Public forums point out BG school’s poor communication PDF Print E-mail
Written by MARIE THOMAS BAIRD Sentinel Education Editor   
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 11:45
A composite of responses from six community forums hosted by Bowling Green Schools shows the district needs to do a better job of communicating with its constituents.
The forums were scheduled over the summer to gain public input on where the district can cut an additional $2 million from its budget by the 2014-15 school year.
Since May, the district has already made $1.2 million in cuts.
Those at the forums were given a list of administrative staff positions as well as information on busing, technology, library, co-curriculars and extracurriculars, class sizes and elective courses.
Board President Ellen Scholl, at Tuesday's school board meeting, presented the findings from the forums.
"We need to better communicate," she said, giving communications as the number one complaint among forum participants.
Suggestions included responding to misinformation immediately, telling the public the consequences of more cuts, and providing information every day, whether on Facebook, or through Twitter, email of the district website. A regular newspaper column also was suggested.
Among other information gleaned was making sure residents know that new money, through levy requests, is to maintain existing programs; that voters did not want a continuing levy; and suggestions to set up a business advisory team and hold quarterly meetings with the superintendent, board members and the community.
Scholl added that four of five respondents suggested cutting high school busing to outside two miles of the building. But by law, the district is required to offer busing to all older students outside one mile of their building.
Suggestions also included privatizing transportation, outsource busing, leasing rather than buying computers, and eliminating paper such as grade cards and pay stubs.
Also discussed was cutting the human relations position, combining the payroll office with accounts receivable, furloughing administrators, and combining the athletic director's position with another position.
Some forum participants suggested offering elective courses online, charging the marching band for transportation costs (it's an estimated $1,500 to each football game), and giving parents, PTOs and businesses the opportunity to fund field trips.
At Tuesday's meeting, the board approved a contract in excess of $35,000 to Heartland Outdoor Environmental Education School for fifth-grade camp in September.
Scholl stressed that the responses were given as advice, and the board was not ready to take action.
Board member Steve Cernkovich said at every meeting, he heard "This is impossible. We don't want to cut anything."
People thought there was fat to cut, "but nothing is easy or obvious," he stated.
Also at the meeting, the board:
•    Learned from Technology Coordinator Beth Krolak that about 1,500 computers have been converted to Windows 7 in time for today's first day of school. She called the process "challenging."
•    Heard from Todd Cramer, executive director of teaching and learning, that teachers spent Monday going over the new teacher evaluation system that will be in place this year, and also reviewed ALICE training, which is a crisis training program that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Information, Counter and Evacuation.
•    Accepted the resignation of Amy Kirkendall as second grade teacher, and hired Kelsey Batey as her replacement. The board also hired Christie Walendzak as school psychologist and Angela Trythall as secondary English teacher.
•    Accepted a gift valued at $8,613 for teacher resources from retired teacher Jeff Burkett. Included is $6,096 for 4,064 books for classes; $1,178 for teacher resource books for reading instruction; $365 for teacher resource books for math instruction; $314 for bulletin board posters for language arts and math; $60 for bulletin board borders; and $600 for student-musicals with accompanying tape or CD sound tracks and student copies of chorus books.
•    Learned from board member Lee Hakel that Sept. 6 will be Bobcat Day, to help celebrate the first home football game, against Fostoria. Hakel pointed out the district has a new football coach and a new marching band director, and the community should come to the game to show support. The Bowling Green Rotary has volunteered to hang a banner downtown proclaiming Bobcat Day.

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