Oct
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2017
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From the Print

School board— District fundraiser job considered

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For the first time since devising the 2020 Strategic Plan five years ago, Yellow Springs school board members agreed to explore the possibility of using public funds to hire a professional fundraiser for the school district. At the June 11 meeting the board charged Superintendent Mario Basora with drafting job descriptions and pay levels for various kinds of fundraising positions, from a professional development officer to a support staff member. Basora agreed to bring the proposed positions to the August board meeting.

Frequently over the past three years the board has acknowledged the need to establish new revenue streams to fund the district-wide transition to a project-based learning curriculum. The fourth priority of the Strategic Plan itself includes developing new revenue sources for not just the PBL transition but to support continued innovation in the district.

The district began the transition with a cash gift of $150,000 to YSCAPE (Yellow Springs Exempted Village Schools Capital and Endowment Fund), a private fund managed by the Yellow Springs Community Foundation. After two years, those funds have been nearly depleted. Though an additional $50,000 matching grant is on the table, no matching funds have been collected, board members said during the meeting.

In an effort to try to raise more private funds for the district, a Yellow Springs High School alumni group organized last year to start an alumni network. YSCAPE funded an initial position to build a database of the school’s alumni. But as they reported at a school board work session in April, alumni representatives John Gudgel (also a longtime teacher, coach and former YSHS principal) and Erika (Heaton) Grushon told the school board last week that the job of building an endowment is too big for a volunteer group. What the district needs to build a solid alumni database and figure out how to promote and “sell” the district’s innovation and progress is a dedicated fundraiser — a new position the district has never had.

“Hiring an [advancement] director will be more efficient and it will be taken more seriously publicly,” Grushon told the board, adding that a director would be most effective as a public liaison to communicate about project-based learning.

The district has a history of supporting school levies, but levies are reactive, she said. Raising funds for the future is an opportunity to take a “proactive posture.”

After asking questions about private fundraising at other public districts, the board hesitated, voicing concern about the lack of information on public opinion. Board member Evan Scott spoke in support of moving forward.

“Funding from the schools shows our commitment,” Scott said.

Sean Creighton agreed that the board shouldn’t push the decision off further.

“The board needs to take some action in moving forward on this — I don’t understand how anyone can say no to putting more money toward funding public education,” Creighton said. “It’s about bringing money into our district to support its future. … it’s being proactive to fund innovation in our schools.”

According to Scott, the current public school funding model is sufficient to fund the status quo, but it’s not generous enough to “fund innovation” and help prepare students for the changing workforce.

The alumni group is still committed to its own networking efforts, Gudgel and Grushon both said. And they believe the trust that exists between alumni is a critical part of the fundraising process. The alumni board includes Gudgel, Grushon, Naomi (Sikes-Gilbert) Bongorno, Cammy (Dell) Grote and school board liaison and YSHS alumnus Evan Scott.

In other school board business:
• Superintendent Basora reported on the district staff survey, which reflected generally positive responses from teachers and staff about the district and its management.

A majority of the questions, which were graded on a scale of A to F, elicited more As and Bs than Cs, with very few Ds and Fs. For instance, close to 80 percent of staff at both Mills Lawn and YSHS buildings gave the district As and Bs for making the schools a safe space for students of all ethnicities, sexual orientation and special needs. Again, 90 percent gave As and Bs to the district’s helping students to be successful.

At the McKinney/high school only, 70 percent of staff rated the district’s awareness of drug use and the school’s awareness of bullying with Bs and Cs, and nearly all respondents gave Bs and Cs to the district’s implementation of project-based learning.

The full survey results for both buildings are on the school district’s website.

• The board accepted the resignations of several Mills Lawn school and McKinney/Yellow Springs High School staff members. Bethany Talley resigned after six years as an intervention specialist at MLS to start as a math teacher at the Montgomery County ESC.
Fourth grade teacher Shannon Watern resigned to take a position in her home school district.
Assistant Principal of McKinney and YSHS Nancy Beers resigned to take a position as athletic director at West Carrollton City School District.

McKinney/YSHS physical education and health teacher Melanie Egbert resigned her position at McKinney/YSHS to take a position at Logan School for Creative Learning in Denver, Colo., and be close to family.

The board also approved a leave of absence for Dee Ann Holly from Sept. 28 to Dec. 9.

The district will work over the summer to find replacements for vacant positions.

• The board approved several new hires as well. Maggie Demarse was hired as the new MLS 5/6 language arts teacher to replace Ben Trumbull, who resigned mid-year. Melissa Galliger was hired as assistant to the treasurer; Demetria Wall and Chastity Miller were hired as special education instructional aides.

The board approved supplemental athletic contracts for Jeff Collins as the cross country coach; Rachel Biggs as cheerleading adviser; John Phillips as head golf coach; Robert Perry as site manager; Ben Van Ausdal as head boys soccer coach; Sarah Wallis as head girls soccer coach.

• Treasurer Dawn Weller reported a need to transfer $10,000 from the general fund to fill an athletic fund deficit. The athletic deficit was $5,000 last year, but closer to $14,000 when the district supported a football team several years ago. School staff member Donna Haller worked with the Athletic Boosters to raise $9,000 this past year to support the sports teams.

• During a work session prior to the board meeting, the board discussed a board self evaluation; talked about the possibility of establishing a policy for awarding teacher tenure, and brainstormed ideas for establishing new revenue streams for the district, including exploring new uses for district property and changing school district boundaries.

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School board— District fundraiser job considered

by Lauren Heaton