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BG school district sees growth in state report card

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This Bowling Green report card may make the refrigerator door. The state released its school report cards this morning – a moment that many districts await with great anxiety. Bowling Green City School District shows improvement in student achievement and gap closing for students. It also shows continued “A”s for progress and graduation rates. And overall, the district received a final grade of “B.” The state did not award overall grades last year. But if it had assigned grades, Bowling Green would definitely have scored lower last year, according to Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for BG Schools. Most importantly, Superintendent Francis Scruci said this morning, is the fact that the district continues to score high for student progress, and has shown improvement in closing the gaps for students. “We are showing progress and we are showing growth,” Scruci said. “We’re showing improvement and that’s the most important thing.” “Our goal is to make sure a kid grows at least one grade level every school year,” he said. “We’re doing straight ‘A’ work in that area.” The state report card gave BG City Schools an “A” for the growth of students from one year to the next. The district received a “B” for gap closing. That looks at how well the district meets expectations for vulnerable students in English language arts, math and graduation. “When you’re looking at measures that mean something, certainly those are areas that mean something,” Scruci said. Though there is plenty for the district to be proud of in the preliminary report, Scruci said he realizes there is still room for improvement. While B is a good overall grade, the district needs to keep aiming for an A. “Until we have that, we’ve got work to do,” he said. The district also scored two “D”s on the state report card. Scruci repeated his belief that the state report cards use a flawed system for scoring schools. “It’s a convoluted formula. It’s a formula with a flaw,” he said. At a special board meeting earlier this week, school board members questioned how the district could receive a grade of “D” in the “prepared for success” category – yet an “A” for graduation rates. That is just one example, McCarty said, of…

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Gordon Korman finds fodder for his fiction all around him

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Writer Gordon Korman finds stories everywhere. His childhood love of survival stories led to his writing “The Island” trilogy. When his wife exclaimed that their eldest son wouldn’t even notice if the house was burning down when he was absorbed in playing a video game, the novel “The Slacker” was born. These inspirations even can come during a talk to middle school students, like the one he was giving in Bowling Green. Korman told the BG sixth graders gathered to hear him that once he was speaking to an assembly and a student asked him what was going to happen next in the “On the Run” series, which he had just finished. Nothing, Korman told the girl. She wanted to know more about Aiden and Meg Falconer. He wondered what more could happen to the Falconer kids. Meg could get kidnapped, the student responded. “The Kidnapped” trilogy was born. Korman is the Wood County District Public Library’s Youth Community Reads author. He’s in town visiting local schools and speaking at the library. Korman, 54, has been a published author for 40 years. Yes, do the math. His first book was published when he was a freshman in high school, and written when he, like the students in front of him, was in middle school. He wasn’t thinking about writing a novel, he said. He got better grades and was more interested in math and science than in English. But then a fresh-from-college track and field coach, who had no clue about how to teach creative writing, took over his English class. He was the only adult available. He told the students to write. Korman did. He started spinning a story about a fictional school Macdonald Hall. He wrote in class, and then brought his notebooks home to continue the story. And when he had finished “This Can’t Be Happening in MacDonald Hall,” he had his mother type it up. Then Korman, who was in charge of placing orders for the Scholastic Book sales, sent his manuscript to the address on the order form. The guy who opened the package read the manuscript and liked it. His supervisor liked it. It went up the chain. At 13 Korman was signing his first contract. By the way, he got a B+…


Food truck meeting gives BG officials a lot to digest

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The committee studying food trucks in Bowling Green got a heaping serving of advice from a wide range of food providers Monday evening. They heard from the owners of a burger bar, family diner, fast food site, and the chef at a country club. They also heard from food truck owners who sell everything from perch and grilled cheese, to grilled lamb chops and lobster macaroni & cheese. And all of them seemed to want to find a way that brick and mortar restaurants can not only survive, but can benefit from having food trucks in the city. “I’m here to find out how we have to adapt to compete,” said George Strata, who owns Beckett’s Burger Bar and Call of the Canyon with his wife, Phina Strata. “Competition is good,” as long as it’s fair, he added. A current city ordinance allows food trucks on private property, but not on public property within 150 feet of a right-of-way. A committee made up of Bowling Green City Council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino, is studying if those rules should be changed to make it feasible for food trucks to set up in the city. Herald asked for input on where trucks should be allowed, the specific hours of operation, the duration of operations, and how many locations may be used? Food truck operators abide by a “code of the road,” Herald said, but some specific rules may be in order. “We’re in the process of trying to see what’s feasible in town,” Zanfardino said. Russ Courtney, owner of Rusty’s Roadtrip which sets up weekly in Perrysburg and once a year at the Black Swamp Arts Festival in Bowling Green, suggested that the rules not be made too restrictive. “If the law gets convoluted enough, people will say, ‘Forget it,’” Courtney said. The city of Perrysburg has no rules limiting the days of operation, said Phil Barone, owner of Rosie’s Italian Grille, a food truck owner, and president of the area food truck association. The food trucks go to Perrysburg on Thursdays during the weekly farmers markets, and go to Maumee for “Food Truck Fridays.” “You don’t need to worry about food trucks hanging out,” Barone said. They are too busy, and will only go…


Construction boom continues at BGSU

DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The transformation of the former Hanna Hall into the Robert and Patricia Maurer Center, the new home for the College of Business, took a large step forward when the Bowling Green State University trustees approved the final funding for the $44.5 million project. The project involves extensively renovating the 1921 building and constructing an addition on the eastern face more than doubling its size. Trustees also approved the naming of a variety of spaces within the building for private donors, whose funds are a linchpin of the financing of the building. Trustees approved $37,327,420. The trustees had already approved the balance of the funding. Sheri Stoll, the university’s chief financial officer, said that the university will borrow $28 million to pay for the project with the balance coming from private donors. She said that $11 million in donations and pledges for the project have already been received. “We’re making very, very good progress.” President Rodney Rogers also expressed confidence that the university would meet its goal. He said that the project has been a decade in the making. When he arrived on campus as business dean, people were talking about the inadequacy of the building housing business. “These facilities are lagging other business schools in the state.” He predicted that the new center “will drive enrollment and serve constituencies on campus.” Construction on the project has already begun with the relocation of utility lines under the nearby parking lot that started over the winter break. The project will be completed by summer, 2020, in time for the beginning of the fall semester. The building will include the offices for the college, classrooms and open areas, all intermixed, to promote collaboration. The current College of Business building will still be used for classes. At the end of the semester the programs still in the building will move to new locations. That includes the Gish Theatre being relocated to the theater in the student union, and with other parts of the collection going to Jerome Library and the Department of Theatre and Film. The trustees also approved the funding for upgrading the forensic science facilities in the Life Sciences Building and doing extensive maintenance to the exterior and interior of Eppler Hall. The state is funding the $1 million forensics project. The…


BGSU & UT agreement boosts courses in world languages & cultures

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Before their respective football teams met on the Doyt Perry Stadium turf, the presidents of Bowling Green State University and the University of Toledo met to sign an agreement that promises to be a winner for both institutions. Meeting on the third floor of the Sebo Center overlooking the field where the teams were preparing for kickoff, BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey and UT President Sharon Gaber signed an agreement giving more structure to the course exchanges in foreign languages between the two MAC rivals. That rivalry, Mazey said, is strong in sports, but when it comes to academics, BGSU and UT are committed to collaborating so they can to provide their students the most opportunities. In this case, those opportunities are in foreign languages. UT students already are taking online Italian course through BGSU, and in spring BGSU students will start taking Arabic courses at UT. In 2018 the two schools will share offerings in French and German. “We are pleased to enter into this partnership with The University of Toledo, which will provide exceptional educational experiences for both BGSU and UT students,” Mazey said in a statement announcing the agreement. “As one of BGSU’s core values, we welcome opportunities to collaborate. This agreement combines the strengths of both universities, resulting in efficiencies that support students’ degree completion.” The agreement was prompted by the Governor’s Task Force on Affordability and Efficiency that had state colleges and universities look at under-enrolled and duplicative programs within their region. Foreign languages were identified as a possible area for collaboration between UT and BGSU. “By sharing resources, we will be able to provide our students access to more foreign language education opportunities to better prepare them for success in the global marketplace,” Gaber said. “We all know we live in a global economy,” Mazey said, “so it’s very, very important that we do this. Foreign language is where it starts.” “More and more of our kids are going into international business whether they know it or not,” said BGSU’s Dean College of Arts and Science Raymond Craig. “It’s a global economy. They have to be prepared. They have to be able to see things from the perspective of the other culture. Knowing the language and having some education in the culture allows…


“Lab rat” Chad Greene describes his career journey through digital arts maze

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Chad Greene’s career in digital arts took him a lot of places. During his presentation Friday at Bowling Green State University he projected a map that showed his travels from his hometown Sandusky, to Bowling Green to Detroit, and across the country and back a couple times. Greene now lives in Seattle where for the past six years he’s been senior art director for Xbox, a division of Microsoft. That map didn’t capture the digital artist’s adventures in ancient Rome, futuristic dystopias under the sea, the North Pole, and the land of Far, Far Away. Greene, who was in the first class of digital arts majors to graduate from BGSU’s School of Art, was speaking as part of Milestone activities. The event was a reunion of graduates of the School of Art with a special celebration this year if digital arts’ silver anniversary. An exhibit of alumni work is on displays at the School of Art galleries through Nov. 5. Before the BGSU grad went so far, he spent many, many nights in and days in the fledgling computer arts labs on campus. He and his best friend Mark Shoaf spent hours a day in the lab. “We were lab rats. I’m sure we stank and had bad breath. “We knew this is what we wanted to do. … We knew the hard work would us where we wanted to go.” When he graduated in 1992, Greene put together a demo reel including an animated band The Ungrateful Dead and sent it out to Industrial Light and Magic the company that was working to bring dinosaurs back to life for “Jurassic Park.” He never heard back. Instead he and Shoaf went to work for a Toledo company for a promise that once the company started making money they would share in the wealth. The company never made money, but the pair spent more nights in the studio working with good equipment. It was a low point of eating Saltines with peanut butter and sleeping on the studio floor. When they left they had a better demo reel that secured them jobs with a production house that worked with the automotive industry. It was Greene who suggested the company branch out to do promotion work for the local professional sports…


Citizens gather on Wooster Green to defend DACA

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Yvette Llanas, a lifelong Bowling Green resident and American citizen, never dreamed the threat of deportation would touch her family. Llanas found out last week she was wrong. “I never thought this would affect me,” Llanas said in an impromptu speech on the Wooster Green Sunday evening during a rally opposing President Donald Trump’s action to end DACA. “My daughter-in-law happens to be undocumented,” Llanas said. “The decision made this week just crushed my soul.” Her daughter-in-law came to America as a small child. “This is the only home she knows,” Llanas said. “She is part of our country,” as are her two children. “We are all immigrants here, somehow, some way,” Llanas said. About 60 local residents gathered in the Wooster Green to express their opposition to Trump’s announcement last week that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months if Congress doesn’t find a more permanent solution. Since it was enacted under President Barack Obama, about 800,000 immigrants who were children when they arrived in the U.S. illegally have received protections from the program. DACA allows young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study and obtain driver’s licenses. Those signing up for DACA must show that they have clean criminal records. Their status is renewable every two years. “This is really targeting kids who were brought by their parents at a very early age,” said Beatriz Maya, of the La Conexion organization. “They don’t know any other life. It makes no sense for them to be deported. It’s very wrong. They cannot be blamed for anything.” Those attending the rally were asked to contact their congress members about the DACA issue. “The Dreamers don’t want citizenship just for themselves,” Maya said. “They want comprehensive immigration reform for 11 million undocumented immigrants, who have been contributing to the nation for many, many years.” Jorge Chavez, president of the La Conexion organization, presented his comments in Spanish and English. “I am blessed and lucky because I don’t have to be afraid,” said Chavez, who is a BGSU professor, a father and a husband. The DACA program helped about 800,000 people previously at risk of deportation. “This…