Yellow Springs, 2009: The Year In Review
- Published: December 31, 2009
Yellow Springs High School senior Ashanta Robinson was honored before a girls basketball game on Jan. 8 after scoring her 1,000th career point on Dec. 30.
The high school presented its 18th annual student-written, -produced, -directed and -acted one-act plays Feb. 6–8 at Mills Lawn.
Ten YSHS students exhibited works in the juried Scholastic Art exhibition in Covington, Ky., in February.
YSHS swimmers Erika Chick and Elizabeth Malone both qualified for state competition, with Chick finishing fourth in the 200-yard and seventh in the 500-yard freestyle and Malone fifth in the 100 butterfly and 11th in the 200 individual medley.
The YSHS boys basketball team finished the season with a 13–11 record after falling to Southeastern, 61–58, in the third round of postseason play.
Mills Lawn students offered an all-school musical extravaganza, MLS On Broadway, at Central State University in March.
High school students Liz Zaff, Zane Reichert, Nindy Silvie, Ryan Phillips, Ashanta Robinson and Kelly Miller had works selected for the 2009 Ohio Governor’s Youth Art Exhibition in Columbus, which ran April 19–May 14.
The high school drama club and Theater Arts Association presented the spring musical, Peter Pan, April 24–26 and May 1–3. In November, the high school offered Musical Comedy Murders of 1940.
The Antioch School Older Group performed The Chronicles of Narnia at the Clifton Opera House on May 8–9.
The YSHS boys track team finished first and the girls team second at the Metro Buckeye Conference track and field meet on May 15. The boys team placed second at the Division III district track meet on May 23. The girls finished eighth. In June, after finishing third in the region, senior Brock GunderKline finished 10th at the state meet in the 800-meter run on June 6.
Zyna Bakari, an eighth-grader last year at McKinney Middle School, won the Promising Young Talent award at the Power of the Pen State Tournament on May 22 in Wooster. This year’s Power of the Pen team placed fifth overall at the tournament.
Charlie Fenimore won the shot put and placed fifth in the softball throw at the Ohio Area Two Special Olympics on May 16 at Central State University.
Inducted into the YSHS National Honor Society were John Michael Malone, Marlee Layh, Bell-Pilar Fleming, Amelia Tarpey, Erik Bean, Laura Hyde, Crystal Reedy, Claire Triplett and Rachel Trumbull. National Technical Honor Sociey inductees were Zach Castle, Chris Dorn, Rebecca Smith and Cody Toadvine.
High school teacher James Venting, who taught arts and computer science in Yellow Springs for 35 years, and middle school teacher Pam Conine, who spent 30 years of her 36-year teaching career here, retired at the end of the 2008–09 school year.
Olivia Chen was valedictorian and Amelia Shaw salutatorian of the YSHS Class of 2009, which graduated 72 members on June 4.
The high school boys placed second and the girls third in the Metro Buckeye cross- country championships in October. The McKinney school boys and girls teams both won their conference tournaments. For the high school girls, freshman Lois Miller finished eighth later in the month at the district meet to qualify for regional competition, where she finished 56th out of 126 runners.
The YSHS boys soccer team made it to the semi-finals of district tournament play, but lost to Cincinnati Seven Hills, 3–1.
High school students Dylan Amlin, Birch Robinson-Hubbuch and Alexis Onfroy-Curley were semi-finalists in the National Achievement and National Merit Scholarship programs.
The high school boys basketball team began the season — and ended the calendar year — with a 5–0 record.
Board of Education news
Change in school leadership
The Yellow Springs school district experienced a year of upheaval and across-the-board change in leadership for Mills Lawn, McKinney and the high school. In August, Yellow Springs Schools Superintendent Norm Glismann left the district after two years to serve as superintendent for Graham Local Schools. Former Yellow Springs superintendent Tony Armocida stepped in as interim superintendent.
In September, Mills Lawn Principal Christine Hatton resigned after nine years for personal reasons, and Ray Combs stepped in as interim principal.
In December, after 30 years with the district, Yellow Springs High School Principal John Gudgel officially announced his intention to retire at the end of the 2009–10 school year. At the same time, District Treasurer Joy Kitzmiller announced that she planned to leave the district at the end of the school year as well.
The Yellow Springs Board of Education, which welcomed newly elected member Benji Maruyama in November, will begin to articulate the search process for each position at the beginning of 2010.
In May the school board approved a five-year budget forecast that showed a deficit of $400,000 to $500,000 with a negative cash balance beginning in 2012–13. The shortfall was due to declining tax revenues, expected to be 30 percent below the previous year, and investment income, as well as decreased state funding.
Though the district managed to end a tough 2008–09 fiscal year in the black, the current 2009–2010 school year is estimated to end in a deficit of $613,596, with an ending cash balance of $2,806,811, a total amount due to a single payment from the Antioch Company to the school district several years ago during a restructuring. This surplus amount will cover the deficit spending until 2011–2012, when the district is projected to end in a negative cash balance of $385,047. The negative balance was expected to reach $2 million by the end of the following school year.
To shore up the budget for future years, the schools eliminated one Mills Lawn special education aide and reduced the positions of a second MLS special education aide, and the YSHS assistant principal, orchestra director and computer graphics instructor.
The board also voted to eliminate bus routes for elementary students who reside within .75 miles of Mills Lawn and secondary students who live within 1.5 miles of Yellow Springs High School, which includes most of the students who reside within the school district. The district began formulating a travel plan in order to apply for federal funds through the Safe Routes to School program to make walking and biking to school safer for children.
District leaders recommended in September that the district seek a levy renewal in May 2010, at the same level as the current levy.
Policy protects artistic freedom
After the censorship of a piece in the one-act plays from 2008 due to potentially offensive material, in January the board revised its policy on public consumption of the plays. The board mandated that the public should be notified if a one-act is potentially offensive and given an opportunity to leave the theater before viewing it. The board’s action was meant to preserve the students’ artistic freedom while giving viewers an opportunity to avoid material they feel is inappropriate for them or their children.
New food service provider
In August, the board unanimously chose to replace Child Nutrition Services, the district’s school lunch provider since 1994, with Sodexo, one of the nation’s largest food service providers that offers fresh fruits and sandwich wrap options. The district was losing money with the former food service contract due to low participation.
Mills Lawn falls to ‘effective’
In September Mills Lawn School dropped a tier in the state ranking system, from “excellent” to “effective,” because of lower demonstrated proficiencies on the Ohio Achievement Test. McKinney Middle School and Yellow Springs High School are still classified as excellent by the state, and the district overall is still one of 271 districts ranked excellent in the state.
Parents frustrated by special ed
In October, the board discussed the results of a special education parent survey, which showed that while most parents of special needs children in the school system are satisfied, the level of satisfaction drops considerably when the child moves from Mills Lawn to the middle school and high school. The survey showed that parents perceive a lack of communication between parents and teachers, and teachers with each other. In December, the board sponsored a follow-up meeting to address these issues.