Education

BG Schools to survey citizens on building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green area residents will soon get to grade school building options in the district. Over the past nine months, Superintendent Francis Scruci held several open houses in different settings to find out if citizens want to construct new buildings, renovate the old, or do nothing. But he kept seeing the same faces at the meetings. So he reached out to a survey firm used in the past to gauge citizen opinion. But the customary $4,000 price tag had jumped to $12,500 due to the complications of using cell phones rather than landlines. Another firm was consulted, but cost even more, at $25,000. So Bowling Green State University professor Shannon Orr offered up her public administration graduate students to do the job, for $4,000. The surveys will be mailed out later this week to 2,000 randomly selected taxpayers in the Bowling Green School District. The surveys have just 10 questions with many of them concerning demographics. The meat of the survey asks residents to rank the building options for the district. Those choices are: Combine the three elementary schools into one new building, and build a new high school. Combine the three elementary schools into one new building, and renovate the high school. Renovate Conneaut, Kenwood and the high school. Build a new Conneaut, and renovate Kenwood and the high school. Keep all the buildings as they are. Accompanying the survey is an explanation of the costs to renovate and build, plus the costs to taxpayers. The recently renovated Crim Elementary and BG Middle School are not included, since they are only…


Boys shower area fix could soak district for $425,000

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When it rains, it pours. That seems to go for showers as well. The Bowling Green Board of Education got the news Tuesday evening that repairs to the high school boys lockeroom shower area could cost between $380,000 and $425,000. “It’s not a cheap fix,” said Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group Architecture. Those estimates include fixing and reconfiguring the shower area, plus renovating the toilets, training room and coaches’ offices. The board was made aware of the shower problems last month when Superintendent Francis Scruci said boys were not able to shower after gym or athletics because the shower area had been shut off due to large cracks in the walls and floor. Buehrer showed slides of the area beneath the shower room floor, where the floor deck was sagging. He said this is a common problem in schools built in the 1960s and 1970s, where water leaks cause corrosion of the bar joists. So while the estimate was higher than expected, Buehrer did offer a small bit of good news. “The roof isn’t going to collapse. That’s a good thing,” he said. The heavy masonry wall in the center of the shower room has settled and is pulling away from the roof deck. While fixing the shower room, Buehrer suggested that the toilet area be updated to make it ADA accessible. The weight room, which has been in need of repairs for years, may also be added to the renovation project. Funding for the project will come from the school district’s permanent improvement levy, according to Treasurer Rhonda Melchi and board…


Scruci gets new three-year contract with schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci was given a three-year renewal of his contract Tuesday evening by the board of education. His annual salary is $144,000. The board praised Scruci’s work in the district and gave him unanimous support. “Thank you for all that you do for us,” Board President Ellen Scholl said to Scruci. During his 18 months as superintendent, Scruci has been a very visible presence in the community. He holds regular “coffees” with the public, and produces weekly videos about what is happening in the district. He has been a steady presence at extra-curricular events, creating positive relationships with students. In an effort to get input from the community on handling school building needs, Scruci has held open meetings in each school building. His new contract will run from Aug. 1, 2018 to July 31, 2021. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Scruci informed the board that he feels compelled to express his personal feelings about national and state issues that he believes are damaging to public education. The superintendent is no fan of newly confirmed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. So he plans to send a letter to DeVos, asking her to come spend some time at Bowling Green City Schools. Scruci has been open about his strong reservations about DeVos, who is a proponent of charter schools. “Public education is being threatened,” Scruci said. DeVos’ confirmation must not distract schools from their focus on educating students, he added. “We can’t as a district allow ourselves to be consumed by this,” Scruci said. Public schools throughout the nation need to make it…


Teachers give failing grade to Kasich plan requiring them to do business ‘internships’

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Buried on page 1,056 of Gov. John Kasich’s state budget is a proposed requirement that has teachers wondering if they will have to flip patties at burger joints or stock shelves at grocery stores. The provision basically turns teachers into business interns every five years as a new requirement for educator license renewals. The language reads like this: Beginning September 1, 2018, the state board of education’s rules for the renewal of educator licenses shall require each applicant for renewal of a license to complete an on-site work experience with a local business or chamber of commerce as a condition of renewal. Work experience obtained pursuant to this section shall count toward any required continuing education. Each local professional development committee established under section 3319.22 of the Revised Code shall work with its teachers to identify local work experience opportunities that meet the requirements of this section. Some local teachers have taken to Facebook to express their displeasure. They have questioned whether Kasich doesn’t realize they have full-time jobs. They have proposed that the governor should have to spend time working in a public school, or that legislators perform internships in classrooms. Bowling Green City Schools Superintendent Francis Scruci said he is trying to not over-react to some of the more unusual provisions in the budget bill. “I always try to keep my composure,” he said Thursday afternoon. “Whatever is proposed will probably not be the final product.” State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, said he suspects the provision may not make it into the final budget bill. “There are always things…


Elementaries unwrap sweet story for 1 Book BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Last year’s 1 Book BG about Humphrey the hamster caused hamster sales to spike in the Bowling Green area. This year’s book could cause chocolate sales to do the same. “That was such a hard act to follow,” Crim third grade teacher Jonelle Semancik said. “We were hoping to strike gold with this one.” It may not be gold – but chocolate is just as good. Bowling Green City Schools has started its second annual 1 Book BG program, which engages all 1,700 of its pre-kindergartners through its fifth graders to read the same book. This year, the book is “The Chocolate Touch.” The story is a twist on the ancient Midas touch tale, but in this case it’s about a young boy who loves chocolate. He eats so much that the doctor advises his parents to restrict the sweets. The boy is not pleased, until he comes upon a spell that turns everything his lips touch to chocolate. While initially a dream come true, you can imagine the problems that might arise. The 1 Book BG program gets everyone in the three elementaries on board reading the same book – whether it’s being read aloud to the younger students, or by themselves by the older students. “It’s to really build a love of reading with the kids – to create a love of lifelong reading,” Semancik said. Crim Elementary held a family night event Monday evening, encouraging parents to get on board. School counselor Mary Beth Ellison, dressed as a blue M&M, greeted the families. “Everybody is working together,” Ellison said,…


Gardner listens to concerns over state budget proposal

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It will be months before State Senator Randy Gardner has to vote on the state budget. That’s why he spent Saturday morning at Wood County District Public Library listening to citizens. There was a long list of concerns. The room was filled with citizens worried about paying for health care, municipal leaders concerned about taking further funding cuts, and BGSU professors dreading state decisions. “The budget is many months away from my vote,” said Gardner, R-Bowling Green. So Saturday was part of the senator’s first steps. “The first responsibility is to listen,” he said. Gardner said he spent time Friday at a Toledo area hospital with parents of a toddler named Evelyn, who has cystic fibrosis. The state budget includes a provision that will shift the Bureau of Children with Medical Handicaps into the Medicaid program. It’s those kind of personal stories that Gardner said he needs to hear prior to casting a vote. The 3,512-page state budget is now in House hearings, where it will be voted on in early May. Then it moves to the Senate, where it will face a vote around June 21. Gov. John Kasich will then sign the budget by the end of June, so the fiscal year can start on July 1. The budget includes “hundreds and hundreds of line items,” Gardner said. He cautioned that the governor has the final say on some by invoking his line item veto power. “It’s not all about what the legislature puts in. It’s about what the governor can do,” he said. In response to a question from…


School custodians clean up where others fear to go

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   They are the first to get to school and the last to leave. They are the ones who rush to clean up after a sick child, and the ones stuck cleaning out gross lockers. “They are often overlooked in a building,” head custodian Chuck Martin said to the Bowling Green Board of Education last week as he presented some details about school custodians. “Everyone expects a building to magically become clean.” The custodians are charged with opening the schools early, emptying trash, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning toilets and sinks, replenishing supplies, making minor repairs, cleaning windows, removing snow, setting up for extra activities, unloading trucks, assisting with fire and tornado drills, and closing up at the end of the day. They arrive at school around 6 a.m., and at the high school the last one leaves around 11:30 p.m. “We can’t have public in the building without a custodian there,” Martin said. To give some idea of the scope of the responsibilities, Martin said the district’s custodians have almost one mile of hallways to mop, 232 toilets and urinals to clean, and more than 175 sinks to scrub. There are 18 custodians in the district – two in each elementary, five and a half in the middle school, and six and a half in the high school. Since the district has 452,000 square feet of building space, that means each custodian is charged with keeping 25,115 square feet clean. “This is every day, five days a week,” Martin said. During the summer, while students and staff are gone, the custodians’ jobs continue. They…


BG high students get in the act as directors in this weekend’s showcase

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Claire Wells-Jensen is trying to block a quartet of actors on the stage of the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. The arrangement of actors just doesn’t seem to be coming together quite like she and co-director Lily Krueger envisioned. “This is the most stressful thing I’ve ever done,” she says. Maybe as frustrating as a mom trying to hustle a teenage daughter off to school. Maybe as frustrating as herding cats… on the internet. Wells-Jensen and Krueger are directing “The Internet is Distract – Oh Look A Kitten!” That’s one of four one-act plays on the bill Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at 7 p.m. at the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. The school’s Improv Troupe will also perform. Tickets are $8 and $6 for students and senior citizens. Seniors with a Bobcat Pass get in free. Jo Beth Gonzalez, the advisor for the Drama Club, said the program of one-act plays gives students a chance assume the director’s role. “Kids think directing is easy until they do it. They learn so much,” she said. Certainly that was the case for Krueger and Wells-Jensen. “It was not what I expected,” Krueger said.  “We’ve been in one acts directed by students, and you think you know what they’re going through, but it completely different.” The responsibility for the play from selection to staging falls on their shoulders. Wells-Jensen and Krueger realized their young cast needed a little more help concentrating so they did four focus exercises before each rehearsal. The other plays on the bill are: “Windmills and Millstones” by Louise Wade, directed by Meagan Worthy,…


Questions grow about education secretary pick

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci couldn’t help but think of a comedy sketch when Betsy DeVos, nominee for Education Secretary, testified last week that guns may be needed in schools to defend against grizzly bears. “I looked at a lot of the testimony and all I could envision is a Saturday Night Live skit,” similar to the Sarah Palin “I can see Russia from my backyard” sketch, Scruci said. It would be funny – if it weren’t so scary. When the Bowling Green Board of Education met last week, it was a sobering thought that DeVos’ confirmation hearing was going on at the same time in Washington, D.C. “She is definitely not a friend of public education,” Scruci said. “Her appointment would change the landscape for public education.” DeVos is a multi-billionaire, who never attended public schools, has been a cheerleader for charter schools, and reportedly owes the state of Ohio $5 million for campaign issues. At the school board meeting, Scruci asked anyone who cares about public education to write letters and make phone calls expressing their concerns to legislators about her appointment. “I became even more concerned during the hearings,” Scruci said later last week. Scruci said his comments about DeVos have led to at least one suggestion that he be careful about expressing himself on political issues. “My feelings have absolutely nothing to do with politics,” he said Friday afternoon. “This is strictly from an education point of view. Her track record has been anti-public schools. To replace public education with for-profit options is not a good thing.” DeVos’…


BG foundation gives grants to community groups

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Community organizations were given grants earlier this week to bring music, sports, reading and more to Bowling Green. The grants, from the Bowling Green Community Foundation, are intended to help the very young to the very old, and everyone in between. The annual grant program began after the 1993 BG Leadership class started the foundation in order to help local groups serve the community, explained Cal Bowers, president of the foundation. “What you’re doing speaks to the vibrancy of our community. You’re at the core of it,” said Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards. This year’s grants total $29,000 for 14 different projects. “That’s an impact to this community,” Bowers said. Following is a list of all the projects awarded grants. BG Area Community Bands – $2,250 for a community band festival. “This is our 10th year as a community band. We feel we have become a staple in the community,” said Ardy Gonyer. “We’re very grateful for the support of Bowling Green.” Thom Headley explained the grant will help the band put on a concert with a guest conductor on May 6. BG City Schools – $1,000 for One Book BG literacy program. Two third grade teachers, Jeni Niekamp and Jonelle Semancik explained the grant will help the schools purchase books for every pre-kindergarten through fifth grade student. The reading program unites families and the community around one common book. “It’s created to promote a love of learning,” Semancik said. BG Parks and Recreation Department – $5,000 for the natural obstacle course. Ivan Kovacevic, of the parks and rec department, said the…


What’s that smell? Could be unshowered athletes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   That unpleasant odor may not be a rotting sandwich in the bottom of your teen’s backpack, or a sweaty pair of gym shoes under the bed. It could be emanating directly from your student. Bowling Green Board of Education was notified Tuesday that the high school boys locker room showers have been out of commission since last year. According to head custodian Chuck Martin, the bar joist under the floor of the shower area is starting to collapse. So the showers have been off limits to boys in physical education classes and varsity sports. Martin attributed the problem to poor design when the locker room showers were built in the early 1960s. Moisture and steam leaks are causing supports to bend. “There are cracks in the walls that are three-quarter inch wide,” he said. The locker rooms are safe to use – just not the showers. Board members asked where the boys are showering at school after gym or athletics. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci answered –  they aren’t. Scruci compared the problem to the football bleachers that were replaced last year after the district became aware of rusting issues. “They are rusting from the inside out,” he said. “Outside the building looks great,” Scruci said of the high school. But a closer look inside reveals some problems. Like the bleachers, the fix for the shower room won’t be cheap. A new floor will need to be put in, Scruci said. Preliminary estimates for fixing the problem are somewhere in the $200,000s or $300,000s. A presentation of the project will be given…


Survey costs stymie collection of more community input on BG School buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City School officials want to know what local residents think about the various building plan options, but they don’t want to spend a fortune collecting those opinions. The costs submitted by surveying firms ranged from $12,500 to $24,000. “I think that’s a lot of money to sample the population,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Tuesday during the board of education meeting. “That’s a big chunk of change,” for gathering the opinions of approximately 300 people, he said. The school district is facing the decision of building one new facility for all the elementaries, or remodeling the elementary schools, plus making some major renovations at the high school. Scruci tried to take the public’s pulse about the options with a series of public meetings held at each of the school buildings. But it seemed that a lot of the same people showed up for most of the meetings. “I feel strongly that we don’t have enough community input right now,” to make a decision, said school board member Jill Carr. Scruci agreed that he would like more input, but the professional survey prices have gone up substantially since many people no longer have landlines, and it is more costly to access people’s cell phones. The board discussed various options, such as putting a survey on the district’s website, or possibly using the city’s all-call system to notify local residents. But the difficulty is still how to reach farm families in the district, retirees, and people without children – many who may not be aware of the building discussions. Board member Bill Clifford shared…


Bobcat musicians selected for honor bands

From BOWLING GREEN BOBCAT  BANDS Seven Bowling Green Middle School band members  were selected to perform in the Ohio Music Education Association District One Middle School Honor Band 2017.  They include:  Culley Foos (bassoon), Sasha Zengel (Clarinet), Cyrus Koogan (Horn), Simon Metzger (Percussion), James Eddington (Trombone), Colin Crawford (Trumpet), and Nolan Miller (Trumpet).  Selected as first chair players for their sections were Culley Foos, Simon Metzger, James Eddington, and Colin Crawford.   These students prepared and recorded audition materials and were chosen among students from six counties in northwest Ohio.   Dr. Lisa Martin, currently a member of the BGSU music faculty, will be rehearsing and conducting the Middle School Honors Band.     The following students from the Bowling Green High School Bands were selected for the OMEA High School Honor Band 2017:  Saralynn George (flute), Megan Eddington (clarinet), Elana Cable (alto saxophone), Allan Landgraf (bari saxophone), Joseph Kalmar (horn), Frances Zengel (percussion), Joey Craig (percussion).  In addition, Saralynn George and Joey Craig were selected as first chair players.     These students will represent Bowling Green at the Ohio Music Educators Association Honors Festival on Sunday, February 12th at the Stranahan theater in Toledo.  The middle school concert will begin at 2:30pm and the high school concert will begin at7:00pm.  Both concerts are free and open to the public. Nine students from Bowling Green high school were selected to perform in the BGSU Honors Bands on January 18th, 19th, and 20th.  They include Natalie Avery (alto saxophone), Kerica Bucks (trombone), Elana Cable (alto saxophone), Joey Craig (percussion), Saralynn George (flute), Alex Munson (trumpet), Mary Shilling (flute), Skye Sloane (percussion), and…


LEGO teams face off in robot tourney at BGSU

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University will host a FIRST LEGO League event Saturday, Jan. 14 on the second floor of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Guided by adult coaches, FIRST LEGO League teams research a real-world problem such as food safety, recycling or energy and are challenged to develop a solution. They must also design, build and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS technology, then compete on a tabletop playing field. This event, organized by the Sylvania STEM Center, northwest Ohio’s regional gathering space for STEM education and exploration, consists of teams of students in grades four through eight. This year’s challenge is Animal Allies and teams have been tasked to identify a problem when people and animals interact and design a solution that makes the interaction better for animals, people or both. This tournament is the second-level competition for 23 teams from northwest Ohio. Each of these teams earned their place in the tournament by securing top spots at regional tournaments. The top nine teams will advance to the state championship in Dayton in February. FIRST LEGO League allows kids to combine science, technology, engineering and math concepts with imagination to solve a problem. During the process, they also develop critical thinking and team-building skills. The BGSU College of Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering is supporting the event by paying for the venue and volunteering. To date, more than 255,000 kids have participated in 1,464 FIRST LEGO League events in 88 countries. WHAT: Second-level FIRST LEGO League competition WHO: 23 fourth- through eighth-grade teams from northwest Ohio WHEN: noon-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14; an opening…


WGTE launching new children’s service

Submitted WGTE PUBLIC MEDIA WGTE Public Media announced that it will launch a new, free localized 24/7 children’s service on Jan. 16.  The free services include a new TV channel and live stream on digital platforms. The effort is WGTE’s latest initiative to support early learning in the community. WGTE will broadcast PBS KIDS shows 24 hours a day on the television channel previously called WGTE Family. WGTE will also offer a live stream, making it easy for Toledo-area children to watch their favorite series during primetime and other after-school hours when viewing among families is high. Viewers will be able to watch the WGTE-branded live stream through pbskids.org and on the PBS KIDS Video App, which is available on a variety of mobile devices and tablets. The live stream complements on-demand clips and full episodes, which will continue to be available for free on the PBS KIDS Video App and streaming via pbskids.org. Following its initial launch, the localized live stream experience will expand to offer an integrated games feature, enabling children to toggle between a PBS KIDS show and an activity that extends learning – all in one seamless digital experience. The live stream and games feature is grounded in research demonstrating that measurable gains in learning are achieved when children engage with PBS KIDS content on multiple platforms. The games will align with the learning goals of each TV series, deepening children’s involvement and supporting learning. “WGTE Public Media has been an integral part of the community for 63 years, delivering content and services that parents trust and that move the needle in early learning,” said Marlon…