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Interim principal, assistant principal approved

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Offering no comment about the action, the Yellow Springs School Board last week appointed Jack Hatert, assistant principal at Yellow Springs High and McKinney Middle schools, as interim principal of the combined campus for the 2018–19 school year, effectively replacing Principal Tim Krier, who went on leave for an unspecified medical reason in March.

Relatedly, the board also approved the appointment of middle school social studies Cameron McCoy as interim assistant principal on a half-time basis for the year.

The appointments were approved during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting Thursday, July 12.

Superintendent Mario Basora, who is in Germany this month as part of an educational leadership program, sent a letter to district families in late June informing them that he was recommending Hatert and McCoy for the administrative positions. Hatert served in a similar capacity during the 2018 spring term, while district counselor and retired high school Principal John Gudgel served as interim assistant principal.

Krier has been away from the high/middle school since March 8, and went on medical leave March 14, when a letter from his nurse practitioner prescribed an initial absence of six weeks, at which time his condition was to be re-evaluated. 

In the meantime, a letter from Basora to Krier dated March 15 instructed Krier to clear the principal’s office of personal belongings and stay off school grounds during the leave, which coincided with an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct between high school students.

A followup letter from Krier’s nurse practitioner dated April 25 indicated that he was “making progress,” but was “still unable to perform the essential functions of his job at [that] time.” 

The most recent correspondence from the nurse is dated June 4, according to the school district. The letter, acquired by the Yellow Springs News through a public records request, repeats much of the same language in the April 25 communication as to Krier’s inability “to perform the essential functions of his job at this time.” The letter states that he would be re-evaluated in early July. As of earlier this week, however, the district had not received any new communication concerning Krier’s condition, according to district Administrative Assistant Stefanie Marchese.

In response to a question this week about the status of Krier’s leave, district Treasurer Dawn Weller said the principal’s leave was paid until June 25, the last day of the administrative position’s contracted year. He does not need to seek new leave time, whether paid or unpaid, until Aug. 1, the  beginning of the next work year, Weller said. Krier, who came to Yellow Springs schools in 2010, currently has a three-year contract with the district that began August 2016.

Superintendent Basora said before departing on his month-long professional trip that the district’s internal investigation into the sexual misconduct allegations was nearly complete, with the student portion of the inquiry finished and the staff/faculty piece close to being finalized. He said he had no other information to share at that time. A public records request by the News for the report is being considered by district lawyers, Administrative Assistant Marchese said this week.

The police investigation into the matter was turned over to the juvenile division of the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office last month, according to Village Clerk of Council Judy Kintner.

Hatert’s new appointment is effective Aug. 1, for 221 days as needed up to June 26, 2019, at $95,000 for the year. McCoy’s half-time administrative contract also effective Aug. 1, is for 203 days as needed up to June 5, 2019, at $40,303.50 for the year. McCoy also will be working as a project-based learning foundations teacher on a half-time basis at the middle/high school. 

In other school board business July 12:

The board approved a “resolution to proceed” to place a renewal of the district’s current 1.2-mill, five-year permanent improvement levy on the Nov. 6 ballot. The board action follows last month’s unanimously approved “resolution of necessity” concerning the renewal request.

The levy raises about $138,000 each year for permanent improvements, including construction, renovations and additions as well as providing equipment and furnishings. If passed, the measure will not increase local taxes.

• Due to not receiving final funds from three grants before the end of the fiscal year, June 30, which put the budget lines for each grant in the red, the board approved transferring money from the general fund to cover the shortfall until payment is received. The amounts were $2,472.29 for the federal Title IV-A, $750 for an ODHE/STEM grant with Clark State and $2,417.57 for a Project-based Learning-related ALPHA grant.

The board also advanced $5,000 to the lunchroom fund, which District Treasurer Dawn Weller said “lost more money than it has in years.” Weller said she hopes the district is able to get back the advance amount from food provider Sodexo, whose contract includes a certain loss guarantee.

The lunchroom’s total losses, however, came to $10,266.55, Weller said, noting that revenues were more than 5 percent lower than last year. The school board approved transferring the remaining $5,266.55 shortage from the general fund as well.

The board also approved the transfer of $15,096.39 to the Athletic Fund, which lost more money this year than has been typical in recent years, Weller said.

The Athletic Fund has experienced a deficit each year since ending the football program after 2009–2010, according to district records. This past year, however, ended about $5,000 further behind than 2016–17, which had a deficit of $10,929. 

Weller said that athletics-related expenses — from uniforms, to venue rentals, to paying referees — continues to rise while revenues stay fairly flat. Proceeds from concessions generally go to the sponsoring class or club, rather than back into the Athletic Fund, she added.

Weller said that district administrators would be weighing athletic costs versus student benefit in setting the new fall budget.

• Per administrative recommendation, the board approved the creation of the new district office position of Public Records Clerk at $15.64 an hour on an as needed basis. The role of the clerk will be to respond to public records requests.

The position has been created, “due to an influx” of such requests in recent months, according to the job description.

“We spend a lot of time and a lot of money on this,” Treasurer Weller told the board. Given current district employees’ other job responsibilities, “nobody has time to do this,” she said.

As records requests increased this spring, particularly as the sexual misconduct investigation involving high school students came to light, Weller compiled a cost analysis of requests for five weeks from the start of April through May 9.

The district estimated that in that time, staff had put in 130 hours responding to records requests. Setting an average hourly rate of $38.92, Weller estimated a personnel cost of $5,060, with an additional $4,400 in attorney fees.

More than 3,000 pages of documents had been copied, with several requests still pending, at the end of those five weeks, she said. 

The district can charge 10 cents per page for documents requested in person, but there is no charge for electronic requests. The total five-week cost to the district was $9,760, Weller estimated, expressing frustration at the amount of labor involved in responding to so many requests.

Board member Steve Conn noted the cost is ultimately paid by taxpayers.

“It’s a drain on the public purse,” Conn said.

• In personnel matters, the board approved one-year teaching contracts for the 2018–19 school year for Amanda Kinney, as a first-grade teacher at Mills Lawn School, at a Level I, Step 2 salary of $41,153; and Courtney O’Connor, as  middle school social studies teacher, at a Level III, Step 2 salary of $45,362. The board also approved Joseph Carr as a half-time project-based learning foundation teacher at Mills Lawn, at a Level III, Step 8 salary of $29,088.

The board also approved supplemental contracts for Kristin McNelly as Title I Coordinator ($3,000); Cameron McCoy as lead mentor teacher ($1,000) and new teacher mentor ($800); and David Smith as new teacher mentor ($800).

Supplemental athletic contracts were approved for Roberta Perry as site manager ($2,245) and Stephanie Harshaw-Butler as assistant site manager ($1,824).

The board approved substitute contracts for Aurelia Blake (teacher, $90 a day and $45 a half day), Sherry Harding (bus driver, $15 an hour) and Eden Matteson (nurse, $25 an hour).

The next board meeting is scheduled 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9, in the John Graham Conference Room at Mills Lawn School.

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