Bowling Green City Schools

BG Schools takes drudgery out of math, science & tech

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For a few hours last month, the gym at Conneaut Elementary School was transformed into a wetlands, prairie, woodland and river. For one day last week, all of Bowling Green’s fourth graders took part in the BG Math Invasion 2017. And every week, girls are beating the odds by joining the “Girls Who Code” program held after school every Monday. This is science, math and technology being made fun. “They are really into it,” Nichole Simonis, fifth grade science and reading teacher at Conneaut said about the COSI on Wheels program. “They are so excited about science. They were talking about it all morning. They saw the COSI truck and started cheering.” The COSI visit was funded by an anonymous donor, Simonis said. This was not a typical science lesson, nor a typical science teacher. With her portable mic on her head, Alex Wilkins quickly paced around the gym and fired off questions to the kids about ecology, habitats, and food chains. In the prairie setting, one student was decked out with wings and fuzzy feet and told to “be a bumble bee.” She slurped the nectar off one flower and shared it with another. They talked about seeds. “So seeds don’t have legs. I’ve been walking all over this gym, but seeds can’t do that,” Wilkins said. So another student came up to turn on a giant fan to blow seeds across the gym. They talked about other seed options –…


BG School’s 5-year financial forecast holding steady

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Board of Education was dazzled by math skills Tuesday evening – first by a couple elementary students, then by the district treasurer. Conneaut fourth grader Hayden Feehan and second grader Simran Gandhi impressed the board by demonstrating a new math program that helps kids learn number reasoning – all while making it fun. Unlike the monotony of flashcards, the computerized games allow the students to work at their own speed. “As you can see, the students catch on real quickly,” Conneaut principal Jim Lang said, noting that second graders like Simran are already doing multiplication. Then came the big numbers. Treasurer Rhonda Melchi, who is retiring later this year, presented her last five-year forecast to the board. When she started as school treasurer in 1995, the forecasts weren’t required. That changed in 1997, when the state started mandating the glimpses into the future. “It’s a snapshot in time – what we know when it is prepared,” Melchi told the board of the forecast for 2018 to 2022. “That’s a little scary, isn’t it.” The state’s biennial budget offered no surprises, she said. “As predicted, Bowling Green’s budget will remain stable for the next two years,” Melchi said. No big changes are expected in personnel or insurance costs, she added. This year was a little tricky because the number of employee paydays was 27, rather than the norm of 26. Looking ahead to 2021, the treasurer said the district will need…


Scruci fields questions from farming community on bond issue

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci faced a tough crowd Monday evening – members of the local farming community, looking for information on the school district’s 6-mill bond request for buildings. The bond issue could be a hard sell to farmers, since owners of large amounts of acreage will be among those most affected by the property tax on the November ballot. This was the third time the superintendent has met with members of the farming community. And each time he has not pushed for them to pass the bond issue. Instead, Scruci has suggested they ask themselves two questions. “Does this help move the community forward and is it good for kids?” Then came the tougher one. “Can you afford it?” “We know there are people in this community who can’t afford it,” Scruci said. And they have to cast their votes accordingly. That doesn’t mean they are against the school district or the students, he added. But the district cannot wait until everyone in the district can afford new schools, he said. “This community will never grow and our kids will not get what kids in every other district in our area are getting,” Scruci said. The superintendent fielded questions about why the district can’t use an income tax, which wouldn’t hurt local farmers as much. An income tax cannot be used to pay for a building project, he explained. What about an increase in sales tax, someone asked. The 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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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…


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 –…


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…