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School board’s 2020 roles stay same

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The Yellow Springs school board’s first meeting of the new year opened with the swearing in of Sylvia Ellison and TJ Turner to new four-year terms, the two having run as unopposed incumbents in the November general election. Ellison ran for re-election, while Turner sought to retain the seat to which he had been appointed after former board member Sean Creighton moved out of the district in 2018.

Board members also re-elected Steve Conn as board president and Aida Merhemic as vice president for the year, and filled the board’s various year-long administrative and committee appointments.

Ellison was renamed treasurer pro-tem and Steve McQueen was re-appointed student achievement liaison and state legislative liaison. Board members also agreed to continue serving on committees where they had previously been approved: Conn on the Yellow Springs Public Schools Fund committee, Ellison on Yellow Springs Educational Endowment and the Wellness Committee, McQueen on the Student Review Board, Merhemic on the Faculty Advisory Committee and Turner on the Insurance and Crisis Plan committees. Ellison and Turner also will continue on the Negotiations Committee with Merhemic named as the alternate. In addition, Merhemic and Turner will continue on the Policy Committee and Conn and McQueen will continue with the Open Enrollment Committee.

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Appointments were made to the new Community Development Corporation, with Conn and McQueen filling the two required seats, and the newly named Calendar Committee, with Merhemic agreeing to serve as board representative alongside district Superintendent Terri Holden,  principals and teachers.

Concerning calendar planning, Holden said she wanted to look further ahead than a year at a time. Typically, the next year’s academic calendar has been approved in March.

“It’s best for families and the community to plan at least two years out,” she said.

In other recent school board business—

Tax budget approval

Included on the organizational agenda was the annual tax budget hearing for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Interim Treasurer Tammy Emrick, who prepared the budget, was unable to attend the meeting.

In her absence, the board went forward and approved, without discussion, the nine-page document for submission to the county auditor.

In a follow-up interview,  Emrick said the tax budget, due to the auditor by Jan. 20, “is more a legality than anything.”

It details the district’s current taxes and “gives the county auditor the authority to levy the taxes,” Emrick said.

The document shows that Yellow Springs Schools currently collects $5,137,700 from 68.75 mills, including inside and outside millage and permanent and renewable levies.

A school funding presentation by Emrick and Holden that had been planned for Monday, Jan. 13, was postponed to a date yet to be announced because of personal circumstances.

Activities in schools

Mills Lawn Principal Matt Housh reported that the school’s annual holiday food drive, led by the student council and its advisor, sixth-grade teacher Jodi Pettiford, collected a record 2,202 items, which were donated to the local food bank.

Looking ahead, Housh said the school community is planning a variety of activities throughout February in recognition of Black History Month. The focus this year will be on the Civil Rights Era. Housh said the morning news will include related content each day, while other plans include a schoolwide assembly and shared writing themes.

McKinney Middle/Yellow Springs High School Principal Jack Hatert shared updates on several plans for student travel. He noted that 39 eighth graders, 80% of the class, are set to go on the grade’s annual trip to Washington, D.C., this year scheduled April 2–5. And 24 high school students will be traveling March 18–26 to Rome, Italy, and Athens, Greece. However, an anticipated upper-level Spanish class trip to Costa Rica this spring has been canceled because not enough funding was acquired in time to secure arrangements, Hatert said.

Hatert also reported that 21 theater arts students are preparing to attend the annual state thespian conference for high school students, scheduled March 27–29 in Dublin, Ohio. Yellow Springs was selected to present a full run-through of its fall production of “Bigfoot Letters,” and senior Julia Hoff was chosen to perform in the 2020 All-Ohio show, “May 4th Voices: Kent State, 1970.”

Until then, the theater program is beginning preparations for its next local production, “The Fair Maid of the West,” to be performed April 9–12, at a location to be announced.

Donation accepted

The board, with thanks, accepted the donation from villager Carol Cottom of a flute, valued at $200, for the district’s music program.


The board accepted the resignation of McKinney Middle School teacher Rebecca Eastman effective July 31. According to Holden, the seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher is moving, and her resignation is a “huge loss for the district.”

The board also approved substitute teaching contracts for the remainder of the school year, at $90 a day and $45 per half day, for Grant Loveless and Erika Tallet.

Charlyn Cantrell and Stephanie Lawson were approved as school nurses, with Cantrell assigned to Mills Lawn at $25 an hour, four hours a day, 186 days of the year, and Lawson attending to all buildings at $25 an hour as needed.

The board also approved coaching contracts for Ashley Mangen, leading the high school varsity swim team; John Gudgel, high school men’s track; Isabelle Dierauer, high school women’s track; and Peter Dierauer, McKinney Middle School girls track. Michael Blevins was approved as a volunteer with the district’s band program.

The next regular school board meeting is scheduled Thursday, Feb. 13, beginning at 7 p.m., in the John Graham Meeting Room at Mills Lawn. The Facilities Task Force is expected to make a presentation.

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