February 20, 2003
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School board OK’s measure opposing a war on Iraq

The Yellow Springs Board of Education passed last week a resolution opposing a war on Iraq and urging the Bush administration to “explore alternate paths to peace with the government of Iraq” and to “engage in respectful dialogue with the government of North Korea.”

The board unanimously approved the measure at its meeting, Feb. 13.

“I believe that we have the responsibility as educational leaders and citizens to express our opposition to policies that could have devastating effects on our country and its citizens, perhaps especially to our young people, our students,” board president Rich Bullock said as he introduced the resolution. “If listening respectfully and carefully considering the views of others before acting is a hallmark of a good civic education, then we have a responsibility to speak out.”

Introducing the resolution was a last-minute decision, Bullock said after the meeting. “I didn’t know I was going to do it until I walked in the meeting,” he said. Bullock said he was prompted by a “growing sense of anger and frustration about the war,” which was heightened late Thursday afternoon when he heard a National Public Radio report about American troops who were already on the ground in Iraq.

Taking the action as a board seemed timely and appropriate, other school board members said.

“I feel it’s important for the board to stand up for kids and let them know that they have minds and can use them,” board member Bill Firestone said after the meeting. “There’s a tendency in these situations, if the president wants to go to war, for everyone to fall in line. I don’t think that’s an attitude we should be teaching in Yellow Springs.”

Board member Mary Campbell-Zopf said that board members appreciated the resolution’s call for dialogue and want to “be respectful of different points of view.” Zopf said that she supported the action because “all the things we encourage students to do, such as using conflict resolution, being reflective and cooperative, aren’t being reflected in our country’s actions about the war.”

Community members are encouraged to contact board members regarding how they feel about the resolution and to “express their opinions on this issue,” said Firestone.

The school board’s action comes just two weeks after local residents discussed whether Village Council and Antioch College should take a position on the war.

* * *

In other school board business:

• The board approved 4–1 a resolution allowing Yellow Springs High School to participate in the National School Fitness Foundation. Bullock, Campbell-Zopf, Tom Haugsby and Angela Wright voted for the resolution; Bill Firestone opposed it.

The resolution allows the Yellow Springs school district to enter into a contract with NSFF, in which YSHS would use specialized fitness equipment and make monthly payments toward purchasing the equipment, valued at $200,000, over a three-year period. However, the school will be reimbursed the same amount each month by NSFF, according to Jerome Gray, an NSFF representative who attended the meeting.

At the end of the three-year agreement, the high school will have been reimbursed the full amount and will own the equipment, which will be located in the soon-to-be completed fitness center at YSHS. In exchange, the high school will provide the NSFF with data regarding students who are working in the fitness program.

A nonprofit program based in Utah, NSFF has 190 contracts with schools across the country, and 63 in Ohio, Gray said. The program seeks to counter “an epidemic of obesity and chronic inactivity” in American young people through fitness training.

The NSFF program works well with the current YSHS/McKinney physical education program, said teachers Kevin O’Brien and Sarah Lowe.

Firestone raised concerns about the school’s financial liability contract, and about contract restrictions on the use of data. He also questioned the effects on the Yellow Springs community of using the NSFF program, since the program would require teachers to focus only on student participation for the first year, thus postponing the use of the fitness center by community members.

However, other board members were swayed by O’Brien’s report that Ohio schools using the program are well-pleased with it, and have been regularly reimbursed according to expectations.

“We’re enthused and ready to go,” said YSHS Principal John Gudgel. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to get state-of-the-art equipment and to benefit our student population.”

• William Pitstick, a member of the Bryan High School Class of 1946, was the first World War II veteran to receive an honorary degree from Yellow Springs High School following a recently approved board policy. The policy awards honorary degrees to war veterans as a way to honor those who interrupted their education to join the war effort.

Many of Pitstick’s children and grandchildren crowded the meeting room as he received the degree.

“I cherish this,” he told the board. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

• The board accepted the resignation of Julie Miller as the fourth and fifth grade team leader, effective Jan. 17. The board named Linda Kalter as Miller’s replacement and gave her a stipend of $1,321.

• The board awarded co-curricular contracts to Alfred Pierce as assistant track coach ($1,050 stipend) and Marcia Nowik as Drama Club sponsor ($315 stipend), director of the one-act plays ($1,050) and director of the spring musical ($1,275).

• The board recommended that Linda Sikes, Debra Mabra, Shanna Winks, Margaret Morgan and Amy Huneck be approved as proficiency-intervention tutors at Mills Lawn School at a stipend of $184 for a minimum of two hours per week for four weeks.

• Superintendent Tony Armocida reported that the construction projects at YSHS, the McKinney School and Mills Lawn School are progressing well. The high school work is “where it should be” according to the schedule, although the cold and snowy weather has slowed the project at Mills Lawn. However, he said, “when we get a break in the weather things will go quickly.”

• The board approved advertising for bids to replace the McKinney School roof. The current roof, which is the 1988 module’s original roof, was expected to last 10 years and has lasted 15, but is now leaking, Armocida said.

—Diane Chiddister

School board’s antiwar measure

The following is the resolution approved by the Yellow Springs school board opposing a war on Iraq:

Since a primary goal of education is to promote reflection, intelligent action, and cooperation among individuals and groups;

And since another primary goal of education is to teach young people to become good citizens, committed to working together as citizens not only of their communities and as citizens of their nation, but as citizens of the world;

We, the Board of Education of the Yellow Springs, Ohio, Exempted Village School District,

Oppose the impending invasion of Iraq by the United States;

Urge the government of the United States to explore alternate paths to peace with the government of Iraq; and urge the government of the United States to engage in respectful dialogue with the government of North Korea.