By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green Board of Education is giving itself one month to heal from the school bond issue defeat – then it’s back to the drawing board.
At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci said defeat of the 6-mill levy was “disappointing.” But on the morning after the election, the focus had to shift – there were still 3,100 students to educate, he said.
Scruci suggested the school board take a break from levy discussions, then reconvene in December to consider the district’s next steps. He also asked that newly elected board member Norm Geer be present during those discussions.
Though the loss of the levy by 550 votes was discouraging, Scruci said he was most dismayed by the discourse from the levy opposition.
“The most disappointing part was how divisive it became and how personal attacks occurred,” he said.
The levy would have paid for the construction of a centralized elementary building north of the middle school, and an addition and renovations to the existing high school building. Scruci has stated that the district will not come back with a watered-down version – since that won’t meet students’ needs.
But next month, the discussions will begin of where the district goes from here.
“We have a difficult decision going forward,” Scruci said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board hired Cathy Schuller as the new district treasurer. Schuller, who is currently the assistant treasurer at Rossford school district, will be taking the place of Rhonda Melchi, who is retiring after 22 years in the position.
The board also voted unanimously to give Scruci merit pay of 2.25 percent for achieving the district’s goals during the 2016-2017 school year.
Other business at Tuesday’s board of education meeting included recognition of outstanding efforts, like those of athletes Gracyn Amos, Zachary Applegate, Macy Hanus, Alli Fahy and Nicholas Jackson.
Middle school lunch monitor Darlene Hecht was recognized for performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking student in October.
“I saw these kids pointing, and then I saw this girl go over,” Hecht said after her recognition. “I did two (thrusts) and on the second one I could feel it come up.”
The seventh grade girl thanked Hecht after the incident and told her, “I thought I was going to die,” Hecht said.
Jim and Dee Szalejko gave a presentation on the Dear Santa Society, which the couple brought to Bowling Green when they moved here in 2008. Dee Szalejko, a teacher, said the program is intended to make the holidays bright for all children, despite their families’ finances.
“We would see kids come in after the holidays and they didn’t have new clothes or toys,” and some didn’t even have enough food to eat, Dee Szalejko said.
The Dear Santa Society helps any child in need in the Bowling Green school district. All donations go to the families, except for the cost of postage for mailings.
“You can count on the money going to the families,” she said.
Families in need get toys, clothing, hams, fruit baskets, personal hygiene items and laundry products. Handmade blankets are given to all the children.
“Nobody should be cold over the holidays,” Dee Szalejko said.
In the last nine years, the Dear Santa Society has helped 226 families, with 618 children, giving them 3,700 gifts. “There are several tons of things every year,” Jim Szalejko said. All the gifts are hand-wrapped.
Some years, some very specific requests are made by children or their families.
“One year, a young man, all he wanted was for his family to stay in their home,” Dee Szalejko said. So Dear Santa Society paid the lot rent for the family.
The program has also helped out with tuition for dance classes and ballet slippers, summer baseball team fees, electric bills, violin lessons, and even a prescription co-pay for a sick child.
Requests for assistance, with specific wish lists, are due by Dec. 8. They may be mailed to Dear Santa Society, P.O. Box 513, Bowling Green, OH 43402. Donations may be mailed to that same address.
The entire school district gets involved in the project, by donating, wrapping and delivering the gifts. The community and businesses also help out with donations. Over the years, Meijer has given more than $21,500 in food, BG FFA has donated more than 200 fruit baskets, and Project Linus has made more than 600 homemade blankets.
“Dear Santa just wants to make sure that everyone knows what the spirit of Christmas is about,” Jim Szalejko said.