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Seniority no longer rules

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In accordance with new state laws, the Yellow Springs school board at their meeting on Thursday, April 12, loosened the guidelines that determine how the contracts of school administrators and employees can be altered or terminated. The revised policies, to take effect July 2013, practically eliminate seniority as a factor in evaluating both teaching and administrative contracts.

The changes effectively reduce the restrictions placed on hiring, firing and rehiring both administrators and teachers. They are recommended by the state policy organization, Neola, in order to comply with the Ohio budget bill, school Superintendent Mario Basora said this week.

“Per HB 153, the budget bill, all school districts in Ohio can no longer use seniority as a factor in determining layoffs,” he said.

The first policy, regarding reduction in staff, eliminates seniority as a factor in deciding which positions to eliminate in the instance of a budget reduction, decrease in student enrollment or other exigency. The policy mandates that districts give preference to teachers with the highest performance evaluations (on continuing contracts), and allows the consideration of seniority only between teachers with comparable evaluations.

The other policy addresses the circumstances under which an administrator’s contract may be suspended in the event of a budget reduction, and similarly eliminates seniority as a factor in deciding which positions to cut. The revised administrative policy also changes the length of time a district must wait between eliminating a position and reinstating it. Formerly the district was required to wait two years, and now it’s just one.

The policy revisions were required to give districts greater maneuverability in the face of financial shortfalls that have plagued public education for the past four years. Yellow Springs schools are no exception, as they plan to ask for a new levy this year to plug a $750,000 annual budget deficit. The board is still contemplating the size of the levy, which is expected to be between 6–7.5 mills in order to generate between $700,000–$950,000 per year for the district. The levy is still considered to be a short-term response to a long-term trend of increased costs and flat revenues, and could coincide with further budget reductions, school board members have said.

In other school board business:

• Superintendent Basora announced that an anonymous donor had committed $150,000 as a lead gift to support the implementation of the Class of 2020 10-year Strategic Plan. School board Vice-President Benji Maruyama suggested that the lead donation should be leveraged to secure additional grant support.

• The board accepted the resignation of teacher and guidance counselor Robin Fast, effective at the end of the current school year. Fast started working at McKinney/Yellow Springs High School as a guidance counselor in 2005, and last year was transitioned into a part-time guidance position at Mills Lawn and part-time government teacher position at the high school. During the meeting Superintendent Mario Basora thanked Fast for her service to the district.

• The board approved a three-year contract for Basora, effective August 2013 through August 2016. Basora was hired in 2010. Maruyama thanked Basora for “hitting the ground running” and for his service to the district.

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