children

BG board votes to consolidate elementaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education took a leap Friday afternoon to invest $72 million in a consolidated elementary and new sections for the high school. The board is now hoping the voters follow their lead. After months of discussions and public meetings, the board voted 4 to 1 to go ahead with plans for one consolidated elementary, demolition of Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and major additions to the high school. The vote against the project came from board president Ellen Scholl, who supported an alternate plan for new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries rather than the consolidation. Though the millage to cover the $72 million project has yet to be determined by the county auditor, it is estimated it could be close to 6 mills on the November ballot. If the issue is approved by voters, the new consolidated elementary planned north of the current middle and high schools, could be completed by the summer of 2020. The high school could be completed by summer of 2021, according to architect Kent Buehrer. Construction is also planned for the middle school, where a wing will be added to adequately handle the sixth grade class….


Reading 1,000 books to preschoolers adds up to kindergarten readiness

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Children’s Place at the Wood County Library is building on its summer reading program for school age children to launch a new program for infants through preschoolers. The library is challenging parents and child caregivers, and others in youngsters’ lives to read them 1,000 books before they enter kindergarten. Children’s librarian Maria Simon said she’s wanted to offer the national initiative as a incentive to get parents, child caregivers, relatives, and maybe even a grandparent, via Skype reading to youngsters. The program will be launched Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to noon in the library atrium. Denise Fleming, an award winning author and illustrator, will be on hand. Each child who is enrolled will receive a copy of Fleming’s book “Alphabet Under Construction,” which ties into the summer reading theme “Building a Better World.” If there’s more than one child in the family signing up, another Fleming title will be available. About 100 children have already been enrolled. Simon is hoping younger siblings will sign up as older children sign up for the summer reading program. The kick-off will also include an Early Childhood Resource Fair presented by the Wood County Early…


Levy renewal sought for child and adult protective services

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 30 years, the Wood County Department of Job and Family Services has relied on voters to provide funds to protect local children and seniors. This year will be no different. There have been times when expenses and needs are lower, that the voters have been given a break and the levy has gone uncollected for a year. But that is unlikely to occur again anytime soon considering the most recent increase in abuse and neglect reports. “They are on a record pace for child abuse and neglect complaints,” said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. It doesn’t help that Ohio is “dead last” among the states for funding of child protective services, according to Dave Wigent, director of Wood County Department of Job and Family Services. Even if Ohio were to double its spending for child services, the state will still be last, he said. “We’re forced to support with levy funding from the local level,” Wigent said. “We’re in an embarrassing situation for child welfare support,” he said. Also not helping is the uncertainty of the federal budget. If the cuts were to proceed as proposed by President Donald Trump, child…


School board looks for building option voters will buy into

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The building options for Bowling Green City Schools are gradually being narrowed down to a project that will best serve students and not scare off supporters at the voting booth. The board of education members met Tuesday morning, and plan to make a decision during a special meeting on June 2 at 11:30 a.m., in the central administration office on Clough Street. The two primary options left on the table are: Building a new centralized elementary school north of the current middle school; demolish the old elementaries; build an addition onto the middle school for the sixth grade; and partial demolition of the high school along with the construction of a new academic wing, new gym, and new cafeteria and kitchen. That option comes with an estimated price tag of $72 million. Building two new elementary schools at Kenwood and Conneaut; demolishing the old elementaries; plus the same middle school and high school plans as above. That option is somewhat less, estimated at $62 million. After the board makes its final choice, the next challenge will be convincing the public to buy into the plan. Superintendent Francis Scruci and the board agreed…


’13 Reasons Why’ gives parents and schools reasons to worry

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across the nation, parents are checking their Netflix history to see if their adolescents have been watching the “13 Reasons Why” series. The show tells the story of a high school junior who commits suicide. Prior to her death, she records a series of audio tapes describing the 13 reasons why she chooses to end her life. The story has parents and school officials watching for the slightest sign of copycat behavior from young viewers. So they want kids to know this: When you die, you do not get to make a movie or talk to people anymore about how they wronged you. Leaving messages from beyond the grave is a dramatization produced in Hollywood and is not possible in real life. Bowling Green City School officials held a program Wednesday evening for parents who have concerns about “13 Reasons Why” and its effect on their children. “The reality is, students are watching this and we want parents to be equipped for it,” said Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning. In addition to a very graphic suicide scene of the main character cutting her wrists in the bathtub, the show…


Luck of the draw sends BG kindergartner to Disney

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Disney World video had the gymnasium full of children at Kenwood Elementary School glued to the screen showing costumed characters and wild rides. They had no idea that one of their school mates would be called to the stage to win a trip to the magic kingdom. Ryan Frankart, from Clubs Choice which runs the annual fundraiser at Kenwood, stopped the film and talked to the children about their efforts last year to raise funds for school technology, the school dance and fifth grade camp. Many of the children won prizes including lunch in a limousine. But Frankart had another surprise for the school on Tuesday. Each year, the fundraising company has a prize drawing covering all 40 states in which it operates. The prize – a trip to Disney World. The chances of winning – one in 75,000. When the company pulled one name, it was a Kenwood student chosen for the trip for four people over four days and three nights. The winner was kindergartner Hudson Karpuleon. When the curtain opened to the gymnasium stage, there sat Hudson’s family with Mickey and Minnie Mouse ears on their heads and…


School program to focus on ’13 Reasons Why’

(Submitted by BG Superintendent Francis Scruci) Dear Parents, As you were made aware last week, the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why is generating a lot of publicity nationwide with both students and parents.  We understand that the topic of mental health and suicide is a difficult, but very necessary conversation to have with your teen.  In an effort to partner with our parents and assist you with discussing these issues, we invite you to join us for “Adolescents and Mental Health: Discussing 13 Reasons Why.”  This program is brought to you by BGCS Department of Instruction and will feature: Jake Tapley, Professional School Counselor at BGMS, and Elizabeth Syrowski, District Behavior Specialist and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. This program is designed to help parents identify the warning signs of mental health issues, discuss the implications of suicide, and address some of the apprehension behind 13 Reasons Why.  We will involve you in discussion about the Netflix series as well as provide you with strategies and resources to approach the subject if needed. Please join us on Wednesday May 10th in the Performing Arts Center beginning at 7:00 p.m. This program is open to all parents. Thank You, Dr. Ann McCarty…


Author overcomes learning disabilities to become storyteller

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of more than 100 books, remembers the horror of being forced to read in front of her class. She would clutch the book so hard, her nails would break. “To me, that was like being asked to stand in front of a firing squad,” Polacco told her audience of parents and children Saturday at the Literacy in the Park event at Bowling Green State University. “I could not read until I was 14 years old. I could not write. I couldn’t do math,” she said. “I felt stupid. I felt dumb.” Polacco recalled the unintentional cruelty of her classmates. “The whole class started laughing at me,” when she tried to read aloud. “Please don’t laugh,” she told her audience on Saturday. “You have no idea how much you are hurting that kid.” Polacco’s life turned around at age 14 when one of her teachers finally realized that she was dyslexic and dysgraphic. She was also unable to learn when sitting still – something that wasn’t understood till years later. “In my day at school, I had to sit like a rock.” So Polacco is a big believer…


Crim Elementary stages musical to make learning fun

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The backstage was buzzing with nervous actors. The frog and toad were preparing for their big scenes. The snail was brushing up on her slow motion moves. The squirrels were getting ready to make a mess. And the understudies were standing by. In front of the stage, on the gymnasium floor, the eager audience sat with their legs criss-cross applesauce style. When the curtains opened, an excited “ooooooooohhhhh” filled the gym. That’s just the reaction second grade teacher Stacey Higgins was hoping for with the debut of the first musical Thursday at Crim Elementary School. A dress rehearsal was performed in the morning for fellow students, with the big show to occur in the afternoon for parents and other fans. The musical, “A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.” featured all the second grade students – an ambitious endeavor with such young students. “It ties in with our curriculum on the seasons,” Higgins was quick to say. But she added that the performance was also something more. “They need these types of experiences,” she said. “Too much time is spent testing and preparing for tests. We need to get back to making…


More staff needed to handle spike in child abuse

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There is no “normal” when it comes to child abuse and neglect cases. On Monday night, five children were taken into custody when their parent was arrested on the highway in Wood County. Last week, Children’s Services was called in when a parent died of an opiate overdose. So Wood County Job and Family Services Director Dave Wigent got on the county commissioners’ agenda to request an additional Children’s Services staff member. But by time the meeting rolled around on Tuesday, Wigent’s request had grown to two additional employees. “The situation has gotten worse,” he told the county commissioners. “We’re setting all-time records” for the number of child abuse and neglect cases being investigated. Child abuse investigations increased in Wood County by nearly 25 percent in 2016 – a jump never seen before by the staff at Children’s Services. The number of cases went from 718 in 2015 up to 894 in 2016 – meaning 176 more child abuse investigations. Cases of abuse were reported in every community in the county. And so far, 2017 looks no better. “This year we are trending above that,” Wigent said, noting that March set an…


210 pinwheels-for each child abuse & neglect case in BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Each of the 210 spinning pinwheels decorating Wooster Green represents one case of child abuse or neglect investigated in Bowling Green last year. “The number jars our senses,” Mayor Dick Edwards said Tuesday morning as the pinwheels whirled in the wind at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. “I know all of us feel sad to see that number up there,” he said, referring to the sign noting the 210 cases last year. The pinwheels stand as a visual reminder, the mayor said. “Children are Bowling Green’s most valuable and precious resource. This must be remedied.” The pinwheels at Wooster Green represent only those cases in Bowling Green. For the first time, Wood County Children’s Services will be posting pinwheels throughout the county, to let people know that child abuse and neglect happen everywhere. “This year we decided to take pinwheels on the road,” said Maricarol Torsok-Hrabovsky, of Wood County Job and Family Services. They have already been posted in Lake Township, Northwood, Rossford and the Eastwood area. In all, there will be 894 pinwheels planted in the ground. “Child abuse, unfortunately, in Wood County is on the rise,”…


‘Buddy Benches’ bring smiling faces to playgrounds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Chris Ostrowski still gets choked up when he reads the note from the Kenwood Elementary student thanking the Kiwanis Club for the “Buddy Bench” on the school playground. “I am a new kid at my school so I do not have any friends to play with at school. So sometimes I sit by a tree and do not play or I play by myself,” she wrote. “It is not fun and all the other new kids have someone to play with but I do not,” she continued. “I am in Kenwood right now so soon I will have a friend very soon. So thank you for thinking of the bench, so much.” Ostrowski keeps the thank you notes on file in his office. And though Kenwood staff presented a program on the new Buddy Benches during the Bowling Green Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening – the pencil scrawled notes with pictures of smiling children on benches seem to tell the story as well. “I am grateful for Buddy Benches because last year I had nobody to play with and I was sad, and I don’t want nobody to have nobody to…