarding income tax revenues the district can expect for the year ahead. Some areas, especially those with a heavy manufacturing base, have been told to expect to receive revenues as much as 40 percent lower than previous years by state tax analysts, she said.

Kitzmiller noted that, within this district, there has already been a 40 percent loss on quarterly estimated income tax payments for the July cycle, despite the fact that the area does not rely heavily on manufacturing or the auto industry. This decline represents one fourth of the total income tax payment picture, and the other portions will be known July 31.

The board also approved a resolution to seek a five-year flat renewal levy at the next ballot to replace the levy which expires. Lapedes and Kitzmiller said seeking an amount that is no more than the past levy shows the district’s commitment to operate within its revenue streams.

In other school board business:

• The district is considering a new school lunch provider, Sodexo, according to Kitzmiller, who said the company offers a lunch program that is significantly different than that used in past years, a program that would include “fresh wraps” and a buffet-style bar.

In researching other districts, Kitzmiller found that very few families participate in the school lunch program locally. Beavercreek and other districts expect about 60 to 70 percent of their students to purchase lunches through the school lunch program. By contrast, Kitzmiller said, Yellow Springs has a participation rate of 25 to 30 percent.

Kitzmiller attributed this low participation rate to parents’ concerns about the quality of food, especially the lack of fresh foods. Board members agreed that healthy options for food should be a priority, but cited the financial risk involved as a significant concern.

If the current number of students purchasing lunches stayed the same next year, the district could lose about $25,000, Kitzmiller said. However, if the lunch participation rate climbs to that of other area districts, then the school district would break even on the lunch program as it is currently doing.

Sodexo would bring new ideas and new menus to the table, including a contract stipulation to consider local growers who are USDA certified prior to other suppliers, she said. While she is mandated by the state to evaluate both bids by a 12-point qualification process, Kitzmiller noted she is not obligated to go with the lowest bidder as she would be on other kinds of projects. The board will vote for a lunch provider at its Aug. 13 meeting, and then the contract is sent to the state for approval.

• Superintendent Norm Glismann submitted a letter of resignation to the board, effective July 31, 2010. Board President Aida Merhemic thanked Glismann for his two years of service and for giving the board time to search for a replacement.

Glismann is currently one of four finalists for a superintendent position with Graham Local Schools in St. Paris, Ohio, a small village of approximately 2,000. Graham intends for the new hire to begin Aug. 1, according to an article in the Springfield News-Sun. Glismann’s resignation letter, dated for the end of his current contract, allows the board to legally begin the process of searching for a new superintendent.

Glismann has been a finalist for a superintendent position in several other area school districts in recent months, as previously reported by the News.

• A committee of the whole meeting has been scheduled for Aug. 5 on the topic of changes in the district’s transportation plan.

The board transportation policy, which can be found on the district’s Web site (www.yellow-springs.k12.oh.us), states that students in grades 7–12 who board at stops no closer than 1.5 miles from the high school and students who board no closer than .75 mile from Mills Lawn School are still eligible to receive transportation.

Also, all students who are handicapped and unable to walk, who are assigned to special education classes outside the district and who attend the Greene County Career Center will still be eligible. Further, the policy states the board shall attempt to provide bus transportation to students whose routes to school and bus pick-up points are deemed hazardous.

• “Quality Standards Data,” an addendum to the education plan, was passed out at the meeting and will be available online for download. The data measures intangible factors such as the number of parent volunteer hours per school and diversity in the student and teacher body over a multi-year period.

Lapedes suggested that the board pay more attention to the data collected, stating it deserves more than a casual glance, and should be referenced and utilized in decision-making.

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