Village Schools

A budget for the 2020 plan

The Class of 2020 10-year strategic plan that the Yellow Springs school district began last year was officially approved by the school board at its meeting Thursday, Dec. 8. School Board President and 2020 Steering Committee co-chair, Sean Creighton, presented an overview of the plan as well as an estimated budget of about $2.2 million to implement the plan over a nine-year period.

The 2020 plan began as a project to modernize teaching and learning in the district and to figure out how to weather the current economic environment. The process of creating the plan was led by a steering committee co-chaired by Creighton and school board vice-president Benji Maruyama and included administrators, teachers, parents and community members Mario Basora, Dawn Weller, Sarah Amin, Aurelia Blake, Elizabeth Lutz, Mark Meister, Wally Sikes, Steven Conn, Lori Kuhn and Sterling Wiggins. The committee worked with Wright State’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA) to gather information and draft the plan.

The process began last fall with an “expansive thinking” period that included one public and one internal workshop on best educational practices, five public talks from professionals in the field, a community forum and three films on education. In the late spring the process moved into a “community interaction” phase in which several public surveys and community discussions were used to gauge public opinion on which priorities the schools should focus on for the future. Over the summer the committee and CUPA drafted a plan based on the information gathered.

The result was a plan whose vision was to “become a school of creativity and innovation,” and whose mission is “helping students to be successful learners and responsible citizens.” Themes tying the plan together include improving teaching and learning, engaging the community, increasing parental involvement, diversifying funding sources and reducing the district’s carbon footprint. (The plan can be accessed at ysnews.com under “Schools want feedback on completed Class of 2020 strategic plan.” The core of the plan is expressed in the 14 pages of chapter 4.)

In order to implement the changes in the educational model expressed in the plan, the biggest expense will be in professional development for the teachers who will lead the charge. District leaders estimate about $300,000 will be needed for start-up costs, to be raised privately, according to board member Richard Lapedes, who leaves the board at the end of his term this month in order to lead a fundraising effort to support the 2020 plan. Creighton then estimated the long-term costs for ongoing professional development and organizational change would total about $2.2 million over nine years, or $244,000 per year. That activity would be funded by the school’s operating budget, which is currently at about $8 million per year.

“Ultimately, most of the funds will go toward professional development, to support the staff and the people doing the everyday work on the ground,” Lapedes said.

The implementation of the strategic plan has already begun with teacher training on how to integrate a national set of common core educational standards into the local classroom. The high school has also already adopted the 30-minute “academic lab” period every day that focuses on the achievement gap by providing academic intervention for struggling students as well as gifted support for students who seek new challenges and creative outlets. In January and February the school will organize priority groups to establish strategies, action steps and a timeline for achieving the goals of the plan, which will project two or three years into the future. And in the spring teachers and administrators will visit successful schools of innovation to use as potential or partial models for Yellow Springs.

“By the end of the school year we should have a firm grasp on how to bring professional development to the staff and how to get to new approaches to teaching and learning,” Basora said, referring to the types of “inquiry-based, problem-based, STEM, and constructivism learning” the community said it wanted for Yellow Springs.

In other school board business:

• The board approved a new policy allowing students to use their own electronic devices, including cell phones, laptops, music playing or recording devices, etc., at school for academic or extracurricular purposes and as allowed by school instructors. Wireless Internet connection would still be filtered by the district’s internal filters. The new policy is intended to give students opportunities to use electronics to increase access to information. It replaces a former policy that allowed students to possess but not utilize their own electronic devices.

• The board approved an application for a $2,000 Yellow Springs Education Endowment grant to fund a chess academy for McKinney and the high school, to be led by Omar Durrani.

• The board accepted an anonymous donation of $1,500 to help obtain an athletic trainer.

 

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