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Schools broaden elective choices

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Teachers and administrators of Yellow Springs High School and McKinney School met last month to compose a new class schedule for next school year. According to Principal Tim Krier at the school board meeting on Thursday, April 14, the new schedule allows students greater flexibility and leverages teachers’ time to create more core electives for next year.

As a result of the district’s decision to cut costs, the middle and high schools have lost a total of 12 teacher-led classes during the school day, Krier reported at the meeting. In order to maximize teacher led periods, next year the school will replace the teachers who were scheduled to monitor seven study halls each day, with a full-time study hall aide, who will manage both the study hall and students observing in-school suspensions. The new study hall will also provide computers and a classroom where students can complete online recovery credits. The board approved the decision during the meeting.

The shift will free teachers to offer additional core electives that are tied to the curriculum, such as an additional art/video class, media literacy and career exploration. The study hall aide will replace the half-time business education position, which was reduced to a half-time position when cost cuts were leveled last month and will now be completely eliminated.

With the new schedule, the largest classes will likely be high school band with about 41 students. No other classes at the school are expected to be larger than 30 students, with most under 25 students, Krier said. The new schedule also maintains six advanced placement courses, exchanging music theory, which will no longer be offered, for a new class, AP art portfolio. Compared to Cedarville High School, which offers three AP courses, YSHS is still maintaining a strong upper level program, Krier said.

On Thursday the board also approved the first and second readings of a policy that allows students to waive the physical education graduation requirement if they participate in a school sport for two seasons. Administrators hoped the decision would encourage more students to participate in school community building activities, reduce the need for students to seek PE credits outside the district during the summer, as well as reduce the number of students needing to take PE in school, District Superintendent Mario Basora said. The urgency to pass the resolution in one meeting was caused by the need for students to schedule classes now for the upcoming year, Basora wrote in a report to the board.

In other school board business:

• District Treasurer Dawn Weller presented the state revenue forecast for the upcoming five years, which included a cumulative loss of $482,067 over two years from 2011 to 2013. State funds generally come to the district in three categories, including basic state foundation funds, fiscal stabilization funds and tangible personal property tax reimbursements. While the state foundation money is expected to rise just slightly from about $965,000 to $1,037,000 by 2013, the fiscal stabilization funds of $73,000 will be completely eliminated, and the personal property tax reimbursements are scheduled to drop from a current $339,000 down to about $90,000 by 2013.

According to Basora, the forecast shows that the district has been overly optimistic about state funding reductions in its financial forecasts and will have to adjust its sights in future reports.

• The board agreed to eliminate the option of instituting a general fee for all students at the beginning of the year to help generate income for the district. According to calculations Weller made, the most the district could make if it collected as much as $50 for every student K–12 with 727 students (and assuming 80 percent collection success) would be about $29,000 a year. If the fee was reduced to $35 per student and only charged to students in K–8, the revenue would be $14,070 annually. According to the combined experience of Weller, Basora and Principals Krier and Matt Housh with other schools, which generally do charge student fees, collection is often less than 80 percent successful, costs money to implement and enforce, and often creates an adversarial relationship between parents and the school. Given the modest return on a difficult and costly process, the board agreed not to charge fees.

• McKinney/High School Secretary Linda Clevenger announced her retirement at the end of the current school year. Clevenger served as secretary to the principal for six years. She had worked as a school treasurer before coming to Yellow Springs.

• The board approved a Wireless Technology Request for Proposals for the district with the aim of increasing the network’s bandwidth and eventually moving to a Google operating system and cloud computing, Basora said. The project would be paid for with permanent improvement funds.

• School Board member Richard Lapedes volunteered to begin crafting a development office for the district, starting with a private fund drive to be used to support the district’s transition as it creates and implements the 2020 Initiative 10-year strategic plan. School Board President Sean Creighton thanked Lapedes for his show of commitment and leadership in that role.

“The schools are our best chance of economic prosperity, and it deserves the attention of a private fund drive,” Lapedes said.

• The board approved the part-time positions of assistant to the principal, director of athletics and student leadership, study hall/behavior intervention aide and gifted coordinator, which are to be filled this year.

• The district distributed surveys for parents, students and teachers this week in order to gauge the need for improvements. Community members are asked to complete the survey online before the end of the month at the district Web site,

• The board agreed to cancel the second meeting of the month.


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