Bowling Green City School District

BG school board eyes options – may try 2 levy renewals this fall

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Remember story problems? Three old trains are barreling toward Bowling Green, while two new trains are headed toward the same location at the same time. Only this story problem doesn’t ask which train will arrive first at the station. The question behind this story problem is – which trains will voters get on board and support at the polls. Bowling Green Board of Education spent another long Saturday work session going over its options for dealing with a potential five tax issues going before voters in the next two to four years. It appears the board may be narrowing its options to possibly putting two renewal levies on the ballot this fall. David Conley, the district’s financial consultant from Rockmill Financial, used the train analogy so the board could visualize the three existing tax issues coming due in the district. One option, he said was merging two of the trains onto one track – or in this case, combining two tax levies into one issue. While the plan to reduce tax requests on voters was attractive, some board members were clearly leaning toward biting the bullet and asking instead that voters to approve two existing levies for a continuing period of time. Where does BG stand right now … Here’s a refresher on the levies coming due for the school district: 4.2-mill current expense levy, generating about $2.4 million a year, which expires in 2020.1.6-mill emergency levy, generating about $1 million a year, which also expires in 2020.0.5 percent income tax, generating about $3.2 million a year, expiring in 2022. Those add up to $6.8 million a year. Failure to renew those would hit the district hard, Conley said. At the same time, Bowling Green needs new money (those are the new trains barreling toward the station). Those options include: New operating levy, with an undetermined source of income or property tax revenue.Funding for new facilities, which Conley estimated will be anywhere from $30 million to $50 million. Again, the source of these funds may be income tax, property tax, or combination of…


BG school task forces start search for solutions

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green task force members put their first drops of sweat equity into the future of their school district Tuesday evening. They gathered in the hot high school cafeteria to take the initial steps toward a school building solution that two bond issue attempts failed to solve. “This is a great opportunity for the community,” said David Conley, a financial consultant hired by the school district to help find a solution. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to restart the clock.” Approximately 130 citizens signed up to serve on two task forces – one focused on school facilities, the other on school finances. When done with their work, the task forces will make recommendations to the school board of how to proceed on building issues. “You drive the train on this,” Conley said. “You can conclude that there’s no need for anything.” To help the facilities task force decide the future of Bowling Green school buildings, Conley introduced three members of Fanning Howey, a firm of architects, engineers, planners and former school administrators who specialize in schools. The firm has assisted more than 100 Ohio school districts, including Eastwood, North Baltimore and Northwood in Wood County. Three members of the firm are volunteering their time to work with the Bowling Green facilities task force. Architects Steve Wilczynski and Dan Obrynba, plus former school superintendent Tim Hamilton made their pitch to the citizens. Some citizens expressed skepticism about the firm’s motives for volunteering. Obrynba explained that this is the first time for them to volunteer on a job – however, he added that if they do a good job, they will have earned themselves a chance to work on whatever building project the district decides is right for Bowling Green. Others questioned their objectivity when it comes to deciding on renovating old buildings versus constructing new ones. Hamilton said he has been involved with the whole gambit – from fixing up and adding on, to full renovations and building new. Wilczynski estimated 60 to 65 percent of the firm’s work is new buildings, with 35…


Facilitators found for BG school building task force

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A school architecture firm has been selected to help Bowling Green City School District residents determine the best solution for aging school buildings. The firm of Fanning Howey has identified three individuals with expertise in community engagement, school building renovation, school building construction, community-centered visioning, and the State Classroom Facilities Assistance Program, to guide the efforts of the school facilities task force. The three – Steve Wilczynski, Dan Obrynba and Tim Hamilton – will be at the first joint meeting of the task forces on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. The men have some experience working with school districts in Wood County. Wilczynski worked with Eastwood, North Baltimore and Northwood. Obrynba worked with Rossford. “They are very experienced in community engagement to identify the desires of the community,” said David Conley, a school finance consultant hired by Bowling Green Board of Education to help with the community task force process. Conley will act as facilitator for the finance task force, which has at least 64 members from the community. The Fanning Howey employees will facilitate the school facilities task force, which has at least 94 members from the community. According to Conley, the facilitators are knowledgeable about school building renovations and new construction – which was vital since the Bowling Green district is divided about the need to renovate existing sites or build new schools. “That’s going to be instantly beneficial to the facilities group,” he said. Fanning Howey has worked with many school districts around Ohio, and was one of the earliest firms to work with the State of Ohio on state funding programs, Conley said. “They can provide some real immediate feedback to the task force,” he said. Fanning Howey is volunteering to provide this service to the residents of the district at no charge. The firm is aware that the district is not under any obligation to retain them for any current or future services. According to Conley, the facilitators are also aware that they must report to members of the community facilities task force – which reserves the…


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 the Penta DECA program and…


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 have to step back and…


BG district scrutinizes safety after Parkland shooting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In response to growing violence at schools across the nation, Bowling Green City Schools had each classroom equipped with a “Boot” last year. The “Boot” was created by Rob Couturier, of Michigan, after his daughter was the victim of a violent attack. The “Boot,” is a rectangular-shaped plate of quarter-inch thick industrial steel. Secured by two steel pegs, the plate can withstand 16,000 pounds of pressure and keep doors closed to intruders. The safety mechanism has been installed in more than 100 public schools and 18 private schools in the region. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci rests a little easier knowing every classroom in the district has a mechanism to keep an intruder out and keep the students safe inside. However, Scruci also realizes nothing is completely safe. “Anytime we’re talking about student safety, there is always more you can do,” Scruci said Thursday, the day after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed at 17. “We want to make sure kids are safe. But we can’t with 100 percent certainty,” he said. “We don’t have the resources to make them as safe as possible.” But in the case of the Parkland shooter, who reportedly went door to door to classrooms, the “Boot” would keep him from entering rooms. “That’s the beauty of the ‘Boot.’ He’s not getting in there,” Scruci said. In addition to the “Boot” on classroom doors, the Bowling Green school district also relies on students and staff to point out troubled students, hold training drills at the school, and work with local police on responding to threats. By law, every school must hold a lockdown drill at least once a year. “We just had a meeting and discussed that we need to do it more often,” Scruci said. “We don’t ever want to think this is a new normal, but we want people to be prepared.” Of course, the school district can’t prepare for every possibility, he said. The accused shooter in the Florida school pulled a fire alarm first, reportedly to have easier access to students…


BG school levy fails; board ponders next attempt

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green school officials were disappointed but not dissuaded by Tuesday’s defeat of the 6-mill levy for school buildings. The levy was rejected by a vote of 3,471 (46 percent) to 4,021 (54 percent). “I feel bad for the kids. I feel bad for the staff. I feel bad for the community,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said as he stood surrounded by levy supporters as the election results came in. But Scruci and the school board don’t plan to waste much time moaning about the loss. They have some decisions to make. Do they go back on the ballot in May or November? Or do they try to patch up buildings with permanent improvement funds and add more modular classrooms? “We’re not going to stop doing what’s right for kids,” Scruci said. “We’re disappointed this is 20 months of work that came down to one day,” he said. The 6-mill levy, lasting 37 years, would have raised $72 million for buildings. The plan was to consolidate the three elementaries into one centralized building, and to renovate and add new sections to the high school. The levy failure was not due to lack of communication, since Scruci made nearly 100 presentations on the levy and building plans since September. However, in the last couple weeks, opposition to the levy came out with “a lot of misinformation” that didn’t help, he said. The superintendent had said that if the levy failed, the district would come back next year with the same proposal – since it is the best plan to meet the needs of the students. The school board members seemed to support that plan. “We will go back and see what we need to learn from this,” board member Jill Carr said. “I personally believe in what we put out there.” Board member Ginny Stewart said she was saddened for the students and teachers. “This is a blow to the community. This is a big need. As long as I’m on this board, and the rest of the board is willing, I’m ready to…


Scruci joins other districts questioning state report cards

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The state may need a refresher course on how to do testing. Once again, Bowling Green City School District scored low in some areas on its state report card. But according to Superintendent Francis Scruci, that may say more about the tests than the school district. In the area of “achievement” – which represents the number of students who passed the state tests and how well they performed on them – Bowling Green scored a D. The sting from that grade is lessened a bit by the similar grades earned across the state, Scruci said. Of the 607 districts scored, only 22 got an A, 15 scored a B, 22 got a C, and 58 earned a D. The vast majority – 490 – earned an F. “As educators we know when we create tests for classrooms, there should be a bell-shaped curve,” Scruci said. The fact that most districts failed, raises “obvious questions.” “This is a pretty good illustration that this system is not working,” he said about the state grade cards. Scruci is not alone in his harsh opinion of the state tests. Many Wood County superintendents share his criticisms. “Everyone is frustrated with the system itself,” he said. “The system is flawed. If a teacher were to give a test and get scores like that,” they would do it again. In addition to the “achievement” area, the other grades given to Bowling Green schools include: D for gap closing. This shows how well schools are meeting the performance expectations for the most vulnerable populations of students in English language arts, math and graduation. C for K-3 literacy. This looks at how successful the district is at getting struggling readers on track to proficiency in third grade and beyond. A for progress. This looks closely at the value-added growth that all students are making based on their past performances. Bowling Green scored A in all the areas of overall, gifted, students with disabilities and lowest 20 percent in achievement. A for graduation rate. This looks at the percent of students…