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Yellow Springs School Board

Yellow Springs High School/McKinney Middle School as it appeared in late September 2021. (Drone photo by Bryan Cady)

School board updates facilities design

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The initial steps of the facilities improvement project for Yellow Springs schools continued last week as members of the school board approved a schematic design for the project during their regular meeting Thursday, June 13.

Ahead of the board approving the design, Mike Ruetschle, of Ruetschle Architects, and Chris Kromer, of Conger Construction Group, updated the school board on the progress of the project, stating that it is currently on schedule and on budget.

“The [planned] budgeting process and design process are pretty close in line with where we’re at,” Kromer said.

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The facilities improvement project is slated to begin construction in January 2025, with completion expected by August 2026.

Ruetschle added that the teams from Ruetschle Architects and Conger Construction Group have worked together closely to “get on the same page,” and have simplified some structural elements of the planned new construction at McKinney Middle School and YS High School’s East Enon Road campus in order to fund some additional features.

“Every job does this,” Ruetschle said of the design simplifications. “I’m proud of where we’ve landed, because I think we’ve still landed with the heart and soul of the design.”

The simplifications include changes to roof structures on the new wings to be added to the campus, the shortening of an outdoor overhang and a simplified entry area to the schools’ athletic area. The overall square footage of the project will remain intact.

In exchange for these simplifications, funding will likely allow for additions to the design that include a structural mezzanine, retractable theater seating and lighting, curtains and rigging in the schools’ planned auditorium; environmental graphics and a mezzanine in the schools’ music room; photovoltaic solar panels; and furnishing upgrades.

Superintendent Terri Holden added that the project’s Core Team of school board members and district administrators prioritized these additions to the design based on how early they would need to be completed in the design and construction process, as well as the district’s overall educational mission.

Some design additions to the renovation project at Mills Lawn Elementary School are also likely, including an exterior vestibule entrance to the school’s library, new doors and hardware, additional classroom storage, playground enhancements and skylight tubes over the gym’s stage.

An interactive presentation showing the design of the exterior and some portions of the interior of the middle and high schools can be viewed on the video of the June 13 meeting at, beginning at timestamp 18:05.

Two-day professional retreat slated

A retreat for the members of the school board and district administrative leadership is planned for Wednesday and Thursday, June 26 and 27.

According to agenda documents, the purpose of the retreat is to define “what a policy is, and by consequence, what policy-makers do,” align the board’s “Sunshine Laws practices with best practices” and engage in “leadership coaching and mediation to function more effectively as a board.”

Board Vice President Rebecca Potter said she and board member Dorothée Bouquet had met with Holden to discuss the parameters of a planned retreat, and had contracted Jennifer Harden, deputy director of legal services at the Ohio School Board Association, or OSBA, to help facilitate the first day of the retreat. Potter added that she had spoken with a former OSBA member who had offered to help facilitate the second day of the retreat at no cost to the district, though she said she had yet to formalize an agreement with that person.

Holding the retreat, Potter said, would help the board’s members understand “the legal purview of the board and the scope of [its] powers, and how that relates with the administrative team, particularly [Holden] and [District Treasurer Jay McGrath].”

Board President Judith Hempfling suggested that, during the retreat, board members consider and discuss having a member of the Village Mediation Program attend and observe meetings of the school board, offering feedback on how its members communicate with one another.

“That observer would provide a debriefing to reflect to us what they see going on, what’s going well, maybe what’s not going as well that we might want to look at improving,” Hempfling said. “The Village Mediation Program wants to help us, if it can be helpful.”

The retreat will be held in open session; a location for the retreat has not yet been announced.

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