Bowling Green City Schools

Courthouse tour lays down the law for BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   There was a bit of disorder in the courts  Monday as Bowling Green sixth graders got a close-up view of “Lady Justice.” They sat in on a court case, they offered ideas for new laws, and they met with the sheriff. And as a bonus, they learned a bit on how the county handles emergencies. The kids were awestruck by the court proceedings, and suitably impressed by the grand Wood County Courthouse. But kids being kids – they sometimes found a different focus than the intended. For example, as architect Heidi Reger pointed out the intricate stone work on the front of the 1896 courthouse, she asked the students to find the faces and animals carved into the stone. “They liked to tell a lot of stories in the stones,” she said. But during one group’s tour, Reger had some competition from above when one of the Peregrine falcons roosting in the courthouse clock tower snatched a bird for breakfast. It wasn’t long before a burst of feathers came floating down from the clock tower. Once inside the courthouse, the students got to listen to cases presented to the Sixth District Court of Appeals. The lesson there might have been that real court cases aren’t necessarily as exciting as those portrayed on television. But the students sat respectfully with little fidgeting as a case was argued about who was responsible for paying for roadwork and causeway maintenance for Johnson Island. Though the legal arguments were tedious, technical and long-winded, the students sat quietly. One court constable suggested that the sixth graders were likely intimidated by the panel of three robed judges, or by the ornate courtroom with its stained glass ceiling. After sitting through the governmental arm that rules on the law, the students heard from state legislators that make the laws. State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, talked about their routes to the statehouse. Gardner started out as a teacher, and Gavarone as an attorney and part-owner of Mr. Spots – which seemed to impress the students. Gardner stressed to the students that they are the bosses of state legislators. “If you live in Wood County, that means you’re our boss,” he said. “We listen to you.” Both talked about bills they sponsored that involved kids – such as legislation against bullying, requiring vision screening…


Studying up on ‘neighborhood’ vs consolidated schools

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Some Bowling Green area voters find the school levy numbers disturbing – not the monetary numbers but the numbers of students that would be using one centralized elementary if the levy passes. While some have protested the costs of the 5.7-mill levy spread out over 37 years, these citizens object to the merging of three elementaries into one centralized building. Supporters of the change say it will enable the district to provide consistency and equity in resources and opportunities for young students. Critics say students learn better in “neighborhood schools” as opposed to “factory schools.” Both sides of the issue have presented their rationale. And as with most controversial issues, there is plenty of data to support both points of view. Kimberly Christensen, of the Bowling Green State University College of Education and Human Development, said research shows pros and cons for smaller neighborhood schools and larger consolidated schools. Centralized schools offer “higher educational quality as a result of the wider menu of educational experiences” they can provide, Christensen said. There is more consistency and greater equalization, she said. In a building where all the grades are consolidated, the educational teams can offer more connected and integrated lessons, she said.  The children benefit from having all the support staff and specialized teachers in one location, she added. For example, if a student needs to see the school therapist, the child won’t have to wait days until the therapist makes rounds to that school building. And consolidated schools have higher fiscal efficiency, she said, since there are fewer redundancies. Smaller schools, Christensen said, tend to do a better job of making students feel connected. Studies have documented better relationships are likely to occur in smaller settings. “Students feel supported and cared for,” she said. Some research has shown reduced rates of student participation in extra-curricular activities in larger schools, Christensen said. And there are concerns about kids getting lost in the largeness. “Are you going to see some left out of the process,” she said. However, the latest trend seen in school districts seems to offer the best of both educational worlds, Christensen said. Districts are working to create small schools inside big consolidated schools. “If you create that environment, it makes the larger school seem smaller,” Christensen said. With this model, students can benefit from academic teaming, access to all support staff,…


School tours – some see obsolete, some see opportunity

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For more than 60 years, Conneaut and Kenwood elementaries have educated young minds. They continue to do so – but under some challenging conditions. The heat at both elementaries leaves some students sweltering while others have to be bundled in their coats.  The gym floor at Kenwood is buckled, and the microwave in the kitchen has to be moved around to open outlets. Lack of storage space in both schools has led to some items sitting in the halls. Asbestos contained in the ceilings means nothing – not even a staple – can but put in the tiles. Conneaut’s art teacher’s classroom is sometimes a cart, since some years there is no extra room for her class. Residents of the school district were invited into the two elementaries and the high school for tours on Saturday. The district is trying to pass a 5.7-mill levy to construct a centralized elementary, plus renovate and add onto the high school. The tours were in response to criticism by levy opponents, who would rather see the elementaries renovated, costing the district $30 million less than the $72 million price tag for the high school and new consolidated elementary. It seemed few minds were swayed by the school tours. Those against the levy questioned why the district would build a new building, when the 60-plus-year-old elementaries can be renovated. Those for the levy asked why the district would put a band-aid on big problems and delay constructing new buildings as the costs continue to grow. Both sides seemed to dig in during Saturday’s tours. Some parents on the tours expressed disappointment in efforts to “attack the integrity” of the school board and administration. “That’s what’s driving me nuts about this,” one father said. Getting lost in the verbal battles are the children, Superintendent Francis Scruci said at the end of the Kenwood tour. “It’s the best thing for kids,” he said of the building plan. That message was drowned out by David Apple, who is opposed to the levy. The district will be saddled with the bond issue for 37 years, but Scruci won’t last 10 years here before he is “run out of town,” Apple said. Following are some of the items pointed out by building principals during Saturday’s tours. At Kenwood, Principal Kathleen Daney explained that she came to Bowling Green City Schools about…


BG Schools property tax plan defended as best option

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A man who makes his living getting schools and governmental entities out of sticky financial situations has issued his verdict – Bowling Green City School District manages its money well, has tax levels lower than most in the region, and is asking for the right tax to fund its building project. David Conley, president of Rockmill Financial, was hired by the district to examine a question raised by citizens. Would an income tax be better than a property tax to finance the $72 million building project to consolidate the elementary schools plus add onto and renovate the high school? “I commend the board for making that decision” to have the issue researched. Many districts would “brush it under the rug,” Conley said during a community meeting Thursday evening. What he found was that a property tax is more fair to the majority of people in the school district. “The property tax they’ve put on the table in front of the community is the best funding option at this time,” he said. The bond issue will appear on the May 8 ballot. To fund the building project with a property tax, it would take 5.7 mills over 37 years. That would mean the owner of a $156,600 home would pay $26.03 a month. For an elderly person, that could decrease to $21.88 a month, Conley said. To fund the project with income tax, it would cost the average family $41.25 per month. It would require a three-quarter percent income tax for 20 years. Using an income tax would make Bowling Green among the least affordable school districts in the region – second only to Ottawa Hills, Conley said. “The increased cost of $15 a month wouldn’t be advisable,” he said. A property tax is more affordable since it is paid by residents and businesses, he said. “Property tax spreads the tax to more taxpayers.” Richard Chamberlain, an outspoken critic of the property tax, pointed out that the income tax for 20 years will generate $105 million, while the property tax for 37 years will generate $141 million. Conley agreed with the numbers, but said the property tax is much more affordable for the average income families in the district. “You have more income than most people,” Conley said to Chamberlain. “How do you know that?” Chamberlain asked. “I know you,” Conley replied. Chamberlain…


Students petition for flexible seating to allow fidgeting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   So much for stiff, hard-backed chairs in this Crim classroom. The students in Amy Kenyon’s fifth grade had enough of the uncomfortable traditional seats. They wanted flexibility – and they took action to get it. “I read an article about it,” Chasey Walker said. “So I started a petition.” “It helps us concentrate more,” another student chimed in. “Most definitely,” Dylan Krupp said. It all began when students in Kenyon’s language arts classroom were working on non-fiction reading and opinion writing. They took their lesson a step further. “We’ve made a petition,” they informed Kenyon. “And I thought – oh no,” their teacher said. Kenyon advised the students that their petition would need to be backed up by an essay. “This group then grows,” Kenyon said of the students pushing for flexible seating. Maddy Baldonado and Isa Wan started working on a persuasive essay, while Dylan began researching the costs of non-traditional seating. “I was stuck,” Kenyon said with a big grin. “I can’t tell them not to research.” The students even recruited Isabella Nardone, from another classroom, to help their cause. “They bring her in because she’s really good with words,” Kenyon said. The students researched the value of flexible seating, which allows kids to fidget and use up energy that builds up if they are forced to sit still in rigid chairs. Kenyon agreed that some students’ brains work better when their bodies are moving. “As long as the students are working, they can be comfortable,” she said. The students were so committed, they used free time on their mission to get a grant for flexible seating. “They worked on it on their own time, before school, during recess, they ate lunch in class,” Kenyon said. Dylan’s research turned up all kinds of non-traditional seating – bungee cord chairs that allow children to sink into a web of stretchy cords, wobble stools that give kids the ability to wiggle around, standing “stability discs” that allow kids to wobble, camp chairs, stools low to the floor, bouncy bands under desks that allow for foot movement, and even bicycle pedals under a desk. “I was so impressed,” Kenyon said of their dedication. Then came the next step. The students had to present their proposal to interim Principal Gary Keller. “He thought it was really good,” Kenyon said. “I almost cried. They were…


School tax expert tries to clear BG bond issue confusion

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A school taxation expert hired to bring clarity about Bowling Green City Schools funding sources for the new school proposal tried to clear up the muddy issue Thursday evening. Citizens packed into the middle school cafeteria, and two police officers were on hand to make sure the meeting went smoothly. David Conley, president of Rockmill Financial, specifically tried to answer whether or not the school district could use income tax instead of property tax for its $72 million building project to consolidate the elementary schools plus add onto and renovate the high school. His simple answer was – “it’s complicated.” “In my opinion, what is on the ballot is the best option for the community,” Conley said. “A property tax is more affordable to most taxpayers than an income tax,” he said of the issue on the May 8 ballot. “Property tax spreads the cost to more taxpayers.” However, that answer was also complicated, since his statement holds true for the first 10-15 years, when tax statistics from the district show an income tax would then be better. Conley also added another “big ‘ole asterisk.” “The agricultural community is really getting hit with this,” he said. “But my conclusion is that the bond issue right now is the most equitable and fair for the community,” he said. District officials have said that income tax cannot be used for long-term building projects. More school districts are turning to income tax revenue for building projects, Conley said. However, even that is complicated. Districts can only use income tax for bond issues if they are eligible to get some state facilities funding. There is another option for using earned income tax – but that can’t be enacted by districts that have traditional income taxes in place, which Bowling Green has. Residents looking for black and white answers disregarded Conley’s complicated explanations. “We have been misled,” Bud Henschen said about the board’s decision to go for a property tax. “There’s no way for you to continue to lie to the public,” Richard Chamberlain said to the board as he referred to a letter from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission. However, after the meeting, Conley said much of the information presented by Chamberlain in the letter was not as cut and dry as it appeared. Once again, it was more complicated. Since Bowling Green City Schools ranks…


More grandparents take over raising their grandchildren

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Parenting children the first time around is hard enough. Doing it again as a grandparent is even more daunting and exhausting. But more grandparents are finding themselves in the role of parent with their grandchildren. So on Wednesday, Bowling Green City Schools hosted a Grandparent Resource Night at Kenwood Elementary. “We have a lot of grandparents out there in the district raising their grandchildren,” said teacher Jonelle Semancik. “They don’t know where to turn for help.” Kenwood Principal Kathleen Daney said she previously worked in Lucas County, where a Kinship Caregiver program exists to help grandparents who find themselves as parents again. “There’s nothing here to support the grandparents,” Daney said. “And every year there are more and more.” So Daney asked Judy Paschalis, who previously coordinated the Kinship program in Lucas County, to share her expertise in Bowling Green. “It’s desperately needed everywhere,” Paschalis said of support for grandparents. “It’s one of the most complex family situations.” Paschalis said in 2010, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of children were being raised by their grandparents. That number has continued to increase, she said, with drugs and alcohol being the cause 99 percent of the time. “I can say I know what you’re going through – because I really do know what you are going through,” Paschalis told the audience of grandparents. She and her husband have been raising their 9-year-old granddaughter since she was 4. The job is tough for so many reasons, one being emotional. “It’s no fun having a grandchild cry because she wants her mommy,” Paschalis said. “She’s really angry at me because I’m not her mommy.” And when parents don’t show up for planned visits, the grandparents are left picking up the pieces again. So these children have lots of “trauma” and more “worries” than most children. There’s also the expense of becoming a parent again in later life, when incomes are fixed. “And then, of course, you have to buy new clothes and shoes every three months,” Paschalis said. Then, there’s the stigma that comes with raising grandchildren – as if their failures with their own children caused them to desert the grandchildren. “You didn’t do so hot with your children,” Paschalis said. “People can make them feel bad about that if they let them.” But Paschalis urged grandparents to disregard that judgment. “You have no…


School building maintenance a never ending assignment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Chuck Martin is not a math teacher, but he was throwing around some pretty big numbers to the Bowling Green Board of Education Tuesday evening. 238 – the number of toilets and urinals in city school buildings 195 – sinks and faucets 2,600 – classroom lighting fixtures 8,000 – fluorescent light tubes Martin, head of school maintenance, said his department fixes everything from chairs to pencil sharpeners. They repair leaking faucets, problem urinals, and replace light bulbs. “There’s a lot to go wrong,” Martin said. The work doesn’t end inside the buildings. The maintenance staff plows snow, salts parking lots, trims trees and cuts grass. The maintenance department gets an average of four to five work requests per day. Since Aug. 1 of last year, Martin has received 498 such requests. In many cases, repairs can’t be made immediately since delivery time is often slow for outdated items such as the district’s toilets. “We have to wait for a lot of the parts,” he told the board. At the end of Martin’s presentation on school maintenance, board of education member Ginny Stewart commented on Martin’s dedication to his job. Earlier this school year, Stewart said she drove past the bus maintenance building at 7 a.m. on a holiday when schools were closed for the day. “There was Chuck, standing out in front of the building in the freezing weather, on a holiday,” Stewart said. Stewart later found out that one of the school buildings had a boiler issue that day, and Martin wanted to make sure the heat worked when the kids returned to school the next day. “He does his job, and he does it quietly, and he does it very well,” she said. In other business at Tuesday’s school board meeting, Police Officer Robin Short was recognized for volunteering her time to train staff on use of AEDs in all of the school buildings. Superintendent Francis Scruci talked about the third annual job fair held by the district earlier than other school districts in the region. “Our theory is if we get to them before the job fairs start,” Bowling Green can get the best from the pool of candidates. Scruci also reported the middle school addition is on pace, as well as the expansion of the cafeteria. Both should be ready for next year when the enrollment spike will…


BG school board hears concerns about taxes, safety

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   An opponent of Bowling Green City School’s bond issue suggested a way for the board to bypass more property taxes – and asked if board members would resign if the May bond issue fails. Richard Chamberlain told the school board Tuesday evening that an income tax would have a better chance with local voters than a property tax. There’s a problem though – Ohio doesn’t allow schools to finance long-term building projects with income tax revenue. But Chamberlain suggested the district could get around that rule. He pointed to the middle school addition currently being built. “We must be moving funds around,” he said. Superintendent Francis Scruci, however, explained after the meeting that the board borrowed the $4.4 million for the addition, with plans to pay back the loan with permanent improvement funds. Those funds were approved by district voters. Chamberlain asked the board members about their plans if the levy doesn’t pass on May 8. “If this thing fails, I’d say the board has failed us,” he said. Then he took it a step further. “Are you going to resign,” and let someone else take over, Chamberlain asked the board. Numbers presented by Chamberlain show that the school district’s annual funding includes about $20 million in property taxes, $3.4 million in income taxes, and $8.2 million in state funding. The proposed $72 million bond issue, spread over 37 years, will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $200 a year in property taxes. He suggested hiking the income tax would be better, since the district collects 0.5 percent in income tax now. According to Chamberlain, 89 percent of school districts have income taxes of more than 0.5 percent. “We’re low. We’re stuck in this past mode of funding,” he said. The school board heard from another citizen Tuesday evening, who said the district should not be spending money on buildings. Brenda Pike said teachers work many more hours than they are paid for, and buy many of their own classroom supplies. New buildings won’t give the teachers more hours in a day or more materials for their classrooms, she said. Many of the district teachers, however, have spoken out in favor of the new building proposal, and have talked about the improvements a new consolidated elementary could provide. But Pike suggested instead that the district hire mental health providers, who…


BG gathers to discuss how to keep schools safe

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Teachers pleaded to be armed with adequate resources – not guns. Parents asked about mental health care for children. And others debated the value of arming a school for violence, or preventing it before it occurs. Though the last school shooting was far away in Parkland, Florida, the ripple effect is being felt at schools across the nation. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci has held eight expulsion hearings in the past week for students who have made threats of violence at school. Some threats were posted on social media, some blurted out in the school hallways, one uttered in anger while playing an Xbox game. “We have to take these seriously,” Scruci said. “I’ve got 3,100 kids I’m responsible for, and close to 400 staff I’m responsible for.” The school safety public forum Thursday evening was held as an open conversation with the community in the atrium of the Wood County District Public Library. The room was packed. The topic was touchy. But the forum was peaceful. “This type of event could happen anywhere,” Scruci said, talking about how schools and churches used to be safe places in the community. To make sure Bowling Green schools are as safe as possible, Scruci said he has been working closely with Police Chief Tony Hetrick and Fire Chief Bill Moorman, both who attended the forum. The district has taken steps such as limiting the times the schools are unlocked, reducing the number of open entrances at the beginning and end of the school day, changing the procedures for evacuating for a non-scheduled fire alarm, reviewing of lockdown plans with staff, talking with evening users of the schools buildings about not blocking open doors, promoting the anonymous tip line, and adopting a zero tolerance policy to threats. Scruci said he has walked the school buildings with emergency responders and State Senator Randy Gardner. “It’s not possible to make schools 100 percent safe,” Scruci said. “They were built at times we didn’t have to worry about these events.” “We all share the same concerns – how to make our schools a safe place,” he said. Hetrick said he has been having daily conversations with Scruci recently about school safety issues. The police have increased their presence at the schools with foot patrols and drive-throughs of the parking lots. “We have stepped that up,” he said. Though…


BG school board hears praise & protest of bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With the primary election less than three months away, the Bowling Green Board of Education heard Tuesday from citizens fighting for and against the 5.7 mill bond issue. “It’s great to see some new faces here tonight,” School Board President Jill Carr said at the beginning of the meeting. Then she cautioned that “respectful and civil communications” was expected from all. Board member Ginny Stewart reported that details will be forthcoming on community information meetings about the bond issue to raise $71,990,000 for construction of school facilities. The funding would pay for the construction of one consolidated elementary school, plus renovations and an addition to the existing high school building. The first citizen to speak Tuesday was Tracy Hovest, who expressed her sadness that the school board and Superintendent Francis Scruci were being attacked for trying to do what is best for the district’s students. “I’m here to say ‘thank you,’” Hovest said to the board and Scruci. She went on to scold those opposing the levy who were using misinformation to scare voters. She criticized the opposition for saying the levy is too much. “It’s not too much,” she said. Hovest said she was speaking to those voters sitting on the fence, reassuring them that the school board was taking the right action. “All they are asking for is a functional home that meets the needs of all students,” she said. The bond issue is not too much when looking at the return for the community. “Please don’t say it’s too much,” Hovest said. But Steve Bateson said painting those opposed to the levy as being against schools is not fair. The levy, he said, is “excessive.” When the levy failed in November by 550 votes, Bateson said he hoped the school board would reconsider. “We need to take a step back and see why this levy failed.” Bateson asked the board to see the results of a survey asking community members to weigh in on school building options. He also warned that the levy could negatively affect the amount the district could pay teachers in the future. “Our strength comes from teachers,” he said. “I’m an advocate for having good teachers.” Another citizen, Brenda Pike, said she has attended informational meetings about the levy, but has yet to see a breakdown of the $72 million, or the cost to tear…


BGMS teacher inspires students in class and on court

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   This was no hum-drum history lesson. This was the story of the Boston Massacre told through hip-hop. Under attack by a mob of angry colonists, the British soldiers shot and killed several men – setting a spark for the American Revolution. This was a history lesson from 1770 set to a 2018 beat by a Bowling Green student inspired by her eighth grade social studies teacher, Mandy Pasley. Pasley, who has taught at Bowling Green Middle School for 19 years, was honored Thursday as an inspirational educator of the year by the Bowling Green Kiwanis Club. She played the Boston Massacre recording to the club to show the creativity of her students. “Mandy’s one of our best educators,” Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said after Pasley was given her award. “Her passion for students is what drives her to be the best.” But Pasley, who also coaches the varsity volleyball team, passed on all the credit to her parents, her husband, her “kids” at home and in the classroom – but mostly her favorite teachers who left lasting impressions on her life. “I was blessed to have some of the best teachers I’ve ever been around,” she said. Pasley, who grew up in Bowling Green, fondly remembered her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Daly. “She was way ahead of her time,” using problem-based strategies that are popular in today’s classrooms. Some lessons stuck with Pasley, like the day the class made gingerbread men, then arrived at school the following day to find the cookies had disappeared. The students had to solve the clues to find the missing gingerbread men. Then in third grade at Crim Elementary, Mrs. Sullivan was her sweet, kind teacher with very high expectations. “We never wanted to disappoint her,” Pasley recalled. But one day Pasley and her friend did disappoint their teacher, when they wrote a secret note to a boy in their class. Pasley felt horrible, and Mrs. Sullivan knew her young student well enough to know she didn’t need to say a word. “I was already mortified by what I had done,” Pasley said. The next year, Mrs. Simmons in fourth grade shared her love for literacy and reading. She would read aloud to the class every day. “Her storytelling was so amazing and powerful,” Pasley said. In seventh grade English, Mrs. Abel let her students explore, learn…


Book about tiny mouse is a big deal to BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two years ago, the school district’s first “1 Book BG” about Humphrey the hamster caused hamster sales to spike in the Bowling Green area. Parents should be warned that this year’s district-wide reading book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” Bowling Green City Schools has officially started its third annual 1 Book BG program, which engages all 1,700 of its pre-kindergartners through its fifth graders to read the same book. This year, the book is “Ralph S. Mouse.” The unveiling of the 1 Book BG title had students waiting for the big announcement Friday afternoon. The kids filled the gymnasium at Crim Elementary School, as third grade teacher Jonelle Semancik gave them some clues. First, the book heads back to school. Second, the main character is small but mighty. And third, readers should be prepared for an “a-maze-ing” time. Students cheered and gave a drum-roll as Semancik revealed the book they will all be reading – “Ralph S. Mouse” by Beverly Cleary. “I wonder if we can get Ralph to come and say ‘Hi’ to you guys,” Semancik shouted. With that cue, a staff member disguised as a mouse appeared on stage, with a small motorcycle. Those readers familiar with “Ralph” may remember the cute rodent from two earlier stories in Cleary’s “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” series. In this year’s book, Ralph has the ability to speak, but only to certain people – primarily those who are loners. The 1 Book BG program gets everyone in the three public school elementaries, plus Montessori and St. Aloysius, on board reading the same book – whether it’s being read aloud to the younger students, or being read themselves by the older students. The goal is to team up as a community to build a love of reading with the kids. So the program doesn’t stop at the school doors. The entire community is asked to get involved. Again this year, several Bowling Green businesses have gotten involved by becoming trivia question sites for the students. Each week, new trivia questions about the book are posed at the sites – giving the children a chance to win prizes for reading. “We’re going to be reading this book all month long,” Semancik told the cheering students. After the rowdy assembly in the gym, the students went back to their classrooms, where each was presented with their own…


BG school board to discuss going back on ballot

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education will hold a workshop next week to discuss the direction the district should take as it prepares to go back on the ballot. The meeting will be held Monday at 7 a.m., in the central administration office on Clough Street, and will be open to the public. The board faces a Feb. 7 deadline if it decides to try again to pass a levy for school buildings. “We have not made a decision,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said Tuesday evening after the school board’s organizational meeting for 2018. Voters rejected the district’s request last November for a 6-mill bond issue for a new consolidated elementary building and improvements to the high school. Last year, school officials said if the levy failed, the district would return in 2018 with the same request. The need will still exist, they stressed. That will be part of the discussion on Monday. The only new school board member, Norm Geer, said he supported the levy last fall. “I voted for it,” he said. As part of his orientation for the board, Geer has toured all the district buildings – which reinforced his support of the levy. “Seeing the kids cramped in rooms,” with some classes in modular units, and with uneven student levels at the three elementaries, further reinforced his belief, he said. “I’m also aware of the concerns,” Geer said. “There’s a reason it went down and we have to address it.” Though the building project is expensive, consolidation of the elementaries will be a long-term savings, he said. And “the case can be made very convincingly” that the educational opportunities are superior in a consolidated elementary, he added. “There’s a real savings in doing that consolidation,” Geer said. “There are lots of good reasons to do it. The only problem is the cost.” Meanwhile Defiance School District opened its new school building this week, after receiving 78 percent of the funding from the state. Due to a state formula questioned by local school officials, Bowling Green would only get 10 to 13 percent of its building costs from the state. “I’m not envious of other districts,” Scruci said. “I’m frustrated by the formula that says we’re affluent. I don’t see us as much different than Defiance.” Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board elected Jill Carr as president and Ginny Stewart as…


BG School District ends year with academic successes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   After losing its first attempt to pass a bond issue for school buildings earlier this fall, the Bowling Green Board of Education ended the year on a positive – even award-winning – note. During Tuesday evening’s meeting, the school board recognized recent three district successes. The district and middle school received “momentum awards” from the state. The Bowling Green Preschool program at Crim Elementary earned the top five-star rating from the Ohio Department of Education. And the district drastically improved its third grade reading scores. “It’s a lot of good news tonight,” Superintendent Francis Scruci said. “It’s a great way to end the year,” said School Board President Ellen Scholl. It was just earlier in the afternoon that the district got word that its most recent “third grade reading guarantee” passage rate had jumped up to 72 percent this fall, compared to 48 percent the year before. “We have done an amazing job,” Scruci said, giving credit to the curriculum and teaching staffs. Scruci acknowledged the district’s disappointing grades on the state report cards in the past. But he also repeated his complaint that “it’s a flawed system.” However, the district is still making strides, he said, announcing the straight “A” scores for graduation rates and growth measures – which earned the district and the middle school “momentum awards” from the Ohio Department of Education. “We are certainly on an upward swing,” Scruci said. “Hats off to our teachers and our curriculum department.” Middle School Principal Eric Radabaugh said the scores show the district is meeting the needs of all of its students. “We aren’t letting kids slip through the cracks,” he said. Then came Melanie Garbig’s turn to talk about the district’s preschool program, which was recently given the state’s top five-star rating. The rating was based on factors such as the number of staff per child, the staff qualifications and the lesson plans. “We have this great team,” said Garbig, executive director of pupil services. Tuesday’s meeting was also a time to bid farewell to two people who have served the school district for years. District Treasurer Rhonda Melchi was thanked for her service for 22 years. Scruci recognized Melchi’s success at saving money for the district, her work on the middle school construction project, and her 22 years of perfect audits. “You’ve meant a lot to this district,” Scruci…