Bowling Green City Schools

State funding options for schools can be slippery issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News A glimmer of hope has gotten dimmer for one state funding option for Bowling Green City Schools. During a presentation last month, one of the state funding options for school facilities looked promising … until a task force member asked more questions. The Bowling Green district is at least a decade down on the list for funding from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. So when Steve Roka, senior planning manager with the OFCC, met with the district’s finance task force and presented the option of funding through the state’s Exceptional Needs Program, it sounded worth pursuing. However, when Roka answered follow-up questions through email from task force members, the chance for funding anytime soon looked more remote. Roka said during the meeting that ENP funding typically covers only the very worst buildings in the state – such as those with dangerous electric systems. The funding can only be used for new buildings, not renovations. David Conley, the district’s consultant through Rockmill Financial, referred to the ENP as a “beauty contest,” with the ugliest building in the state winning. Roka presented the ENP option as a way Bowling Green could accelerate possible state funding. And many felt that at least one building in the Bowling Green district might be in poor enough shape to be worthy of those funds. “It sounded like we could apply for and get funding in that program,” Conley said. “It sounded good to me, too.” But when task force members asked further questions about the Exceptional Needs Program, the chances of that funding seemed to disappear. One task force member asked about the pending applications, the deadline for submission, and the timeline for a project. Roka responded that there are currently no ENP applications pending review. Roka added that the OFCC is not seeking new applications for the ENP. “Because of the number of districts eligible for funding through our primary program – the Classroom Facilities Assistance Program – ENP applications are not being received by OFCC for the current planning cycle. No determination has been made as to when OFCC will reopen the application process for the ENP program,” Roka wrote. The Exceptional Needs Program funding may have been a stretch anyway for Bowling Green School District. To qualify, a school facility must be in horrendous condition. “The building has to be putting students in harm’s way,” Conley…


BG School staff to be trained for active shooter scenario

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   While Bowling Green City School students get off a day early for their holiday break, their teachers will be learning how to handle school intruders. The Board of Education voted on Wednesday to start winter break for students on Dec. 21 – a day earlier than originally planned. But the entire school district staff of more than 400 people will have to report to the Performing Arts Center at 8 a.m. on Dec. 21. So as students are snug in their beds dreaming of Santa and his elves, the staff will be practicing for active shooters. The training, led by Bowling Green Police Division, will shift at 10:30 a.m. from the PAC to simulated attacks. All the staff will go to the high school, where the high school teachers will be stationed in their classrooms and the rest of the staff will be throughout the building. “We want to put our staff in a situation where they have to practice,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “That really brings it home.” The attack scenario, which is still being designed, will not be revealed to staff ahead of the simulation, Scruci said. The school district has done training before, but there are new staff members and there have been changes in the training, Scruci said. “We’ve done a lot of things physically to add safety to the buildings,” he said. The district has added “boots” to all the classroom and office doors, cameras have been installed, plus ballistic shields and 3-M film have been added to windows. Those changes were all made to keep intruders out of the buildings, out of the classrooms, and to allow law enforcement to better see the situation. But the training of personnel is also important, Scruci said. “Regardless of what you have done physically, your staff has to be trained,” he said. “And hopefully, they never have to use it.” The staff will be trained in the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) program, designed to enable people to better prepare and plan for an aggressive intruder or active shooter. The ALICE Training option is an alternative used by many schools and workplaces – rather than the traditional “lockdown only” approach. The theory is that individuals under threat should be trained to react to defend themselves rather than be passive during an attack. ALICE is promoted as increasing children’s…


‘Lunch bunch’ cooks up calmer cafeteria time for kids

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Elementary school cafeterias can be chaotic places. Kids tend to let loose in the unstructured environment after spending the morning at their desks. So Conneaut Elementary cooked up the idea for the “lunch bunch.” The program creates a calmer cafeteria while adhering to the school’s commitment to stressing positive behaviors, according to Principal Jim Lang. The program started with parents being invited to come in and spend lunchtime with their children. That helped, but Lang knew the program could be even better. So parents were asked to spend lunchtime with more children – up to all six lunch periods. “It really has taken off this year,” Lang said to the board of education Tuesday evening. The Conneaut “lunch bunch” includes Sara Meyer, Jane Fawcett, Katie Burris, Jessica Lincoln and Jamie Alt. The parents are helpful in several ways, the principal said. First, they help little fingers open up tricky food packaging. “Gogurt is one of the worst things to open,” Lang said. Then there are those fruit cups that are full to the brim, and juice boxes that “squirt all over” when the straw is stuck in. They help students in line for lunch with condiments – and try to help keep the line moving, especially when the menu includes something popular like pizza. Second, the parents have formed positive relationships with the students – by being helpful and engaging them, not just telling them to keep the noise down. “They have started building relationship with students,” Lang said. “It’s about talking with children, finding out what’s going on.” Instead of clapping hands to quiet the children, the “lunch bunch” uses harmonicas – an idea used by some of the teachers at Conneaut. They also use wireless microphones and headsets, purchased by the PTO. “They don’t have to raise their voice, they don’t have to yell,” Lang said. Just having parents in the lunchroom changes the dynamics, the principal said. “If an adult comes in the room and sits down, the demeanor changes,” he said. And third, the parents help clean up between lunch periods. They grab brooms and dustpans, and wipe down tables. The cafeteria staff is very appreciative, Lang said. “It’s very nice having them in the building.” Board member Ginny Stewart thanked the parents for their volunteerism. “I think it’s terrific what you’re doing,” she said. “It’s commendable.” In…


School task forces study state fund options for buildings

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools is low on the waiting list and low in the percentage it would get from the state for new or renovated buildings. But the interest is high among the task force members charged with finding a way to pay for school buildings. The theory is – some money at some point is better than no money at all. Steve Roka, senior planning manager with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, met Wednesday evening with members of the finance and facilities task forces. The OFCC is responsible is dispersing state funding for a program that helps school districts pay for renovating or constructing new buildings. School districts are ranked for funding based on a formula of their enrollment divided by the assessed property valuation. That puts Bowling Green’s ranking at 506 – meaning funding would likely not be available for at least another 10 years. The formula puts the district in the 83 percentile – meaning the state would pick up 17 percent of the construction costs and the district would be responsible for 83 percent. There are currently about 100 other school districts already waiting in line for the OFCC funds. “You’re at least 10 years away,” Roka said. “That can change. It could increase, it could decrease.” Dave Conley, the consultant advising the school district’s finance task force, used the timeline of 10 to 15 years. To some, that may seem like a long wait for the state picking up a small portion of the cost. But to others, that wait is not long considering it takes at least two years to complete building designs. And 17 percent can add up to a lot when it’s helping to fund a multi-million dollar project. The average school district using the OFCC funding gets 20 to 40 percent of the construction costs from the state, according to Rick Savors, spokesperson for OFCC. “Why not get something from the state,” Savors said on Thursday. Task force member Ben Otley asked about the certainty of the funding in years to come. “It’s a promise from the state – not a guarantee,” Roka said. The Bowling Green district submitted an application for OFCC consideration in 2015, so the commission assessed the school buildings and offered some options. One of those options included: Renovating and adding onto Crim Elementary for $4.4 million. Renovating and…


School task force studies deficiencies at Conneaut

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After showing citizens around Conneaut Elementary, Principal Jim Lang stood surrounded by the people who will decide the fate of the district’s school buildings. He made an impassioned plea. “I don’t care if you build individual schools. I don’t care if you build one consolidated school,” said Lang, who will be retired before any buildings are constructed. “But your children deserve better than this.” Then he added an admonition to the task force. “All I hear is the same bickering I’ve heard for the last two years,” he said. Lang had just pointed out problems in the building constructed in 1954 and currently serving 560 students. Along the tour, he expressed his frustration about those task force members most critical of the need for new schools lagging on the tour – talking in the hallway rather than listening as he pointed out deficiencies in the school building. Those problems, primarily due to a lack of space, included: A reading intervention specialist has to work with children in a small windowless room previously used by the janitor. Inadequate number of restrooms. A hallway with 150 students has three stalls for girls, two urinals and one stall for the boys. The restrooms are not ADA accessible. Inadequate staff restrooms. In that same hallway, the tiny adult restroom requires teachers to practically “do the limbo” to get to the toilet. Poor temperature control, with some rooms feeling like saunas. “They get pretty uncomfortable, pretty quick,” Lang said. The ceiling in the hallways has encapsulated asbestos, which is not hazardous unless it is disturbed. The same is true of some tile under the carpet. Some classrooms are beyond their student capacity, and have to bring in paraprofessionals to meet state standards. The projections for next year indicate there will be even more crowded classrooms. “That’s my biggest concern,” Lang said. The crowded classrooms leave little space for children to do much more than sit in their desks. Young children are not meant to sit at desks all day. “It’s not the best teaching experience,” the principal said. Water from the drinking fountains has to be allowed to run before drinking, since it otherwise has a yellow tinge. “Do you want to drink yellow water? I don’t want to,” Lang said. There is no place for children to hang their coats and hats. So if head lice…


Task force members weigh in on school building issues

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Task force members for Bowling Green school facilities were armed with stickers and clickers Wednesday evening. To get an idea of task force members’ perceptions and desires for the school buildings, the facilitators asked them to vote on current problems and future possibilities. Facilitator Dan Obrynba said the perceptions of the task force and community vary greatly. “Your definitions of ‘need’ could be as many as the people sitting here,” Obrynba said. One big issue dividing the district is support for neighborhood versus consolidated elementaries. Task force members said even the definition for “neighborhood schools” is a topic of debate. For some it is defined by location – for others it is defined by smaller size. The task force facilitators talked about the need for members to see the buildings they are helping to determine the fate of – to see the current conditions of the structures. Driving by the schools does not give a true picture of the buildings. “There should be a genuine curiosity to see the buildings, if you’ve not,” Obrynba said. “We should move these meetings around building to building.” Using stickers, approximately 55 task force members identified what they saw as the top needs for the school buildings. The results showed: New HVAC: 45 More space: 41 Technology: 25 Safety/security: 22 Flexible teaching space: 12 Healthy environment: 8 Keeping small schools: 7 Parking improvements: 0 Following are the results for the task members’ votes on the top issues facing the school district as it works on its buildings: Renovations vs. rebuilding: 37 Neighborhood vs. consolidated schools: 36 Educational issues: 31 Cost: 27 Communication: 19 Voter turnout: 7 Demographics: 2 Community awareness: 1 Task force members were also given “clickers” to anonymously rank the condition of the school buildings and their opinions on how the district should proceed. Following are the results of those questions. How do you define the condition of Bowling Green High School? Excellent, 2%; Very good, 10%; Good, 25%; Fair, 41%; Poor, 22 % Condition of Bowling Green Middle School? Excellent, 47%; Very good, 40%; Good, 11%; Fair, 2%; Poor, 0% Condition of Conneaut Elementary? Excellent, 2%; Very good, 15%; Good, 13%; Fair, 17%; Poor, 53% Condition of Crim Elementary? Excellent, 4%; Very good, 27%; Good, 46%; Fair, 21%; Poor, 2% Condition of Kenwood Elementary? Excellent, 2%, Very good, 8%; Good, 15%; Fair, 17%;…


BG school bus cameras catch people passing illegally

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   School buses in Bowling Green are now equipped with their own type of red-light cameras. So far this school year, at least 19 vehicles have illegally passed Bowling Green City School buses stopped for picking up or dropping off children. So the district is investing in cameras mounted on the bus exteriors to catch drivers illegally passing stopped buses. Wednesday morning, Bowling Green City Schools Transportation Director Toby Snow stood outside Kenwood Elementary as the buses conducted annual emergency evacuation drills during National Bus Safety Week. But Snow is aware that one of the biggest threats comes from other vehicles sharing the road with school buses. About three years ago, the district put external cameras on three buses that were experiencing the most problems with red light runners. But then the number of vehicles running past stopped buses jumped this year, Snow said. He reported 18 to the school board earlier this month. That number has since grown to 19. “I just decided it’s a good thing to see from all of them,” Snow said of buying additional cameras. So far, 11 buses are equipped with the cameras – which cost about $750 each. Seven more cameras are on order. The district has a total of 20 school buses that carry about 1,300 students to and from school each day. The law requires drivers to stop for school buses when the red lights are on and the stop sign is extended on the side of the bus. Vehicles are required to stop at least 10 feet away from the bus. The bus drivers put yellow lights on first to warn drivers that a bus stop is approaching. If the bus is on a four-lane road, just the vehicles headed the same direction as the bus are required to stop. Bus drivers are asked to identify the vehicle, license plate and give a description of the driver for vehicles passing them illegally. But that is asking too much for drivers who are also watching a busload of children, Snow said. “It’s almost impossible,” he said. So the cameras help do the job. They are mounted at an angle so they catch license plates of passing vehicles. “We’ve had them catching them as fast as 50 mph,” Snow said. And they are able to capture license plates in daylight or darkness. “The driver can…


BG Schools 5-year budget a balancing act for district

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools’ new treasurer is not “ultra-conservative.” But even with a brighter outlook, the school district’s budget projection paints a troubling picture for the next five years. Treasurer Cathy Schuller presented her five-year forecast to the board of education last week. Schuller described her approach to budget forecasts as conservative – but less so than the previous treasurer’s. “I like it to be more of an actual planning tool,” she said. The last forecast had projected Fiscal Year 2018 to end with a $1.3 million deficit. It will actually end $1.24 million in the positive. There isn’t a comfortable cushion – but it’s not in the red, Schuller said. “We don’t have much of a margin,” she said. The five-year budget she presented to the board last week also doesn’t have a lot of rays of sunshine. The district has seen little growth in revenue in 2018. New construction in the district is weak. And the funding from tangible personal property tax has been phased out by the state. The district does still benefit from the state reimbursement of Homestead and rollback on all levies in place. Income tax revenue saw slight increases, but forecasts call for it to level out. Casino revenue is stagnant. Interest rates are increasing slowly, but since the district has less money to invest, it likely won’t benefit. Meanwhile, expenses are going the opposite direction. “Expense keep going up,” Schuller said. “As the years go on, the expenses start to exceed the revenue.” The actual revenues for Fiscal Year 2018 are $32.3 million. The actual expenses are $31 million. The forecasted revenues for 2019 are $32.8 million, compared to expenses of $32.75 million. After that, the projected expenses overwhelm the estimated revenue.   This is where the school district gets its revenue: General property tax. Two levies expire in 2019. School district income tax. Renewed in 2017, the 0.5 percent levy expires in 2022. State Foundation Basic Allowance, based on state funding formula. Unknown future with new governor to be elected. Restricted state grants-in-aid. Unknown future. Other revenue such as interest, open enrollment credit, property rental, student fees. Increased expenditures reduce funds to invest. Some funding previously used by the district has been terminated by the state: Property tax allocation from Homestead/Rollback reimbursements. Revenue ended in 2017. Tangible personal property tax. No longer exists. The five-year budget…


School task force hears report on buildings; some want meetings confidential

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the new Bowling Green City Schools facilities task force leaders toured the school buildings recently, they came upon a sign that seemed to fit the district’s situation. “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Nearly 60 community members met in the high school cafeteria last week for the first facilities task force meeting. They first addressed brick and mortar issues, and got an update on the condition of the school buildings. Then they touched on the “elephants in the room” that are affecting the future of the buildings. Two task forces are working on the school building issue – one looking at the facilities and the other at the finances. While both groups are working independently of each other, the financial task force will make its final decisions based on the goals set by the facilities task force. Once both task forces are done, recommendations will be made to the board of education of how the district should proceed. Those recommendations could range from doing nothing to the buildings, to renovating the existing buildings, to building new elementaries at their current sites, to consolidating the elementaries into one new building. The school administration and board are taking a hands-off approach to the task force process. They provide information when requested, but don’t attend meetings and don’t offer input. David Conley, who is facilitating the financial task force, provides live video via Facebook for those who can’t attend the meetings. The facilities task force did not videotape last week’s meeting. A member of the task force, Grant Chamberlain suggested that the meetings be kept “confidential” since items discussed at the meetings could be harmful to business owners. The facilities task force coordinators said they had originally planned to give school district officials updates on what was being discussed – not to get approval or input, but just to keep them up-to-date. Some members of the task force objected, and a decision will be made at the next meeting on Oct. 24, at 7 p.m., in the high school cafeteria. Leading the facilities task force are three members of Fanning Howey, a firm of architects, engineers, planners and former school administrators who specialize in school buildings. The firm has assisted more than 100 Ohio school districts, including Eastwood, North Baltimore and Northwood…


Teachers pack the PAC for guidance and guffaws

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Elementary principal Gerry Brooks started doing videos for his staff out of frustration. How else could he do justice to the daily trials of teachers? For example, few people realize just how chaotic kindergarten lunchtime can be. But with Brooks’ southern twang, he matter-of-factly talks about his last stint on cafeteria duty. He dutifully opened 47 Lunchables, including inserting the straw into the explosive drink pouches. He engaged in debate on whether or not a pony would make a good house pet. He listened to one child talk about his grandma having six toes on one foot – to which Brooks’ responded, “She’s so fancy.” He retrieved children from underneath the tables. And he glanced down to see a little girl licking his hand. She had noticed something brown on his hand and wanted to help get it off. Sigh. Just another day at school… Brooks has been a principal for 12 years, currently at an elementary in Lexington, Kentucky. Prior to that, he was a classroom teacher for six years and an intervention specialist for two years. His videos resonate with teachers, since so many of his frustrations are universally shared among educators. Brooks has a following or more than 500,000 people. On Saturday, 1,500 of his fans crowded into two presentations by Brooks at the Bowling Green City Schools Performing Arts Center. The event, hosted by the Bowling Green Education Association, attracted teachers from all over Ohio and Michigan. Brooks donates the proceeds from his talks back to the host district. In this case, those funds will be used for mental health resources and programming for staff and students. His talk and video clips all have an irreverent tone – and had teachers in the audience cheering in agreement. Brooks talked about his latest “products” such as a shirt stating, “My principal is great.” Once the principal has left the room, the teachers can then untuck the bottom of the shirt which reads, “at making dumb decisions.” For fellow teachers, there’s the pencil with “You’re awesome” stenciled in one side, and “at jammin’ the copier” on the other. And for parents, there’s the pencil stating, “Yes, your child is gifted.” The other side reads, “at eating erasers and losing his jacket.” No one is safe from Brooks’ ridicule – least of all himself. Most is in good humor – even…


Lazy days of summer are crazy days for school maintenance

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Forget spring cleaning – summer is when schools get scrubbed down. During the lazy days of summer, school maintenance workers really get busy. When classrooms are emptied of students and staff, the Bowling Green School District maintenance workers can complete projects that just can’t be done during the school year. Chuck Martin, Bowling Green’s maintenance director, reported on the summer work schedule during last week’s board of education meeting. The lockers – that store everything from stinky gym shoes to moldy lunches – are thoroughly cleaned during the summer months. The classrooms – normally crowded with desks and chairs – are all emptied of furniture, Martin said. Floors are waxed, carpets are shampooed, and light tubes are replaced. Summer cleaning not only takes a lot of time, it also takes a lot of cleaning products, Martin said. The district goes through about 400 gallons of general cleaning solutions, 55 cases of bathroom cleaner, more than 100 gallons of floor stripper, and more than 200 gallons of floor wax. Though the regular school traffic is gone, there are some obstacles for maintenance staff, Martin said. All of the school buildings have some type of summer programming to work around. The high temperatures and humidity sometime create slow drying times. And maintenance has to work around summer construction repairs – such as new flooring at Conneaut and Kenwood this summer. Plus there are staffing issues, he added. Maintenance workers wanting to take summer vacations with families can lead to days of short staffing. And teachers sometimes often want to keep working on their rooms once school is out for the summer – and some like to get back into their rooms early before the new year begins. Summer is also the time for classroom moves. This summer, there were 23 room changes in the middle school, 10 at Crim, eight at Conneaut, plus a few more in the high school and Kenwood buildings. Maintenance staff also uses the summer to complete “work order” requests. There were 42 requests during the last month of classes, followed up by 81 more in the summer, Martin said. Also at last week’s board of education meeting, Superintendent Francis Scruci further reported on the district’s state report card. Bowling Green received an overall grade of “B.” Only 28 districts in the state received an “A.” Scruci said there is…


BG task force studies building blocks of school funding

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News More than 50 citizens went back to school Wednesday evening to brush up on their math skills – specifically how the Bowling Green City School District can pay for building improvements. This first meeting – like all that consultant David Conley will hold – was an “open mic night.” The citizens on the task force rattled off questions they want answered as they dig into financing the school district’s future. Such as: What’s the difference between income and property taxes? What public-private partnerships are available to fund school projects, such as naming rights for private businesses? What legislation is in the works that could make a difference for BG schools? Are there public-public partnerships that could help BG schools, such as with Bowling Green State University, the city, the public library or through public health? Can different types of taxes be combined for projects? The monthly meetings of the financial task force are intended to give citizens the building blocks to help them make a decision that can then be presented to the school board. Conley explained some of the basics, such as – financing tools are the instruments used to borrow money. A funding plan is how the district can pay off that financing for a building project. “Schools only have a few financing tools available to them,” Conley said. But the funding options are far more plentiful, he added. “I want to give every opportunity a chance,” he said. That includes exploring the use of an income tax put on by the city but used to pay for school buildings. Or the sale of properties owned by the school district that are no longer occupied by buildings. Conley, of Rockmill Financial Consulting, has worked with about 125 school districts in Ohio to find funding solutions. He stressed to task force members that they are in control. “We’re in control of our own lives – especially when it comes to government. We just have forgotten that we are,” he said. The district’s request for open minds fell on a few closed ears. A handful of the citizens vehemently opposed to the last two bond issues talked about the district being deceptive in its use of permanent improvement dollars to put an addition on the middle school. Conley pointed out that permanent improvement funds can be used for projects like a building addition…


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 the flawed results in state testing. Bowling Green’s grade is hurt by the state’s metric…


BG Schools losing teachers due to low salaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Schools is starting the school year with 25 new teachers. During their exit interviews, many of the experienced teachers said they were leaving due to the low pay. That is raising troubling red flags, Superintendent Francis Scruci said Tuesday during the monthly school board meeting. “We have teachers leaving us because they can make more money someplace else,” he said. Scruci referred to a recent story in the Toledo Blade about area school salaries for 12 districts in Wood and Lucas counties. With the average teacher salary in Ohio being $58,849, only Bowling Green and Toledo City Schools were below that average. According to information from the Ohio Department of Education, the state median salary for teachers is $56,117. The median salaries at school districts in Wood County are as follows: Rossford: $75,766 Perrysburg: $60,412 Eastwood: $59,523 Otsego: $58,221 Northwood: $53,186 Lake: $50,544 Elmwood: $50,134 Bowling Green: $48,843 North Baltimore: $39,668 While Scruci said he is pleased with the 25 new teachers hired for this school year, he is concerned about the loss of quality experienced staff. The district relies on consistency in its teaching to continue improving the state report card grades. When the district loses seasoned staff, it loses the investment made in those teachers and then has to start from scratch with new staff. “If we start over with 25 new faces every year,” it will be difficult to keep making consistent improvements on state report cards, he said. “If that happens every year, we’re in trouble.” Scruci warned that raising BG salaries will require an increase in operating funds. The district is going into negotiations this year with staff, he said. Scruci also mentioned some troubling trends that could worsen the teacher attraction and retention issue. Nationwide a teacher shortage is being predicted. So low salaries will make it even more difficult to attract and retain good teachers. “If you’re not paying, they’re not coming,” he said. The shortage has already hit some areas in the western U.S. Some of those districts have been hiring people without education degrees to teach, and others are going to four-day school weeks to save on costs. Todd Sayler, a parent at the school board meeting, said Bowling Green’s low ranking in the teacher pay numbers in the paper was “very shocking.” Sayler talked about the value of keeping…


BG Schools takes steps to make buildings safer

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As Bowling Green City Schools students went back to school today, they entered buildings that had been made safer over the summer. Superintendent Francis Scruci reported to the Board of Education Tuesday evening that several changes have been made and are in progress to keep students and staff safe from intruders. All school entrance doors have had 3M safety film installed. The change is not visible to the eye, but the film is designed to slow down anyone trying to break through the doors. According to Scruci, the safety film takes about three minutes to break through – which gives people inside the school time to seek safety and notify law enforcement. Ballistic shields have been added to the large windows in the middle school cafeteria. The district also made some changes in the new wing added at the middle school. Rather than have locker bays in the hallways, which give intruders a place to hide, the new wing has all the lockers lining the hallway walls. Also, the outside doors into the new wing are solid – with no windows. “We’ve taken some steps to make that a little safer,” Scruci said. In order make other school entrances more safe, bushes were removed or cut back outside school buildings. The district is in the process of installing indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras at the buildings, he said. Plans are being made with the Bowling Green police and fire divisions to make weekly walks through the school buildings – in addition to unscheduled visits. A security meeting is being planned with school staff, police and fire personnel, to talk about some type of safety training at the schools. That training may be on the ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evaluate) system, or some other safety program. Scruci and the district’s head of school building maintenance, Chuck Martin, recently attended a seminar on safety and security. Many of the ideas from the seminar had already been identified and were being worked on at the district’s buildings, Scruci said. Scruci said he will be looking for grant funding for safety measures. However, he added, “if they’re just one-time grants, then the district is going to have to sustain it.” Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Scruci reported on capital improvements made to school buildings during the summer. At Kenwood, the floor of the gymnasium was replaced,…