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Board of education — School collaboration sought

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At the June 11 Yellow Springs Board of Education regular meeting, board member Richard Lapedes announced the beginnings of a new pilot program to encourage collaborative inter-district programming throughout Greene County, spearheaded by Governor Strickland and Jane Dockery of Wright State’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA).

Lapedes petitioned the governor to “directly convene” a collaborative programming effort between all public school districts in Greene County as a test site of “best practices” for the entire state, he said. Noting that engaging in the process will be a voluntary effort for each district, Lapedes said the stated goal is for participating districts to realize a 5 percent reduction in operating expenses by the 2010–2011 school year.

Wright State’s CUPA has dispatched graduate students to “fan out” and research potential areas for collaboration throughout the county, according to Lapedes. Collaboration between districts has the potential to ensure that increased efficiency, not decreased educational quality, will guide area districts through the difficult fiscal realities ahead that stem from sagging economic conditions, he said.

Many districts within Greene County are small, and the district already has a history of collaboration to build upon, stemming from work through the Greene County Educational Services Center, according to Lapedes, who said the program will focus on “shared service delivery.”

Potential areas for shared service delivery include utilizing bus mechanics employed by one district throughout the county, countywide tech-support services, purchasing co-ops and summer school programming, Lapedes said.

It’s likely that each participating district will place its superintendent, treasurer and one board member on an inter-district committee that will be facilitated by Dockery, according to Lapedes, who said his own role is that of original catalyst. He will also seek foundation funding to support the unfolding process, which he expects to cost around $70,000.

The effort would be managed by CUPA so that participating districts are not burdened by an increase in time demands, Lapedes said. Results of the two-stage process will be completed by November 2009, and will be used to define a statewide best practices strategy, he said.

In other school board business:

• The board passed the first reading of Inter-district Open Enrollment policy #5113, which identifies the services (and limits to services) the district will provide to open enrollment students. The policy identifies enrollment preferences, the number of special education students permitted in each block of grades, as well as the total number of open enrollment students allowed, not to exceed 33 percent of total enrollment.

Superintendent Norm Glismann stated “with a heavy heart” that six current Mills Lawn special education students will be notified that they cannot attend Yellow Springs schools in the 2009–2010 school year, due to the inability of the district to serve their needs, stemming from an at-capacity special education program.

• The Ohio Graduation Test results for YSHS are in, Principal John Gudgel reported. Of the district’s 10th graders, 87 percent passed reading, 84 percent passed mathematics, 95 percent passed writing, 83 percent passed science and 89 percent passed social studies. The benchmark set by the state is 75 percent. Sixty-three sophomores took the test this year, and 76 percent of them scored proficient or better in all five Ohio Graduation Test subject areas.

Of the graduating senior class, approximately 85 percent have made plans to proceed to higher education, Gudgel said. About 70 percent of these students are going to four-year schools, and 15 percent are headed to two-year schools. Gudgel noted that 14 students are headed to Ohio University, a popular destination for YSHS graduates.

Nine seniors did not graduate this year, Gudgel reported, three of whom did not pass one or two subject areas of the Ohio Graduation Test. These three students, after receiving tutoring and intervention, were able to retake the test on June 15. Four of the nine students did not graduate due to failing courses in their senior year, failure to present their senior project or failure to complete community service hours.

One student decided to withdraw from high school and take the GRE, and one student has decided to begin Greene County Career Center next fall.

• Treasurer Joy Kitzmiller presented the temporary appropriations for fiscal year 2009 to the board for approval. This yearly process requires the board to verify that the next school year’s funds are present and made available for use.

Kitzmiller noted a significant payment from the county in the approximate amount of $10,000 for delinquent property tax payments, which were collected after the January payment to the district. Kitzmiller expects to have more information on the district’s finances sometime in July.

• Wright and Lapedes expressed concerns about the district paying Post Secondary Enrollment Option, or PSEO, service fees to area institutions of higher learning. Mandated by the state, the PSEO program allows high school juniors and seniors to enroll in college level courses, earning dual credit toward high school graduation and college degree requirements.

Lapedes wondered whether some parents might “take advantage” of the option and get their child’s first year of college paid for by the district at an undue cost to other programming. However, board member Sean Creighton countered that concern, stating that PSEO is an opportunity for students that parents should be aware of Kitzmiller, at the request of Lapedes, will provide the board statistics on how much the district spends on the PSEO program.

• The Greene County Services Center Early Childhood Director Brenda Noble presented the annual report for Friends Preschool and the Community Children’s Center Early Learning Initiative (ELI). The report described various improvement and training procedures the two programs have engaged with in the past year, including outreach to the Antioch School and literacy training.

• YSHS Principal John Gudgel presented plaques to Pam Conine and James Ventling for their many years of service to the district, stating that they are not only fine educators, but are also fine individuals with admirable personal philosophies.

• The board approved the following as substitute teachers, at $80 per day or $40 per half day, for the 2009–2010 school year: Eric Aho, Alison Corry, Tim Currier, Pam Dapore, Kathryn Edgington, Donna Haller, Suzanne Hardin, Megan Hari-Sandver, Susan Hyde, Pegeen Laughlin, Angela Lawhorn, Stephen McKee, John Millman, Ann Piercy, Robert Reveal, Jeff Robertson, William Short, Dennis Shumaker, Rebecca Traeger, Kari Tulecke, Jim Ventling, Elaina Walker, Michael White and Jamie Winters.

• The board approved the following as aides, at $10 per hour, for the 2009–2010 school year: Christina Bates, Carl Bradley, Grace Clark, Pam Dapore, Donna Haller, Susan Hyde, Neelam Kapoor, Pegeen Laughlin, Laura Schickling, Cokie Stello, Rebecca Traeger, Kari Tulecke, Ted Wasserman and Tammie Wilson.

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