Education

BG Board of Education studying school safety options

By JAN LARSON McLBAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City School officials met this week to discuss how to keep students and staff safe. A special meeting was held Tuesday afternoon, with the board going into executive session to discuss safety issues. In addition to the board and superintendent, Police Chief Tony Hetrick, Fire Chief Bill Moorman, plus some teachers and administration members were included in the discussion. “We’re looking at people who are on the ground floor of the issue,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “We want to try to be proactive,” he said. “It’s not something you can put on a shelf and forget about.” Because the discussion took place in executive session, Scruci did not reveal any specific details of the safety plans being considered. “This is going to be an ongoing situation,” he said. “We’re going to continue to look for ways to improve safety.” The district plans to explore grant opportunities that will pay for safety measures, rather than attempting a levy for safety expenses. However, grant funding has its limitations. “The problem with grant money is sometimes it’s only for one year,” Scruci said. The district is studying changes to its buildings as well as personnel for safety. “We will explore every part of our partnership with police to improve the safety,” he said. As the district had the new middle school designed and constructed, new safety measures were put into place. “We looked at the original designs and we made some changes to improve safety,” Scruci said. For example, the locker bays in the new addition do not stick out into the hallway, but rather are straight down the hallways. The new doors to the bus area are solid, not glass. And ballistic shields will soon be installed on the cafeteria windows. “We did things intentionally with the design,” he said. As with the other school buildings, “The Boots” will be installed on each doorway to keep out intruders. Scruci said the district will continue discussing increased safety measures with the police and fire divisions. “We’re fortunate to…

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BGSU camp leads young women down the path of business

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Sitting in the classroom in the college of business, 35 high school seniors seemed poised to develop the next big idea. For now they are trying to turn trash into musical instruments. The students are at Bowling Green State University for the Young Women in Business Leadership Camp being held this week. Kirk Kern, the director of the entrepreneurship program on campus, is cheerleading their efforts and aspirations. Entrepreneurs aren’t just men like Steve Jobs and Henry Ford, he tells them. Their ranks also include Isabella Weems. When Weems was 14, younger than the campers, she decided she wanted to save to buy a car. Her parents told her she’d have to earn the money. She had a choice: She could get a job or start her own business. With her parents backing, Weems started Origami Owl, making personalized pendants. The product took off. She earned more than enough to buy a car. By 2016 the company had sales of $25 million. Susan Kosakowski, the recruiting manager for the College of Business, said the residential camp has two goals. The first is “to help young ladies develop their leadership skills so they can take those back to their high schools and then continue them through their college years.” The other is to make them aware of the opportunities in business for women, she said. Even though about 55 percent of the undergraduate students at BGSU are female, in the College of Business two-thirds are. The college, Kosakowski said, would like to see more diversity, not only in gender but ethnicity and culture as well. “We have so many opportunities we want the women to start taking advantage of them,” she said. “People get very closed minded about what’s involved in business. Every time you walk in a store you’re engaged in business.” The camp aims to show young women how business impacts their lives. The entrepreneurship program is one draw for women, she said. Students from any major can minor in entrepreneurship. The program’s signature event The Hatch, where…


BG School Board takes back seat to citizen task forces

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education handed the car keys over to the community Monday evening. After two failed attempts to pass a $72 million school bond issue for buildings, the board has now put the community in the driver’s seat. Approximately 150 citizens met in the school’s performing arts center to listen to where the district goes from here. Board President Jill Carr invited citizens to sign up for one or both of two task forces being formed – one to study school facilities and the other to study finances. The task forces will set their own meeting schedules, decide what information they need, and report back to the board. “This will be a community-driven process,” Carr said. “The board will step back.” Though the administration and board will make requested information available to the task forces, they will take a back seat in the process, Superintendent Francis Scruci said. The goal is to come up with a “solution that the community can support,” Scruci said. “Regardless of which side you stood on in November and May.” The district is at a “critical juncture,” the superintendent said, urging the community to work together, and refrain from name calling and personal attacks. “We need to rise above for the good of all,” Scruci said. The process of putting the community in charge of building projects and funding is quite unusual, according to David Conley, an expert in school finance hired by the district earlier this year. But it has been done by about 10 of Ohio’s 600 school districts, Conley said. In those 10 cases, most of the districts ended up winning at the ballot, he added. The task forces will identify the needs of the district, then decide how to pay for those improvements. Conley will act as facilitator for the finance task force. The facilitator for the facilities group has not yet been selected. “You’re being given the power to make the decisions for the district,” he said to the audience. Conley cautioned that anyone joining…


BGSU & OSU heads: Higher education a wise investment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Several decades ago, college was affordable for a few, and a dream for all the others. A few decades later, college was the place kids were expected to go to start their futures. Now, the pendulum has swung back again, with college costs and job prospects leading to a push in the trades. But BGSU President Rodney Rogers and OSU President Michael Drake held a public conversation Wednesday evening about the lasting value of higher education. “Higher education is a value to young people, a value to our communities, a value to our state,” said State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, who moderated the conversation. A college degree makes a person more employable, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for someone with a master’s degree is 2.2 percent; a bachelor’s degree is 2.5 percent; an associate’s degree is 3.4 percent; and a high school education, 6.8 percent. And more than 80 percent of the country’s top 100 jobs require a bachelor’s degree. “There’s real value there,” said Gardner, who both Rogers and Drake called a strong advocate for higher education. A college degree also results in bigger paychecks. It offers a better annual return for investment (average 13.7 percent) than the stock market (average 10 percent), Drake said. “It’s really about the best investment a person can make in their future,” the OSU president said. Over a lifetime, that investment averages more than $1 million more in earnings, he added. The perks go beyond the paychecks, Drake said. People with college educations are more likely to rank themselves as happy, are healthier, live longer, and are more engaged in their communities, Drake said. Drake asked those in the audience to envision a map of the U.S. – then put their fingers on a couple areas of great innovation, like Silicon Valley, Boston, or the Research Triangle. “Under your fingers are great universities,” he said. Rogers noted the BGSU alumni who are doing great things in their communities. “That is a part of…


Storytime in BG – little lending libraries put books in neighborhoods

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green has a story to share – several in fact, at the little lending libraries showing up in neighborhoods throughout the city. Anything that makes books easier to access is good, according to Zeb Kellough, Bowling Green City Schools elementary curriculum coordinator. “The more we have our students with books in their hands, the more they are going to read,” he said. Kellough talked about the new little libraries during the school board meeting Tuesday evening. “Our hope is our families and children can access literature and go back to the well,” he said. That’s exactly the purpose of little lending libraries. The tiny wooden houses offer books to anyone and asks that they be returned when finished. Bowling Green City Schools already had one at each elementary school. Now there are 11 more throughout the community. “It started out pretty simple,” with Habitat for Humanity asking if the school would be interested in the little libraries that had been constructed as part of Martin Luther King Day observance, Kellough said. Since the elementaries had them, Kellough sent out word to the community to see if anyone would be interested in hosting a little lending library in their front yard. “Can we offer it out to citizens in Bowling Green,” he thought. The response was overwhelming, with people being very willing to adopt the libraries. “We got plenty of responses back,” he said. Some people wanted to paint the libraries themselves, while others had Girl Scouts do the artwork. The libraries are not just in the city, but also in areas of the school district in the more rural areas of Georgetown, Cogan’s Crossing and the Sugar Ridge area. “We have these located strategically throughout the area,” Kellough said. “I want to say thank you to the Bowling Green community,” Kellough said. “Please put books in and take them, too.” Helping with the library project were Bowling Green City Schools, Habitat for Humanity of Wood County, BG Rotary, BGSU, Maria Simon of Wood County District Public…


BG Schools trying for fresh start on building issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education President Jill Carr tried to wipe the slate clean Tuesday evening. She invited all those present at the school board meeting to return Monday at 6:30 p.m., in the Performing Arts Center to get involved in the district’s future. “We look forward to a strong turnout to this very important meeting,” Carr said. But the slate was smudged later in the evening when a citizen accused the board of violating Ohio Sunshine Laws by hiring a consultant without any public discussion. Early in the meeting, it was explained that after the last two failed election attempts to get new buildings in the district, the board is trying a new strategy. Carr and Superintendent Francis Scruci said that this time around, the board and administration will take a hands-off approach. During Monday’s meeting, two committees will be created – one on finances and another on facility planning. Citizens will be able to join either or both. Those committees will present updates at monthly board meetings. Anyone unable to attend the Monday meeting, but wanting to join a committee can sign up in the central office or email Scruci. Six weeks have passed since the last levy failed, Scruci said. “It’s very important for us to move forward,” he said. Though disappointed in the results, Scruci said “we must now regroup and work together” with those who supported and those who opposed the bond issue. “The work that is ahead will be important,” he said. “We need to identify what our community wants for facilities.” Scruci and the board will attend meetings if asked, and will provide information if requested. No one has been assigned to either of the committees yet. “We felt that it was important that we did not have people named,” he said. “This is going to truly be a community-driven process,” Scruci said. Board member Bill Clifford asked if the committees will be limited to a certain number. “Sometimes size can slow down the process,” he said. “If you have…


Group opposed to school levy turns in campaign finances

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The citizens group opposed to the Bowling Green City Schools levy in May has filed its campaign finance report with the Wood County Board of Elections. The filing deadline for campaign finance information from the May primary election was Friday at 4 p.m. The reports list those who contributed to election efforts, and how that money was spent. The group supporting the school levy made the deadline, but group opposed to the levy did not. However, when the board of elections arrived to work this morning, the report had been emailed in. The group opposed the levy – Wood County Citizens Against Higher Property Tax, with Grant Chamberlain as treasurer – reported receiving $7,267.62 since the first filing.  Following are the contributions listed to the anti-levy campaign: Irene Hinesman, $50 Douglas Seiple, $1,000 SLD Rentals, $300 David Apple, $1,000 Dudley Dauterman, $1,000 Gregory W. Bils, $400 Dan Hoffmann, $100 Robert Strow, $100 Sonja Chamberlain, $250 Thomas Carpenter, $250 Harold Moore, $500 Tad Yarger, $100 John H. Herringshaw, $200 Fine Vines LLC, $1,500 Gary Herringshaw, $200 Stephen C. Bateson, $200 Eric T. Lause, $50 Grant Chamberlain, $67.62 The group in favor of the school levy – Citizens in Support of Our Schools, with Andy Newlove as treasurer – reported receiving $3,600 in contributions since the April filing.  Following is a list of the donations to the pro-levy campaign: Becca Ferguson, $100 David Codding, $2,500 Control Systems of Ohio, $1,000 According to the Ohio Campaign Finance Handbook, if a required report is filed late, then the county board of elections or the secretary of state must refer the PAC to the Ohio Elections Commission. The commission determines if a fine should be imposed. Both pro and anti school levy groups filed the initial required campaign finance reports at the end of April. Those reports showed the contributions and expenditures through the period up to 20 days before the election. The post election reports due last Friday showed the money taken in and spent following the first report filed in…