Can schools get it together by merging?|First of a four-part series

Two years ago, Sandusky school board member King Baer mentioned the idea of merging the Sandusky and Perkins school districts as a c
Janet
May 24, 2010

Two years ago, Sandusky school board member King Baer mentioned the idea of merging the Sandusky and Perkins school districts as a cost-saving solution.

The suggestion raised eyebrows and was met with 'boos' from many Perkins Township residents, while some in the Sandusky community thought the idea was worth pursuing.

Financial instability is one reason some districts look at potential mergers, and both Perkins and Sandusky districts face looming financial challenges.

Residents in school districts across the region have shot down new levies during the last decade, while operational costs for everything from books to benefits increased faster than revenues.

The last levies to gain voter approval in Erie County were in Huron and Vermilion. After a string of failed levies and a financial crisis that placed the district under state control, Huron voters bailed the district out in 2005 by approving two renewal levies and a new 8.9-mill emergency levy.

The last time voters in the Margaretta school district gave a thumbs-up for a new levy was 10 years ago. The district, reeling from another failed levy this spring, is trying yet again in November.

The Sandusky school district has had a bit more luck. Since 1969, 30 levy issues have been placed on the ballot and only five of those failed, including one this past spring. After the levy was shot down by voters, the district, in an effort to trim the budget, cut teacher positions and some programming.

In Perkins, voters haven't approved a new levy in seven years, and the last four efforts failed. The last effort, in November 2004, was soundly shot down by 62 percent of the 7,516 voters that cast ballots.

Both Sandusky and Perkins school districts are rolling the dice again this fall by placing levies on the November ballot.