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2019
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From the Print

School board — District fundraiser to depart

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Dawn Boyer, the director of advancement for Yellow Springs Schools, is leaving her job at the end of her current contract, Aug. 1, according to a letter of resignation dated Jan. 4.

The Yellow Springs Board of Education accepted the letter at its last regular meeting Thursday, Jan. 10. Boyer was not present at the meeting, and the board approved her resignation without discussion.

Asked for comment in a follow-up to the meeting, Boyer wrote in an email that she was resigning for personal reasons and did not have plans after the completion of her contract.

In her letter to the board she wrote, “I appreciate the opportunity to serve the District in this capacity and learned many valuable lessons in the process.”

Boyer was hired in 2016, starting June 1 of that year, to take on the newly created position of director of advancement and community relations. The goal of the position, stated at the time, was to raise about $150,000 per year for the district.

Boyer, a 1996 Yellow Springs High School graduate, had been working in Florida as a grant writer for an educational research consulting firm before returning to her hometown to take the local schools’ position. Her beginning salary was listed at the time as $70,000 plus benefits. She received a 3 percent raise, along with other district administrators, effective this school year.

Superintendent Mario Basora did not comment on the resignation during the Jan. 10 board meeting, but wrote in his report, “Dawn has worked in the role for three years and has raised private and grant funds for the school district during that time. We wish her the best in her future career endeavors.”

In an interview the next week, Basora said that the district had no current plans to fill the position after Boyer’s resignation takes effect.

“Our plan is just going to be to reflect about the position and reflect on what was accomplished,” he said. “I don’t think a replacement will be made to fill the position for next year.”

The board may consider, however, hiring someone through a part-time contract to oversee the annual campaign, which  launched under Boyer’s oversight.

“The annual campaign has been very successful for us,” Basora said.

In 2016–17, its first year, the campaign raised $14,563; the following year, the campaign brought in $17,362, according to Community Foundation records.

As of last week, $12,195 in annual campaign donations have come in so far for fiscal year 2018–19, with contributions expected to continue through the remainder of the school year.

Boyer also raised additional money for the district through a variety of grant and fundraising efforts, which included being on the steering committee that brought the #GivingTuesday initiative to the village.

Boyer has had oversight for alumnni relations as well. Basora said the Alumni Association will continue intact with association members in charge of their events and fundraising.

Although the district doesn’t plan to fill the position at this time, Basora said the district has benefited from its creation.

“We’ve learned a lot about advancement and development with this position in place,” he said.

In other school board business Jan. 10:

New year appointments

At the first board meeting of 2019, board members began the meeting by electing their leadership for the year and appointing representatives on various committees.

Steve Conn was chosen president, nominated by immediate-past President Aïda Merhemic, and Merhemic was elected vice-president.

Steve McQueen was appointed to the Greene County Career Center Board, a position held most recently by Conn.

Other appointments included: Sylvia Ellison as treasurer pro-tem; McQueen as student achievement liaison and legislative liaison; and TJ Turner as YS Village Council liaison.

Committee assignments included: McQueen to the Student Review Board; Merhemic to the Faculty Advisory Committee; Conn to the YSPSF Committee; Ellison to YSEE, the Wellness Committee and as board alternate on the Negotiations Committee; and Turner on the Insurance Committee, the Crisis Plan and as board rep on the Negotiations Committee.

In addition, filling appointments that aren’t required, Merhemic and Turner will serve on the Policy Committee, and Conn and McQueen will serve on the Open Enrollment Committee.

Regular board meetings will continue to be conducted at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month in the E. John Graham Conference Room at Mills Lawn School. Board compensation will remain $125 per meeting, with a limit of 25 paid meetings a year.

Speech team members speak

During the community comments section of the agenda, sixth-grade members of the local speech and debate team demonstrated the skills that earned them individual placings at a tournament earlier this month. Conor Anderson, Kian Barker and Payton Horton each presented excerpts of their winning speeches.

Parents Melissa Tinker and Heather Horton spoke about the benefits of the program and thanked the board for its support.

Yellow Springs High School and McKinney Middle School Interim Principal Jack Hatert reported that the team is growing as recruitment efforts are sparking more interest among local students.

Superintendent Basora, who said he had participated in speech and debate during his student years, said the activity, in its second year in Yellow Springs, boosts confidence and effectiveness in public speaking, among other benefits.

The team, which is coached by Brian Housh (hired through a supplemental contract) and parent Jackie Anderson (as a volunteer), was scheduled to host its first local tournament on Saturday, Jan. 26. (See page 1 for more information about the event.)

Building highlights detailed

Mills Lawn Principal Matt Housh reported that the annual holiday food drive was a “big success,” collecting more than 1,800 items before the holiday break for the local food pantry.

Housh also announced that the school would be conducting its first Day of Empowerment for fourth- through sixth-graders on Tuesday, Feb. 12. The activity-filled day is modeled after the high/middle school’s event of the same name, which was scheduled on Jan. 30 this year, with Feb. 6 set as an alternate date in case of inclement weather.

In addition, Housh told the board that the Mills Lawn staff is embarking on a two-month study about social-emotional learning in hopes of better serving the needs of their students.

Yellow Springs High School and McKinney Middle School Interim Principal Jack Hatert reported on a successful School Forest Festival, Dec. 8–9, the club’s 71st annual event. The popular extra-curricular high school group maintains a Christmas tree field adjacent to Glen Helen Nature Preserve and John Bryan State Park.

Hatert also reported that rehearsals for the 2019 spring musical, “The Sound of Music,” have begun, with performance dates set for March 8–10 and 15–17 at the Foundry Theater on the Antioch College campus.

Relatedly, the theater program’s fall production of “Girls Like That” will be presented in its entirety at Miami Valley School, as the Yellow Springs thespians continue to take the play’s contemporary message about cyberbullying to other school districts.

In other arts activities, 27 members of the high school band and orchestra will travel to the Chicago area Feb. 6–8, Hatert reported. The musicians will perform for a host school and participate in a program exchange with another school, in addition to attending a performance by Blue Man Group and visiting various sites in the city.

Hatert also shared that the “Mind Matters” exhibit of large wooden panels featuring paintings and information exploring mental health issues — a project-based learning collaboration between art and health classes — had been on display at the Springfield Museum of Art for a month.

Hatert said he had been told that a young person from another district had visited the display and been moved to open up about some personal struggles. Hatert said he’s inspired by the ability of local students to have an “impact on other people.”

Superintendent honors board

Noting that January is school board member recognition month, Superintendent Basora presented individual certificates honoring the local board members for their work on behalf of the district.

Basora said that when he meets with other superintendents he often hears the refrain, “My board would never go for that” when talking about new or innovative initiatives. Yellow Springs does not have that issue, because of “your courage,” he told the board.

Contract negotiations to begin

Basora reported that negotiations with the teachers union on a new contract will begin “within the next month or so.” The administration’s committee will include Basora, Treasurer Dawn Bennett, Mills Lawn Principal Matt Housh and two board members, Basora said.

Facilities update

The superintendent reported that the community task force exploring the district’s facility needs will include 11 active voting members drawn from the community and four ex-officio nonvoting participants who will provide information and support when requested: Superintendent Basora, Treasurer Bennett, board member Turner, who was co-chair of last year’s failed facilities levy committee, and architect Mike Ruetschle, who was also part of the previous effort.

The facilitator hired to lead the group is Melinda “Mel” Marsh of Acorn Consulting, based in Springfield.

“She has the right skills to help this committee move forward,” Basora said.

The group will begin meeting in March, and is expected to meet twice a month.

“We want to make certain this work is transparent,” Basora said. Toward that end, minutes will be posted on the district’s website, and regular letters to the editor will be sent to the Yellow Springs News. The meetings also will be open to the public for observation.

In the meantime, the district is also moving forward with a second facilities assessment in addition to the one conducted by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, or OFCC, in 2017.

He said the work, to be conducted by Fanning Howey, will take about four months to complete. The design and engineering firm, which specializes in educational facilities, has offices in Indianapolis, Ind., and Celina and Columbus, Ohio.

Costs to the district will include $33,000 for the assessment and $150 an hour for facilitator Marsh, Basora said in a followup interview. He said that the estimated total cost for Marsh’s assistance will range from $10,800 to $18,000.

Marsh plans to attend the board’s next regular meeting, Thursday, Feb. 14, to address the board and answer questions.

Support for Agraria bike trail

The board passed a resolution of support for the proposed bike trail that would extend from East Enon Road, across the south side of the high/middle school grounds and through private land, to Community Solutions’ Agraria property on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road.

The resolution does not bind the board to any particular plan to build the path, Basora explained in his written board report, but indicates the district’s general support of the idea as Community Solutions seeks funding for the project.

High school travel approved

The board approved the planned high school study trip to Rome, Italy, and Athens, Greece, for the 2019–2020 school year.

Personnel actions

The board approved hiring community member Christina Burks as the high/middle school’s spring musical choreographer at a stipend of $631 following high school English teacher Elizabeth Lutz’s resignation from the supplemental position, as Lutz is on indefinite leave.

The board also approved a leave of absence request by instructional aide Demitria Hoad, effective March 6 through April 30.

After creating the new supplemental position of assistant bowling coach last month, the board approved hiring Sharon Miller for the position at a stipend of $1,333.

Substitute teaching contracts for the remainder of the 2018–19 school year, at $90 a day or $45 for a half day, were approved for Kathryn Laurens, Grant Loveless, Zachary Hayes, Aaron Hinton, Monika Werling and Susan Peiman.

Zachary Hayes and Lynda Love Highlander also were approved as substitute aides at $11 an hour.

The next regular meeting of the board will be 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb.14.

Contact: csimmons@ysnews.com

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