August 21, 2003


School board business—
Levies headed for fall ballot

After three months of consideration, the Yellow Springs Board of Education agreed last week to place two school levies on the November ballot.

At the meeting Aug. 14, board members, with little comment, unanimously approved the second reading of resolutions that place before voters a permanent improvement levy and an emergency levy.

The 0.6-mill permanent improvement levy would raise $64,200 per year for five years for the school system’s technology and bus needs. The 9.9-mill emergency levy would raise $1.06 million a year for salaries and other operating expenses. The emergency levy would go into effect in January 2005 and would last three years.

Both levies are renewals and reductions of levies currently in effect, and thus will result in a lowering of local property taxes. The proposed permanent improvement levy is $74,000 less than the current permanent improvement levy, which expires at the end of 2003. The proposed emergency levy is $21,400 less per year than the current emergency levy, which is set to expire at the end of 2004.

The levy reductions would save taxpayers about $400,000 over five years, according to Superintendent Tony Armocida. With the permanent improvement levy a local homeowner would save $24.50 a year on each assessed $100,000.

The board sought levy reductions to fulfill its promise to voters two years ago to attempt to lower property taxes if voters approved a 1 percent school income tax. Armocida has said that the reductions are possible now because the school system is in relatively healthy financial shape.

After Armocida in May proposed that the board place both levies on the Nov. 4 ballot, board members William Firestone and Angela Wright questioned whether both levies should be on the ballot at once, and whether the levies will raise sufficient money for the schools. However, after several public discussions on the levies, Firestone and Wright agreed with the proposal, and the board united on the issue.

“Now the real work begins,” board president Tom Haugsby said.

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In other school board business:

• The board approved the addition of a full-time aide to help with two large fifth-grade classes this year at Mills Lawn School. Hiring an aide rather than an additional teacher results in a savings of at least $10,000, according to Armocida.

• The board also approved increasing a halftime special education aide position to full-time. The move was possible due to an increase in Title I funding, according to Armocida, and is needed to support the addition this year of a new first-grade section.

• The board approved reinstatements of the suspended contracts of two aides, Neelam Kapoor and Roberta Semler, both at six hours per day. The board approved the reinstatement of the suspended contract of Mills Lawn teacher Susan Hawkey, a halftime position.

• The board accepted the resignation of Mills Lawn teacher Julie Miller.

• The board approved level advancements for teachers Theresa Graham, John Day, Carlos Norman and Mikasa Simms.

• The contract of Craig Conrad as project supervisor of the school construction project was extended, at a stipend of $3,000.

• The board approved a one-year contract for George Brown as night custodian.

• The following persons were approved as substitute teachers, at $70 a day: Linnea Mitchell, Barbara Singleton, Paula Dale, Donna Haller and Julie Miller. David McManamay and Tim Benning were approved as substitute custodians, at $9.96 per hour.

• Co-curricular contracts were approved for school employees Michael Ruddell, as a member of Principal’s Council at $1,104, and Conrad, as assistant baseball coach at $1,104.

• Co-curricular contracts were approved for Robert Martin, McKinney School eighth-grade volleyball coach, at $970; Craig McCann, McKinney School eighth-grade football coach at $970; Ben VanAusdal, YSHS assistant boys soccer coach, at $970; and Gerald Simms, volunteer golf coach, at no stipend.

• The board approved a grant application, “The Three R’s (Reaching the Reluctant Reader),” submitted by Mills Lawn Principal Christine Hatton to the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. The grant is designed to provide reading assistance to students in Mills Lawn’s upper grades who have reading difficulties, Hatton said.

• The board authorized Armocida and Treasurer Joy Kitzmiller to renegotiate a food service contract with Child Nutrition Services for the upcoming school year. Prices at Mills Lawn will remain the same as last year, $1.85 for lunch and 35 cents for milk.

• The board authorized Kitzmiller to enter into a lease agreement for classroom space for the instrumental music program and kindergarten screening with the First Presbyterian Church.

• The school board’s Aug. 28 meeting was canceled.

—Diane Chiddister