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YS school board— Deficit delayed by one year

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The financial picture for Yellow Springs Schools appears a bit rosier at the end of the school year than it did last fall, according to district Treasurer Tammy Emrick.

Reporting to the school board during its most recent regular meeting, Thursday, May 13, Emrick said that revenue over the past 10 months is about $500,000 ahead of budgeted projections, while expenses are about $500,000 under budget.

“Together, we’re about $1 million ahead of projected,” Emrick said, pointing to an increase in property tax income and the reinstatement of some state funding that was cut last year as primary causes for the rise in revenue.

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According to Greene County Auditor David Graham, last fall’s property reappraisals, which took effect in January, will give the district an estimated $450,000 in additional property tax revenue each year.

Emrick added the caution, however, that “this is the time of year when we have some of our bigger expenses,” and “we still have two months to get through” this fiscal year, so the numbers could change. Each fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30.

Nevertheless, she counted the current financial standing as good news for the local public schools.

Applying the new figures to the district’s five-year forecast, which is revised each May before being submitted to the county auditor, Emrick concluded that the deficit projected this past fall for fiscal year 2024 has been pushed out by another year to fiscal year 2025.

She said she believes that with continued care, “we can push this [deficit] further and further out.”

As the News has reported, the district entered into deficit spending with fiscal year 2019, after a high cash balance of nearly $5.5 million the year before. But while the 2019 balance of $5 million held steady in fiscal year 2020 — after some belt tightening and decreased expenses due to the pandemic-related school closure — Emrick projected that renewed deficit spending would continue eating away at the balance.

At this month’s board meeting, Emrick characterized the forecast as “a planning document.”

“It’s a road map so we can make decisions … so we have time to plan,” she added.

Board President Steve Conn said he found the treasurer’s latest report heartening.

“Six months ago we were looking at 2024,” Conn said about the deficit now projected for the following year. “As you say, this is a living document.”

In other board business May 13—

Personnel changes

As anticipated, the board approved the hiring of Megan Winston as the new principal at Mills Lawn Elementary School effective Aug. 1. Currently a vice principal at Xenia High School, Winston was given a two-year contract with a starting salary of $101,934. The board also approved an additional 10 days on a per diem basis, effective June 1 through July 31, to allow the incoming principal “to get a jump start on the work that lies ahead for the 2021–22 school year,” as recommended by Superintendent Terri Holden.

Other administrative contracts were approved for longtime intervention specialist Jody Chick as the new full-time special education supervisor — replacing the former half-time special education coordinator position — at a salary of $107,412; and fifth-grade teacher Cheryl Lowe as the K–12 summer programs administrator to be paid $5,500 for 21 days, June 1 through July 6.

The school board and district administrators also took time to honor four faculty members who are retiring at the end of the school year: fourth-grade teacher Vickie Hitchcock, third-grade teacher Peg Morgan, high school English teacher Desiree Nickell and sixth-grade teacher Jodi Pettiford.

Board President Conn noted that collectively, the four educators have put in over 100 years of service in the district. (The News will profile the longtime teachers in a future issue.)

In addition to the announced retirements, the board accepted resignations from the following staff members: special education coordinator for the district Jennifer Clark; Mills Lawn intervention specialists Olivia Dishmon, Chasity Miller and Jarrod Smith; sixth-grade teacher Ryan Montross; Mills Lawn special education aide/paraprofessional Katrina Wellman; and district bus driver Sherry Harding. Also, custodian Roy Johnson plans to retire effective Aug. 1.

A slate of new hires also was approved. Erykah Andrews, to teach English at the middle/high school; Granville Bastin, as an intervention specialist at the middle/high school; Richard Gillett, as the new health and physical education teacher at the middle/high school; and Julie Anspach, Alexa Goodridge, Alexis Hobbs and Kineta Sanford, as teachers at Mills Lawn Elementary.

In addition, the board approved a 1% salary increase for administrative and teaching staff for the 2021–22 school year.

Student services

The district’s director of student services, Donna First, reported that the 100% online learning alternative, offered this school year to families who chose not to send their children to in-person classes amid the pandemic, will not be extended to the 2021–22 school year.

She said that due to COVID-19 considerations this year, the state had allowed districts to offer the alternative online programming, but has of yet not approved continuation of the option for the next academic year.

According to First, the district will notify local participating families about the discontinuation. First reported early this spring that 46 students were pursuing the online option.

She noted that home instruction services “are always available” for local students who are unable to come to school for an extended time because of illness. Applications for the services are available at the district office.

First also announced that the district is collaborating with the college of dentistry at Ohio State University to offer a school-based program, through its Outreach OHIO Project, in which students can receive an exam by a dentist, a dental cleaning, fluoride treatment and sealant on their back molars, free of charge. Services will take place at each school building for one designated week, and parents of participating students will receive written documentation if followup is needed. She said parents may follow up with their own dentist, or get treatment at the Outreach OHIO Project center in Clark County, “which will not turn any child away due to an inability to pay.”

Summer programs

The board approved programming for summer 2021. The classes will be offered on the middle/high school campus June 1 through July 6. Offerings will include academic tutoring in reading and math for grades 4–6, and week-long camps in tennis (grades 1–12), art (grades 1–12) and music (grades 6–12). High school credit recovery and math tutoring also will be offered, but by invitation only due to  limited space. Additional options, such as yoga, outdoor education and leadership training, are also being discussed, according to Superintendent Holden.

2021–22 school calendar

Board members approved a revised calendar for next school year, which includes a change in students’ first day, now set for Monday, Aug. 23. The change reflects the addition of several professional development days for teachers at the beginning of the year. Kindergarteners will have a staggered start Monday, Aug. 23, and Tuesday, Aug. 24. Other highlights include the identification of parent-teacher conferences: the evening of Oct. 28 and all day Oct. 29; and the evening of March 16, 2022, and all day March 17, 2022. Exhibition nights are scheduled April 27 and 28, 2022.

Teacher recognition

Superintendent Holden reported that three top graduating seniors, chosen by their GPA, each nominated a teacher for the Greene County Educational Service Center’s Howard L. Post Excellence in Education Award. Finn Bledsoe nominated math teacher Tamara Morrison, Natalie Galarza nominated biology teacher Iyabo Eguaroje and Liam Patrick-Hackett nominated chemistry and physics teacher Brandon Lowry.

The board’s next regular meeting is Thursday, June 10, beginning at 7 p.m., in Mills Lawn gym.


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