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School board projects loss

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In the public portion of the April 23 school board meeting, board members discussed reductions and additions to the 2009–2010 school year budget and the second revision of next year’s district education plan. Reporting a projected five-year deficit of $400,000 to $500,000, Joy Kitzmiller distributed a list of 2009–2010 budget modifications that reflect personnel and service changes at Mills Lawn, McKinney, and the Yellow Springs High School.

Board members also considered a recommendation from Richard Lapedes that a finance committee be formed to lead long-term thinking regarding financial constraints the district faces.

The 2009 education plan lists total additions to the schedule in the amount of $87,200 and total reductions of $103,825 for a net reduction of $16,625. One Mills Lawn special education aid position was eliminated and the stipends of the YSHS assistant principal and the MLS special education aid were reduced. The positions of assistant principal, orchestra director, MLS special education aid, and computer graphics instructor were also reduced.

A new position at McKinney/YSHS for dean of students/athletic director was introduced to the budget. One bus route was eliminated from the budget, with the expectation that the district will implement its written transportation policy next year.

Lapedes suggested to the board that a finance committee be formed to aid the board in developing a long-term understanding of the changing nature of school funding, which he called “a techtonic plate shift.”

State monies constitute about 20 percent of the district’s funding, Kitzmiller said, and any mandates coming with House Bill 1, which is currently being considered by the Ohio legislature, would be on an eight- to ten-year implementation plan.

In other board business:

• Addressing the board members at the beginning of the meeting, former school band director Mike Ruddell queried board members about changes to the orchestra position. Making the position a part-time position is “likely to destabilize the program,” he said, because part-time pay might not provide a living wage that would enable the teacher to live in Yellow Springs nor to dedicate the time and attention required to maintain an innovative program.

In response, Principal John Gudgel said that next year’s orchestra position is funded and “is in the master schedule for both McKinney and YSHS.”

Later, board members clarified that the orchestra position has been reduced to 5/7 time, and that this change means the orchestra position will be employed for five out of the seven periods which constitute the school day.

“We’re reducing the budget but we are not reducing the program,” Anne Erickson said.

• The board approved a transportation policy that states that the district is responsible for busing only those students who live more than .75 miles (for Mills Lawn students) or 1.5 miles (high school students) from the school. Physically disabled students, those attending the Greene County Career Center, and those whose routes to school are deemed hazardous would be transported by bus regardless of their proximity to school.

Emphasizing that this change eliminates having two buses en route at the same time, Erickson said, “It is important to note that the change in busing policy does not involve busing upper grades with lower grades.”

• The vacancy left by the resignation of the gifted intervention specialist requires that the board will “need to decide whether and for what time” the district can fund that position, Superintendent Norm Glissman said.

Board members asked Mills Lawn Principal Christine Hatton if the Interest Learning Education (ILE) program could function as a half-time funded position.

“If we are going to have an ILE, as we have had in the past, then it needs to be funded full time,” said Hatton. “If there is to be a sea change in this program, I need to discuss it with the staff, and thus far I have not been asked to discuss program cuts with MLS staff.”

This year’s ILE program, called an “anomaly” by Lapedes, did not proceed as planned. Hatton said the absence of this program was felt by teachers and noticed by parents. The current vacancy has led some to consider the option of not replacing the position as the reality of budget constraints become known.

“This deficit spending is going to get a lot worse. You have a program right now that we don’t have an instructor for. This would be a good time to really look at this program” and consider funding a part-time position instead, Kitzmiller said.

• The district’s 2009–2010 Education Plan, which is available on the district’s Web site, lists 37 goals identified by administrators and board members to implement, study, or otherwise act upon for the coming year.

The education plan lists the mission, vision, and six quality education standards, and is the primary planning document for the district. The document states that “decisions concerning the instructional program and operation of our schools are guided by the content of this plan.”

The April 23 meeting was the second revision of the plan, which is to be voted on May 14.

• The board met in executive session regarding personnel. The next board meeting will be held May 14.


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