January 2, 2003
front page
more news
ad information
contact information


Diplomas for WWII vets, busses, school funding, highlights of meeting

At their Dec. 11 meeting, Yellow Springs Board of Education members urged the public to write their state legislators in support of a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision that calls the current system for funding Ohio public schools unconstitutional.

In response to that decision, Gov. Bob Taft has said the current funding system does not need overhaul.

But members of the Yellow Springs School Board disagree with the governor.

“We are being given the short end of the stick and our taxpayers need to know that,” said School Board member Bill Firestone. “We need more angry people to contact legislators.”

The current system allocates school funding based on a percentage determined by the relative size and wealth of the school’s community. Although Gov. Taft has said that Ohio schools are allotted $4,900 per student, in Yellow Springs, schools are only allotted $1,600 per student, said Superintendent Tony Armocida. Currently, only 17 percent of the district’s budget comes from state funding sources, said Armocida. Because of this the district has asked the community for funding to support it through levies and bond issues, Armocida said.

“Our kids deserve their fair share of state funding,” said Armocida.

“The board is urging people to ask their state legislators to do what the court said, to overhaul the system,” Firestone said.

* * *

In other school board business:

• The board approved the purchase of a new school bus, a 72-seat Thomas/Freightliner bus, for $57,975. The bus will replace an older bus that has been experiencing mechanical failures. However, that bus will continue to be used as a spare, said Armocida.

The Thomas/Freightliner model is “very reliable and less expensive” than some other models, said Armocida.

The bus purchase sparked a conversation between Armocida and board members about the desirability of seat belts on school busses. Armocida said the new bus has some seats with belts, but most do not have seat belts. The bus includes some belts because some parents want their children to wear the belts on busses, he said.

However, said Armocida, the school busses are not fully equipped with belts because research has shown that students are safer without belts than with them. The seats are designed to encapsulate the students, thus protecting them in an accident, he said.

“There is no data that shows that children are safer with seat belts” on busses, he said. In fact, he said, seat belts on school busses usually end up causing more harm than good.

• The board approved 3–1 the second reading of a state policy allowing public high schools to award honorary diplomas to veterans who quit school to serve in the military during World War II.

Board president Rich Bullock and members Angela Wright and Mary Campbell-Zopf voted for the policy, while Bill Firestone voted against. Board member Tom Haugsby, who previously stated his opposition to the policy, was absent.

In previous discussions, some board members expressed concern that the policy sets a precedent of awarding unearned diplomas.

• The board approved a new social studies course of study for grades 7–12. The social studies curriculum was adapted after two and a half years of study during which middle school and high school teachers considered local and state standards, Armocida said.

• The school construction project continues to go well, said Armocida. Contractors believe all new construction at the high school will be completed by March, ahead of schedule, he said. At that time, activities that take place in classrooms slated for renovation will be moved to the new classrooms so that the renovation can take place.

At Mills Lawn, construction on the new gym will continue throughout the winter beneath a plastic tent, he said.

• Board members accepted the resignation of YSHS head football coach Cliff Williams. “We thank him for taking on a tough job,” Bullock said, referring to the school’s decision this year to play out the season, even though the team initially consisted of only 15 players.

• The board accepted a donation of $500 from the University of Dayton to the YSHS/McKinney literary magazine, Spectrum. The donation resulted from the networking efforts of the magazine’s advisor, YSHS teacher Carla Steiger-Meister, said Armocida.

• The board welcomed ad hoc student representatives Zach Grimm and Martin Borchers to the board.

—Diane Chiddister