Bowling Green City Schools

BG fifth graders take learning from classroom to camp

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For one week, the fifth graders left behind their classrooms, their parents, their cell phones. But they found nature, social skills and how to learn without being tied to technology. The fifth grade teachers and principal from Crim Elementary School talked with the Bowling Green Board of Education Tuesday about the experiences of the nearly 250 fifth graders who traveled to Heartland Outdoor School last month. The best explanations perhaps came from the students themselves, who wrote letters to people in the community who helped pay for the week-long learning adventure. “I learned that fear was just a word,” one student wrote after reaching the peak of the rock wall. Another student talked about the different environments they observed and the different types of rocks they studied. “We learned so much, I could fill the whole page,” the child wrote. And another told of learning how to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy streams, how to shoot arrows, make candles and throw a tomahawk. Not typical classroom lesson plans. This was the first year of camp for Crim’s new principal Alyssa Karaffa. “It was a great experience,” she said. And for the teachers who return year after year, “they are absolutely saints,” Karaffa added. Science and social studies teacher Tyler Nye said it’s easy for him to explain when people ask why the students go to a week of camp every year. Where else can they have hands-on learning about crawdads in the creek, food chains, and adaptation of animals. “In my opinion, it’s the best way to learn,” Nye said….


Bobcat Fan Fair planned for Aug. 26 at stadium

(From BG City Schools) The annual Bobcat Fan Fair will be held Saturday, Aug. 26. This is free, family fun event at the High School Athletic Stadium. There will be much to see and to do – including checking out the new track. Gates open at 4 p.m. and the fun builds from there. The High School band will march in at 4:30 accompanied by an antique fire truck carrying the cheerleaders. After the band performs, Board of Education president Ellen Scholl will sing the Star Spangled Banner. Mayor Richard Edwards will be on hand to cut the ribbon dedicating the new stands and Superintendent Francis Scruci will welcome everyone. The Athletic teams will then be introduced by their coaches as they parade onto the field. Fans will then be invited to come on down to the track to meet the coaches and student athletes as well as participate in many games and activities. Students from the elementary schools through middle school can win a free Bobcat Proud T-shirt by visiting each table and completing their “passport.” All students who complete a passport will be entered in a drawing to win a student “all-sport” pass for the entire school year. There will be food! The High School teachers are offering a hot dog meal (hot dog, chips, cookie and drink) for only $3, which will benefit their scholarship fund. Drinks and snow cones will also be available for purchase but the ice-cream is FREE! This is not only an excellent opportunity for families to spend some time together, their young students will be inspired to work hard to get to…


BG Schools bringing home better state report card

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This report card may make the front of the refrigerator Dr. Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning for Bowling Green City Schools, reported to the board of education Tuesday evening that the state had released preliminary reports cards for school districts. Though far from complete, the grades showed a far more favorable report for Bowling Green schools. Some of the grades may still appear dismal to those outside education – nothing to brag about. But to educators, who know what the numbers mean, they showed great improvement, McCarty said. For example, in the area of “gap closing” between special education and other students, the district improved from an “F” to a “D.” “That’s huge in terms of statistics,” McCarty said. “Our teachers worked really hard on this.” Other success stories were found in K-3 literacy, which went from an “F” to a “C.” “This is a huge upgrade for us,” she said. The elementary schools saw significant gains. “Our teachers were doing things differently,” McCarty said. In the area of social studies, fourth graders met the state benchmark. And in English, “almost every single grade saw growth. We’re seeing growth out of our students.” In the area of math, sixth and seventh grade math showed solid gains, and high school algebra scores rose 15 percent. “That’s a huge gain,” McCarty said. All the second language students in third grade passed, which is quite an achievement, she added. The only drop seen was in science, and McCarty said that was most likely due to new technology. McCarty credited the teachers for…


BG City Schools hosts speakers for faculty and staff

(Submitted by Bowling Green City Schools) Bowling Green City Schools is looking to celebrate its opening week with a lineup of star talent for its faculty and staff. Beginning on Monday August 14, BGCS will open its doors to welcome back staff and be honored with a keynote speech from local speaker, advocate, and writer Diana Patton. Diana Patton is a Social Justice and Integrative Health Advocacy Coach. She is also a speaker, author and attorney. She coaches individuals who are in the “helping profession”, which includes school counselors, social workers and clinical psychologists on how to go into the fire and not get burned (out). She speaks to helping profession organizations, junior high, high school and college-age groups and women’s groups. She also speaks on leadership, emotional intelligence, and diversity topics. In December 2015, she completed her full-time work as the VP/COO/General Counsel for the Toledo Fair Housing Center but she continues to provide consulting services to the Center. Prior to becoming a health coach and speaker, Diana held a number of law firm and high-level corporate positions, including global director-level positions at Fortune 500 companies. She earned her bachelor and law degree at the University of Toledo and is currently a member of the Toledo Bar Association. Diana has conducted corporate diversity trainings and has taught various business courses at Owens Community College in Toledo. She has written curricula, blogs and newsletters when she operated her FITatudes company, has spoken nationally on health and life coaching topics, and has contributed articles to the Toledo Free Press and the Sojourner’s Truth newspaper. To help teachers prepare for the upcoming…


BG School bond issue meets with protest and praise

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The school bond issue faced a little more hostility from residents during the second public forum on the issue Thursday evening. But it also was met with some heartfelt support. Bowling Green City Superintendent Francis Scruci started the forum with an overview on the bond issue for new and renovated school buildings. The evening was heavy on numbers – and some were pretty hefty. In order to raise nearly $72 million for the buildings, the district will need to pass a 6-mill bond issue that will go on for 37 years. “It is a big number, there’s no way around saying it,” Scruci said. For the owner of a house valued at $100,000, that means an extra $210 a year. But since the average house value in Bowling Green is $170,000, Scruci said that would add up to $357 a year. And for those on the higher end, with a $250,000 home, the bond issue would mean another $525 a year. Some citizens in the audience said they aren’t against students, teacher or schools – but they just can’t afford the project. “Have you seen the crops under water,” shouted Chris Sabo. Scruci said he realized the cost was high – but so is the reward, he said. “This is an investment in our kids. This is an investment in our community. This is an investment in our future.” But to Sabo, the cost is too high. “Then you’re not going to have a city, cause everybody is going to move out,” he said. “This is a big chunk of money and…


Bechstein hired as middle school assistant principal

Bowling Green Board of Education voted Thursday during a special meeting to hire Michael Bechstein as assistant principal at the middle school. Bechstein, whose annual salary will be $62,000, has been working as a high school business education and technology teacher. He takes the place of Alyssa Karaffa, who was recently hired as Crim Elementary principal. The former Crim principal, Melanie Garbig, was hired earlier this year as the district’s executive director of pupil services.


BG’s Scruci tries to dispel rumors about bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci tried to stop the rumor mill from churning Monday evening. For 90 minutes, he presented details and answered questions from a packed meeting room at the public library about the school district’s building plans and the bond levy to support them. Scruci has heard “all kinds of stories” about the district’s plans. “We wanted to get this information out now,” he said. “We want to get out in front of those” rumors about costs, cuts, kids and more. So he started by explaining the building plans and the $72 million cost to taxpayers. “I’m going to be the first to tell you that’s a lot of money, and we know that,” Scruci said. The 6-mill bond issue will appear on the November ballot for the projects. “Schools are always going to be the investment in the future in every city,” he said. “If we kick the can down the road, the cost is going to grow.” For the owner of a house valued at $100,000, that means an extra $210 a year. But since the average house value in Bowling Green is $170,000, Scruci said that would add up to $357 a year. And for those on the higher end, with a $250,000 home, the bond issue would mean another $525 a year. When he said the bond issue was for 37 years, someone in the audience whistled. “People are going to say that’s a lot of years, and it is,” Scruci said. But a bond issue with fewer years would mean greater payments that could be…


BG student ‘mathletes’ excel in math competition

(Submitted by PACE teacher Laura Weaver) Student “mathletes” in Bowling Green City School’s PACE program for gifted students scored top honors in the Perennial Math competition. This is the fifth year for the students in the PACE program to compete in the international competition for accelerated students. Unlike the past years of competing, this year’s test questions were even more advanced. Perennial Math explained the competition had been adapted for more difficult logic questions in the algebra and geometry categories due to the large number of students in Turkey and China who were driving the questions for more competitive scoring. This year, 13,074 students from the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Spain and Turkey participated online in grades 3 to 8. The competition consists of four tests beginning in November and ending in February. Gold medals are awarded to students with the highest scores on their team and dog tags are awarded to student who scored in the top 10 percent individually of their grade level. Team plaques are awarded to teams who score in the top 10 percent which is the sum of the top 10 cumulative scores. This year, several PACE students competed on multiple teams based on their math skills at and above grade level. All three teams – Rookie, Intermediate and Advanced – won plaques this year for the second consecutive year. The rookie team tests are for third and fourth grade students. There were 5,455 students and 311 teams competing in this category. Gold medalists for the rookie team who had perfect scores or top scores for their grade level were: Isa Wan, Luca…


BG schools to hold public forum on bond issue

Bowling Green City Schools will hold a community forum Monday, June 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Wood County District Public Library, 251 N. Main St., Bowling Green. The forum will give community members a chance to ask questions and get information about the school district’s November bond issue to build new schools.  


BG board votes to consolidate elementaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education took a leap Friday afternoon to invest $72 million in a consolidated elementary and new sections for the high school. The board is now hoping the voters follow their lead. After months of discussions and public meetings, the board voted 4 to 1 to go ahead with plans for one consolidated elementary, demolition of Conneaut and Kenwood schools, and major additions to the high school. The vote against the project came from board president Ellen Scholl, who supported an alternate plan for new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries rather than the consolidation. Though the millage to cover the $72 million project has yet to be determined by the county auditor, it is estimated it could be close to 6 mills on the November ballot. If the issue is approved by voters, the new consolidated elementary planned north of the current middle and high schools, could be completed by the summer of 2020. The high school could be completed by summer of 2021, according to architect Kent Buehrer. Construction is also planned for the middle school, where a wing will be added to adequately handle the sixth grade class. That project, which will likely begin in September, will be financed through $4.6 million in permanent improvement funds that the district already has, so it will not be part of the bond issue in November. The three options being considered for the bond issue were: Renovations of Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries (Crim was renovated recently) and major high school additions: $54 million. Build new Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries, plus the…


School board looks for building option voters will buy into

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The building options for Bowling Green City Schools are gradually being narrowed down to a project that will best serve students and not scare off supporters at the voting booth. The board of education members met Tuesday morning, and plan to make a decision during a special meeting on June 2 at 11:30 a.m., in the central administration office on Clough Street. The two primary options left on the table are: Building a new centralized elementary school north of the current middle school; demolish the old elementaries; build an addition onto the middle school for the sixth grade; and partial demolition of the high school along with the construction of a new academic wing, new gym, and new cafeteria and kitchen. That option comes with an estimated price tag of $72 million. Building two new elementary schools at Kenwood and Conneaut; demolishing the old elementaries; plus the same middle school and high school plans as above. That option is somewhat less, estimated at $62 million. After the board makes its final choice, the next challenge will be convincing the public to buy into the plan. Superintendent Francis Scruci and the board agreed that just as the building option discussions have been very transparent – so will the plans and the financing. “I think it’s vital. They need to be able to see what they are going to be investing money in,” Scruci said. And it’s important to get stakeholders on board – like teachers, students, parents and community groups. Depending on the duration of a bond issue, the $72 million project could…


BG Schools hears good financial news, hires new athletic director

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education was rich with good news Tuesday evening. The board members learned the district’s finances have taken a turn for the better. They voted to hire the varsity football coach as the athletic director. And they handed out awards for everything from art and math to clean kitchens. Adam Dirk Conner, high school math teacher and varsity football coach, was hired as the athletic director with a salary of $72,500. Conner said after the meeting that he plans to continue coaching football.  His goals as athletic director include supporting the coaches and athletes, plus work toward improving the athletic facilities. Conner said he also supports drug testing of athletes, which the board has discussed. “I’m all in favor of it,” he said. District Treasurer Rhonda Melchi presented the district’s five-year forecast – with some good news. “We’re more confident our state funding will be more stable,” Melchi said. Meanwhile, the district saw its expenditures drop as new people were hired at lower rates than retiring teachers, fewer employees were on family insurance, and the worker’s compensation expenses were lower than expected. Melchi said she is still projecting a deficit in 2020, “but it’s not near as big,” she said. “We’ve done a good job managing taxpayers’ dollars,” Scruci said after the meeting. “We’re happy where we are,” though nothing is certain until after the state budget is done. Melchi also presented numbers to the board about the loss seen when students living in the district go to school elsewhere. The statistics showed $283,677 leaving the district for…


’13 Reasons Why’ gives parents and schools reasons to worry

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Across the nation, parents are checking their Netflix history to see if their adolescents have been watching the “13 Reasons Why” series. The show tells the story of a high school junior who commits suicide. Prior to her death, she records a series of audio tapes describing the 13 reasons why she chooses to end her life. The story has parents and school officials watching for the slightest sign of copycat behavior from young viewers. So they want kids to know this: When you die, you do not get to make a movie or talk to people anymore about how they wronged you. Leaving messages from beyond the grave is a dramatization produced in Hollywood and is not possible in real life. Bowling Green City School officials held a program Wednesday evening for parents who have concerns about “13 Reasons Why” and its effect on their children. “The reality is, students are watching this and we want parents to be equipped for it,” said Ann McCarty, executive director of teaching and learning. In addition to a very graphic suicide scene of the main character cutting her wrists in the bathtub, the show also shows instances of rape, bullying, sexual assault, violence, drug and alcohol use. “It’s a very graphic series,” said Jake Tapley, Bowling Green Middle School counselor. Glaringly absent in the series are school staff or parents who intervene appropriately, Tapley said. While some parents may have no idea that their children are watching the show, it is the talk of teenagers in the cafeteria, on the bus and on their…


BG teamwork touted in ‘State of the City’ address

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Though it may sound trite, it’s teamwork that makes Bowling Green work, and it’s those teammates who will get it through tough times in the future. That teamwork was seen in city government last year, with a solar field being built, a park levy being passed, streets being paved, sidewalks being replaced and trees being planted, Mayor Dick Edwards said Thursday during the annual State of the City address. Vital members of the team are Bowling Green City Schools and Bowling Green State University, which have the ability to bring new residents and businesses to the community. “There are hundreds of details,” to make a community work, Edwards said during the address hosted by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. Among the many teammates are the fire division which responded to more than 3,000 calls last year, and the police division that reached out to the community with a new “Coffee with Cops” program. Both divisions are nationally accredited – which only six cities in Ohio can boast. “This speaks directly to their extremely high level of service,” Edwards said. “It’s a very, very demanding process.” Last year, economic development in the city brought in investments of more than $47 million in machinery and equipment, and more than $24 million in business construction. “Bowling Green is on the right track for 2017,” the mayor said, noting that during his annual visits with industries, many have indicated they are likely to add more jobs. The city’s utilities also continue to be a point of pride – with a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, an…


Survey results in on BG Schools building options

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The results are in for Bowling Green City Schools’ building options survey – but the numbers are so close that school officials need time to digest the 91-page report before deciding which path to take. “We do have some tough decisions,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said during the board of education meeting Tuesday evening. During the past year, Scruci has held several open houses in different settings to find out if citizens want to construct new buildings, renovate the old, or do nothing. He has met with parents at each school building, with the community at coffee klatches, and with the farming community at two gatherings. To reach even more people, surveys were mailed out recently to 2,000 randomly selected taxpayers in the Bowling Green School District, excluding BGSU. A total of 344 surveys were returned – which is a 17.2 percent response rate – higher than the average expected 10 percent return rate. The meat of the survey asked residents to rank the building options for the district. Those choices are: Combine the three elementary schools into one new building, and build a new high school. Combine the three elementary schools into one new building, and renovate the high school. Renovate Conneaut, Kenwood and the high school. Build a new Conneaut, and renovate Kenwood and the high school. Keep all the buildings as they are. Residents were asked to rank their top three choices. Coming in with the most top choice points (at 29.9 percent) was the option of combining the elementaries and building a new high school. The next top choice…