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Published: Saturday, 10/16/2004

Finances, class size among top issues at Bowling Green forum

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - Keeping the schools financially fit, narrowing the disparity in class sizes, and doing something about the district's oldest buildings are among the top priorities residents have for Bowling Green schools.

The issues were enumerated at a public forum Thursday attended by more than 200 residents of the expansive school district, which has seen a steady decline in enrollment.

Acknowledging that none of the issues are new, school board President Eric Myers said yesterday the board needs to get to work on formulating a long-range plan to deal with them.

"Now it's time to take all the input and come up with some sort of plan that we can present to the community," he said. "Within three months, we need to move forward."

Superintendent Hugh Caumartin said whatever the board decides to do, the public will remain a part of the discussions.

That was a lesson learned when some residents protested a plan drawn up last year to realign the elementary grades, build a new middle school, and close three elementaries.

While the board still may have to close buildings, officials hope those decisions will be more palatable now that the public has been involved in the process.

"Standing still is not an option," Mr. Caumartin said. "The difference now is the community understands the issues better and, we hope, will ultimately support whatever the board decides to do, whatever that is."

The district's enrollment has declined by nearly 400 students in 10 years, leaving the elementary buildings with as few as 111 students at Milton Elementary in Milton Center and 134 at South Main Elementary near downtown Bowling Green.

Residents also are concerned with the aging junior high on West Wooster Street and South Main Elementary. "That building is 115 years old. I think it's probably time we found another use for it," Mr. Myers said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-353-5972.



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