Education

BG gets school facilities report – now citizens get to weigh in

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The state has weighed in on Bowling Green City School buildings – now it’s time for local citizens to do the same. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci just received the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s report at 9:30 this morning, so he hadn’t had time to fully digest its contents. However, it was already very clear to him that Bowling Green residents have some decisions to make. To start that process, the first of several community focus groups will meet March 14 at 6:30 p.m., in the middle school library. Scruci plans to roll out the facilities report and ask citizens how they would like to solve building issues identified in the report. “We need to have a conversation with our community to find out what they want and what they will support,” he said. Scruci estimated the public input process would take about a year. At that point, if the public supports it, the district may proceed with a bond issue to finance some type of construction. “I don’t want to be reckless and put something on our ballot,” if the community doesn’t want it, he said. The options are numerous and involve maintaining buildings as they are, renovating or building new. But in the meantime, the school district cannot wait to deal with overcrowding issues at Conneaut Elementary. The school is already at capacity and anticipating a larger kindergarten class due to a change in the eligibility dates for beginning students. “We are out of space,” Scruci said. So the district plans to lease a modular unit for its fifth grade…


Scruci talks about athletics, attendance and modular classrooms

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education heard plans Tuesday affecting athletes, attendance and adding modular classrooms. Superintendent Francis Scruci said the district will soon be going out for bids on a modular unit that would hold four classrooms at Conneaut Elementary School. The school’s enrollment is approximately 500. Scruci had reported to the board last month that classroom space will be in short supply next school year at the elementary, resulting in the need for a modular unit on site, possibly for the entire fifth grade. “It’s certainly not something anyone wants to hear,” Scruci said last month. “We do have some shortages in terms of square footage.” However, he added that modular units have improved over the years since schools first started using them to make up for inadequate classroom space. The district will be looking for more permanent solutions after it receives its report from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. That report looks at the overall building needs of the district and is expected later this week. Public meetings will be held to present those findings. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Scruci mentioned the need to have higher standards for the district’s athletic programs. He noted the high quality of educational and arts programs in the district, and said the same high expectations should be in place for the athletic programs. When asked after the meeting if the district was considering drug testing for athletes, Scruci said that was an option. “We have had a brief conversation,” on that topic, he said. Scruci also told the board that he is looking at…


BG school calendar proposal – good news and bad news

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Next year’s proposed calendar for Bowling Green City Schools has some good news and some bad news. The good news – students’ quarters and testing periods won’t be broken up by long vacations. The bad news – students’ summer will be cut shorter than usual to make that happen. Long gone are the days when school started after Labor Day. Now districts feel the pressure to squeeze in a couple weeks of classes before September rolls around. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci presented the proposed school calendar Tuesday evening to the board of education. The schedule calls for classes to start on Aug. 15. By starting early, students will be able to complete two full quarters before heading off for Christmas break. According to Scruci, teachers and students then won’t have to spend the first couple weeks in January refreshing their memories of what they learned in December. “We can’t afford that anymore,” Scruci said. Spring break will then fall on the first full week of March. That means the vacation time won’t get in the way of school testing, he said. Scruci realizes the mid-August start to the school year may not be popular with some. “Granted, that is early,” he said. But the early start will also mean an early end to the school year on May 23 – as long as the district doesn’t exceed its snow calamity days. The early exit in May could give BG students a better opportunity to compete for summer jobs, the superintendent added. School board member Ed Whipple voiced his support for the…


Prospects good for Boys State to stay at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The state American Legion and Bowling Green State University both want Buckeye Boys State to continue to meet in Bowling Green. The two sides are in the process of negotiating a new five-year conference agreement. The current deal lasts through the 2016 event. Boys State brings about 1,300 male high school juniors to campus for a week of mock government activities each June. A recent letter to a local newspaper asserted that BGSU was about to lose out in hosting the event. However, Gerald White, the director of Buckeye Boys State, in an email to the university prompted by that letter asserted the Legion’s desire to keep the civics event at Bowling Green where it has convened since 1978. The email was intended, he said, “to set the record straight” and let university officials “know exactly where American Legion Buckeye Boys State stands so there is no misunderstanding, confusion, or misleading information.” Yes, he said, the Legion does check out other campuses “to see what would be available should something catastrophic occur on the BGSU campus or in the City of Bowling Green which would necessitate Boys State not being able to conduct the program.” Also, he said, other institutions do query the Legion about whether it would like to move. That’s not surprisingly, the director said, given the program’s success and prominence. None of those has offered “significant financial incentives” to get Boys State to relocate. The conference agreement must be periodically studied, he said, adding: “I think it is a mark of the partnership between American Legion Buckeye Boys State, the City…


Drivers needed for wheels on the bus to go round

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Wanted: Adults with good driving records willing to work odd hours and cart around 60 kids at a time. Applicants with nerves of steel and eyes in the back of their heads would be preferred. Like other school districts around the region, Bowling Green is looking for bus drivers, specifically substitute bus drivers. Carlton Schooley, director of the district’s transportation department, made a pitch for more drivers during Tuesday’s board of education meeting. He eased into his presentation with the sing-song version of “The Wheels on the Bus.” But Schooley pointed out that unlike the bus in the children’s song, his buses go beyond just the town. “They also go around the district,” which stretches miles out on rural roads. The bus drivers are more than just chauffeurs for students, Schooley explained. “School bus drivers are the first people in the morning that students see” and the last school officials to return them home at the end of the day. His presentation, called “So you want to be a bus driver,” explained the process to become a driver. The district currently has 20 regular drivers, and eight substitutes. But that is just not enough. “We’re always looking for drivers,” BG Superintendent Francis Scruci said. But the job does have some downsides. Drivers work split shifts, transporting students a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon. And the passengers aren’t always the best behaved. “It really is a trying job,” Schooley said, explaining the drivers must keep their attention on the road, while maintaining order on the bus. “You…


BG bleacher costs come in high

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The estimated cost for new bleachers at the Bowling Green High School football stadium was nothing to cheer about Tuesday evening. Replacement of the aging, rusting bleachers could cost as much as $610,845, according to Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group, which is in charge of the project. The estimate came in higher than projections made in the fall, which topped out at $500,000. Buehrer told the BG board of education that he would try to reduce the final price tag. But if it can’t be trimmed, the project will eat up the district’s entire 1.2-mill permanent improvement levy revenue for the year, according to district treasurer Rhonda Melchi. A section of the 50-year-old bleachers had to be closed off last fall after it was noticed that the steel scaffolding beneath the seats was rusting. To get through the remainder of the football season, the district put temporary bleachers up on the north end of the field. “We don’t want anyone to get injured,” school board president Paul Walker said. The new bleachers will cover the same approximate footprint of the existing seating, Buehrer said. However, building codes for restrooms at the facility are much more extensive than when it was first built. He described the current restrooms as “fairly minimal.” Buehrer said he is working with the county building inspection department to see if the new restrooms, planned next to the wrestling building, can avoid some of the stringent requirements. According to Buehrer, the visitor bleachers on the east will have seating for 750. The home seating on the west will have seating…


BG may use modular classrooms at Conneaut

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green Board of Education heard Tuesday evening about three places students sit – in school buses, on stadium bleachers, and maybe in modular classrooms. The board learned from Superintendent Francis Scruci that classroom space will most likely be in short supply next school year at Conneaut Elementary. For that reason, the district may have to consider putting a modular unit on site, possibly for the entire fifth grade. “It’s certainly not something anyone wants to hear,” Scruci said. “We do have some shortages in terms of square footage.” However, he added that modular units have improved over the years since schools first started using them to make up for inadequate classroom space. The modular unit is just one building issue facing the school district. Scruci told the school board that the buildings report from the Ohio School Facilities Commission is expected later this month. To explain the report, and the possible solutions for the district, Scruci plans to hold a workshop for the public in Febrary. The district will need to decide whether to renovate or replace facilities, he said. “The most important thing is, what does our community want to support?” One of the report’s recommendations is that the district replace Conneaut Elementary School which was built in the early 1950s, Scruci said. But citizen input must be gathered, so any solution is specifically tailored to Bowling Green, he added. “So the community feels like it has a say.” According to Scruci, the cost to renovate Conneaut has been estimated by the state at about $9.6 million. The cost to replace…