election

BG School Board takes back seat to citizen task forces

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education handed the car keys over to the community Monday evening. After two failed attempts to pass a $72 million school bond issue for buildings, the board has now put the community in the driver’s seat. Approximately 150 citizens met in the school’s performing arts center to listen to where the district goes from here. Board President Jill Carr invited citizens to sign up for one or both of two task forces being formed – one to study school facilities and the other to study finances. The task forces will set their own meeting schedules, decide what information they need, and report back to the board. “This will be a community-driven process,” Carr said. “The board will step back.” Though the administration and board will make requested information available to the task forces, they will take a back seat in the process, Superintendent Francis Scruci said. The goal is to come up with a “solution that the community can support,” Scruci said. “Regardless of which side you stood on in November and May.” The district is at a “critical juncture,” the superintendent said, urging the community to work together, and refrain from name calling and personal attacks. “We need to rise above for the good of all,” Scruci said. The process of putting the community in charge of building projects and funding is quite unusual, according to David Conley, an expert in school finance hired by the district earlier this year. But it has been done by about 10 of Ohio’s 600 school districts, Conley said. In those 10 cases, most of the districts ended up winning at the ballot, he added. The task forces will identify the needs of the district, then decide how to pay for those improvements. Conley will act as facilitator for the finance task force. The facilitator for the facilities group has not yet been selected. “You’re being given the power to make the decisions for the district,” he said to the audience. Conley cautioned that anyone joining a task force should make a commitment of at least six months, with one or two meetings each month. He also warned that those unwilling to work on the project have no right to complain later. “Don’t criticize the result of the work of the committees after the fact,” he said. “Don’t sit at home and expect someone else to do the job for you.” Conley talked about the duties of each task force, which will start their work in…

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County parks levy takes a hike with levy victory

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As voters where casting their ballots, the Wood County Park District board was holding its monthly meeting in the Bradner Preserve. It was a perfect day to be in a park. Sun was shining. Trees were budding. The park board was hoping that feeling would continue into the evening when the votes were counted. “I’m cautiously optimistic,” said park board president Denny Parish. There was no need for caution, since the voters showed that they supported the county park district’s mission by approving the 1-mill renewal levy by 74 percent. The unofficial count was 14,462 to 5,207. The park board was worried of other financial competition on Tuesday’s ballot. “We were concerned there would be several financial issues on the ballot,” Parish said. “But it’s obvious tonight that people who support the parks, support the parks.” The key to such overwhelming support could have been that the park district stuck with its 1-mill levy, rather than increasing its millage. For the last decade, the levy has generated about $2.8 million a year. That amount is expected to grow to $3 million a year because of new construction in the county. Or it could have been all the park district offers for residents. The county park district has grown to 20 different parks, with 1,125 acres, open 365 days a year. “I think it’s just the good work that the people I work with everyday do for the parks,” said Wood County Park District Director Neil Munger. The park district may have also won such support by showing voters that it listens to their suggestions. Based on resident requests, new programming has been added – both educational and adventure activities, Munger said. “Everybody likes what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’ll keep listening to the public to see what they want to see for their parks.” Park district adventure activities include archery, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, geo-caching, hunting, rock rappelling, bicycling and bouldering. Programs are offered throughout the year, including classes on wildlife, bird migration, nature photography, stream studies, fire building, seed cleaning, beekeeping, trees, yoga, tai chi and camping. There are also full moon walks, senior nature hikes, wildflower walks, and summer nature camps. The park district also shares its wealth, with small community parks in the county. The district awards $100,000 a year to local parks for such items as playground equipment, restrooms, or ADA accommodations. During the last several years, the park district has focused funding on land acquisitions.  But that focus is about to…


Election result update

10:09 Issue 1 that calls for redrawing U.S. Congressional Districts was winning easily in Wood County with 75 percent of the vote,  mirroring results statewide. That won’t happen before the November election though when incumbent Republican Bob Latta will be challenged by Democrat Michael Galbraith, both of whom won handily in their primary races. There were no surprises in other statewide races with Democrat Richard Cordray and Republican Mike DeWine set to face off for givernor, and Republican Jim Renacci set to face off against Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, who was unopposed in the primary.   9:50 Bowling Green School bond levy loses, 2845-4218, 40-60 percent. Wood County Park levy winning handily with 73 percent of the vote, 13,020-4,812, with 87 of 99 precincts reporting. Sunset Bistro’s liquor ordinance passed easily, 545-114.     9:08 With 20 of 29 precincts reporting, school bond issue is down 1,461-2,287.   9:04 In District 5 Democratic primary, Politico is reporting Michael Galbraith leading James Neu, with  69.6 percent, 4,986-2,174, and 24 percent of the precincts reporting. At this point, the Democratic total votes are running just ahead of the total votes for the two GOP challengers, Kreienkamp and Wolfrum.   8:53 School bond issue failing badly, 746-1356 with 9 of 29 precincts reporting. 8:42 Park levy cruising with 72 percent in favor. 8:38 With four of 29 precincts reporting, BG school bond levy is losing 669-890 8:20 With just over 8,400 5th District votes in, Politico is calling Bob Latta a winner over  Todd Wolfrum and Robert Kreienkamp  with 72 percent of the vote. 8:15 With 141 votes in, people in the neighborhood of Sunset Bistro are saying they want the restaurant to expand its alcohol offerings on Sunday. The liquor option is winning 115-26. 7:58 Initial votes from county. BG school bond: For – 568 45.12 percent; against – 691 votes, 54.88 percent. Park district levy: For – 1852, 74.3 percent, against, 639, 25.65 percent   7:56 p.m. No results yet from Wood County, but Politico is reporting Bob Latta has 70,1 percent of the initial vote with 3,885. Todd Wolfrum has, 1,189,24 percent and Robert Kreienkamp, 467, 8.4 percent, 467.


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 trend seen in school districts seems to offer the best of both educational worlds, Christensen said. Districts are working to create small schools inside big consolidated schools. “If you create that environment, it makes the larger school seem smaller,” Christensen said. With this model, students can benefit from academic teaming, access to all support staff, and more connectedness at the same time. “As long as you can create that kind of intimacy of a small school in a bigger school,”…


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 be able to address this and make drop off and pick up the safest experience possible. Finally, the largest argument for this project seems to be cost.  It isn’t a small project.  It could have been if past administrations would have addressed the needs.  But they didn’t, and this is where we find ourselves.   I do not have high school students. However, I did take the tour of the building and have talked with parents who do have children in that building.  We could drop money…


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 takes that information and comes up with the millage.  The millage includes both principal and interest.  So, nothing has been hidden from the public!! I would think someone like Mr. Strow would be happy that the school has operating money in the bank!  He is exaggerating again when he suggests that the school will be “pushed into bankruptcy by 2021.”  First, it is currently 2018 and they are financially sound, second, he must not understand governmental accounting and budgeting.  The…


BG voters to decide on Sunday sales at Sunset Bistro

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Voters in a section of Bowling Green’s west side will get to decide one ballot issue next week that won’t cost them a penny – except later when they order a drink while dining out. On Tuesday’s primary election ballot, voters in Precinct 110 will vote on allowing Sunset Bistro to serve wine and liquor on Sundays, from 10 a.m. to midnight. The citizens included in this vote are surrounded by Foxgate, Meeker Street, Wooster Street and Conneaut Avenue. Sunset Bistro, owned by Prudy Brott, at 1220 W. Wooster St., has been open now for three years. The restaurant serves beer, wine and liquor on every other day of the week, but on Sundays can only serve beer and Verdi, a type of sparkling champagne. “We’d just like it to be like the rest of the days of the week,” Brott said. Restaurant employees went door-to-door to collect petition signatures to get the issue on the ballot. “We had such a great response,” Brott said. Customers at the bistro often ask for wine or liquor on Sundays, during the restaurant’s weekly brunch or later during evening dinners. “They want to have a glass of wine or a cocktail,” she said. There have been times when diners have left the restaurant when they find out that wine and liquor are not available on Sundays. And one regular group of diners often goes to one of their party’s homes for a drink then return to Sunset Bistro for dinner, Brott said. The lack of liquor sales was particularly detrimental this past New Year’s Eve that fell on a Sunday. People were reluctant to make reservations, she said. “It limits what we can do here,” Brott said. Even if the voters pass the Sunday sales issue, Brott will still have to apply to the State Liquor Control for the proper license. “It wouldn’t be immediate,” she said. But people have been very supportive. “We serve responsibly, and people love the food,” Brott said.