Rossford seeks input on schools
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 19 May 2012 07:12
Ron Vincent came prepared with pencils, brainstorming exercises and blowout noise makers for a crowd.
Vincent was in the cafeteria at Glenwood Elementary School in Rossford getting ready for a session soliciting school districts residents' thoughts on how the district should address its building problems.
He was hired earlier in the spring to lead this effort under the guidance of a five-member Master Plan Steering Committee. One of those committee members, Steve Wayne, was present. So were three residents. And a reporter.
Vincent was undeterred by the small crowd. This was one of a number of meetings he's been holding with residents, business people, city officials and school staff.
He said the process was based on "appreciative inquiry ... how do we bring hope and life to a community."
As a former school superintendent who oversaw a building program that took seven years to be realized, he said he understood the difficulties facing the district.
A plan to build a new senior high and middle school on the Glenwood site went down to defeat by a two-to-one margin in November, 2010. Since then the Board of Education has been cautious in how it has approached the issue and has brought people such as Wayne who opposed that plan into the process of finding another solution to aging school buildings.
Wayne praised the current board's attitude. "They've done a flip." Now the board is seeking community input. "They're not going to shove it down their throats."
Later in the meeting he said the earlier effort amounted to some to build a Taj Mahal on the Glenwood site.
Vincent acknowledged that the earlier effort "left a bad taste in people's minds." This time, he insisted, "failure will not be an option" as the district goes forward.
These meetings are the first steps.
He asked those present, Barb Montague, a long-time resident whose grown children graduated from Rossford schools, and Lisa Comley and Jon Skiba, both Perrysburg Township residents with children who attend Glenwood, to set aside any grudges or resentments from the past as they grappled with the future needs of the schools.
Comley said, while she hadn't heard much about the new facilities initiative, she said people had to "agree to disagree. ... And move to the common ground of the betterment of the students."
Montague said the district needed to do "something dramatic that the school system has never done before" and that means considering all the options. Those options should focus on what's best for students and teachers, not parents.
The district faces the question of whether to renovate the senior and junior high schools that are located downtown, or build new. Where those new schools would be is also an issue with many advocating for keeping those schools downtown.
The status of the district's three elementary schools is also an issue. In the past some have argued the schools must be consolidated in order to save money, but others, including Wayne have insisted that parents still want their children to be able to walk to a neighborhood school.
Behind much of the debate is whether the district has adequately maintained its facilities.
Skiba said he didn't have a strong opinion of what the district did as long as it improves its facilities. "The buildings are getting old and out of date, and need upkeep."
They all agreed that the schools need to be better able to accommodate technology.
Comley said her biggest concern is that her son may not be able to compete with the graduates of other schools.
The Master Plan Steering Committee is seeking volunteers to serve on subcommittees. For information contact