Bowling Green voters will see a levy ballot in November for one community elementary.
The school board voted 4-1 tonight to go with that issue, for 30 years at a cost of $40 million.
The cost of the new school would be split 50-50 between a property tax and a traditional income tax.
Jodi Anderson suggested calling it a “community elementary” versus a “consolidated elementary.”
“We seem to be stuck on the word consolidate. It’s community schools against consolidated. It’s not. The
consolidated elementary is a community school. It’s just in a different place in our community,” said
Anderson, coordinator for secondary education.
“We need to educate our public that we create the community — and the bond between our kids and our
teachers — in no matter what building you give us,” she said. “Because that’s what we’re doing now.”
When board member Bill Clifford called that semantics, community and task force member Frances Brent
pointed out “words matter.”
“Do we have one community or three in Bowling Green,” asked Conneaut Elementary Principal Jim Lang.
While board member Paul Walker was supportive of how the school will be funded, he voted no for one
“Consolidated is the best option,” he said. “But one of the jobs of being on the board is to be the eyes
and ears of the community. The recommendation we got from the task force … was to do the three separate
Walker said he will support the decision.
“Whether it’s balancing out classrooms, whether it’s operating costs, it is the best option. But it
wasn’t supported,” he said.
The decision from the facilities task force wasn’t a majority in favor of one elementary, Walker said.
“It wasn’t overwhelming,” he said. To do consolidated, he would need to see a majority vote, and that did
Superintendent Francis Scruci made an emotional apology to the board.
“I’ve always believed that you do what’s right for the kids. That’s got to be the guiding principle,” he
A couple months ago, despite his belief that one elementary is the best solution educationally for kids,
he suggested giving up on that idea because no one would support that.
“We’ve been attacked so much, that I lost my courage. I can’t do it anymore. I’m not this kind of person.
I believe in what is right and not what is popular,” Scruci said.
But unfortunately with this decision, to be right it has to be popular, he said.
“I don’t believe that’s true,” he said about why he gave up on the consolidated option. “I’m sorry I made
that statement. I apologize for not being strong enough to stand up for what was right. And I
compromised my values to make a statement that I thought would help move this board along.
“I owe it to the kids in this district to stand up for what is right.”
Board President Ginny Stewart said she appreciated the seven months of work by the task forces.
“(I am) extremely overwhelmed and grateful for this community that showed up at this board meeting
tonight. It shows me that we are not alone in this process that truly affects the economic development
and future of this community,” she said.
“This is the biggest economic development issue in Bowling Green right now. When people come to a
community to take a look at where they want to live, one of the things that they’re going to look at
first is the schools,’ said Ben Otley, a task force member.
Jeff Nichols, a teacher at the high school and president of the Bowling Green Education Association, was
not a member of either task force. He said he was speaking as the education association leader and as a
“This school district … needs a centralized elementary school. For costs reasons, for the reasons of
resources, for the reasons of the betterment of the young people in this district, a centralized
elementary is the best option … financially and educationally,” Nichols said.
What is accomplished now is remarkable, he said.
“What we could do by pooling our resources together under one roof in a brand-new state-of-the-art
facility, would be amazing,” Nichols said.
The focus needs to remain on what’s best for students.
“Our schools do an outstanding job educating our kids in some difficult circumstances,” Otley said.
The closet used by the janitor when he attended Conneaut Elementary now is sometimes used by his daughter
for a special education meeting.
“This is about the kids. We need to keep that focus about the kids,” he said.
Otley pointed out the differences between this issue and the one that has failed twice.
This one is $40 million compared to $72 million; it is for 30 years rather than 37 years; and it is a
50-50 split with collections through both property taxes and income taxes, rather than entirely
The board also will apply for the Expedited Local Partnership Program. It will use the $6.8 million that
would be given to the district when its number comes up, either to pay down the debt or go toward work
at the high school, Otley added.
Brent pointed out the facilities task force never had the chance to vote on which option make more
It was suggested the facilities task force reconvene to take another vote, an idea that was ultimately
David Conley, with Rockmill Financial Consulting, said a vote can be taken, but he warned the result may
be for an option that has yet to be presented to the board.
The decision that came out of the facilities task force was to build a new Kenwood and Conneaut on the
current sites, and renovate Crim.
Wayne Colvin compared that decision to “comfort food” and it is OK until you sit on the couch after the
The board was thanked numerous times for giving the community a chance to take part in the decision
making, whether on the financial or facilities task force.
“My community is coming together, the community that I have lived in all these years,” said Brent.
After the meeting, Scruci said the burden of having to make a decision is over, and the job now is to get
people to understand the ballot.
Stewart said it won’t work if it is done the same way as last time, when only a handful of people turned
out to help.
Otley asked for a show of hands of who was on either task force, then asked how many were willing to help
with the campaign.
“I think that’s unanimous,” he said. “I believe you are not alone this time around.”