BG redistricting lines blurred PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 10:43
A map shows the proposed boundaries for the 2013-2014 school year.
The Bowling Green Board of Education didn't take any action at Tuesday's meeting on a proposed redistricting plan, other than to tell its audience it will go back to the drawing board to consider its options.
Residents who spoke, mostly representing Cogan's Crossing on the north side of town, stuck to comments regarding their shock on how the district notified them about their children being transferred from Conneaut Elementary this year to Crim Elementary next year. Their comments ranged from being blindsided by the plan to losing faith in the district.
"The communication on this issue was not handled correctly," stated board member Eric Myers after residents took 30 minutes to voice their concerns.
The new plan has all students east of Main Street attending Crim, students west of Ohio 235 in what used to be Conneaut attending Kenwood Elementary, and the blip of Cogan's Crossing west of Main in the northern edge of the district attending Crim.
The change was prompted in part by the planned closure of Ridge Elementary School.
Brian O'Connell gave a 15-minute presentation to the board on why residents in Cogan's Crossing were upset with the proposed redistricting plan for the district's remaining three elementary schools for 2013-14.
Many of the roughly 100 people at the meeting were residents of the subdivision, located at the intersection of Brim and Bishop roads and, for years, in the Conneaut school district.
O'Connell, who has two children, said he received a call from Crim on May 15 telling him his child would change schools next school year.
It was assumed with the closure of Ridge Elementary this month, all those students would go to Crim since an expansion of that school was completed earlier this year and the other schools would be unaffected.
School staff didn't know of the changes, and there was no explanation of the factors to decide why the subdivision residents were targeted, he said.
The families at Cogan's Crossing chose to build homes or move there in order to have their children attend Conneaut, O'Connell continued.
He wants the board to be honest and help residents regain trust in the district, keep Cogan's Crossing in the Conneaut district, and explain to the public the need to redistrict.
"Everybody in the district needs to know these changes are happening" whether they have kids in elementary or not, he continued.
The old map shows current BG city school district boundaries.
The board's obligation is to the public, O'Connell stated.
As an added insult, "No one had invited the families to Crim." He didn't say Crim was a bad school, but that his family knows nothing about it.
Eleven people took the opportunity to address the board, including two school teachers.
Heather Sayler, of Cogan's Crossing, who has a special needs son who attends Conneaut, asked why no written communication was sent out to families, how many children would be impacted, and what were the chances this would happen again.
"Don't make this decision without input from parents," she urged.
Sara Webb said she has rocked her 7 year old to sleep ever since he got the news last week. "He is devastated," she said.
She and her husband are both Bowling Green graduates, but she has lost faith in the district.
"Please, please think about how it affects the kids," she asked.
Paula Hermes, a fourth-grade teacher at Crim, said teachers "love our children and we'll do everything for them. Every single parent and child here is welcome."
Children are resilient, she continued, and they model their behavior after their parents.
She added, "Give them a week and they'll love where they are."
Lisa Lawson-LaPointe, an Ada Avenue resident whose child will be moving to Crim from Kenwood Elementary next year if the plan is approved, said her son gets a good education because she is responsible for that.
"I'm not opposed to Crim. My son will get a good education there."
But she opposed being "blindsided" by this plan.
Tom Shaw, whose grandchildren live in Cogan's Crossing, told the board "this neighborhood has been targeted."
This decision "will have a detrimental affect on future levies," he said.
Another Cogan's Crossing mother has tried to be positive about the proposed changes, telling her daughter that classmates will come back together in the middle school, but the girl remains distraught.
Julie Powers, who lives on North Prospect Street, has had her child attend Ridge and assumed he would go to Crim in the fall. But she said she just found out he would attend Kenwood, the furthest school away.
Superintendent Ann McVey said parents have the option of applying to open enroll their child to the elementary of their choice.
There are currently 147 students who don't attend their home district school. The deadline to apply is June 10.
"We do not anticipate any challenges with that," she stated.
But open enrollment only works if there is room at the grade level for transfer students, and needs to be renewed and accepted each year.
Jeff Nichols, a teacher at the high school, told the audience that while the board wasn't as transparent as it should have been over this issue, anyone who didn't expect this when the district closed three elementaries and lost two levies "is living under a rock."
At the close of comments, Myers promised every attempt will be made to make sure this lack of communication doesn't happen again.
Myers said the board needed input from the public and suggested a special meeting within a week to further discuss the issue.
No meeting date was set Tuesday.
"It was not handled well," Superintendent Ann McVey agreed.
"I think we could have done better," added board member Lee Hakel.
Joe Morgan, principal at Ridge, said he still can't give parents a "definitive answer" as to what school their children will attend next year.
"Kids knew 18 months ago they were moving and I can't tell them tomorrow where."
McVey said after the meeting the challenge with the three elementaries was each had pockets of a dense population and huge open areas.
If the district didn't take students out of the Conneaut building in 2013-14, then modular classrooms would be needed in 2014-15, she said.

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