Schools to renew current levy
- Published: January 22, 2015
At their Jan. 8 meeting school board members voted unanimously to move ahead with putting on the May ballot a 10-year renewal of the emergency operating levy that expires at the end of the current year. The levy generates about $1,060,000 annually for the district. A renewal would not raise taxes beyond the current level.
“By voting on this, you are saying we need this money to operate,” Superintendent Mario Basora told the board on Thursday. “If we don’t renew, we lose over $1 million starting next January.”
According to Treasurer Dawn Weller, the resolution is the first of two that need to be approved this month to proceed. The vote on the second resolution, a formality that’s expected to pass, will take place Thursday, Jan. 22, 7:30 a.m. at the Mills Lawn conference room. Once the levy becomes an official ballot measure, the district will begin a levy campaign, which by law must be led by community members, not the school district.
In other school board business:
• A new Ohio House education bill has begun to mandate that vocational programs or career education be incorporated into the middle school curriculum. According to Basora, the measure is meant to open more career options to students having trouble finding jobs after high school and to increase the number of students enrolling in college. The district is considering options that would not require adding new teachers, such as opening the high school sustainable agriculture course taught by a Greene County Career Center faculty member to middle school students and incorporating the middle school into the high school’s block schedule. The option would have the added benefit of increasing planning time for teachers.
Board members Sean Creighton and Evan Scott spoke in favor of career and civic opportunities that older students have been exposed to through programs such as Project Lead the Way, an engineering tech program started by the National Science Foundation.
• The schools continue to work on the application for a standardized testing waiver, due to the Ohio Department of Education March 1. As part of its application, Yellow Springs is designing an alternative district report card. The current report cards are designed by the state and are based almost exclusively on student testing performance. The alternative report cards would be based on students’ demonstration of career readiness, collaboration skills, and other educational values the local district deems important. The schools are working with local graphic artist Liz Robertson to design the new card.
The waiver application must also include alternative student assessments and teacher evaluations. According to Basora, the federal department of education wants the eight Innovative Learning Districts eligible for the waiver in Ohio (including Yellow Springs) to use PARCC or Common Core standards for its reading and math assessments. The local district is considering using one or the other for third- through eighth-grade math and reading, and for high school students using a combination of the ACT, college and work readiness assessments and performance-based assessments and portfolios.
The Yellow Springs district is meeting with the eight other Innovative Learning Network districts in Ohio that are interested in a waiver to develop strong applications for each district.
•The district is launching a search for a new special education supervisor, an administrative position, to replace Barb Greiwe, who retires at the end of the current school year. The district initially plans to appoint a search committee, which can but is not likely to include school board members.
• Following this week’s school safety meeting with the wider community, the district plans to meet and share input with the faculty, discuss the issues and make safety planning decisions. The school will then share its plan with the crisis committee sometime in February and submit the plan to the attorney general’s office.
• The local schools are planning to send another delegation of teachers and possibly students to the model project-based learning school, High Tech High, in San Diego, Calif. in the spring. The trips are generally funded by the school’s private YSCAPE fund.
• The schools are investigating building a wood shop on school grounds for students to use to build projects for school. They are writing a grant to Yellow Springs Education Endowment to help fund it.
• The district thanked school board members for their dedicated service to the schools on the occasion of school board recognition month.