Bowling Green City Schools has lost four townships to other districts.
The residents of eight townships voted today to determine whether they would transfer to their neighboring school district.
Unofficial results from the Wood County Board of Elections show the four that will leave are:
• Jackson Township to McComb, with one eligible voter, passed, 1-0
• Plain Township to Otsego, with 75 eligible voters, passed, 32-17
• Richfield Township in Henry County to Patrick Henry, with three eligible voters, passed, 1-0
• Center Township to Eastwood, with 126 eligible voters, passed, 48-20
Those that failed include:
• Center Township to Elmwood, with 12 eligible voters, two in favor and seven opposed
• Liberty Township to Elmwood, with 537 eligible voters, 137 in favor and 176 opposed
• Milton Township #1 to Patrick Henry, with 35 eligible voters, three in favor and 16 opposed
• Milton Township #2 to Patrick Henry, with 579 eligible voters, 66 in favor and 253 opposed
All results are unofficial and do not include provisional ballots cast or absentee ballots mailed by Aug. 3, according to the board of elections website.
Valid provisional ballots will be included in official count to be held no later than 21 days after the election.
Only the registered voters in the townships that filed had the option of voting on their respective transfer issue. Of the 1,368 registered voters, 781 participated for a turnout of 57%.
“We’ve known all along, we’ve had support in our rural community,” said Superintendent Francis Scruci. “This vote in Liberty and Milton certainly says that people want to stay in the Bowling Green City Schools.
“We would have liked to keep all eight but that is part of the democratic process,” he added about the outcome.
He gave a shout out to Richard Strow for his work in Milton Township as well as Tara Loar and Mike and Kelli Daniels for sharing information in Liberty Township.
Strow said he signed the petition “believing it was going to be a good thing.”
He later found out, he said, how bad of a deal it was financially and the upheaval it would cause to some families.
Strow said there were a lot of people working in opposition to the move.
“I’m just really happy how everyone came together, and we got the word out and I’m glad to see the results,” he said. “We wanted to stay where we’re at.”
Strow said that money did play an issue – it would have cost residents quite a bit more to go to Patrick Henry, he said – but it was the upheaval from uprooting kids that he opposed.
As for Liberty Township resident Grant Chamberlain’s comment about the rural communities being taxed without being represented on the school board, Strow is advocating for a standing township advisory committee to voice concerns of those who live “outside the city limits bubble.”
“I want to see things change where we feel those of us outside the city limits are heard,” he said.
Scruci said the vote allows those families and kids who grew up as Bobcats to stay as Bobcats.
He emphasized that those families among the transfers that were approved, who want to continue to send their children to Bowling Green, can use the open enrollment option.
“We don’t want to lose any of the rural community because we value our neighbors,” Scruci said.
He again voiced his discontent with the law that allows such transfers.
“The law is flawed,” Scruci said.
“But the most important thing is that I would like to think that the people in our rural communities know they are valued by our district and they wanted to stay in Bowling Green.”
Grant Chamberlain, who circulated petitions earlier this year, did not immediately return a telephone call for comments.
His home is in Center Township but the land he farms is in Liberty Township, and both would have gone to Elmwood Local Schools if those petitions were approved. Both townships failed based on unofficial results.
The fear that the district would lose pipeline money is now moot.
“That’s great news, that we’re to keep the pipeline,” Scruci said. “That really takes a big burden off the district … and the taxpayers still in the district.”
The pipeline mostly ran through Liberty and Milton townships.
If all eight petitions had been approved, the school district was looking at an estimated loss of $5.62 million in revenue.
The BGCS Board of Education has proposed new legislation that would prevent the immediate loss of revenue with those townships that have supported their transfer.
The new legislation proposes the townships continue to pay BGCS taxes for 10 years.
The Ohio Department of Taxation declined to comment on the legality of that legislation, saying its policy is to not comment on such pending action.