Bowling Green School District has cut an elementary principal’s position, eliminated a popular outdoors
camp, and authorized the involuntary transfers of a half-dozen teachers in an effort to cut its
A list totalling $1,149,762 in reductions was presented to the board of education at its meeting Tuesday.
Superintendent Hugh Caumartin said it was a report he wished he didn’t have to give, but the cuts were
inevitable with the failure in May of an additional half-percent income tax needed to cover increasing
"All the cuts are difficult. Some have been agonizing," he stated. "We’re not cutting fat,
we’re cutting good stuff."
The district will lose Kenwood Elementary Principal Gary Keller through a reduction in force. His last
day will be July 31.
In the fall, Martha Fether, who has served as principal at Crim Elementary, will be transferred to
Kenwood, and Ridge Elementary Principal Dan Sheperd will split his time between Ridge and Crim.
The two most expensive principals in the district are at Kenwood and Conneaut, because of the size of the
buildings. Keller had less seniority in the district than Conneaut Principal Lorraine Flick, Caumartin
The superintendent said when he joined the district, he made it a point to stop the practice of having
one principal cover two buildings. Letting Keller go "was a very difficult decision."
The move will save the district $118,663 in salary and benefits.
Other staffing reductions include a high school special education teacher hired through the county, the
inventory control specialist position going to half time, and the gifted programs’ secretary work
schedule being cut by one day. Savings through these cuts: $81,496.
Also eliminated are the STEP program, fifth-graders’ trips to Heartland Conference Retreat Center, and
transportation for field trips. Savings: $97,926.
"It’s really sad. I’m really disappointed. I’ve gone to camp for, gosh, probably 28 years,"
said Kenwood fifth-grade teacher Kent McClary. Camp is taken early in the year, and "we see so many
benefits to it, throughout the year."
He attended Tuesday’s meeting along with many other Kenwood teachers, and said this morning he didn’t
expect to see this program on the list of cuts.
A list of supplementary contracts that will be eliminated this fall is still being finalized, for an
estimated savings of $54,943; Caumartin indicated the list would include both athletic coaches and
academic club advisers. Also as part of supplemental pay savings, the district will eliminate grade
level/team/department chairmen, saving $66,489.
Extra pay for extended time agreements has been cut for guidance, library, vo-ag and psychologist
positions, saving the district $79,103.
Additionally, building supply budgets have been reduced, there will be no seasonal custodian and
maintenance positions hired this summer, the employee appreciation banquet has been eliminated, and
professional development reimbursements have been eliminated. Estimated total savings: $126,668.
The board approved Keller’s reduction-in-force at its meeting Tuesday, along with several other staffing
transfers that required its vote. All other reductions were made by Caumartin, who said he met
personally with everyone affected.
"It’s not just numbers on a piece of paper or names on a sheet," he stated.
"This is not easy for anybody," added board President Eric Myers, stating it was
"painful" to make these cuts.
Much of the savings – $524,474 – come through the attrition of teaching staff. Positions left vacant
through retirements include a nurse, high school math and English, junior high choir teacher, and
Due to projected low enrollment, and the retirement of a teacher, only one session of half-day
kindergarten will be offered at Ridge and at Milton schools.
Other positions will be filled through involuntary transfers, as allowed through provisions in the
Bowling Green Education Association’s contract.
"We are, as an association, glad we have protected all the members’ jobs," said BGEA President
Jeff Nichols. All the involuntary transfers were made to positions those affected were qualified to
teach; however, the transfers made for the 2009-10 school year are the most since the district’s
financial woes of the mid 1990s, he said.
Caumartin said he’s been told, in conversations through town, that "everybody else is cutting, you’d
better cut too." But Bowling Green School District, he said, already runs a lean budget "so
when you do cut, it only hurts that much more."
The district operates on an annual $31 million budget.
Waiting to make cuts only makes it worse, as deficit spending doubles or triples every year. And the cuts
made Tuesday are nothing compared to what would happen if the downhill slide continues, Caumartin
If the district cannot come up with a plan to prevent a deficit, the state will come in and do it.
"I will not see our district put in that position."
Lane Hakel, sixth-grade teacher at Kenwood, spoke on behalf of staff at that school, praising Keller and
stating that while they would not wish this on any other building, "we do not willingly accept this
Keller joined the district in 1999, after having retired a year earlier as superintendent of the Sandusky
County Educational Service Center.
Hakel listed several ways Keller had brought stability to the school, and said teachers’ sadness would
have been mitigated had they had the opportunity to say goodbye and thank you. "He deserved
"I agree with everything you said," responded Caumartin. As a former superintendent, Keller had
often served as a confidant, he continued.
"That was a great comfort to me sometimes."
Board member Tom Milbrodt gave his opinion on whether the board should return to voters this fall to try
again with a new levy. One lesson learned, he said, is the public is not favorable toward an income tax.
He also suggested the board consider a property tax, but one that would collect less than the $3 million
the half-percent income tax would have generated.
Without additional operating money, the district is looking at a deficit by June 2012.
Clearly, Milbrodt said, the district cannot hope for any relief from the state. "Maintaining our
schools and the quality of them is up to us," he stated, "and the only direction we can turn
to (for help) is the Bowling Green community."
BG schools to make several
Bowling Green School District has been able to make teacher reductions through attrition, without turning
to reduction-in-force actions or layoffs.
But that means several members of the staff will make involuntary transfers to other buildings or
classrooms. According to Jeff Nichols, president of the Bowling Green Education Association, among the
changes planned for the 2009-10 school year:
¥ Jeff Burkett, a sixth-grade teacher at Crim Elementary, will be moved to Conneaut Elementary because of
low enrollment projected in next year’s sixth-grade class at Crim. His position at Crim will not be
filled this year, although it might return in 2010-11.
¥ Deb Hoover, an elementary librarian, will move into a fourth-grade classroom at Kenwood.
¥ Beth Smith, kindergarten teacher at Milton Elementary, will move to first grade at Kenwood.
¥ Jonelle Semancik will go to Kenwood third grade from Ridge Elementary kindergarten.
¥ Jim Amspoker will move to the junior high to teach math, from Conneaut sixth grade. His position at
Conneaut will be filled by Burkett.
¥ John Pickering, who teaches high school choir, also will teach two sections of seventh-grade choir.
¥ Also, whoever is hired to replace Thom Headley in the high school music department also will be asked
to teach elementary music and eighth-grade choir.
¥ Marcia Whalen, part-time enrichment teacher with the STEP program, will take a full-time teaching
The STEP program was cut after the Ohio Department of Education decided it would no longer continue to
provide funding. The PACE program will continue.
¥ Junior high counselor Rachel Robinson will move to the high school to fill the post vacated through a