BG schools task force weighs in on building options

Task force members tour Crim Elementary.

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN

BG Independent News

Using clickers, the Bowling Green City Schools facilities task force members Wednesday weighed in on heavy questions about the district’s buildings.

The majority of the 54 people voting supported a bond issue for schools, preferred one K-5 elementary, and supported the educational vision of the district.

However, the significance of those results was questioned by task force members who wanted more options to vote on. Some suggested that there be a “do nothing” option for school buildings.

“We need to have an option of ‘do nothing’ till we’re out of debt,” Grant Chamberlain said.

Others asked for different configurations of which schools stay and which go. And Bud Henschen questioned how many of those members voting on Wednesday evening were teachers, who are biased about the issue.

It was also pointed out that the task force, of 60 members or so, is a minute portion of the voting public in the school district.

Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa leads tour of school for task force on Wednesday.

Following are the questions and results of the surveying Wednesday evening.

Bowling Green City Schools needs to pursue a bond issue that will address the needs of elementary schools:

  • Strongly agree, 68%; Agree, 16%; Neutral, 7%; Disagree, 5%; Strongly disagree, 4%

What is the preferred size of the elementary schools?

  • One school with 1,350 students: 41%
  • Two schools with 675 students: 29%
  • Three schools with 450 students: 29%

What is the preferred grade configuration of the elementaries?

  • One pre-kindergarten through fifth grade: 78%
  • Two, with one being pre-kindergarten through second, and the other third through fifth: 6%
  • Three, with one being pre-kindergarten and first, one being second and third, and one being fourth and fifth: 16%

I could support one consolidated elementary school:

  • Strongly agree, 41%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 4%; Disagree, 6%; Strongly disagree, 30%

I could support renovating all three elementary buildings:

  • Strongly agree, 25%; Agree, 16%; Neutral, 4%; Disagree, 16%; Strongly disagree, 39%

I could support a new Conneaut, a new Kenwood and a renovated Crim:

  • Strongly agree, 27%; Agree, 30%; Neutral, 5%; Disagree, 9%; Strongly disagree, 29%

I could support two new buildings, with one north of the middle school and one on the Conneaut site:

  • Strongly agree, 15%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 7%; Disagree, 22%; Strongly disagree, 35%

I could support two new buildings, with one north of the middle school and one on the Kenwood site:

  • Strongly agree, 9%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 11%; Disagree, 20%; Strongly disagree, 39%

I could support two buildings, with one on the Crim site and the other either at Conneaut or Kenwood:

  • Strongly agree, 20%; Agree, 13%; Neutral, 15%; Disagree, 13%; Strongly disagree, 40%

Which of the following options could you support (could vote for as many as wished):

  • One consolidated elementary: 35
  • Renovate all the elementaries: 17
  • Build new Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and renovate Crim: 29
  • Two building solution with one north of middle school and one at Conneaut: 12
  • Two building solution with one north of middle school and one at Kenwood: 13
  • Two building solution with one at Crim and one at Conneaut or Kenwood: 21

Which of the following options is your preferred solution:

  • One consolidated elementary: 25
  • Renovate all the elementaries: 7
  • Build new Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and renovate Crim: 13
  • Two building solution with one north of middle school and one at Conneaut: 2
  • Two building solution with one north of middle school and one at Kenwood: 1
  • Two building solution with one at Crim and one at Conneaut or Kenwood: 3

The architects reported they have met with Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci, the district’s curriculum director and several teachers about the district’s vision. The vision includes the following elements:

  • Learning communities
  • Teacher collaboration areas
  • Ability to team teach, with movable walls
  • Extended learning areas
  • Spaces for small groups and tutoring
  • Presentation platforms/gathering stairs
  • Movable, comfortable furniture
  • Common space for the whole school to meet in at one time
  • Opportunities for responsive learning
  • Sensory input spaces
  • Adequate space for students and storage
  • Space that is inspirational, comfortable and effective

The task force members voted on their level of support for the educational vision of Bowling Green City Schools:

  • Strongly agree, 53%; Agree, 17%; Neutral, 15%; Disagree, 8%; Strongly disagree, 8%

To meet the visioning goals of the district, building renovations would be more extensive than bringing the buildings up to current standards. Reconfiguring spaces in the buildings will mean bigger price tags than those identified by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, said Dan Obrynba, one of the architects heading the facilities task force.

Sample of floor plan meeting school district’s vision

Those additional expenses could push the total renovation costs over the two-thirds threshold considered as a dividing line between renovating and building new.

The costs to renovate Conneaut and Kenwood, with reconfiguring spaces, were estimated at close to the 80 percent mark for the cost of building new, Obrynba said.

“At what point do you not invest in a building,” Obrynba said.

Task force members also asked about additional costs of expanding the buildings, and of providing swing space during construction.

Obrynba said the architect team would try to come up with specific cost estimates for the next meeting.

Former school board member Ellen Scholl cautioned that voters in the Bowling Green district have not traditionally supported big bond issues.

“The district has never passed a bond issue over $29 million,” Scholl said. If the district tries a bond issue for all the building issues at once, “It’s not going to pass,” she said.

The architect team estimated the facilities task force will need two or three more meetings to come to a conclusion that can then be sent on to the financial task force.

“I think we’re starting to wrap things up,” Obrynba said.

The task force is scheduled to tour the newly constructed Northwood school on Jan. 16, at 6 p.m. The next meeting after that will be in the Bowling Green Middle School on Feb. 6. The time and exact location will be determined later.

Prior to Wednesday evening’s meeting, the task force members toured Crim Elementary School. Principal Alyssa Karaffa pointed out some of the problems at the building – such as the older classrooms all being rhombus shaped which creates inefficient use of space, plus causes security concerns due to the exterior walls forming hiding spaces.

Teacher Carrie Crawford explained how the dehumidifier in her classroom fills up every hour. The heat is inconsistent, with one classroom being at 57 degrees for a couple weeks, she said.

Crim has the smallest library in the district, with no room for tables or computers.

Duct tape patches some holes in classroom carpet, there aren’t enough electrical outlets, there’s very little storage space, and a couple classrooms have water coming in from the outer walls. The teachers’ staff room isn’t big enough to hold the staff so many teachers eat in their classrooms, Karaffa said.

As more space is needed for classrooms, Crim now has the smallest library in the district, with no room for tables or computers for the school’s 486 students. And the gymnasium is too small to hold programs for the entire school at one time.


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