May 1, 2003
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District presents ’03 Education Plan
At their Committee of the Whole meeting on April 24, members of the Yellow Springs Board of Education reviewed the Yellow Springs schools’ 2003–2004 Education Plan, which includes the district’s strategic goals and budget for next school year.
While the education plan originally began as a budget planning document, it has taken on more significance in recent years, said Superintendent Tony Armocida.
“It has become more of the blueprint for the year, the primary planning document for the district,” he said. “We believe that what’s in the plan gets done.”
The board is expected to approve the plan at its next meeting, May 8.
The school system’s vision, according to the plan, is that “every student will become a socially responsible, self-directed, lifelong learner.”
Strategic goals include to “develop and implement academic, co-curricular and extracurricular activities that promote student caring for self and others; to provide and promote opportunities for students to initiate and participate in programs and activities that enhance the Yellow Springs community; to develop, implement and encourage student experiences through the implementation of best practice including authentic learning, goal setting and demonstration of knowledge.”
The plan also lists as goals “to provide and promote opportunities for students to become directly involved in structuring their own learning experiences; to identify and promote the acquisition of skills and knowledge needed to achieve personal goals and to benefit humankind and the natural world; and to encourage an appreciation for all the dimensions of human learning, including science, the humanities, fine arts and health.”
The plan’s financial and budget overview states that, in terms of income, the district anticipates that property tax revenues will decrease an estimated $107,885 due to the closing of Vernay Laboratories’ local manufacturing plants. State funding, at $1.07 million, is similar to the past two years, and open enrollment income is estimated to generate $436,320 for the district.
In terms of expenses, the school district will include negotiated 4 percent step salary increases with both the teachers and support staff unions, plus a 15 percent increase in dental and health insurance costs. Purchased services costs are up less than 2 percent, according to the plan, and utilities have increased 20 percent for the new construction projects at Mills Lawn, McKinney and YSHS. A newly negotiated contract with IKON for copiers netted a $14,000 savings.
Program and budget changes for the upcoming year at Mills Lawn include the reduction of one kindergarten section, an additional $2,000 for professional development and $5,000 for fifth-grade textbooks.
At the middle and high school level, budget changes include a reduction of a full-time study hall aide for $16,000 and additional funding of $3,000 for North Central initiatives.
Districtwide, budget changes will include a savings of $10,800 with the reduction of a maintenance position from 12 to 8 months, plus reductions in scheduled bus driver hours and the addition of a full-time night custodian for $17,380. Co-curricular and extracurricular salaries will be increased, at an approximate total cost of $7,000.
Educational goals at Mills Lawn School include improving student performance at the fifth-grade level, investigating and selecting new science materials, improving reading and writing skills of fifth- and sixth- grade students and selecting a reading program to pilot for the 2004–2005 school year.
Next year will be the final year of the school’s three-year arts project, “Looking In, Looking Out: Our Place in the World.” This year students have explored the theme of diversity through a variety of arts experiences, under the direction of a number of artists-in-residence.
In the project’s final year, Mills Lawn teachers “will disseminate information about what we learned,” said Mills Lawn Principal Christine Hatton. “We’re interested in reflecting on the experience and letting people know how it went.”
At the McKinney School and Yellow Springs High School, school officials plan to focus on North Central Accreditation goals of improving students’ academic responsibility and working together to create a positive school climate.
McKinney and YSHS educational goals also include continuing work with the YSHS Project, a program designed to “empower teachers to take an active, aggressive and assertive role in the governance of the schools,” according to the plan. Also, the schools will “assess and review the structure of the school, particularly the master schedule,” including a possible master schedule revision.
Additional goals include “impacting the school climate and culture with interventions and strategies that will improve the atmosphere of our school” through such strategies as working with The ARIA Group to include student input in goal setting, incorporating schoolwide thematic units, rewarding high academic achievement with school letters and considering altering the disciplinary measures to include community service.
“We’re trying to think of using more positive reinforcement rather than detentions,” YSHS Principal John Gudgel said of the school’s approach to discipline. “Our biggest obstacles are ourselves as educators, having always done things this way.”
The high school will also work toward further improving its graduation rate, which has improved in recent years, according to Gudgel. The plan says that the school will continue to use strategies such as correspondence courses, independent study programs, work study programs, the Greene County Career Center, The Academy of Greene County and identifying students at risk at an earlier age.
“It’s important to me personally,” Gudgel said of the graduation rate. “I want to see everyone get a high school diploma.”
The graduation standard was the only measure the district did not pass on the 2002 state proficiency tests. The district received a score of 88.2 percent on the graduation standard, just below the 90 percent pass rate.
Board members expressed support for the administrators’ goals.
“I’m impressed with the goals,” said Bill Firestone, adding that he especially appreciated goals aimed at increasing students’ academic responsibility, “changing the school climate to one which values education.”

—Diane Chiddister