Education

Mike Aspacher urges support for BG Schools levy

I am writing to urge residents to strongly consider supporting the Bowling Green City Schools proposed bond levy. The proposed levy would allow for the financing of much- needed school facility improvements. It is worth noting that our current elementary school buildings were built in the 1950s and 1960s and and are among the oldest school facilities in Wood County. I believe that our Board of Education has done an excellent job of considering all the potential building options and has chosen a plan that will best meet the educational needs of our students. It will result in the construction of school buildings that will meet our community’s needs for years to come. I do not offer my endorsement of this effort blindly. I am very much aware that this levy will place an additional financial burden on all of the residents of our community, and I am sensitive to the impact that this will have on every family and each business’s budget. I do however feel strongly that this investment is critical to the continued health and vitality of the Bowling Green community. It is well established that strong and healthy public schools are a vital component of the overall strength of a community, and the fact that the quality our school facilities has fallen behind those in surrounding school districts can not be ignored. The investment in our community that would result from the passage of this levy will not only allow us to provide for the educational needs of our students, but will also result in increased property values, and will assist in the City’s efforts to attract families and businesses to our community, both resulting in an expansion of the tax base in the community. In short, investment in our school system is also an investment in the continued strength of our community. When you vote on May 8, please consider the responsibility that we all share to provide the same…

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More grandparents take over raising their grandchildren

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Parenting children the first time around is hard enough. Doing it again as a grandparent is even more daunting and exhausting. But more grandparents are finding themselves in the role of parent with their grandchildren. So on Wednesday, Bowling Green City Schools hosted a Grandparent Resource Night at Kenwood Elementary. “We have a lot of grandparents out there in the district raising their grandchildren,” said teacher Jonelle Semancik. “They don’t know where to turn for help.” Kenwood Principal Kathleen Daney said she previously worked in Lucas County, where a Kinship Caregiver program exists to help grandparents who find themselves as parents again. “There’s nothing here to support the grandparents,” Daney said. “And every year there are more and more.” So Daney asked Judy Paschalis, who previously coordinated the Kinship program in Lucas County, to share her expertise in Bowling Green. “It’s desperately needed everywhere,” Paschalis said of support for grandparents. “It’s one of the most complex family situations.” Paschalis said in 2010, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of children were being raised by their grandparents. That number has continued to increase, she said, with drugs and alcohol being the cause 99 percent of the time. “I can say I know what you’re going through – because I really do know what you are going through,” Paschalis told the audience of grandparents. She and her husband have been raising their 9-year-old granddaughter since she was 4. The job is tough for so many reasons, one being emotional. “It’s no fun having a grandchild cry because she wants her mommy,” Paschalis said. “She’s really angry at me because I’m not her mommy.” And when parents don’t show up for planned visits, the grandparents are left picking up the pieces again. So these children have lots of “trauma” and more “worries” than most children. There’s also the expense of becoming a parent again in later life, when incomes are…


School building maintenance a never ending assignment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Chuck Martin is not a math teacher, but he was throwing around some pretty big numbers to the Bowling Green Board of Education Tuesday evening. 238 – the number of toilets and urinals in city school buildings 195 – sinks and faucets 2,600 – classroom lighting fixtures 8,000 – fluorescent light tubes Martin, head of school maintenance, said his department fixes everything from chairs to pencil sharpeners. They repair leaking faucets, problem urinals, and replace light bulbs. “There’s a lot to go wrong,” Martin said. The work doesn’t end inside the buildings. The maintenance staff plows snow, salts parking lots, trims trees and cuts grass. The maintenance department gets an average of four to five work requests per day. Since Aug. 1 of last year, Martin has received 498 such requests. In many cases, repairs can’t be made immediately since delivery time is often slow for outdated items such as the district’s toilets. “We have to wait for a lot of the parts,” he told the board. At the end of Martin’s presentation on school maintenance, board of education member Ginny Stewart commented on Martin’s dedication to his job. Earlier this school year, Stewart said she drove past the bus maintenance building at 7 a.m. on a holiday when schools were closed for the day. “There was Chuck, standing out in front of the building in the freezing weather, on a holiday,” Stewart said. Stewart later found out that one of the school buildings had a boiler issue that day, and Martin wanted to make sure the heat worked when the kids returned to school the next day. “He does his job, and he does it quietly, and he does it very well,” she said. In other business at Tuesday’s school board meeting, Police Officer Robin Short was recognized for volunteering her time to train staff on use of AEDs in all of the school buildings. Superintendent…


Rally on campus urges taking gun violence concerns to the voting booth

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Earlier this month high school students, including 300 from Bowling Green High School, walked out of classes to demand action on gun violence. On Saturday more than 200 gathered on the Bowling Green State University campus to echo that message. The Rally for Our Lives, took place as the March for Our Lives events were happening in Washington D.C. and across the country. The BGSU event was organized by Connor Froehlich and Carlie Pritt, both of whom are at BGSU studying to be teachers, and many of those who came to speak were also education students. They asserted they did not want to carry weapons that they may have to turn on their own students. Megan Cammalleri, a sophomore, said everyone has a right to an education, but that was denied to those who died at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, and Parkland. “Days after the Parkland shooting,” she said, “I walked through this building (the Bowen-Thompson Student Union) behind me, and I was scared. I really thought this is such an open building that if an open shooter came in here… what would I do? I shouldn’t have to think that way. “I’m also going to school to be a teacher, and I should not have to think about being armed or what I would do for my students or where I would put them.” Alyson Baker, one of the organizers of the walkout at Bowling Green High School, said: “I’d rather have my teacher with a working computer than a gun.” The rally also called for voters to hold members of Congress and other legislators accountable at the ballot box. “We’re here,” Pritt said before the rally, “because we’re done with nothing being done.” Lena Nighswander, a senior from Anthony Wayne high School, said “our generation is finding our voice.” She said that as they discussed the issues at her high school those who were resistant at…


BG school board hears concerns about taxes, safety

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An opponent of Bowling Green City School’s bond issue suggested a way for the board to bypass more property taxes – and asked if board members would resign if the May bond issue fails. Richard Chamberlain told the school board Tuesday evening that an income tax would have a better chance with local voters than a property tax. There’s a problem though – Ohio doesn’t allow schools to finance long-term building projects with income tax revenue. But Chamberlain suggested the district could get around that rule. He pointed to the middle school addition currently being built. “We must be moving funds around,” he said. Superintendent Francis Scruci, however, explained after the meeting that the board borrowed the $4.4 million for the addition, with plans to pay back the loan with permanent improvement funds. Those funds were approved by district voters. Chamberlain asked the board members about their plans if the levy doesn’t pass on May 8. “If this thing fails, I’d say the board has failed us,” he said. Then he took it a step further. “Are you going to resign,” and let someone else take over, Chamberlain asked the board. Numbers presented by Chamberlain show that the school district’s annual funding includes about $20 million in property taxes, $3.4 million in income taxes, and $8.2 million in state funding. The proposed $72 million bond issue, spread over 37 years, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $200 a year in property taxes. He suggested hiking the income tax would be better, since the district collects 0.5 percent in income tax now. According to Chamberlain, 89 percent of school districts have income taxes of more than 0.5 percent. “We’re low. We’re stuck in this past mode of funding,” he said. The school board heard from another citizen Tuesday evening, who said the district should not be spending money on buildings. Brenda Pike said teachers work…


Country singer shares her bullying story at BGMS

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At age 5, Jessie Chris loved being on stage – even if that stage was a restaurant with just two patrons at the time. “I would literally perform anywhere that would have me,” Chris said. Then at age 10, Chris was given a guitar for her birthday, and started listening to country music stars Keith Urban, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. “I realized that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up,” she said. But country music didn’t exactly fit in with her Massachusetts school. “I struggled a lot in school with bullying because of it,” Chris said as she shared her anti-bullying message with Bowling Green Middle School students on Tuesday morning. Her message: Bullying is surmountable by the victims, and stoppable by the aggressors. The messenger in this case is not that far removed from her audience – being just 20 years old, still dotting the “I”s in her name with hearts, and asking all the students to join her in a giant selfie. Shortly after getting her guitar, Chris said her bullying began. Her classmates would tell her that only boys can play guitars, that she would never be good enough, and never be pretty enough to succeed. “It kind of crushed my spirit,” she told the 750 students from BGMS. “I heard this every single day from my classmates.” The bullying was more than verbal. “I would get body-checked against the lockers at school,” Chris said. And after school, the bullying on social media took over. “I felt like I was always being targeted just for being a little different,” she said. “I was afraid of my classmates.” Chris also became afraid of performing. So she buried herself in her music, which became her coping mechanism. Writing songs became her diary of the bullying she encountered. “I channeled that anger to my music,” she said. “It was my way of having a…


Composer Ben Taylor brings together music & entrepreneurship to create a ‘blessed’ life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Benjamin Dean Taylor has been making up his own music since he was a young child. He would play his original songs on the family piano. His mother was impressed, and, as mothers are wont to do, she’d ask him to play that song she’d heard a few days ago for his grandmother. “And I couldn’t remember them,” the now grown composer said. When he was 8, she started having him take piano lessons “so I could write down songs so I could play them for grandma.” Now his music entertains grandmas, mothers, and listeners of all ages. Taylor spent a couple days this week in the Bowling Green High and Middle schools, working with students who were preparing to perform his music in concert. The residency culminated with a Thursday night show with the eighth grade, concert and symphonic bands each playing one of his pieces. A saxophone quartet from Bowling Green State University were guests at the concert playing another of Taylor’s compositions. He went on to learn other instruments, including trumpet. “In college I loved playing,” he said, “but the thrill of writing and having all those sounds in my head come to fruition was the real kicker. That’s what got me started.” Devoting himself to composition meant graduate school. He came to BGSU for his masters where he studied with Marilyn Shrude and Elainie Lillios, graduating 2011. After BGSU he earned a doctorate at the University of Indiana in Bloomington where he and his wife, Allyson, and their five sons, one month to 9 years old, still live. It’s where he makes his living as a freelance composer.  He works by commission only, and has a year’s worth of commitments on the books. The demand for his work grew at first from friends, then others he knew through conferences and other encounters. Just recently, he said, he was approached by two strangers who asked him…