Education

BGMS cheerleaders share the spirit with girls teams

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Two-four-six-eight, Bobcat cheerleaders show they appreciate girl athletes too. For the first time at Bowling Green City Schools, the middle school cheerleaders recently chanted on the sidelines for the seventh and eighth grade girls basketball teams. After only cheering for boys games in the past – cheering for girls seemed natural. The cheerleaders had planned to root for their female classmates a couple weeks ago – but got snowed out. “When the first game was canceled, everyone was pretty bummed,” said cheerleader Audrey Nester. So that made last week’s game even sweeter. “I feel like everyone was excited. We’re like friends with them.” Fellow cheerleader Emma Ferguson agreed. “Sometimes the girls say they never have as much of an audience,” Emma said. “They were really excited.” Cheerleaders Audrey Nester and Emma Ferguson Even though the stands weren’t full – (remember this is seventh and eighth grade basketball) – the gym was loud with chanting and cheering. “It’s a different atmosphere,” Emma said. “It’s a ‘we support each other’ atmosphere.” Melanie Ferguson, Emma’s mom and a middle school teacher, said the tradition has always been for cheerleaders to root for the boys teams. “That’s just been the thing,” Ferguson said. “But slowly, some schools are changing.” Some of the girls basketball players were actually unsure about the added pressure this might bring. “Some were nervous. It will be loud,” they told Ferguson. In preparation for the game, the girls basketball team made goodie bags for the cheerleaders, and the cheerleaders made cookies for the team, she said. “We love supporting all the sports,” said Jordan Betz, the cheerleading coach. “Our girls love to cheer,” and cheering is their sport, Betz said. “This is our chance to show them we are athletes, too.” Cheerleaders share the spirit at girls basketball game. Basketball player Audrey Geyman said the presence of the cheerleaders made the team feel good. “It’s like pretty amazing to have them here, and not just for the boys. They care,” Audrey said. As he stood on the sidelines cheering on the girls basketball…

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Conneaut teacher makes connections with students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Fifth grade teacher Paul Reinhart revealed a secret on Thursday that he has learned over and over during his 26 years in education. Students are far more important than their test scores. “Kids do not equal their test scores,” Reinhart said. That is one of many beliefs that earned Reinhart, a teacher at Conneaut Elementary, the honor of being named an “inspirational educator” by the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Reinhart described his journey to Bowling Green City Schools. He grew up in North Dakota, where they have real winters, and graduated in the top half of his class of 15 students. He was involved in everything – football, basketball, baseball, music, theater. That paid off for him when he started teaching, since back then elementary classes were self-contained. “You needed to be a jack of all trades,” he said. Reinhart was hired to teach second grade by Conneaut Principal Ted Eldridge. “I liked them. They’re short,” Reinhart, who stands at “5-foot 15 inches,” said of the second graders. In 2000 he moved to fifth grade where he teaches math and language arts. He is a big fan of children’s literature, and was once asked if he would read a grown-up book. No need. “I love me some children’s literature,” he said with a grin. And as for math … Reinhart doesn’t accept that someone might not be a “math person.” “You don’t know how to do math – yet,” he said. Reinhart apologized to the Kiwanis members who did poorly at math in school because the teacher said math problems were done “one way or the highway.” “The joy of math is there are so many ways to solve a problem,” he said. “The stinky part of math is there are so many ways to solve a problem.” Reinhart is big on letting students make mistakes. That is a vital part of the learning process, he said. “It’s OK to fail and screw up,” he said. And that includes Reinhart. “I’m a teacher who wants to learn. I’m not satisfied where I’m at….


School task force confronts sticker shock for building costs

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News One of the Bowling Green City Schools task forces encountered some sticker shock Wednesday evening. For the first time, the facilities task force members got a peek at how much it might cost to accomplish some of the plans they are considering for the city’s elementary schools. The lowest estimated price tag – for renovating all three elementaries – was $28.4 million. The highest price tag – for building one new large and one small elementary, plus repurposing Crim – was $41 million. The top three options according to task force member voting are: Build one new consolidated elementary.Build a new Conneaut, a new Kenwood, and renovate Crim.Renovate all three elementaries. The facilities task force has been charged with the duty of finding the best solution for Bowling Green’s school buildings that voters will support. The leaders of the task force – architects and a former school administrator from the firm Fanning Howey – asked the task force members if they were ready to send those top options on to the finance task force whose job it is to determine how the district can pay for the projects. Former school board member Ellen Scholl objected. She questioned the comprehensiveness of task force votes, and suggested that the school district needs to survey the community on its desire for buildings. “The numbers we’re getting here don’t correspond with the people I’ve talked to,” Scholl said. But another task force member, Frances Brent, noted that a community survey was already conducted. The results of that survey led to the first two school bond issues that were rejected by voters. Another task force member, Jean Suelzer, said the task force members have toured Bowling Green’s schools and other districts’ buildings. She questioned how community members who haven’t seen the schools and sat through the task force meetings could make educated decisions. “People have to know what is out there before they take a survey,” Suelzer said. Brent agreed, saying that she had no idea Bowling Green was so far behind in school technology until she went…


BG students and community team up for magic of reading

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The second graders at Crim Elementary inched in as close as possible as their teacher sat down in the rocking chair with a new book. They leaned in, some bouncing with excitement, as Stacey Higgins cracked open the magic of the new book, “Kenny and the Dragon.” This is the moment that teachers love – when children are visibly enthused about reading. And this is the moment that is recreated each year with the 1BookBG program that unifies all the elementaries and the community in reading one storybook. “It’s the community experience – to see our schools and community work on this together is wonderful,” Higgins said. Every elementary student family is given a copy of the book – this year being “Kenny and the Dragon” by Tony DiTerrlizi. For the next month, students will be reading it at school and with their families at home. And businesses throughout the community will offer trivia questions on the book. “I love reading,” said second grader Liam Walsh. “I like that reading helps me get smarter. All I want to get is smarter.” Walsh had big plans Monday to go home and read the first four chapters. “I’ll read literally all day,” he said. Kenley Mangold and Mason Naus check out their new books. His classmates Kenley Mangold and Mason Naus were paging through their new books, professing their love for reading. “I read every book every day,” Kenley said of her book collection at home. “I keep telling my mom I need more books.” Naus was particularly excited because DiTerrliz is one of his favorite authors. “I have two bookshelves, actually three,” Naus said. “I need more bookshelves.” Each year, the 1BookBG books are purchased with donations from PTOs, community organizations and local businesses. This year the district is holding a “family night” on Thursday at the middle school, from 6 to 8 p.m., for activities involving the 1BookBG. The goal is to bring the families of the community together to celebrate literacy and build connections between the schools.   Out in the community,…


BG school board eyes options – may try 2 levy renewals this fall

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Remember story problems? Three old trains are barreling toward Bowling Green, while two new trains are headed toward the same location at the same time. Only this story problem doesn’t ask which train will arrive first at the station. The question behind this story problem is – which trains will voters get on board and support at the polls. Bowling Green Board of Education spent another long Saturday work session going over its options for dealing with a potential five tax issues going before voters in the next two to four years. It appears the board may be narrowing its options to possibly putting two renewal levies on the ballot this fall. David Conley, the district’s financial consultant from Rockmill Financial, used the train analogy so the board could visualize the three existing tax issues coming due in the district. One option, he said was merging two of the trains onto one track – or in this case, combining two tax levies into one issue. While the plan to reduce tax requests on voters was attractive, some board members were clearly leaning toward biting the bullet and asking instead that voters to approve two existing levies for a continuing period of time. Where does BG stand right now … Here’s a refresher on the levies coming due for the school district: 4.2-mill current expense levy, generating about $2.4 million a year, which expires in 2020.1.6-mill emergency levy, generating about $1 million a year, which also expires in 2020.0.5 percent income tax, generating about $3.2 million a year, expiring in 2022. Those add up to $6.8 million a year. Failure to renew those would hit the district hard, Conley said. At the same time, Bowling Green needs new money (those are the new trains barreling toward the station). Those options include: New operating levy, with an undetermined source of income or property tax revenue.Funding for new facilities, which Conley estimated will be anywhere from $30 million to $50 million. Again, the source of these funds may be income tax, property tax, or combination of…


BG school task force gets glimpse at renovated elementary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The school task force had toured Bowling Green’s old elementary buildings, and another district’s new building. In the continuing search for the best solution for Bowling Green City Schools, this week the members toured an elementary that is a combination of renovated and new construction. The facilities task force met at Powell Elementary School – North Baltimore’s one elementary that serves the entire district of 350 preschool through sixth graders. The school is a combination of wings being added and renovated. The oldest portion was built in 1956, followed by another section added in 1987. The entire elementary then went through a renovation and a building addition in 2001. More renovations were done in 2010. North Baltimore Superintendent Ryan Delaney and head custodian Chris North said the building serves the district quite well. The renovated and new areas have larger than traditional classrooms, more even heat and welcome air conditioning. In addition to being a much smaller district, there are some other differences between Bowling Green’s and North Baltimore’s situations. North Baltimore qualified for 59 percent state funding for its building construction costs. Bowling Green currently qualifies for 17 percent state funding. According to North, officials at North Baltimore had initially wanted to build a new elementary – but were informed by the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission that building new was not an option if the district wanted state funding. “The problem was, the building was in too good of shape,” North said. The same was not true for the old North Baltimore High School, which was built in 1927. A new middle school/high school was constructed in 2012. The elementary was able to be renovated and had plenty of room for the necessary additional space. “The main thing is, if you’re going to do a renovation, you have to have the room,” Delaney said. Task force tours classroom in Powell Elementary School. Powell elementary features large classrooms, with some of them having as few as 16 students per room. “The theory was – do it right. So they added the extra room,”…


BG school task force tackles complex funding options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Nobody said it would be easy. But few expected it to be this hard to come up with a way to finance new or renovated buildings for Bowling Green City Schools. For at the same time as finding a solution for paying for buildings, the finance task force is dealing with the reality that the district has so many other tax issues looming in the near horizon. “You have a lot to figure out,” said David Conley, of Rockmill Financial, who is overseeing the school finance task force. “I have never dealt with a structure this complicated,” Conley told the task force members Tuesday evening. “No matter how you slice it, it’s going to be a lot,” he said of the potential of five school tax issues on the ballot in the next three to five years. To try to simplify the options available, Becky Princehorn, a leading attorney in Ohio for school levy and bond issues, spoke with the task force Tuesday evening. Princehorn herself conceded that the options are far from simple. Adding to the complexities are: Tax rollbacks, which were ended by the state, but which can be continued by the school district if it passes renewal – not replacement levies.The uncertainty of state OFCC funding – which is completely depleted now.The fact that income taxes must be either on traditional or earned incomes – not both.The conclusion that bonds from property taxes are the most secure, so they end up being the least expensive in the long run – but these also hit landowners and the agricultural communities the hardest.Voter fatigue – which has the district looking at combining some tax issues so it doesn’t have to keep coming back to voters. Further complicating the task force’s job are claims by a couple members that the school district’s budget contains a great deal of waste, and that the district should look at dropping non-mandated programs at the schools. Conley and Princehorn tried to keep the discussion on track. In the simplest terms, the district has three options for raising…