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Village schools— 2020 plan takes shape

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2020 Initiative

The Yellow Springs School District completed its Class of 2020 10-year strategic plan, winning board approval in December. The plan included a new vision to become “a school district of creativity and innovation,” with a mission of “helping all of our students become successful learners and responsible citizens.” The top six priorities of the plan include making sure students succeed, creating an innovative YS teaching and learning model, developing high performing and diverse faculty, staff and administrators, funding for the future, functional and supportive learning infrastructure, and exploring new structures for the Yellow Springs education system.

The 2020 process was divided into three parts. The “expansive thinking” phase began in October 2010 and continued through March 2011, with presentations, workshops, a film series and “The Future of Education” speaker series, co-organized with the Antioch College Morgan Fellows. In April, the 2020 process moved into the public interaction phase, including a community survey and several forums and small community discussion groups. Then over the summer, the 2020 Steering Committee, with the help of Wright State’s Center for Urban and Public Affairs, used the collective data to draft a plan for the schools.

Six long-time teachers retire

In March, the school board created a retirement package for teachers in the district, offering those 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.

Between January and June, six teachers retired from the district. YSHS physical education teacher Kevin O’Brien retired with 33 years with the district. YSHS history, government and English teacher Joyce McCurdy retired with 43 years; YSHS physics teacher Phil Lemkau retired with 29 years; Mills Lawn teacher and Title I coordinator Shanna Winks retired with 36 years; Mills Lawn gym teacher Jutta Galbraith retired with 35 years; and Mills Lawn music and kindergarten teacher Becky Brunsman retired with 43 years.

New hires

Over the summer the district hired nine new personnel. In administrative roles, Barb Greiwe was hired as the new half-time special education supervisor, Steve Rossi was hired as the part-time athletic director, and McKinney School math teacher Jack Hatert resigned half of his teaching position to become the new part-time assistant principal for YSHS and McKinney. In teaching roles, Dan West was hired as the district’s only physical education teacher, Jeff Collins was hired as the math and physics teacher for McKinney and the high school, Carol Culbertson accepted a half-time gifted teacher position at Mills Lawn, Paul Comstock accepted the two-thirds position of McKinney/YSHS study hall/behavior intervention aide, and Julie Lorenzo became the high school’s new head secretary.

School finance

In its third year of deficit budgets, the school district spent $636,000 in excess of revenue in 2011. Expenses were expected to continue to increase annually, reaching close to $1 million over revenue by 2014. The district predicted that its cash balance of $1.67 million would continue to cover the deficits through the middle of 2014.

Declining revenues from the state contributed to the budget crisis, including a loss of approximately $339,000 in tangible personal property tax reimbursements. Revenue from the state was expected to drop 5 percent over the next two years, with deeper cuts of 15–20 percent a possibility for future years, which could mean a loss of $150,000–$200,000 for the district. Income tax revenue to the district also fell from a high of $1.38 million in 2008 to $1.05 million in 2011. And open enrollment income fell by about $180,000 from last year.

In March District Superintendent Mario Basora recommended $437,000 in cuts to the 2011–12 school budget by eliminating a total of 5.1 full-time equivalent positions by reducing hours for a total of nine employees, some of whom are retiring, and letting go of just one position, that of the orchestra conductor. The cuts included reducing positions for a special education supervisor, a YSHS P.E./health instructor, a YSHS social studies teacher, a YSHS business teacher, a Mills Lawn counselor, a Mills Lawn gifted ILE teacher, a Mills Lawn aide, and a school board secretary. Other reductions included replacing the district’s Greene County Educational Services contract, as well as the copier and trash removal contracts to save about $90,000 per year.

Further cuts were made in July, when both staff and teachers unions agreed to $347,000 in pay cuts over a two-year period, including concessions by the district’s administrative staff as well.

By the end of the year, the district acknowledged that further cuts to the current academic program would be detrimental to the students. School leaders spent part of the final board meeting of the year discussing the possibilities for a new school tax levy.

More 2011 school events

• In March, YSHS seniors Adam Zaremsky and Elliot Cromer presented “Greater Tuna,” as their senior project.

• Also in March, Mills Lawn School opened the all-school musical Bollywood Jungle Book at the Paul Robeson Cultural and Performing Arts Center at Central State.

• YSHS put on Chicago for the 2011 spring musical.


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