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Ohio reduces funds for schools

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According to former Governor Strickland’s Evidence-Based funding model, the local school district is scheduled to receive $1,037,354 from the state to educate its 621 in-district students this year. The amount is 98 percent of last year’s share from the state, and it is a guaranteed minimum for the local district. The state’s share is based on a student unit measurement, not the number of students in the district. Though Yellow Springs’ in-district student count increased by about 50 this year, the state funds will not change because the number of units has not changed from last year, Treasurer Dawn Weller said at the Jan. 13 school board meeting.

In the past, the state allocated a certain amount of money per student to the district. Now, the state will provide only a percentage of the previous year’s allocation, which next year could be as little as 90 percent of this year’s funding, Weller said. The state’s contribution is independent of both the number of students in the district and the level of tax revenue that the community leverages.

In other words, the state is saying, “What we say it costs is all you’re going to get from us, no matter what the community” pays in taxes, board member Richard Lapedes said during the meeting.

Only a very large increase in student enrollment could increase the funding from the state.

“Because of the guarantee, we’d have to go up 100 kids to even come close to raising the state allowance,” Weller said. As it stands now, “If we have to add staff, we don’t get extra funding for it.”

In addition, the state’s accounting does not consider the budgetary impact of open enrollment students, which for Yellow Springs has been a critical part of school finances. For example, the Yellow Springs district received a net income of $818,000 and $735,000 per year in 2008 and 2009, respectively, for its open enrollment population. This year the school received a net gain of $564,000 for open enrollment, due to fewer students coming in from other districts and more local students attending school outside the district. The state does not consider that financial loss when factoring its contribution.

According to Weller, the Yellow Springs district is not heavily dependent on the state, which provided about one-seventh of this year’s $8.4 million budget.

“But when costs are still going up, and any funding is going down, it’s not a good situation to be in,” she said, referring to the increase in district spending this year that for the first time in many years exceeded revenues.

The district is currently discussing the possibilities for reducing the budget and held a forum for community input on the matter this week. As the school moves into finalizing its contract with the teacher’s union this summer, its leaders will need to figure out whether they have any budgetary room to bargain with for wages and benefits for their employees, Weller said. A budget reduction plan for the district is due on March 1.

In other school board business:

• The board approved the establishment of two financial incentives for teachers eligible to retire. The first is an incentive retirement plan for teachers eligible for retirement at the end of the 2010–11 school year. The plan offers teachers with 30–35 years of service a one-time cash incentive of $30,000, and teachers with 36 years or more of credited service a $40,000 incentive. The district has six teachers with 30 or more years of service. The cost in the first year could be as much as $150,000, but the annual savings after that is $180,000.

The board also approved an offer for teachers over 55 to receive regularly scheduled contributions to their Employer 403(b) Special Pay Retirement Account in a total amount equal to the value of their accumulated sick leave, personal days and incentive pay. The plan will not cost the district any additional money.

Both offers were approved by the school administrators as well as the Yellow Springs Education Association, or the teachers union.

• The board approved a two-day trip to Washington, D.C., for the eighth-grade class from May 19–21. The itinerary includes visits to the Mall and its monuments, the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Museum of the American Indian. The cost per student is estimated to be $200, which will likely be reduced through fundraising activities.

• YSHS Principal Tim Krier presented a retirement plaque to Kevin O’Brien for his 33 years of service as a physical education and health teacher in the village schools. Krier thanked O’Brien for the example he set developing both a strong sense of professionalism and knowledge of his field.

• A one-year contract was approved for temporary P.E./health teacher Michelle Thibaut at the Level 1, Step 1 salary of $35,600. She will replace O’Brien. Thibaut has a certificate to teach P.E. to special needs students, a service the district currently contracts for.

• Kelly Stephens was approved as a long-term substitute special education aide for Yellow Springs High School/McKinney. The board also approved Nan Meekin and Julie Rapé as substitute bus drivers.

• The following were approved for co-curricular contracts: Jody Chick, volunteer swim coach; Peter and Isabelle Dierauer, McKinney boys track coaches, $1,017 each; John Gudgel and Vince Peters, YSHS track coaches, $4,382 each; Brad Newsome, reserve basketball coach, $2,248; Donna Silvert, tennis coach, $1,606.

• Board members approved the continued appointment of Sean Creighton as board president and Benji Maruyama as vice-president of the board. Other appointments were also approved, including the appointment of Aïda Merhemic and Maruyama as board representatives for the union contract negotiations that are scheduled to start this spring.

• The board agreed to a maximum board compensation of $125 per meeting, for a maximum of 24 meetings per year.

• In honor of School Board Recognition Month, Basora presented certificates of appreciation to board members Sean Creighton, Benji Maruyama, Angela Wright, Aïda Merhemic and Richard Lapedes for “going above and beyond and for honestly really, really caring about our kids.”

• The board held an executive session at the end of Thursday’s meeting to prepare for upcoming negotiations with employees and to discuss personnel matters.

• The district has exhausted its three calamity days thus far in the year, which means that any further snow days will have to be made up after the last day of school in June. Basora requested that families not schedule summer plans for students directly after the official last day of school, in case school needs to be extended.

• The board will hold a Committee of the Whole meeting at 7 p.m. at Antioch University Midwest on Thursday, Jan. 27, where KnowledgeWorks will make a second community presentation regarding the Class of 2020 strategic planning initiative. At that meeting, the board is scheduled to approve a 10-member steering committee to guide the 2020 process with the help of Wright State’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs.

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