By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
With the primary election less than three months away, the Bowling Green Board of Education heard Tuesday from citizens fighting for and against the 5.7 mill bond issue.
“It’s great to see some new faces here tonight,” School Board President Jill Carr said at the beginning of the meeting. Then she cautioned that “respectful and civil communications” was expected from all.
Board member Ginny Stewart reported that details will be forthcoming on community information meetings about the bond issue to raise $71,990,000 for construction of school facilities. The funding would pay for the construction of one consolidated elementary school, plus renovations and an addition to the existing high school building.
The first citizen to speak Tuesday was Tracy Hovest, who expressed her sadness that the school board and Superintendent Francis Scruci were being attacked for trying to do what is best for the district’s students.
“I’m here to say ‘thank you,’” Hovest said to the board and Scruci. She went on to scold those opposing the levy who were using misinformation to scare voters. She criticized the opposition for saying the levy is too much.
“It’s not too much,” she said.
Hovest said she was speaking to those voters sitting on the fence, reassuring them that the school board was taking the right action.
“All they are asking for is a functional home that meets the needs of all students,” she said. The bond issue is not too much when looking at the return for the community.
“Please don’t say it’s too much,” Hovest said.
But Steve Bateson said painting those opposed to the levy as being against schools is not fair. The levy, he said, is “excessive.”
When the levy failed in November by 550 votes, Bateson said he hoped the school board would reconsider. “We need to take a step back and see why this levy failed.”
Bateson asked the board to see the results of a survey asking community members to weigh in on school building options. He also warned that the levy could negatively affect the amount the district could pay teachers in the future.
“Our strength comes from teachers,” he said. “I’m an advocate for having good teachers.”
Another citizen, Brenda Pike, said she has attended informational meetings about the levy, but has yet to see a breakdown of the $72 million, or the cost to tear down the older elementaries, or building proposals from contractors. No bids proposals have been taken yet since the district does not have the necessary funding to proceed, Scruci explained after the meeting.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board approved a $6,000 in change orders for the high school boy’s locker room renovation. Architect Kent Buerher said the additional amount was necessary for unexpected fire alarm expenses.
Buerher also reported that the middle school addition is still planned for completion by the end of July. “We need some nice warm days like today,” he said.
However, the project has encountered an expensive addition – with the Wood County Building Inspection Department requiring voice fire alarms in not only the new part of the middle school but also in the existing portion. That change adds another $75,000 to the project.
Buerher also predicted there will be new requirements in the future with an emphasis on school safety. “There will be new things coming in the building code,” he said.
In other business, Beth Krolak presented a program on tech projects for the year, and Dawn Dazell talked about Safe Schools Training Modules. The training offers online courses on topics such as ADHD, bullying, food service, sexual harassment, security and other issues. Some of the training is required of staff, and can be completed without employees having to travel, Dazell said.