Bowling Green City Schools

Lunch shaming not on the menu at BG City Schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Lunch shaming is not on the menu at Bowling Green City Schools. Across the nation, some schools will not serve standard lunches to students who have overdue cafeteria charges. Those students are allowed only peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and milk – opening the children up for “lunch shaming.” But at Bowling Green schools, students are not punished for their parents’ forgetfulness or inability to pay, according to Abby Forschner, food service director. “I tell my staff, ‘You give them whatever they want so they don’t feel separated from their peers,’” Forschner said. “We try and settle with the parents later,” contacting them through email or phone calls, she said. The district also has received help from some individuals and businesses in the community who want to pick up the tab for unpaid lunches. So far this year, $4,500 has been donated. Learning can be hard enough – let alone on an empty stomach. “Students never get turned away – ever. Not under my watch,” Forschner said. “The student shouldn’t pay for something that’s not their fault.” Of the approximately 3,900 students in the district, about half buy their lunches. Elementary lunches cost $2.25, and middle and high school lunches range from $2.35 to $2.55. Breakfast is $1.10 at the elementaries, and $1.75 at the secondary schools. “We’re still fairly inexpensive,” Forschner said. “We aren’t here to turn a profit. We’re here to feed kids.” As a parent herself, who has occasionally forgotten to send lunch money, Forschner also sympathizes with busy parents. “Parents forget. So we do let students run in the negative,” she said. But sometimes the issue isn’t forgetfulness. More than one-third of the district’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch rates. “I think people don’t realize that need is there,” she said. Forschner still remembers a student telling her that lunch on Friday was the last meal he ate until breakfast the next Monday when he returned to school. One Bowling Green couple noticed that need and has come to the rescue with lunch money. For the last two years, Nick and Bridget Snyder have collected donations at their annual Christmas party for friends and family. That money – $2,500 last year – is then given to the district to pay for unpaid lunch bills. Nick Snyder said he noticed the need when he would join his children…


BG parents and students shower teachers with appreciation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News On Teacher Appreciation Week, parents and students in the Bowling Green City School District wanted to remind school staff about the positive difference they make in children’s lives. So Jennifer DeVries, a parent volunteer at Conneaut Elementary for Teacher Appreciation Week, decided to give parents and kids an opportunity to drown out the negativity over school levy issues. “In the midst of community controversy over funding for a new school etc., I think it is more important than ever to let our community teachers know how much we appreciate them for all the hard work they do for our kids,” DeVries said. “There are so many negative comments. All of it kind of transfers to our teachers,” she said. DeVries’ hope was that not only will this expression of gratitude be a great gift to teachers, but perhaps unite the community in an effort to focus on the positive impact the schools and teachers have on the community and children. “My children have flourished in BG city schools and I believe a public display of affection and appreciation would go a long way in uniting our community to support our schools,” she said.   As for her own experience with Bowling Green schools, DeVries said she recalled watching the transformation of her daughter in kindergarten. “She came out reading and writing,” she said. DeVries said she grew up attending a private school, and has been pleasantly surprised about her family’s public school experience. “I’ve been amazed at how Bowling Green schools work. I’ve been impressed with the kids’ growing and learning.” Teachers juggle far more than reading, writing and arithmetic, DeVries said. They handle issues of children with no winter coats or no lunch money. “They have to teach them and meet all the standards. They have to be social workers, teachers and counselors all in one,” she said. And despite disagreements in the community about the school building issue, DeVries said there is one area where citizens can be united. “We can agree we’ve got some great teachers,” she said. Following are the letters submitted to BG Independent News:—————————————————————————————— It takes a village to raise a child and our BG teachers are a big part of that village. My family is so grateful to the teachers of Conneaut Elementary for the impact, encouragement, challenges, education, and love they have given our daughter,…


BG parents search for answers about adolescent suicide

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Normally a place of musical performances and proud parents, Bowling Green City School’s Performing Arts Center was a place of uncomfortable quiet and anxious parents Monday evening. Nearly 60 parents and school staff gathered in the hushed auditorium in search of answers about suicide. The district offers regular discussions on the topic for students, but this was for their parents – trying to understand the loss of 16-year-old Eric Baer, who took his life earlier this month. The parents were seeking answers on how to help their own children deal with the loss, and how to reach out to the family of the young boy. And they were wanting to know the clues to look for in their own children who might be contemplating suicide. “In light of this, we wanted to do something more,” for the parents, Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “If we can make a difference in even one kid’s life.” Counselors from Children’s Resource Center, Ann Huss and Noelle Duvall, shared information specific to adolescent suicides. Approximately 25 percent of adolescents consider suicide. “That’s one whole grade,” in a high school, Huss said. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in ages 10 to 24, and first for deaths in ages 10 to 15. Up to 90 percent of adolescents who complete suicide have at least one mental health issue – the most common being depression. One in eight teenagers experience depression. Some of the more common symptoms of depression include weight loss or gain, sleep problems, exhaustion, sad moods, loss of interest, irritability, inability to concentrate, negative thinking, and withdrawal from friends and family. “When it comes to students, it’s probably going to be their peers who see these differences first,” Huss said. Parents should not brush off moody behavior or lack of good judgment from their teens. “Sometimes that gets overlooked,” Huss said. “You need to really listen at the present moment when you sit them down and talk with them.” Parents should not ignore teens who are consistently bored, irritated, stop taking care of their personal hygiene, don’t do homework, make statements like “I hate my life,” or are either moping or highly agitated, Huss said. They may see changes in the teen’s appetite, lack of concentration, and disinterest in everything. Therapy and medication have proven to be effective treatments for depression. But the sooner parents…


BG Schools to put $40M issue on ballot for single community elementary

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green Board of Education voted Tuesday evening to put a $40 million issue on the November ballot to pay for the construction of a single community elementary school. For those voters who mistake this as the same issue that failed twice before, the board stressed that is not so. This issue is for $40 million – rather than $72 million. This bond will be for 30 years – rather than 37 years. This tax will be split so half is paid with traditional income tax and half with property tax – rather than all property tax. And the district will apply for state Expedited Local Partnership Program this time around. But for those voters who think the single community elementary school has been floated before, they would be correct. Before listening to citizen comments at Tuesday’s meeting, most of the board members were leaning toward a bond issue for three separate elementary schools. But speaker after speaker asked the board to do what is right for students – and try the consolidated school with this new funding structure. Board members Ginny Stewart, Bill Clifford, Jill Carr and Norm Geer agreed. Board member Paul Walker voted no – not because he believes the three schools are better for students – but because he fears the community won’t support just one school. The audience at Tuesday’s meeting gave the board a standing ovation after the vote to put the issue on this fall’s ballot. After the last two failures of the building issue, the board formed two task forces made up of community volunteers. By voting on the funding for the facilities, the board followed the recommendation of the finance task force that worked seven months to come up with the compromise on how to best fund the building issue. By voting to use the funding to build one community elementary, the board took the recommendation of facilities task force members when they voted in January on which building option they preferred. At that meeting, 61 percent of the members voiced support for a consolidated elementary. That recommendation, however, was not presented to the school board as the final decision of the facilities task force. Instead, the task force was asked in March to vote based on which school proposal they felt the community would support. That vote was for three separate elementary schools….


BG settles some ballot issues; still struggling with 1 or 3 elementaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green School Board wants to give voters ballot issues they will support. With the sting of the past two bond defeats still fresh, the board members want to select options that voters can solidly endorse as the district prepares to put multiple issues on the ballot in the next couple years. As they further narrowed down the options during a Saturday work session, the board members appeared to be very close to some decisions. First, board members voiced commitment to not asking for new money, and preserving the taxpayer rollback for the two levies that need to be renewed by the end of 2020. However, the question still remains whether the board will try to change those levies into continuing issues, rather than having to go back and ask voters to renew the same money every five years. Second, the board members voiced firm support of the finance task force’s recommendations that the district place a $40 million combination property and income tax on the ballot this November to fund elementary building projects. The issue would cost the owner of a $100,000 home $5.12 a month, and a family with the median income of $66,215 annually $13.79 a month – for a total of $18.91 a month. However, the board is still debating the less precise recommendation from the facilities task force about whether the bond issue should fund three elementaries or one consolidated building. Third, the board seems solidly behind the finance task force’s recommendation that the district apply for funding from the state through the Expedited Local Partnership Program. The program has no funding now, but could possibly reimburse the district for 17 percent of the building costs when money becomes available. But the question remains – should the district invest in one or three elementary schools. The board is torn because when the facilities task force voted on the best elementary option for the district, the members solidly supported one consolidated building. However, when asked to vote based on what the community would support, the vote was overwhelmingly for three elementaries – a new Conneaut, a new Kenwood, plus a renovated and expanded Crim. One consolidated elementary would be less expensive to maintain, and provide a better and more equitable educational setting – but it may not be the best option for Bowling Green, explained David Conley, the district’s…


BG sees some students leaving Kenwood for private schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News It’s not a mass exodus, but so far, 12 families have applied to remove their children from Kenwood Elementary School and place them in private facilities. Eight of those 12 children are incoming kindergartners. The requests to leave Kenwood came after the state declared the elementary to be an EdChoice school. That designation means parents of Kenwood students can access scholarships for their students to attend parochial or private schools. For each child leaving Kenwood, the school district loses $1,900 per year, Superintendent Francis Scruci said after Tuesday’s board of education meeting. The private schools taking in the students get “scholarships” of $4,650 a year for K-8 grades, and $6,000 a year for 9-12 grades. Scruci repeated his assurances about Kenwood Elementary. “Kenwood is not a failing school,” he said. “The staff is working very hard to provide a quality education.” The EdChoice designation came a couple months after school officials got the good news from the state that all the buildings in the Bowling Green School District had been removed from the Ohio Improvement Process, based on progress the district made in student growth. District-wide, Bowling Green was recognized for its improvements. However, the district was then informed by the state that Kenwood had been designated an EdChoice school. The data used to declare Kenwood as EdChoice were the K-3 literacy results from 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2017-18. Any district getting a D or F grade in two of those three years made the EdChoice list. The “flawed” state testing system failed to take into account the progress made at Kenwood that got the building off the OIP list, Scruci said. Even if Kenwood sheds the EdChoice designation in a few years, the expenses could linger. According to Scruci, the state program allows parents of kindergartners to take them out of the public school and place them in private facilities all the way through graduation. “We’ll play by the rules of the state and we’ll dig our way out of it,” Scruci said. But losing the state funding for the students leaving won’t help. “That makes our task very difficult,” he said. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the economic demographics have changed for many students who go to Kenwood. “We do have a poverty issue in this district. I know we’re not supposed to talk about that,” he said. “Those…


Kenwood parents informed of state designation for school

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City School officials breathed a collective sigh of relief when every school building in the district was removed from the Ohio Improvement Process. That change was based on progress the district made in student growth. However, Superintendent Francis Scruci sent out a letter to Kenwood parents on Friday explaining a new development. Despite being considered worthy of being taken off the OIP list, Kenwood has been designated as an “EdChoice” school. “It’s contradictory,” Scruci said Friday. “Here’s a building that was determined to be an independent building through the OIP. It just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.” The EdChoice designation means that parents of Kenwood students can access scholarships for their students to attend parochial or private schools – with Bowling Green City Schools footing the bill. Scruci has referred in the past to the State Report Card as a “flawed system.” This latest designation only reinforces his belief. “By no means am I saying that as a school or district that we do not embrace accountability,” he said. But the data used to designate Kenwood as an EdChoice school were the K-3 literacy results from 2013-14 and 2017-18. Since 2014, the district has made major curriculum changes – which resulted in the lifting of the OIP ranking. “This was done due to our teachers and district changing the way we approached instruction and meeting the needs of all our students,” Scruci wrote to parents. In his letter, he assured parents that Kenwood is delivering the same quality educations that have been provided in the past. “This designation should not cause alarm or a loss of faith in the instruction provided by the hard-working professionals that are present at Kenwood Elementary,” he said. When contacted after sending out the letter, Scruci said the flawed state system does not reflect the quality of the education provided at Kenwood. “If I had a child of elementary age, my kids would go to Kenwood, and I’d be very comfortable with that,” he said. The “EdChoice” designation is fairly new in Ohio, and sticks with a school for two years. “We’re pretty optimistic it will be two years and we’ll be out of it,” Scruci said.”There’s still quality education being delivered at Kenwood. The teachers care.” However, until then, parents will be allowed to pull their children from the school and enroll them…


Wanted: Adults to play hopscotch, read books, eat lunch at schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News It doesn’t take a degree in education to help out at local schools. All it takes is the ability to play kickball, eat lunch, or read a book. Last month, Bowling Green School Board President Ginny Stewart challenged the community to help out at schools. Since then, Stewart has been approached by many with questions of how they can help. So at this month’s school board meeting on Tuesday, the district’s five principals elaborated on how local residents can help. Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa Crim Principal Alyssa Karaffa said her school is in need of playground volunteers who can actually play with the children. The school has playground monitors, but they can’t spend time playing games with the students. Children often don’t know how to play simple games like 4-square, hopscotch and kickball. So it would be great to have some volunteers to teach the games and then participate, Karaffa said. “They really would enjoy that,” she said of the children. Crim could also use volunteers to help with morning reading, and with its lunch buddies program. Kenwood Elementary also needs volunteers to help at recess, plus people to just sit with the children at breakfast or lunch. No pre-registration is needed, Principal Kathleen Daney said. Volunteers can just show up between 11 a.m. and 1:20 p.m. to help. It would also be helpful to have adults to help students with reading or math. “I would match you up with a student who would use another adult in their life,” Daney said. Conneaut Elementary could also use volunteers on the playground and at lunchtime. “They love to have interaction with adults,” Principal Jim Lang said of the students. The school also has a Breakfast Buddies program, where adults can share breakfast with a child every week. Conneaut also has a chess club which meets on Monday mornings, that only has one adult involved. More adults would be helpful, Lang said. Volunteers could also help by developing a relationship with a teacher, and coming in once a week to help in the classroom. Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said volunteers are being sought to help with an upcoming Career Day on May 24. The school would like to have about 40 different careers represented for students. The middle school is also using a “book swap” program to promote literacy….


BG school district paying the price for state saying it is wealthy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News There are few items that all sides in the Bowling Green City Schools’ funding dilemma agree on, except this – the district is being seriously shortchanged by the state. That theory was emphasized again Saturday during a school board workshop on levy funding. David Conley, a consultant with Rockmill Financial Inc., showed the board just how messed up the state’s formula is for determining a school district’s wealth. The state lists Bowling Green as the 101st wealthiest out of 612 districts in the state. Based on local property values, divided by the number of students, the district has an average value per pupil of $213,005. That “faulty” formula therefore ranks Bowling Green as wealthier than some districts recognized for their richness – Worthington, New Albany, Olentangy, Avon, Springboro and Shaker Heights. Locally, that formula assigns BG as a wealthier district than Ottawa Hills, Perrysburg and Sylvania. “We receive less per student than Ottawa Hills,” board member Norm Geer said. “If they were to build a school building, they would get more money than us,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said. Conley concurred. Operating funds from the state average 44 percent of district operating expenses. In Bowling Green’s case, that is 32 percent. Not taken into consideration is the fact that Bowling Green’s district is huge – about the size of the city of Pittsburgh, Conley said. It contains Bowling Green State University, which is exempt from property taxes, and a large area of fertile farmland. Fighting the state is futile The district can dispute its ranking – but that is unlikely to do anything other than waste time, Conley said. “This is what we have. We’re living with it and doing our best,” Conley said voters need to realize. So based on the current state funding formula, someone will suffer. It will either be the taxpayers who are being asked to foot more of the bill than they should be – or students who will not benefit from new or renovated schools and operating budgets. Of course, there are multiple ways to view this situation, Conley said. And voters need to set their priorities. “People pay more as a percentage of their income for their cell phone bills than they do for their school districts,” he said. The same can be said of spending on Netflix, he added. And districts that delay action never end…


Conneaut teacher makes connections with students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Fifth grade teacher Paul Reinhart revealed a secret on Thursday that he has learned over and over during his 26 years in education. Students are far more important than their test scores. “Kids do not equal their test scores,” Reinhart said. That is one of many beliefs that earned Reinhart, a teacher at Conneaut Elementary, the honor of being named an “inspirational educator” by the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. Reinhart described his journey to Bowling Green City Schools. He grew up in North Dakota, where they have real winters, and graduated in the top half of his class of 15 students. He was involved in everything – football, basketball, baseball, music, theater. That paid off for him when he started teaching, since back then elementary classes were self-contained. “You needed to be a jack of all trades,” he said. Reinhart was hired to teach second grade by Conneaut Principal Ted Eldridge. “I liked them. They’re short,” Reinhart, who stands at “5-foot 15 inches,” said of the second graders. In 2000 he moved to fifth grade where he teaches math and language arts. He is a big fan of children’s literature, and was once asked if he would read a grown-up book. No need. “I love me some children’s literature,” he said with a grin. And as for math … Reinhart doesn’t accept that someone might not be a “math person.” “You don’t know how to do math – yet,” he said. Reinhart apologized to the Kiwanis members who did poorly at math in school because the teacher said math problems were done “one way or the highway.” “The joy of math is there are so many ways to solve a problem,” he said. “The stinky part of math is there are so many ways to solve a problem.” Reinhart is big on letting students make mistakes. That is a vital part of the learning process, he said. “It’s OK to fail and screw up,” he said. And that includes Reinhart. “I’m a teacher who wants to learn. I’m not satisfied where I’m at. I want to get better,” he said. While Reinhart’s subjects are math and language arts, he realizes his responsibilities go far beyond those lessons. He shared with the Kiwanis stories about some of the tougher cases he has encountered in the classroom. He recalled one boy who constantly gave Reinhart…


BG students and community team up for magic of reading

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The second graders at Crim Elementary inched in as close as possible as their teacher sat down in the rocking chair with a new book. They leaned in, some bouncing with excitement, as Stacey Higgins cracked open the magic of the new book, “Kenny and the Dragon.” This is the moment that teachers love – when children are visibly enthused about reading. And this is the moment that is recreated each year with the 1BookBG program that unifies all the elementaries and the community in reading one storybook. “It’s the community experience – to see our schools and community work on this together is wonderful,” Higgins said. Every elementary student family is given a copy of the book – this year being “Kenny and the Dragon” by Tony DiTerrlizi. For the next month, students will be reading it at school and with their families at home. And businesses throughout the community will offer trivia questions on the book. “I love reading,” said second grader Liam Walsh. “I like that reading helps me get smarter. All I want to get is smarter.” Walsh had big plans Monday to go home and read the first four chapters. “I’ll read literally all day,” he said. Kenley Mangold and Mason Naus check out their new books. His classmates Kenley Mangold and Mason Naus were paging through their new books, professing their love for reading. “I read every book every day,” Kenley said of her book collection at home. “I keep telling my mom I need more books.” Naus was particularly excited because DiTerrliz is one of his favorite authors. “I have two bookshelves, actually three,” Naus said. “I need more bookshelves.” Each year, the 1BookBG books are purchased with donations from PTOs, community organizations and local businesses. This year the district is holding a “family night” on Thursday at the middle school, from 6 to 8 p.m., for activities involving the 1BookBG. The goal is to bring the families of the community together to celebrate literacy and build connections between the schools.   Out in the community, 25 businesses have volunteered to be trivia sites for 1BookBG this year. Students can ask for trivia questions about “Kenny and the Dragon,” and if they answer correctly they get a ticket that can be placed in a drawing back at their schools. Winners get to have lunch with their…


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…