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From the Print

Yellow Springs school board— Next step in development job

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At an upbeat meeting last Thursday, Aug. 13, school board members met to preview changes, challenges and opportunities in the upcoming school year. A key item on the agenda was the proposed creation of a development position for the district. Superintendent Mario Basora presented three close-to-finalized job descriptions, prepared by the subcommittee examining the issue, for options A, B and C of a new director of advancement and community relations.

Options A and B are full-time positions. Under Option A, the district would recruit a seasoned development officer “with a proven track record of success,” according to Basora, for a full scope of job duties ranging from fundraising to marketing and communications to building student internship/externship opportunities. Under Option B, the district would recruit an accomplished development officer for a job of somewhat smaller scope. Option C is a part-time position with commensurately fewer duties.

The salary for options A and B would be in the range of $55–80,000, which board and subcommittee member Sean Creighton said was comparable to benchmark salary information from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

The proposed new position would also entail the hiring of a half-time development coordinator for administrative support.

Basora and board and subcommittee member Evan Scott expressed a strong preference for option A.
“We don’t want someone who’s a bounce-around,” said Basora. “If we’re going to do this, we have to have option A or nothing.”

Scott echoed this view. “We owe it to ourselves and our students to go after an A,” he said. “Let’s go for great.”

As context, board members explained that public schools are increasingly turning to private sources, including alumni, to “fund innovation” in a climate of flat or declining state and federal support for education.

“Alumni associations are growing among public schools,” said board member Steve Conn, “but they’re just starting.”

Deepening relationships with Yellow Springs alumni through the Yellow Springs Alumni Association is part of the answer; securing grants, partnerships and other sources of support will also be essential. “This is going to be hard,” Conn acknowledged.

Board members agreed that, as Scott said, the position would need “high expectations for performance, but the room to make it happen.”

Prompted in part by an offer from the James A. McKee Foundation to host a community forum on the new position, board members discussed the pros and cons of soliciting public comment. Creighton pointed out that “the community-wide process that resulted in the strategic plan” was precisely what led to the proposed position. Forums are “an awkward practice to get into” on a regular basis, he said, but noted, “It’s critical to engage groups like the James A. McKee to communicate often and deeply” with the public.
Treasurer Dawn Weller stated that, if the board is to create the new position, “now would be the time” because of a cash carryover in the budget. She also cautioned that explicit goals need to be set for the position. “We don’t want to carry dead weight.”

The board agreed to vote on the proposed development position next session, unless members felt in the interim that more consideration was needed. The vote would establish “whether as a board we are in or out” on what amounts to a new function in the district, said Scott. Selecting a candidate would be a separate step.

More school board news will appear in the Aug. 27 issue of the News.

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