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Levy opinions sought

Alissa Widman Neese • Jan 9, 2014 at 12:56 PM

As they prepare to pursue another tax levy attempt, Perkins Schools officials are pleading for community members to offer their valuable input.

Board members gathered Wednesday to kick off a series of meetings this month regarding the topic.

Just a handful of guests came, with attendance likely hampered because of the freezing winter weather, but the group was hopeful the room will be packed for the next gathering.

Want to go?

• WHAT: Two Perkins Schools meetings regarding May levy

• WHEN: 6 p.m. Jan. 20 and 29

• WHERE: Perkins High School room 805

• WHY: Anyone can attend and voice opinions on future Perkins Schools levy attempts, district-wide reductions and other financial issues


“I encourage everyone here tonight to reach out and make sure all viewpoints are represented,” district parent Richard Uher said. “I’d like to hear constructive, alternative approaches, if there are any, and get all sides of all the issues. We need to see all sides”

The next meetings are Jan. 20 and 29, with both at 6 p.m. in room 805 of Perkins High School.

To place a levy on the May ballot, board members must approve two separate resolutions by Feb. 5. If approved, the measure could restore some of the $2 million in detrimental cuts made earlier this year, superintendent Jim Gunner said. The reductions included eliminating about a dozen teachers, drastically increasing pay-toparticipate fees and reducing health, art, music, computer and physical education programming.    

Determining what size of levy to pursue — or whether to propose one at all in May — is a complex balancing act, Gunner explained.

The district is projecting a $139,600 surplus in the current school year, with about $645,900 total in its cash reserve. The reserve is projected to carry the district through until the 2017-18 school year, when it will be completely depleted. Its annual budget is about $21 million.

These figures reflect Perkins Schools operating “as is,” however, with all costly reductions still in place.

At the Jan. 20 meeting, board members and district officials will provide guests with an interactive spreadsheet, so they can calculate the direct effects of levies of various sizes and determine the best option for Perkins Schools.

“The board and I have spent seven hours discussing these issues, and we want to ultimately invite you all into that conversation,” Gunner said. “There were some heated moments in those hours, with agreement in some areas and disagreement in others. We hope the public can help us all narrow down the final decision of what we should do next”

Ultimately, the goal is to rally voters to approve enough funding to restore some or all of the cuts.

“I think the public needs to step up to the plate here and help design a levy the voters will accept,” resident Bob Weichel said. “They can’t complain about what’s going on unless they come out and become a part of the process”

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, board members selected Matt Kosior to be board president and Terry Chapman to be board vice president for the remainder of the year.

It was the first meeting for newly elected board member Michael Ahner.

Board members also agreed Wednesday to hire former full-time bus driver David Mulvin as a substitute bus driver for Perkins Schools. The item was added as an amendment to Wednesday’s meeting agenda.

Mulvin retired from the district in May, shortly after police arrested him for an alleged assault, which he said was unrelated to the timing of his retirement. He worked 11 years for Perkins Schools.

This past week, Mulvin’s case was dismissed in Sandusky Municipal Court without prejudice, which means the individual pressing charges can bring it back to court in the future.

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