Education

BGHS drama students to Flip the Script by directing their parents & teacher

From BOWLING GREEN HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA CLUB Members of the Bowling Green High School Drama Club are getting a unique theatrical opportunity – directing their parents in a Flip the Script in Theatre Fundraiser. On Friday, January 25, at 7 P.M., 11 parents, joined by drama teacher Dr. Jo Beth Gonzalez, will take the stage under student guidance to perform a student-written one-act play as a fundraiser for the club. According to cast members: “Students get lots of opportunities to work with their peers, and we thought this would be a great learning experience for them to work with an adult cast. And a fun way to raise money for the club!”  Tickets for this fundraiser are $5 for students, $10 for adults which includes refreshments after the performance. Click to get tickets online.


BG task force gets different view during tour of new school

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News After spending hours touring Bowling Green’s aging elementaries, facility task force members got a glimpse of the future – at least the future for Northwood School District. Task force members had asked to see an example of new school construction. So on Wednesday evening, they gathered in the newly constructed school that serves pre-kindergarten through seniors in Northwood. The first question posed to Northwood Superintendent Jason Kozina was about the public reaction to losing their neighborhood elementaries. Kozina acknowledged the loss of the old buildings was a sore spot with some. “I’ve been through it all – the contentious meetings,” Kozina said. Northwood Superintendent Jason Kozina talks with task force members in the cafeteria. But in the end, the citizens decided that a new centralized school was best for the students. “Financially, it just had to happen that way,” the superintendent said. “It’s a million times better than what we had before.” There are, however, some major difference between Northwood and Bowling Green. First, the state funded 40 percent of Northwood’s new school – as compared to 17 percent for Bowling Green. Second, the state funding was available to Northwood, whereas Bowling Green would have to wait at least 10 years for it. And third, Northwood’s entire district has about 1,000 students, compared to Bowling Green having more than that just in its elementaries. Kozina said there were also concerns initially about one building holding students ranging from 4 to 18 years old. But the older students are on the second floor, and the younger ones on the first floor. They meet only in planned situations such as the older kids mentoring or reading to the younger ones. “The high school kids are better behaved around the little ones,” Kozina said. “We’ve seen the success with it.” Throughout the two-hour tour, the task force members had no difficulty pointing out the differences in the new building and Bowling Green schools. There was room for student movement, team teaching and shared resources in “pod” learning areas. Some of the walls moved – and all…


BG may focus on elementary buildings, put high school on hold for now

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green’s school board president conceded Tuesday evening that the school district may have more success with voters if it split up its building projects. “It does not appear that this is the time to finance both the elementaries and high school,” Board President Ginny Stewart said. So Stewart is suggesting that the district focus on the elementary buildings first, and address the high school later. After the board meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci acknowledged that splitting the projects into more manageable pieces may be best. “I think the community spoke loud and clear that doing it all at once is not what they want,” Scruci said. And so far, the facilities task force has been looking at just the conditions of the current elementaries and the options available to renovate or replace them. Board Vice President Bill Clifford agreed that the focus on the elementaries may be the best route for the district. “It sure appears that’s the direction,” he said. “I’m not saying there’s not an issue with the high school,” Clifford added. “But one step at a time.” Splitting the projects doesn’t mean a delay in building efforts, Stewart said. She is hopeful a financial option for going forward is identified by early March. “We have a lot to accomplish and having this information sooner, rather than later, will help,” she said. Stewart said the board is committed to developing a fiscal strategy to keep the school district on solid footing – while dealing with building needs. She asked community members to join the board in supporting the future of the schools. “I challenge those in the community who believe a city is only as good as its schools to step up,” she said. Stewart said the district’s difficult financial situation – with multiple levies coming up in the next five years – became very clear during a recent work session on taxation options. “It was somewhat alarming,” she said. Richard Chamberlain addresses the board. Citizen Richard Chamberlain, who sat through the work session, commended the board for taking a hard…


BG Council tackles streets, sidewalks, support for schools and more

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The city of Bowling Green has its work cut out for 2019. Some challenges are familiar – street construction, neighborhood revitalization and downtown parking. But some challenges presented at Saturday’s strategic planning meeting weren’t on last year’s priority list – sidewalks, side streets and supporting the school district. City Council met for its annual strategic planning session to review the city’s priorities for 2019, and to allow council members to suggest their own goals for the community. “We can see where we’ve been in 2018, and set the stage for activities and goals in 2019,” Council President Mike Aspacher said. Mayor Dick Edwards cautioned that construction downtown and on the roundabouts at Interstate 75 will make this year a little bumpy. “We know it’s going to be an unusually demanding year on many fronts,” Edwards said. “There are things that will put us all to the test.” But the mayor pointed out that unlike some “cities to the north,” Bowling Green officials work well together for the betterment of the community. “I thought we had a very good year last year,” Edwards said. “I think it speaks well for our city government. We work well together.” Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter started out the strategic planning process by reviewing progress made on last year’s priorities. The city began implementing suggestions in the Community Action Plan, work on the East Wooster corridor continued, the city’s charter was updated, and legislation was passed to create a historic preservation commission. Tretter then listed the goals for 2019: Implement of the historic preservation commission.Continue East Wooster corridor efforts in cooperation with BGSU.Continue neighborhood revitalization efforts.Update the zoning code.Improve radio coverage for safety operations.Construct new building in City Park.Complete construction of Wooster Green.Scan permanent planning and zoning records.Determine borrowing need, timing and method for various projects.Upgrade police division recruitment and hiring practices to national trends.Begin and complete downtown utility and paving project.Complete East Wooster/I-75 roundabout project.Increase electric sales to lower customer costs.Explore ways to lower electric transmission costs.Implement new billing software and utility customer interface portal.Remove and replace old…


After 33 years in Statehouse, Gardner going back to school as chancellor

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News State Sen. Randy Gardner’s dedication is unquestionable. Some may be critical of his politics – but many of those will confide that Gardner’s commitment is indisputable. During his 33 years in the Ohio House and Senate, he has never missed a vote. Since 1985, he has logged 10,423 consecutive roll call votes on bills, amendments and resolutions in his self-described “second home.” And as Senate Majority Leader, he was beginning his 20th year in service to elected leadership positions in the General Assembly – more than any other Republican in Ohio history. Come Monday, Gardner’s voting streak will end. But his service to Ohioans will continue as he is sworn in as the next chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education. The decision to switch roles was made after great deliberation, Gardner said on Thursday afternoon. “I have not had a job change since I’ve left the classroom at Otsego High School,” where he taught history. “It’s been a privilege of a lifetime serving the people of northern Ohio,” he said. But with term limits, Gardner faced just two years left as State Senator. “I still have a great passion for serving,” he said. “I looked at my opportunities to make a difference in the state,” he said. “It’s not because I’m rejecting what I’m doing now. I’ve enjoyed being Wood County’s voice at the Statehouse for more than 33 years.” And the chancellor position pairs Gardner’s passions for education and public service. He has served as chairman of the higher education subcommittee in the House and Senate for the last eight years. “That’s at least one strength I bring to the job,” he said. Gardner’s move may unleash a flurry of interest in the Senate seat left vacant. The opening will be filled by the majority caucus in the Ohio Senate – for the remainder of the two years left on his term. The Senate district covers all of Wood, Ottawa and Erie counties, plus portions of Lucas and Fulton counties. Gardner leaves office with the hope that work he left…


BG schools task force weighs in on building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Using clickers, the Bowling Green City Schools facilities task force members Wednesday weighed in on heavy questions about the district’s buildings. The majority of the 54 people voting supported a bond issue for schools, preferred one K-5 elementary, and supported the educational vision of the district. However, the significance of those results was questioned by task force members who wanted more options to vote on. Some suggested that there be a “do nothing” option for school buildings. “We need to have an option of ‘do nothing’ till we’re out of debt,” Grant Chamberlain said. Others asked for different configurations of which schools stay and which go. And Bud Henschen questioned how many of those members voting on Wednesday evening were teachers, who are biased about the issue. It was also pointed out that the task force, of 60 members or so, is a minute portion of the voting public in the school district. Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa leads tour of school for task force on Wednesday. Following are the questions and results of the surveying Wednesday evening. Bowling Green City Schools needs to pursue a bond issue that will address the needs of elementary schools: Strongly agree, 68%; Agree, 16%; Neutral, 7%; Disagree, 5%; Strongly disagree, 4% What is the preferred size of the elementary schools? One school with 1,350 students: 41%Two schools with 675 students: 29%Three schools with 450 students: 29% What is the preferred grade configuration of the elementaries? One pre-kindergarten through fifth grade: 78%Two, with one being pre-kindergarten through second, and the other third through fifth: 6%Three, with one being pre-kindergarten and first, one being second and third, and one being fourth and fifth: 16% I could support one consolidated elementary school: Strongly agree, 41%; Agree, 20%; Neutral, 4%; Disagree, 6%; Strongly disagree, 30% I could support renovating all three elementary buildings: Strongly agree, 25%; Agree, 16%; Neutral, 4%; Disagree, 16%; Strongly disagree, 39% I could support a new Conneaut, a new Kenwood and a renovated Crim: Strongly agree, 27%; Agree, 30%; Neutral, 5%; Disagree, 9%; Strongly disagree, 29% I…


BG school board debates how to reduce number of levy attempts on ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green Board of Education finds itself wedged between a rock and a hard place. The rock being that four levies are coming due, and a possible building bond issue, in the next three to five years. The hard place being that efforts to consolidate those levies may be difficult for voters to digest. The school board, superintendent and treasurer spent more than four hours on Saturday trying to get a grasp on the difficult climb ahead – and trying to find an option that voters will support. Leading the work session was David Conley, the district’s financial consultant from Rockmill Financial Consulting, who tossed out numbers examining the differences between property tax and income tax, comparing Bowling Green to other districts, and studying the levy history for the district. “This isn’t something that happened because people made mistakes,” Conley told the board. “It’s just a result of circumstances.” But the result of those circumstances is made even more difficult because the clock is ticking. The next opportunity to put a levy on the ballot is May. If the board decides to put an issue on in May, the filing deadline is Feb. 6. Though there was no consensus reached, the board will meet again on Thursday, Jan. 10, at 6 p.m., in the administrative offices, to continue the levy discussion. Like many school districts, Bowling Green relies on levies that have time limits. The theory is that voters like to retain some control – rather than have continuing levies. And school boards, while preferring to have continuing levies, introduce time limited levies with the belief that voters will be more likely to support them. But since school expenses always increase, rather than decrease, that puts districts in the difficult position of having to go back to the voters for money when the levies run out. Bowling Green currently has three levies that are set to expire within the next three years: 4.2-mill current expenses levy, raising $2.4 million annually, ending in 2020.1.6-mill emergency levy, raising $1 million a year, set to expire…


BGSU winter session lifts off

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News With only about 350 students enrolled in classes on campus, a visitor would be forgiven for thinking the Bowling Green State University is on break. But on Wednesday BGSU welcomed the new calendar year with the newest twist in its calendar, winter session. Despite appearances the new short session has exceeded enrollment expectations. Assistant Vice Provost Paul Cesarini said based on other schools’ experiences with a winter session, the university expected 600-700 students to enroll. Instead the final number came in at 1,076. “It’s going really well. We didn’t know what to expect going in,” he said. Those students just aren’t in Bowling Green. Emily Alderman leads a tour of campus. They may be off in China or New Zealand or other foreign and domestic locations on study abroad trips. Or they may just be at home in their pajamas catching up on a course or getting ahead through an online class. Cesarini said the face-to-face classes were always expected to be a small part of the session’s academic package. “That is not a bad thing.” The expectation was never that a lot of students would spend the session on campus.  Graduate students also are using the break to work on their dissertations. Betsy Winters, eCampus program coordinator, said that courses that fill the BG Perspective requirement are the most popular. Those include writing and math, and a number of other disciplines. An Italian course attracted enough students to be offered, she noted. It fulfills two BG Perspective requirements. While a number of courses were proposed, many were not offered because too few students expressed interest. About 700 students are taking online classes during the session. Overall, junior and seniors represent more than 60 percent of the students enrolled during winter session. Not every course is conducive to being offered in the shorter winter session window, Cesarini said. That would be true for lab-based science courses, he said.  Students had about a dozen study abroad opportunities. Those included studying marine and aquatic sciences in Curacao, architecture and design in Spain, art and the environment…


BG school board compromises on meeting time, will videotape for those unable to attend

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The Bowling Green Board of Education is making some changes for the new year – new officers, new meeting time, and a new effort to make the meetings accessible to people who can’t attend. The board met for its annual organizational meeting Thursday evening. Ginny Stewart was elected president, and Bill Clifford was voted in as vice president. The other members are Jill Carr, Norm Geer and Paul Walker. The monthly board meetings will continue to be held on the third Tuesday of each month, in the lobby of the Performing Arts Center. The regular meeting time, however, will change. “It was discussed at our previous board meeting, if we want to change our meeting time,” Stewart said. The majority of the board and school staff prefer the earlier meeting time of 5 p.m. as more convenient for staff who get to work as early as 7 a.m. However, the meeting time was changed to 6 p.m. this fall after citizens said the 5 p.m. time made it difficult for working people to attend. So Carr suggested a compromise of 5:30 p.m. Both she and Walker said there was no noticeable increase in meeting attendees when the time was changed to 6 p.m. to accommodate the public. The board voted to adopt the compromise of 5:30 p.m. for meetings this year. Clifford suggested that the board consider videotaping meetings for those unable to attend. “If people can’t make it at 5:30, they can view the meeting at a later time,” he said. The meetings could either be shown on a live stream on Facebook, or a delayed feed on the district’s website. The school district’s task force meetings are videotaped for those who want to view them later. “It’s just another opportunity for the public,” Clifford said. The board agreed and asked Superintendent Francis Scruci to arrange for the taping. The school board will meet again this Saturday at 9 a.m. for a work session, in the district’s administrative office on Clough Street. Scruci said the board will be reviewing the current status…


BG teacher helps cultivate careers for her ag students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Stephanie Conway spent a good deal of her childhood in the Bowling Green FFA classroom taught by her dad, Mike Shertzer. Now Conway has been recognized for being like a second mom to her 120 students in the classroom once occupied by her dad. Conway, BGHS FFA teacher for seven years, was recently recognized during a surprise ceremony for being one of 10 finalists in Ohio for the Golden Owl Award. The award points out the contributions of teachers in Ohio and Iowa in preparing the next generation of young people for successful careers in agriculture. In her classroom, Conway helps students realize there is still a future in farming. The Golden Owl Award was created because of recent trends show a declining number of students who are studying agriculture. In Iowa alone, the presence of agriculture teachers has decreased by 20 percent during the last five years. To shed light on this trend, Nationwide, the top farm insurer in the U.S., established the award to recognize the work of agriculture teachers and the importance of ag education. Conway was selected for making a difference in her students’ lives. She has helped many graduates find careers in the agricultural industry. She often stays after school to take students to contests, make sure they are confident in their work, and allow students to participate in community events. “We’re blessed to have her teach our students,” Bowling Green High School Principal Jeff Dever said. Conway’s efforts have paid off in her students’ success. The BG FFA chapter has earned 12 FFA awards for Wood County, nine awards out of a 24-chapter district and nine state awards in a 341-chapter region. The BG chapter is also a National Three Star Award recipient with four American FFA degrees. The FFA students, who gathered for the surprise recognition, said Conway is dedicated to forming lasting relationships with students and their families, and helping them find jobs in agricultural careers. “She’s always going above and beyond,” including keeping track of graduates in college, said student Jackie Steel. “She’s always…


Art serves as bridge between generations at Otterbein Pemberville

From LAURA DREWES OTTERBEIN PEMBERVILLE Otterbein Pemberville received a grant through the state of Ohio to be a part of this project in 2018.    Opening Minds through Art was created at the Scripps Gerontology Center at the University of Miami and it focuses on the importance of intergenerational relationships and creating a safe space for persons living with memory loss to create art in a fail-proof environment.   Student Cordelia Howard and resident Mary S. Otterbein Pemberville partnered with Eastwood High School students and the art teacher, Jennifer Moorman.  The students came to OPV each week for eight weeks and worked with the same resident to create different works of abstract art with prompts from the OMA curriculum.  It was such a blessing to watch the eight students grow over their time working with their partners.  Their grades ranged from 7th grade to juniors in high school and for some of the students, it was their first time visiting a long term care community.   We concluded this session with an art show including the Eastwood Jazz Band. We look forward to starting our next session in February. 


Middle school tackling emotional education of students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Being a middle schooler can be a tough time in the life of a kid. They are full of angst, uncertainty, rebellion and a slurry of emotions. To help students (and the adults around them) better survive those difficult years, the Bowling Green Middle School has a program called Reaching Every Child Through Advisory. The staff shared how the program works during the school board meeting last week. Students meet weekly in small groups of 15 or so, and partner with teachers to help build relationships that go beyond the stress of getting good grades, said social studies teacher Pat Carney. These weekly meetings give teachers a chance to monitor the social and emotional status of the students. Are some feeling depressed? Are some prone to violence in school? For so long, teachers have wondered who would intervene with troubled kids, Carney said. “Something has to be done,” Carney said teachers have realized for years. “We can’t wait anymore for somebody to do something.” So the middle school program gives the students and teachers a chance to interact in a non-academic environment. If students establish positive relationships with their peers and adults, they will be better at handling the rocky young teenage years. “We make every child feel they are valued and appreciated,” Carney said. “We believe in them and we value them.” Some students just need to know that someone is listening and understanding them. “It’s the reason we went into this profession,” Carney said. Alyssa Santacroce, middle school guidance counselor, said the program allows students to talk openly about tough topics. They discuss how to manage their emotions, make responsible decisions, and show empathy for others. “These are really important skills,” Santacroce said. “They are empowered in their decisions.” A recent national study showed that students exposed to social-emotional learning programs fare better in the long run. They score higher in academic assessments and show decreased levels of emotional distress, Santacroce said. They also have increased rates of high school and college graduation. The middle school program includes a second day…


Shooting drill at high school prepares teachers, police and EMS for intruders

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The teachers were told the gunshots would be blanks. They knew the students screaming for help in the hallways were acting. And they had been prepared for the “shooters” trying to barge into their classrooms. But when the gunfire began, the adrenaline started pumping. “We could hear the shooting,” said Mary Lou Zweibel, Conneaut music teacher, who was barricaded in a classroom on the second floor of Bowling Green High School on Friday. Occasionally, someone in the classroom would peek out the window on the door to see if the coast was clear. “We could hear a person crying for help,” Zweibel said. “We decided to stay put.” Others took their chance running for the door. Science teacher Paula Williams put “the boot” mechanism in the classroom door to keep out intruders. She and others then moved tables to further block the door and covered the windows that could be seen from the glass hallway in the high school. “When we knew they were on the second floor, we exited through the custodian’s exit,” Williams said. Williams’ classroom made it out safely, but some drama club students with fake blood stains were strewn across the hallway on the second floor where one of the “gunmen” took a hostage. Officer Robin Short talks to drama students who volunteered to be in the shooter scenario. The active shooting exercise that took months to plan was over in less than an hour. But those participating learned how time seemed to move agonizingly slowly as they waited to be rescued. After it was over, one of the teachers asked how long the drill had lasted – it seemed like three hours. It was more like 45 minutes. “I know it felt like a long time,” Bowling Green Police Officer Robin Short said to district’s entire staff who participated in the exercise held just as winter break was to begin. The school faculty and staff were not the only ones tested on Friday. This was also a drill for Bowling Green police and fire divisions, who were not…


Scruci stands up for school staff; seeks deadline for task forces

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci said he could no longer sit still as teachers and administrators are being used as a punching bag for critics of school building improvements. Nor could he keep quiet as students continue to wait while opponents use delay tactics to stall new or renovated school buildings. So at Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Scruci asked that the board set a deadline for the task forces to complete their work and report back to the board. “We owe it to our children and staff to move forward without delay,” he said. Board President Jill Carr said the board would take the request under advisement. Scruci calmly addressed the “level of hostility” rising at the school task force meetings as community members discuss the future of school buildings and how to fund them. “It’s embarrassing for our community,” the superintendent said. When the school board suggested that the task forces be formed earlier this year to find solutions to the district’s building issues, Scruci had one criteria – people had to address the issue with open minds. “I was hopeful somehow this would bring our community together,” he said. Many members of the facilities and the financial task forces are trying to find common ground. They have committed to meeting multiple times a month, for a couple hours at a time. “I think the participation from the community speaks volumes,” Scruci said. But the verbal attacks, insults and threats aren’t helping. Scruci mentioned one comment in particular from a facilities task force meeting last week when Rich Chamberlain suggested that the group consult Perrysburg teachers rather than Bowling Green teachers about building needs since Perrysburg gets better state report card scores. “I go to winners when I want to win,” Chamberlain said at that meeting. That type of attack on Bowling Green teachers shows great disrespect, Scruci said. “That’s a reckless statement,” that doesn’t take into account the wealth of the district and the community support, the superintendent said. “We’re doing a lot of great things and we’re making a…


BG Schools task force gets into sticky subject of how to pay for buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The finance task force for BG City Schools stepped into the touchy subject of how local taxpayers can best pick up their share of the tab for new or renovated buildings. The temperature of the discussion Monday evening spiked a bit when the topic moved from applying for state funding to paying for the local portion. The group seemed to come to the consensus that there would be no harm starting the process to get state funding. But it appears that finding middle ground on how to fund the local share will be more difficult to achieve. Consultant David Conley, from Rockmill Financial, listed the options for funding on the local end: Property taxes.Income taxes.County sales tax.Municipal tax. The district currently collects 0.5 percent traditional income tax, which brings in about $3.4 million a year. The same percentage in earned income tax would collect about $2.4 million a year. For the sake of calculating how much it would cost district residents in property or income taxes, Conley asked the task force members to select some base numbers for the average annual income and the average home value in the school district. Based on numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau and current tax collections, the group narrowed in on $50,300 for annual income, and $161,300 for the home value. The group also viewed statistics showing that 19 percent of district residents receive Social Security, 17 percent get retirement income, and 11 percent are on public assistance. So the question becomes – what type of tax is affordable for the most people in the district? Wade Gottschalk, a member of the tax force, suggested that relying on income tax can be risky since those numbers can dip when the economy sees a decline. “It is risky,” Conley agreed. He showed several years of the district’s income tax revenue that showed decreases after the recession in 2008. Property tax revenue is different because the county auditor collects however much is needed to make the bond payments, Conley said. “So you don’t have the same risks,” he…