By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green City Schools is facing the challenge of passing a bond issue in November to build a consolidated elementary school and a major reconstruction of the high school. But first, the district has to respond to a more immediate construction need.
On Tuesday evening, the board of education voted unanimously to request bids for a $4.15 million expansion of the middle school to relieve serious overcrowding.
The plan is to pay for that project with permanent improvement money, so it will be completely separate from the bond issue project.
The middle school is the newest building in the district, having been constructed in 2009. But the problem is that it was built to house two grades – seventh and eighth graders. However, when a couple older elementary schools in the district were closed, the sixth graders were also moved into the middle school.
The middle school currently houses about 750 students. Unless the building is expanded, the overcrowding issue will worsen in a couple years when an abnormally large class entering fifth grade now reaches the middle school, pushing the student count close to 800.
To relieve the overcrowding, another classroom wing is planned. It will be situated to the south and parallel to the existing classroom wing. An open courtyard area will sit between the two wings. The new one-story addition will likely be used for the eighth graders.
Construction bids will be opened by the board next month, with construction planned to start by September. The goal is to have the wing open for the 2018 school year. An addition to the cafeteria is also planned, with that work scheduled to being next spring.
The building is estimated to cost $4.15 million, and the furnishings are expected to cost just over $200,000, according to Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group Architecture. Buehrer said the new wing will not be identical to the existing wing, since the district learned from current design problems. For example, the lockers in the new wing will run along the perimeter of the hallways.
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the school board voted to proceed with the bond issue for the $71,990,000 elementary and high school construction project.
A second public forum will be held on the issue Thursday, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., in the school’s Performing Arts Center. In addition to answering new questions, Superintendent Francis Scruci said answers will be posted to the 26 questions asked at the first public forum.
Also at the meeting, drama teacher Jo Beth Gonzalez and the students who traveled to London reported on their trip. They told of visits to the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the Globe Theater and a theater workshop. The students shared lessons learned, like the value of not judging people, taking chances, and exploring the world beyond the U.S. (See: http://bgindependentmedia.org/bg-high-students-experience-the-magic-of-london/)
In other business:
- Mayor Dick Edwards voiced his appreciation for Middle School principal Eric Radabaugh’s service on the city’s Human Relations Commission. Teacher Jenny Dever will be taking his place on the commission.
- Athletes Noah Cook and Nick Lane were recognized for their success in track and field state championships.
- Scruci noted that high school science teacher Gloria Gajewicz is a finalist for a national honor. (See: http://bgindependentmedia.org/bg-high-science-teacher-gloria-gajewicz-finalist-for-national-honor/)
- Board member Paul Walker said he had heard positive comments about the district setting aside a week in the summer when no athletic practices are scheduled, so families can vacation without that conflict.
- The board approved the purchase of two new buses, costing a total of $155,680.