LOCAL VOICES: Look at the books and promote understanding

"Can Perkins Schools use tax money well' was the headline of the editorial on Feb. 21, written by the Register's s
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

“Can Perkins Schools use tax money well” was the headline of the editorial on Feb. 21, written by the Register’s six editors and the publisher. In the opening paragraph you refer to a $250,000 error that Perkins Schools made regarding a miscalculation of personal property tax. We recognize this is a significant amount of money and own up to the error.

In the third paragraph you state, “Just before an arbitrator is to look over proposals ‘the school is crying poor.’” With as much coverage as you have given to Perkins Schools, this statement is surprising. We have been up front in meeting after meeting to let the community know the financial position of our district is troubled. In fact, your paper has reported these facts. Understand, the error represents slightly more than 1 percent of our total budget.

In the fourth paragraph, again referring to the arbitration, you state, “Would the schools risk such a tactic with a public that has all ready voted against new taxes?” This is a teasing suggestion to the readers the error was a calculated tactic to deliberately misrepresent the facts to support our position at arbitration. This is categorically false.

Here are the facts. Our numbers had been checked by two different parties: our Financial Advisory Committee (made up of local financial professionals), and a neighboring school treasurer. In our final preparation before arbitration, our expert witness discovered the error. Due to the phasing out of personal property tax from school funding a new spreadsheet was used. The error occurred when transferring a figure to the new spreadsheet. Within hours, the board and then the appropriate parties, including your staff, were notified.

You admit you cannot answer your own accusatory questions. The reason that you cannot answer them is that you never asked us. Since you obviously question our honesty and sincerity, we ask that you do something positive for the community. Bring in a financial expert and go through our five-year forecast. All we ask is that you publish your findings. Use your influence to be a part of the rebuilding process instead of tearing it down. Use your credibility to help the public understand the situation rather than feeding their skepticism.

What is troubling to us is that we initiated contact with the Register and answered all questions that were asked. We hid nothing and were completely up front and cooperative. If the seven of you on the editorial staff were displeased with the information that we gave, we would have been happy to host a follow-up interview. None was requested. Instead, you chose to stir the emotional pot in hopes of generating more letters to the editor.

Bottom line, we did make a mistake and accept your criticism. What we do not accept is the Sandusky Register using its power and influence to further drive a wedge in the Perkins community. Your presentation of this situation is irresponsible journalism and is an abuse of your editorial power from which nothing but harm to our community will result.

Please accept our offer, review our five-year forecast, and help the public understand the critical nature of our financial situation.

Brian Printy MD, President

Steven Schuster, Vice-president

Perkins Board of Education