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New arts courses offered at YSHS

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Students at McKinney Middle School and Yellow Springs High School will have some new elective course offerings available to them next year in the arts and communication fields.

The classes are part of two new career “pathways” being introduced at the combined middle/high school campus, Principal Jack Hatert reported to the school board during the board’s regular meeting Thursday, June 13.

Specifically, the pathways are in performing arts and visual design and imaging, and they will include related courses already in place at the schools, including band, orchestra, visual art, seventh-grade project-based learning foundations and middle school performing arts.

New courses will include acting and script analysis, stagecraft, choir, video production and digital print design. With these addition, classes in visual art, music and theater will be available at all grade levels from 7 through 12.

The goals behind introducing the pathways, Hatert wrote in his board report, “include stronger partnerships with professionals in the industry for PBL projects, putting the tools professionals use in the hands of our students and supporting our students being more career ready in the arts and communication field when they leave Yellow Springs High School.”

In addition, Hatert told the board that implementing the career pathways will bring in state money that will pay for the new classes.

Board members expressed enthusiasm for the curriculum expansion.

“I think this is really exciting,” board Vice President Aïda Merhemic said.

In other school board business June 13:

Land-use assessment

Denise Cupps and Carol Young, each neighbors of Mills Lawn School, addressed the board separately during the community comments section of the meeting about concerns for Mills Lawn’s green space in the wake of a recent land-use assessment that included portions of the elementary and high/middle school properties that might be sold for housing development. The results of the assessment, conducted by a design and planning firm from Cincinnati, were presented at the May board meeting and reported in a recent YS News article.

Cupps, who, with other community members spoke out last year against facility changes at the Mills Lawn site that would decrease the amount of green space in what was called the heart of the village, said she couldn’t believe she was back again, telling the board the same thing. Her message: the green space, as it is, has important value to the village and should not be developed.

Young had some questions for the board: “What is the procedure now? … What is the next step? Will you be taking the pulse of the village? I would like to know where it’s going from here.”

In keeping with board policy not to respond to community comments, board President Steve Conn thanked the speakers, but gave no reply.

Later in the meeting, Yellow Springs Schools Superintendent Mario Basora said during his monthly report that he believes selling some of the district’s land would address three pressing issues: the need for more affordable housing in the village, the need for more local students in the schools and the need for more money to pay for district facilities upgrades and maintenance.

While board members expressed support last month in considering the possibility of selling some property, they stressed last week, after Basora’s comments, that they have no current plan to do so. The board has received, but has not yet discussed the assessment’s findings, Conn said.

Young again asked the board whether there would be any kind of public forum in which the community could address the issue before the board made any property decisions. Conn said then that he did not know, and so could not say one way or the other.

Contracted services

The board approved a contract with the Clark County Educational Service Center for speech and language pathologist, psychologist, occupation and physical therapy services and communication specialist services for the 2019–20 school year in the estimated amount of $272,381.70.

The board also approved two contracts with the Miami Valley Educational Computer Association, or MVECA, for the 2019–20 school year — the first for computer services in the estimated amount of $14,730, and the second for technology coordinator services in the amount not to exceed $82,582.77.

Resignation; other personnel matters

The board accepted a resignation letter from Mills Lawn physical education teacher Robert Grote III, who has taken a similar position at an elementary school in Kettering, where his wife also teaches.

The board approved an extended unpaid leave of absence for James Waulk, a member of the custodian staff, until approximately June 10.

The board also approved an advance from Level II to Level III for Cameron McCoy as half-time McKinney Middle School Foundations teacher, retroactive for the 2018–19 school year. McCoy is also the half-time assistant principal at the high/middle school.

Up to 14 hours per person, at $25 an hour, were approved for kindergarten teachers Linnea Denman and Jeananne Turner-Smith to conduct kindergarten screening this summer. And contracts for homebound tutors, at $25 an hour, were approved for Olivia Dishmon, Donna Haller, Isaac Haler, Jane Jako and David Johnston.

Substitute teaching contracts for the 2019-20 school year, at $90 a day and $45 a half-day, were approved for Dr. William Barnette, Isaac Haller, Eugene Jackson, Sheila Kruse, Luciana Lieff, Grant Loveless, Margaret Swanson and Steven Vrooman.

A month of meetings

The board approved minutes of eight meetings conducted since May 6: six special meetings, most of them conducted in executive session concerning administrative personnel (May 6, 8, 11, 14 and 23 and June 7); one work session, in a joint meeting with the Facilities Task Force (May 15); and last month’s regular board meeting (May 9).

The board scheduled a special meeting for 8 a.m. Thursday, June 27, to take care of some financial business before the end of the month. The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday, July 11, in the John Graham Meeting Room at Mills Lawn School. It will be Basora’s last regular meeting as district superintendent before he goes to Huber Heights Schools and Terry Holden, from Winton Woods Schools, becomes the new superintendent here.

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