November 28, 2002

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School board business—
Education program featured

Educational programs that feature relationships between young people and their elders benefit everyone, said villagers involved in two local intergenerational programs at the Nov. 14 meeting of the Yellow Springs Board of Education.

The Head Start program located at Friends Care Community has “gained state, regional and national attention” for its pairing of nursing home residents and small children, said the program’s coordinator, Brenda McCarthy of the Greene County Educational Service Center.

The program is “unique” as an intergenerational program because the “elders are fully immersed in the children’s activities,” said McCarthy, who also showed a video of Head Start children interacting with FCC residents.

Started two years ago, the program evolved out of a need for a new space for the Head Start program, said McCarthy. After she read of the FCC’s involvement in the Eden Alternative, a program in which nursing homes enhance the life of their residents by encouraging the elders’ interaction with pets, plants and children, McCarthy said, she approached FCC Director Jeff Singleton about the possibility of housing the program on the FCC site. Singleton agreed, and the program was housed in the FCC’s multiuse room until this summer, when Friends Care completed a new classroom specifically for the students.

“I want to give her credit” said Superintendent Tony Armocida because McCarthy is “the one who came up with the idea” of joining the young children and elders. Armocida also credited Singleton for his openness to the new idea.

“It’s a good example of taking a problem and turning it into an opportunity,” said Armocida.

The board also heard a report about the After School Tutoring program at Yellow Springs High School.

“These are retired educators giving back to the community,” said YSHS Principal John Gudgel of the program’s tutors, several of whom attended the meeting. Those attending were Joe Dowdell, Helen Sparks, Nancy Lewkowicz, Shelbert Smith and Betty Hairston.

Gudgel said the program began about six years ago when members of the First Baptist Church approached him with the desire to “assist students who are at risk academically.” Since then, the tutors have helped students with English, reading, math, science and social studies three days a week, for an hour to an hour and a half after school.

The tutors keep notes of each tutoring session, listing what took place along with suggestions for the next tutor, said Sparks. Keeping records “gives the program continuity,” she said.

“We enjoy this. We’re happy to be working together to provide this service,” said Sparks.

The program offers an invaluable contribution to the community, said several board members.

* * *

In other school board business:

• Treasurer Joy Kitzmiller reported that the school district has collected the first half of property taxes for 2002, as well as the first payment on personal property taxes. Both amounts “fell right on target, leading me to believe that we shouldn’t experience too much of a fallout” when Vernay closes one of its two Dayton Street plants in January, she said. The other plant will close next summer.

• The board approved 3–2 the first reading of a policy that would offer high school diplomas for World War II veterans who left school in order to fight in the war. School board president Rich Bullock and members Mary Campbell-Zopf and Angela Wright voted for the policy; Bill Firestone and Tom Haugsby voted against it. At an earlier meeting, board members expressed discomfort with awarding unearned diplomas, no matter how worthy the reason, and with recognizing those who fought in the war but ignoring conscientious objectors.

However, Bullock reintroduced the policy, saying that after researching the issue, he felt the need to thank veterans outweighed his concerns over setting a precedent of awarding unearned diplomas.

The board will hold a second reading on the policy at its meeting Dec. 12.

The board unanimously passed a resolution written by Bullock that thanked both WWII veterans and conscientious objectors for their contributions to our country.

• The board approved as substitute teachers for the 2002–2003 school year: Martha Kline, Laura Patterson, John Barber, Jennifer Smith, Jeffrey Showen, Michael Morgan, Kim Peyton, Carolyn Pinkston, Robert Vaughn and Nate Hollinger, all at the rate of $70 per day.

Firestone expressed frustration at the pay rate for substitute teachers, saying that he feels the amount is inadequate.

• The board approved a resolution offering co-curricular contracts to the following persons who are not employees of the school district: Shirley Martin, $850 as seventh-grade girls basketball coach; Phyllis Downing, $850 as the eighth-grade girls basketball coach; George Yelton, $850 as the seventh-grade boys basketball coach; Robert Martin, $850 as the eighth- grade boys basketball coach; Deborah Bellamy, $1,475 as the YSHS girls JV basketball coach; Perry Williams, $1,475 as the YSHS boys JV basketball coach; Neal Perry, $1,050 as the YSHS assistant boys basketball coach; Seth Moore, $1,475 as the YSHS girls swimming coach; David Wishart, $1,475 as the YSHS boys swimming coach; Lisa Crosswhite, $675 as the YSHS cheerleading advisor; and Roberta Perry, $843 as the assistant site manager of athletics.

Regarding the expense of hiring coaches for so many separate teams and the limits of available practice space, Haugsby questioned whether the schools might be better off combining some teams. However, other board members supported the current system.

“I want to come out strongly in favor of how we do it now,” said Firestone. “To a lot of kids playing basketball is very important. It’s wonderful at the junior high level that everyone gets to play and no one is marginalized.”

• The board also approved co-curricular contracts for two current employees of the school district. Sue Smart was approved as the community service advisor at a stipend of $1,000 and Pam Stephens was approved as student council advisor at a stipend of $984.

• Mills Lawn Principal Christine Hatton reported that fourth-grade proficiency test scores improved this year, with 67 percent of Mills Lawn students passing the test the first time. Only six students failed to pass, she said, a number that marked a 2 percent improvement over last year.

Hatton also reported that more than 95 percent of Mills Lawn parents attended the recent parent-teacher conferences.

• Gudgel reported that a focus on sportsmanship at the high school seemed to pay off during this fall’s sports season. While in the past some YSHS athletes have been evicted from games due to poor sportsmanship, no evictions took place this year.

“I attribute this to greater awareness on the part of students, parents and teachers,” he said.

• Board members approved Thursday, June 5, 2003, as the date of this year’s YSHS graduation. While a few board members expressed concern that last year’s graduation date had inconvenienced out-of-town family members because it fell on Thursday, Gudgel said that he had received no negative feedback about the Thursday date.

• Bullock announced that a new foreign language committee has been formed to study the district’s foreign language program. The committee, composed of Armocida, a board member, three language teachers, two students, an elementary school teacher and two community members, will review the current foreign language curriculum, considering such questions as whether foreign language should be introduced at an earlier time than high school, or whether the schools should focus on one language rather than two.

“I’m concerned that board members should enter into this with an open mind and not foregone ideas,” said Firestone. “We have a lot to learn about what the community wants.”

• The next school board meeting will take place Thursday, Dec. 12.


—Diane Chiddister