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Yellow Springs High School hurdler Julie Roberts breaks ahead of the pack at the Bulldog Invitational held on Monday this week. Roberts took first place in both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. (Photo by Dylan Taylor-Lehman)

Yellow Springs High School hurdler Julie Roberts breaks ahead of the pack at the Bulldog Invitational in 2017. (Photo by Dylan Taylor-Lehman)

Yellow Springs Schools— Track, field repairs proceed

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The Yellow Springs school district is moving ahead with repairs to the track and field facilities at the middle/high school campus.

The school board agreed in December to seek bids in early spring on the most pressing repair needs, which had been on the to-do list for the past several years. That action, however, was put on hold with the March closure of Ohio’s schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Returning to the project and putting a call out for bids this summer, Superintendent Terri Holden reported during the most recent regularly scheduled school board meeting, livestreamed Thursday, Sept. 10, that the deadline for accepting those bids was at the end of last week.

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The anticipated work includes fixing longstanding drainage issues in and around the athletic field; a complete resurfacing of the track, which is currently unusable for school athletic events; the renovation or replacement of track and field event areas, including the long jump, high jump, shot put, discus and pole vault venues; and new fencing.

Holden said that Steve Hammond, of the Hamilton, Ohio-based SHP Leading Design firm, formerly Sneed-Hammond-Paul, will be the project architect. The district hopes eventually also to replace the scoreboard, improve the field entrance and add restrooms and locker rooms to the outdoor facilities.

Cost of the initial work is projected to be a little over $400,000, according to district Treasurer Tammy Emrick in an email Wednesday morning.

To pay for the upgrades, Emrick told the board last week that she is moving forward with securing a $700,000 loan. She said the money would be repaid through the district’s permanent improvement fund. The current permanent improvement levy brings in about $140,000 a year for capital projects.

In an email response to questions from the News about the project’s financing, Emrick wrote that the money will be borrowed from Huntington National Bank, and that once the track repairs are complete, the remainder of the funds will be used either to construct a new building for locker rooms, restrooms, storage and concessions or to renovate the structure already there. According to the loan repayment schedule provided by Emrick, the loan principal — and a total accrued interest of $90,273.33 — will be paid off in 10 years, in installments of about half of the annual permanent improvement levy income.

Holden said she hopes work can begin immediately after bid approval, before temperatures get too cold.

“Now what we have ticking is the weather clock,” she said.

The board plans to hold a special meeting next week, at a date and time to be set, to decide on the bids.

In other recent school board business:

Financial report

In her regular report to the school board last week, Treasurer Emrick said that the first two months of the fiscal year — July and August — had ended with revenues falling short by more than $500,000 of what had been budgeted for that time period.

She said that most of the difference could be attributed to a deficit in anticipated income tax payments, though property tax revenue is also less than budgeted. When the income tax revenue came up short in July, Emrick said she thought the extension of this year’s filing deadline was to blame. But after two months with no uptick, she said she will recalculate the numbers and bring revised projections when she presents the annual five-year forecast at the board’s October meeting.

While the tax revenue is less than budgeted, the numbers are similar to last year’s receipts, Emrick said, adding that the increase she expected has not occurred.

Broadband connectivity grant

Holden reported last week that the district has been awarded a $54,000 grant to provide internet hotspots and wifi access points in the village. The initiative is meant to support students’ remote learning and fill in access gaps.

She told the board that the district is partnering with the Village, which is using some of the federal CARES Act money it’s received to provide better internet access in town.

Holden said the district has purchased 46 hot spots so far.

Title IX regulations

Student Services Director Donna First, who also serves as the district’s Title IX officer, reported that the U.S. Department of Education in May released new Title IX regulations for public schools, with the expectation that they be put in place by Aug. 14.

She said that district administrators and staff underwent training in the new rules in early August, and that the training descriptions and materials can be found on the YS Schools website. Information on how to report or file a complaint is also available on the district website under the “How Do I…?” menu on the home page.

The federal civil rights law known as Title IX protects individuals from discrimination based on sex in educational settings, activities and sports.

Safe Centers for Online Learning

Mills Lawn’s new principal, Michelle Person, reported that a daily average of 92% of the school’s 320-some students are engaging in online learning, with about 4% of absences due to technological difficulties.

While most students are signing in remotely, 49 Mills Lawn students are taking part in the Safe Centers for Online Learning, or SCOL, program, according to district records. SCOL offers an in-school setting for students whose families cannot oversee their online studies at home. The school is currently overseeing six groups, called pods, of about eight students each.

Person said that SCOL attendance tries to accommodate participating families’ schedules and needs, with some students taking part just a couple days a week.

“Parents are grateful” that their children are able to participate, Person told the board.

McKinney Middle School and Yellow Springs High School Principal Jack Hatert reported that 15 middle and high school students are currently participating in SCOL at the East Enon Road campus. Four special needs students also are receiving in-school services, according to district records.

Theater plans

Safety precautions related to COVID-19 are changing the high school’s theater plans this fall, Hatert told the school board last week.

“Instead of doing a large fall show, it’s going to be more like the one acts, with smaller pieces,” he said. The anticipated production dates will be in October.

Hatert also said that performance arts teacher Lorrie Sparrow-Knapp has asserted that “theater always rises out of difficult times and comes back stronger,” and he’s taking her at her word.

Gifts and donations

Holden reported that the district has received a variety of gifts and donations this fall.

• Shumsky Health, in Dayton, has given a donation of cloth and N95 masks.

• Pastor John Heading and the Beavercreek Baptist Church have given area school districts, including Yellow Springs, each a 55-gallon drum of hand sanitizer.

“This is like gold,” Holden said.

• Steven Lin and the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation have provided 35 child-size and 15 adult-size headphones with both listening and speaking capability for the Safe Centers for Online Learning and the student after-school center at John Bryan.

• Parent Melissa Heston and the Yellow Springs Community Foundation “jumped in to support us on day one with headphones to fill an immediate need for some of our students,” according to Holden.

• Class of 2020 graduate Zoe Clark, who was awarded the Youth Philanthropy Award last spring, has donated her $300 award to support the YS Schools’ Gay Straight Alliance (GSA).

Holden also announced that YSHS Counselor Dave Smith has been awarded the YS Community Foundation’s Active Citizenship Award for his “great impact” on the community. Smith was recognized for his role in guiding high school students as they prepare for their lives after graduation, working with Foundation representatives and Foundant Technologies to create a process to streamline online scholarship applications. Smith designated his award of $300 to the Yellow Springs Community Food Pantry, Holden said.

Upcoming board meetings

In addition to a special meeting next week to consider athletic field bids, the school board is planning to have a work session in October, at a date to be determined. The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Thursday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m.

Other recent board actions, including a change in gifted services, will be covered in a future issue of the News.

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