Education

Group against BG school levy fails to file finance report

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The citizens group opposed to the Bowling Green City Schools levy in May has failed to file its campaign finance report with the Wood County Board of Elections. Friday at 4 p.m. was the statewide deadline for political action committees to file reports listing those who contributed to election efforts, and how that money was spent. The group that supported the school levy – Citizens in Support of Our Schools, with Andy Newlove as treasurer – filed its report on Friday morning. The group against the levy – Wood County Citizens Against Higher Property Tax, with Grant Chamberlain as treasurer – did not submit its report by the deadline. It is unusual for a PAC to not comply with the Ohio Revised Code requirement, said Carol DeJong, director at the Wood County Board of Elections. “I have not had this experience with a PAC that didn’t file,” especially on such a high-profile election issue, DeJong said on Friday after the deadline passed. The penalty for not filing can be up to $100 a day, she added. 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 Friday are to show the money taken in and spent following the first report filed in April. In their initial reports, the anti-levy group had raised $10,866 from nine donors. The pro-levy group had raised $14,175 from 32 donors. In the campaign finance report filed Friday by the Citizens in Support of Our Schools, three contributions were recorded: Becca Ferguson, $100; David Codding, $2,500; and Control Systems of Ohio, $1,000. Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry…


Scruci asks city to join in solution for school district

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci invited city leaders Monday evening to get involved in school business. Scruci asked those attending City Council to put June 25 on their calendars. Since the school district’s bond issue has been rejected twice by voters, the board is taking a different approach. “Our board is committed to finding out what our community will support,” he said. So a community task force open meeting will be held June 25, at 6:30 p.m., in the school’s performing arts center. “It’s going to be turned over to the community,” Scruci said. City Council President Mike Aspacher thanked the superintendent for the invitation to join in the process. “We’ve all been supportive of your efforts in the past,” Aspacher said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Mayor Dick Edwards expressed regret that the “celebrity guest” expected to attend the meeting was unable to make it. But the mayor revealed his intentions to declare June 15 as Jerry Anderson Day in Bowling Green, in honor of the newscaster’s last day at WTOL-11. Anderson got his start in broadcasting 44 years ago at WFOB radio here in Bowling Green, Edwards said. Since then, he has helped many community groups with fundraising, either by acting as auctioneer or emcee. His generosity has been “totally amazing,” the mayor said. Edwards also mentioned all the positive national publicity Bowling Green is receiving since the general managers of both hockey teams in the Stanley Cup are Bowling Green State University hockey alums.  The men, both from the same town in Canada, both played under BGSU Coach Jerry York, and were roommates for three years. George McPhee is now with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, and the Brian MacLellan is with the Washington Capitals. Ryan Carpenter, a more recent BGSU hockey standout, is playing for the Golden Knights. And Mike “Doc” Emrick, who earned his doctorate at BGSU, has been mentioning the many BGSU connections during this play-by-play announcing. In other business, Public Works Director Brian Craft was asked to give an overview of…


BGHS gets good grade for preparing students for future

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green High School has been recognized by a national organization for preparing its students for life after high school graduation. “It was good news this morning,” Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said of the award from GreatSchools, a national nonprofit organization that provides parents with information about pre-kindergarten-12 schools and education. The website provides ratings based on test scores and a variety of other factors for schools in all 50 states. The recognition was based on college-readiness and how well the students do once they are in college. “They follow that data,” Scruci said of the information collected for the awards. “I think it speaks to the things going on in Bowling Green High School and the Middle School,” Scruci said. A total of 814 schools in nine states were recognized. “It’s a nice feature in the district’s cap to be included,” the superintendent said. Other area schools to make the list are Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg, Sylvania Northview, Sylvania Southview, and Toledo School for the Arts. “That’s a pretty good group to be a part of,” Scruci said. All were honored for having a successful track record of helping their graduating students succeed in college. GreatSchools reported it selected high schools based on college preparation, enrollment and performance. The award-winning high schools stood out based on school-level post-secondary data collected and shared by each state. The organization compiled data including college entrance exam scores and participation rates, college enrollment rates, the percentage of students enrolled in remedial courses in college, and college persistence rates. “We’ve put more emphasis on college-prep curriculum,” with more classes added, Scruci said. “We want to get them as well prepared for their futures, whatever that might be,” he said. As of July 2017, the GreatSchools database contained information on more than 138,000 public, private, and charter schools in the U.S. With the list of College Success Award winners, GreatSchools had the following statement: “A high-quality public education should empower today’s young people with the skills they need to forge a path to…


Presentations to BG school board accentuate the positive

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Meeting for the last time of the school year, the Bowling Green Board of Education had a lot of students to recognize. A few will be among the 217 seniors who will graduate Sunday at 2 p.m., and others are in the early stages of their school careers. The recognition started, though, by recognizing four professional women who volunteer with the Girls Who code program. Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator, said this was the club’s first year at the Middle School. It encourages girls to explore computer and other technology careers. Lexi Marshall, Sarah Beamer, Jami Sunday, and Laura Johns were honored for spending 90 minutes a week working with middle school students and being role models as women with careers in technology. Next up were the participants in the model UN introduced by Mary Kern, the club’s advisor. Members recognized were:  Hannah Bowlus, Kerica Bucks, Alison Cramer, Bob Walters, Matthew Fyfe, Jesse He, Dawson Wohler, Cameron Froemming, Eddy Becker, Elijah Poetzinger, and Dana Kleman. The team competed in three conferences, including sending eight members to Harvard for an international event. The team took the top prize at a Model UN event at Ohio Northern, and did very well in the concluding event at Ohio State University. Seventh Grade science teacher Paula Williams introduced four students who decided to activate their learning. Adam Brian, Jacob Baumgardner, Benjamin Bates, and Zachary Hartman were part of the class that went out to test water on the Portage River. Afterward, they wanted to do something to promote water quality. Jacob and Adam designed t-shirts to promote the issue. Ben and Zach decided, since plastic shopping bags are seen as a scourge on the environment, to design and sell reusable shopping bags with the school’s mascot on them. They even had them for sale at the meeting. Williams also presented seventh grader Emma Ferguson who created an award-winning billboard design in a contest sponsored by the county Solid Waste Management District. Her billboard urged people to be clean water superheroes. Seven students from…


BG school board searches for way forward after defeat at the polls

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News It’s back to the task forces for the Bowling Green School District. The Board of Education, meeting Tuesday a week after voters went to the polls and decisively rejected a $72 million bond issue that would have changed the face of the district, addressed how it would move forward. And it got some words of advice from some of its critics. Board President Jill Carr said that “the community has spoken.” That leaves the district with a high school and two elementary schools in need of renovation or replacement. “The board is ready to move forward,” she said. To that end it will form two task forces, one to focus on facilities and one to focus on financing. Together they will conduct “a full exploration of our options.” Those task forces will draw from all segments of the community, Carr said. “Their work will not be rushed.” Later in the meeting one of the district’s harshest critics Richard Chamberlain said the district’s facilities needs were so urgent they had to be addressed immediately. HVAC problems are damaging the buildings. Noting the five-year forecast presented at the meeting showed the district had a $2 million fund balance, he said the district should use that. The use of those funds, however, would likely push the district to go to voters for more money sooner than the forecast indicates. Treasurer Cathy Schuller presented the forecast with the usual caveat: “A forecast is what we know today.” School treasurers say that as soon as a forecast is completed, it’s wrong. The numbers are based, she said, on “conservative estimates.” That means assuming the district will receive about the same amount of state aid as it is now, though there’s no way of knowing what the legislature will do in the next biennium budget. District officials can hope that as the economy improves, income tax revenues will grow. On the expense side, the district is at the mercy of how many students decide to take College Credit Plus courses and how many open enroll…


BGSU closes the book on reading center, for now

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Martha Gesling Weber Reading Center has packed up and is ready to move. The center closed after 72 years at the end of this semester. A shifting mission and budget deficit is forcing the College of Education and Human Development to reconsider the center’s role. For now the materials will go to the Curriculum Resource Center on the second floor of Jerome Library while its future is pondered. The center has been offering one-on-one reading tutoring for a modest fee for school children. Now it will be up to parents, with some guidance for university personnel, to arrange tutoring with students. Dean Dawn Shinew, of the College of Education, said that modest fee, attractive to parents, was a large part of the problem. This year the center served about 30 children, she said. Previously it served as many as 60 children. It typically brings in $25,000 in fees. That falls short of the $200,000 it costs to operate the center. “That’s not a sustainable model,” Shinew said. One parent called to express concern about the closing and said that a similar service would cost $300 a month at Sylvan, Shinew reaction was: That’s probably what it costs to provide the service. Founded in 1946, the center is one of the oldest the country. It was named after one of its founders Martha Gesling Weber in 1997. “It’s a great center and has such a potential for outreach, but it’s tucked the fifth floor of the Education Building, and unless you’re a parent who uses it you wouldn’t know that it’s there,” Shinew said. The existing parking problems will get worse because of some spaces will be lost as Hanna Hall in expanded and renovated into the new Maurer Family Center, the new home for the College of Business. “At same time I’m looking at the mission of the reading center because what we were doing was not financially sustainable,” Shinew said. Originally, she said, the center was more oriented toward research. “It was a place where faculty and…


Graduating BGHS art students showcase their work in Senior Studio Show

Submitted by BGHS ART The 22nd Annual Bowling Green High School  Senior Studio Show featured 23 students displaying their work in the Four Corners Center Gallery on May 10. Award winners are: Best 3D award courtesy of Black Swamp Arts Festival: MEGAN CARMEN for her horseshoe crab sculpture Best 2D award courtesy of Black Swamp Arts Festival: IAN BRACKENBURY for his colored pencil salamander Judge Reger Award courtesy of Judge Matt Reger: TRISHA STICHLER for her river painting Technical Merit Award courtesy of Waddington Jewelers: ELIZABETH MCCONNELL for her deer pin PTO Award courtesy of BGHS PTO: KELLY HAYDEN for her bubbles painting and DANA KLEMAN for her ceramic branch bowls Superintendent Award courtesy of Mr. Francis Scruci, BGCS Superintendent: NATALIE AVERY for her Finder’s painting. (This piece will be displayed permanently in the Central Administration.) The Board of Education Award courtesy of the BGCS Board of Education: ABBY FOX for her Wintergarden Woods painting (This piece will be displayed permanently in the BGHS Conference room). People’s Choice Award courtesy of Mr. Craft, Ben Franklin: NOVA CULLISON for his plastic bag chandelier. This award was voted on by those attending the show. Also exhibiting work were: Chloe Beeker, Nicholas Breen, Angel Chapman, Jordan Ely, Krista Evans, Ethan Fletcher, Sara Foster, Dea Kukeli, Lucie Moore, Rebecca O’Hare, Alex Peterson, Skye Sloane Kayla Schrader, and  Margo Utz. A string quartet from the high school orchestra entertained.  


Voters reject BG School’s bond issue for buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education was left bruised and battered Tuesday evening – from both a bitter levy campaign and a biting defeat at the polls. The district’s second attempt to pass a 5.7-mill bond issue for 37 years went down by a bigger margin than its first loss. The unofficial total on Tuesday night was 2,845 (40 percent) to 4,218 (60 percent). That compares to November’s vote of 3,471 (46 percent) to 4,021 (54 percent). “We are very disappointed,” school board President Jill Carr said late Tuesday evening. “We’re so committed to getting our facilities back to the high quality they were,” Carr said of the $72 million plan to consolidate the three elementaries, plus renovate and add onto the high school. “We wanted the best for students, teachers and community as a whole.” But many did not like the plan – either because of its effect on their pocketbooks or because it meant the end to “neighborhood” schools. Steve Bateson, one of those leading the opposition to the levy, issued a statement after the election results were in. “The voters joined together and spoke, defeating the bond issue for a variety of reasons. Some voters believe neighborhood schools are important, others felt that the additional tax was unfair,” he wrote. “This bond issue has been defeated twice and we hope the school board respects the decision of the voters and moves forward with a new plan that all members of our school district family can support for the success of our students and community,” Bateson stated. But finding a plan that all members of the district can support may be difficult. The school board brought in a school taxation expert who said the board’s request for a property tax was the best decision for the majority of the district residents. Principals at the schools offered Saturday tours to the public so show the poor condition of the buildings. But it wasn’t enough to convince the majority of the voters. “We are just going to…


Courthouse tour lays down the law for BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a bit of disorder in the courts  Monday as Bowling Green sixth graders got a close-up view of “Lady Justice.” They sat in on a court case, they offered ideas for new laws, and they met with the sheriff. And as a bonus, they learned a bit on how the county handles emergencies. The kids were awestruck by the court proceedings, and suitably impressed by the grand Wood County Courthouse. But kids being kids – they sometimes found a different focus than the intended. For example, as architect Heidi Reger pointed out the intricate stone work on the front of the 1896 courthouse, she asked the students to find the faces and animals carved into the stone. “They liked to tell a lot of stories in the stones,” she said. But during one group’s tour, Reger had some competition from above when one of the Peregrine falcons roosting in the courthouse clock tower snatched a bird for breakfast. It wasn’t long before a burst of feathers came floating down from the clock tower. Once inside the courthouse, the students got to listen to cases presented to the Sixth District Court of Appeals. The lesson there might have been that real court cases aren’t necessarily as exciting as those portrayed on television. But the students sat respectfully with little fidgeting as a case was argued about who was responsible for paying for roadwork and causeway maintenance for Johnson Island. Though the legal arguments were tedious, technical and long-winded, the students sat quietly. One court constable suggested that the sixth graders were likely intimidated by the panel of three robed judges, or by the ornate courtroom with its stained glass ceiling. After sitting through the governmental arm that rules on the law, the students heard from state legislators that make the laws. State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, talked about their routes to the statehouse. Gardner started out as a teacher, and Gavarone as an attorney and part-owner of Mr. Spots…


BG DECA students’ runoff filtration idea cleans up at international conference

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Two DECA students from Bowling Green poured in on, and scored a second place finish at the International Career Development Conference in April with a pitch for a product to address Lake Erie’s algae problems. Sean O’Donnell and Jake Stucker, both Bowling Green High School juniors, placed second in the entrepreneurship idea contest at the DECA conference held in Atlanta with their idea for a filter that would address the runoff from farm fields that’s polluting Lake Erie. They were the top U.S. team with first place going to students from Ontario. And the pair says they’re not stopping there. “This is a huge market and could provide a future for us and families, and better future for people around the world,” O’Donnell said. They see the technology they are working on as being the foundation for a business. For that reason, they asked for a certain amount of discretion when describing the details of their idea. The have applied for provisional patents. Simply put, it is a filtration system that goes on the end of the piping from field tiles that removes the nitrates, phosphorus, and sediment that run into the Lake. That runoff messes with the lake’s ecosystem and can cause the kind of toxic algae growth that turned off the tap for much of the region during the Toledo water crisis in 2014. O’Donnell and Stucker have known each other since middle school. It was in seventh grade that they learned about the problem facing Lake Erie. But it was more recently when Stucker was having a conversation with a friend that the idea started to hatch. His friend, from Colorado, said she was headed west over winter break to go skiing. He lamented they had nothing so exciting here in Ohio. When she brought up Lake Erie, he said, it was too cold part of the year and toxic in the summer. This got him thinking about what could be done. This became the topic for his and O’Donnell’s DECA project. Trident Filters was born….


Studying up on ‘neighborhood’ vs consolidated schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some Bowling Green area voters find the school levy numbers disturbing – not the monetary numbers but the numbers of students that would be using one centralized elementary if the levy passes. While some have protested the costs of the 5.7-mill levy spread out over 37 years, these citizens object to the merging of three elementaries into one centralized building. Supporters of the change say it will enable the district to provide consistency and equity in resources and opportunities for young students. Critics say students learn better in “neighborhood schools” as opposed to “factory schools.” Both sides of the issue have presented their rationale. And as with most controversial issues, there is plenty of data to support both points of view. Kimberly Christensen, of the Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development, said research shows pros and cons for smaller neighborhood schools and larger consolidated schools. Centralized schools offer “higher educational quality as a result of the wider menu of educational experiences” they can provide, Christensen said. There is more consistency and greater equalization, she said. In a building where all the grades are consolidated, the educational teams can offer more connected and integrated lessons, she said.  The children benefit from having all the support staff and specialized teachers in one location, she added. For example, if a student needs to see the school therapist, the child won’t have to wait days until the therapist makes rounds to that school building. And consolidated schools have higher fiscal efficiency, she said, since there are fewer redundancies. Smaller schools, Christensen said, tend to do a better job of making students feel connected. Studies have documented better relationships are likely to occur in smaller settings. “Students feel supported and cared for,” she said. Some research has shown reduced rates of student participation in extra-curricular activities in larger schools, Christensen said. And there are concerns about kids getting lost in the largeness. “Are you going to see some left out of the process,” she said. However, the latest…


Matthew Lyons ‘yes’ vote for school bond ‘is based on weighing the pros and cons of the project’

Tuesday the residents of the BG School district will decide to move forward or remain in the past.  For over a year now we have heard pros and cons of the building plan and how it will affect multiple segments of the community.  While I sympathize with those who will be hit hard with this plan, I need to base my decision on what I believe to be in the best interest of my children. First, we need more space.  The average size of a kindergarten class at Kenwood is 17, at Conneaut it is 24.  That disparity should make everyone unhappy.  It also shows a major flaw in our current three elementary configuration.  The new elementary building would have an average kindergarten class size of 21 this year.  Evening out class size across the district leads to smaller class sizes.  Smaller classes lead to the teacher in the classroom having MORE time for individualized attention.  We can do better. Next, our schools need to be as safe as possible.  They need to be safe from those who might want to do our students harm.  We have the boot installed in all our classrooms, and this is a step in the right direction.  But this plan does better.    The new space would be built with required safety features as a part of the building, not as an afterthought.  After attending the building tours it is evident the current buildings were not designed with this type of safety in mind.  Our police and fire divisions have weighed in with support, that alone should be enough to warrant support for this plan. They also need to safe for everyday events like drop off and pick up.  Transportation and traffic concerns have also been brought up as reasoning to keep the current three elementary configuration.  I have observed children being dropped off and picked up in all weather, some coming from just down the street from the school.  Through our actions, the parents and guardians in this district have spoken.  And it is overwhelmingly in support of driving students to and from school instead of letting them walk or ride bikes.  The new building from design to construction will…


BGSU graduates told to make their voices heard

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Beth Macy got her start as a writer in a stand of lilacs near her home. The youngest, late arriving, child in a family of four, she spent a lot of time alone. She would hide among the lilacs and listen to those who came by. She heard the “strange and beautiful, about justice and injustice.” That’s what Macy would write about years later as a journalist, winning national honors for her books, magazine articles, and newspaper reporting. Macy told the graduates at the Saturday morning commencement ceremonies at Bowling Green State University that after spending four years or so “honing your distinctive voice, now it’s your turn to be heard.” She continued: “Don’t forget to see your corner of the world with your slant, that tilted way of looking at life that only you and you alone can provide. Find your own stand of lilacs and be still among them. Look up and reach out.” If Macy at 53 could whisper in the ear of her 22-year-old self, she tell her to “remember the lilacs.” Interim Provost John Fischer said Macy has made a career writing about “the outsiders and underdogs.” She’s authored three books, including a forthcoming exploration of the opioid epidemic. Macy recalled her graduation day when she was likely concerned about how she was going to move all her belongings to Columbus in a 20-year-old VW Beetle. Would the car even make it? The only thing holding the battery in place was a cutting board wedged in the back seat. Awaiting her was her first job, a $200 a week position with a city magazine that largely involved updating the publication’s restaurant guide. The idea for becoming writer stemmed from a fourth grade teacher giving her the book “Harriet the Spy.” Here Macy said she found a kindred spirit. At BGSU, she found people to help her shape her own talent advising her she should be able to come back from any meeting, gathering at a neighborhood bar, or church social with three story ideas….


Melissa DeSmith: School levy opposition is untrustworthy

BG School Levy is Needed!!  BGCS needs updated buildings to give our students the best educational environment we can.  Speak to a teacher or a student today to find out what they deal with on a daily basis in the current facilities! I am writing in support of the BGCS Levy, Mr. Scruci and the BGCS Board of Education!  The superintendent and Board have put forward a plan that is in the best interest of the students, staff and community!! The opposition has put many accusations out there that are just false!  One letter recently from Mr. Strow addressed TRUST.  It is the opposition to this campaign that cannot be trusted!  They have many times put out false information including the recent letter from Mr. Strow! Per Mr. Conley of Rockmill Financial Consulting LLC’s presentation to the community (that can be found on the BGCS website): “The District is very well managed, financially The District’s tax levels are low when compared to others in the region* District total annual expenditure per pupil is below State average**($10,551.76 vs $11,603.12) Current financial condition is strong” As for the amount, the levy is for $72 million (5.7 mills), anyone that understands borrowing should understand there is interest involved, so Mr. Strow saying that the district misled anyone on the payback, is again misleading!  How many other levies are on the ballot that give you the  final payback?  None! They are on the ballot for the principal, their advertising is for the principal, not the payback, obviously because that amount will change based on changes in property valuation and businesses moving into the community, the possibility of revenue from the pipeline, etc.  The more people and companies that come to the area, the less that current taxpayers will pay.  There is also the possibility that if interest rates go down, it can be refinanced to save money. In my research about levies, the school board is required to give the board of election 3 specific items:  the principal amount needed, number of years and a purpose.  The county auditor then…


Ken Rieman: “A vote for the Bowling Green school bond issue is a vote for community improvement and economic development”

A vote for the Bowling Green school bond issue is a vote for community improvement and economic development.  It’s a vote to provide the best possible learning environment for our most precious resource–the children of our community. Families consider school reputation and facilities when deciding where to live. Up to date school facilities reflect the importance the community places on families and families are the life of every community. If we want our children and grandchildren to stay local we need to provide the best learning environment for them now and when they become parents. It is not just about attracting new people. It is about making the Bowling Green school district the place our children and grandchildren will raise their families. They will have a choice and if we don’t make it attractive they will go elsewhere. The facilities proposed by the school board are not extravagant. They have considered options carefully and have come up with a plan that provides an equal and improved education system for all students,more efficient operational costs and greater security.  The benefits far outweigh trying to extend the life of old facilities. The cost savings that will occur will reduce operating costs. Balancing class size and eliminating bussing some kids to a school across town as has been done for too many years is only possible with a central location. Segregating groups by grade level  will maintain the small school atmosphere and allow grade level teachers to work together.   The school system has been a good steward of community resources and has extended the life of the current  facilities as long as possible. Like an old previously dependable car there comes a time when upkeep exceeds the cost of a new vehicle. More efficient vehicles with better safety features are available and you know you waited longer than you should have to replace it. That is where we are at now with our school buildings. You can try to fix up an old car but it will be expensive,not last as long as something new and will…