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High school moves to block schedule

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When McKinney Middle and Yellow Springs High School start up again in the fall, students will be piloting a new hybrid block schedule for their classes. The new schedule features several days a week with longer periods that are designed to support this year’s big push to transition to project-based learning.

Under next year’s schedule, instead of periods 1–7 every day, two days out of the week will include just four classes, each as long as nearly two regular class periods. Wednesdays will be reserved for the odd periods, 1, 3, 5 and 7, and Thursdays will accommodate periods 2, 4, and 6, with the last period reserved for workshops on the collaboration skills that are useful for project-based learning.

The whole McKinney and YSHS staff voted 18–5 in support of the new schedule and spent the winter creating a system to pilot for this year, YSHS Principal Tim Krier said at the school board meeting on Thursday, June 13.

The district has tried a full block schedule in the past, though it was unsuccessful, board member Angela Wright said during the meeting. But she supported the current effort in connection to a holistic plan to train teachers for the district-wide transition to a project-based curriculum.

In other school board business:

• The board approved the hiring of local resident Eli Hurwitz as the district library/media specialist. Susan Praeger announced her retirement this year as school nurse for the Yellow Springs school district. Praeger has provided nursing care for the schools on a formal or volunteer basis since 1980. Mills Lawn third grade teacher Kristin Adkins also resigned her position this year to seek other career opportunities. She taught in Yellow Springs for eight years.

• The schools contracted with GameTime to install its new playground on Elm Street, replacing the previous unit that was crushed by a storm last year. The new unit is expected to cost $69,980 and will be installed this summer. It includes several tunnel and double slides, a tire swing, a rock climber, a Zero-G chair, bongos and other instruments and several more swing sets.

• The board renewed its food service management contract with current provider Sodexo for one year, with the option to renew for four additional years. The district requested bids from other providers, received one from The Nutrition Group, and used independent community evaluations to choose Sodexo. The contract included a budget very close to last year’s expenses of $242,000. By comparison, the schools budgeted $215,000 for Sodexo’s food program in 2009–10.

• The board resolved to renew the district’s permanent improvement levy at the current rate of 1.2 mills for five years. Villagers will vote on the renewal in the Nov. 5 election. For a village property appraised at $180,000, of the approximately $4,000 in total property taxes owed, the permanent improvement levy has been and would continue to be about $62. The levy was last replaced in 2008, and its revenues are used to maintain facilities and fixed assets.

• The board approved the Mills Lawn roof annex restoration by Garland Roofing at a cost of $90,638.

• The board met in executive session before the regular meeting to dicuss union staff negotiations and personnel compensation issues.

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