VIDEO: Perkins school board takes heat on cuts

About 200 district residents turned out Wednesday to weigh in on the difficult choices ahead if tax levies fail.
Andy Ouriel
Mar 7, 2013

Click the video play button down screen center to watch last night's meeting. Click here to see a photo gallery.

The school board will be forced to slash up to $12 million more from the district's budget over the next five years without voter approval.

The fate of the district's 2-mil, five-year permanent improvement renewal levy and its 10-year, 4.98-mill new emergency operating levy on the May ballot will chart the course. 

The board already axed about $2.6 million by cutting teaching jobs and other positions. The next round could include slashes to athletics, foreign language programs and full-day kindergarten classes. 

One resident said the board and district superintendent Jim Gunner had not been straight with residents, a suggestion both Gunner and school board president Matt Kosior refuted.

“If you come up with a better plan or a chapter plan, let’s see it. Don’t accuse anyone up here of doing anything underhanded. That is not the case.”

The board shares many of the same frustrations residents do, Gunner said, but has kept its focus on the No. 1 priority.

“We are going to make the decisions that are right for the kids, and sometimes those are controversial,” Gunner said.

Click here for the e*Paper or get a Register at a newsstand near you for a table on contents on potential cuts and a deeper look at the school budget. 


dire wolf

i'm sorry, bro. It just seemed like the right response at the time. However, please enlighten us on any inaccuracies that can help us. It's obvious there are two sides to every story, and usually at least one side is correct. After awhile, it's easier to tell who the people that b.s are, and the ones that do provide helpful info. Everybody likes to give their own opinions, which is better than hearing no opinions at all. It allows us to make our own choice of who to believe, using more info than we had to begin with.


Lawrence, if there are any inaccuracies about Gunner and the BOE's underhanded moves in this blog, please clear them up with corroborating evidence. Thank you.


Only thing you devalued with your smart mouth is any slim chance left to change the no voters minds. I wish more smart mouths like yourself would come on here and make comments. It firms up the no vote. Not only will both levies fail, they will fail by at least 40%.

CR Reader

Our Children, Our Schools, Our Community! VOTE YES!!!!!!!


Our Children, Our Schools, Our Community! VOTE NO!!!!!!!





Perkins Resident

I still can't believe anyone actually thinks either levy has any chance at all on passing. Not one person I've talked to is for either levy and I talk to a lot of folks. The main concern of the people I talk to is open enrollment and Gunner. Everyone hates both and said as long as either are still here no levy will pass. I'm just passing along the info I've been told so don't attack me for sharing.


I do NOT live in perkins , but I'm telling you that someone with some business knowledge needs to open the books and follow the money.Its called checks and balance's. Do NOT allow these so called government employee's to use these children's education's to sway the vote.


Ok how about I do it? I'm a Perkins grad, National Honor Society, that is now a Controller for a large mfg facility handling about $100 mill/yr.

1st - you are all getting hung up on the cost/student. That number is somewhat irrelevant for this situation. Perkins claims they have lowered the cost per student via the efficiencies experienced by open enrollment. True, the cost per student went down but (a) your spending increased due to additional staff hirings and a increase in free/reduced lunches and (b) you are now less efficient in teaching the students because you crowded the classrooms (staff increases did not keep the student to teacher ratio the same, it is worse). Just check the ratings. Down from Excellent to Effective per the state and the rating is down to a 6 from a 9 (out of 10).

2nd - I fail to understand the claim of open enrollment has kept things afloat and prevented a new levy to this point. Almost every new $ the district received from open enrollment has been offset by the additional spending of the STEM program (laptop leases).

I am all for giving our children the best education possible and I'm willing to pay what it takes to do so (that includes keeping STEM). But this should be done based on what the residents want (since we foot the bill). What most of the people I speak with say is (a) get rid of open enrollment, (b) move the inside/outside money back where it belongs, (c) design a new school based on a capacity of no open enrollment that fits the economic resources of your voters and, if this is all done, that levy will pass.


I feel obligated to reply because I think some of your info is incorrect. Item number 2, for example. The district spends about 20% (.20 on the dollar) for every open enrollment student this year. This year the district will spend about $500,000 in order to generate in the neighborhood of $3.000,000. As a former business manager myself, I recognize a good deal when I see it. The district did what every good business does when in need of revenue. It found a source and took advantage just like every district in Erie County and 70% of the districts in Ohio have done. One expense the open enrollment revenue does offset is the $300,00+ that the district loses as resident students enroll in other districts.

The revenue earned from the open enrollment students is not "offset by additional STEM program." Please provide some specific figures. Grants funded the initial technology and STEM training for staff. I can assure you that STEM "spending" at the middle school, for example, is quite small as it is mostly for some inexpensive materials to complete projects. Other STEM materials arrive via donations. Also, the district was spending for technology before STEM and will continue to need to spend for technology in the future. Businesses, I assume, want to have students who are technologically literate. STEM/21st Century learning projects/philosophy also are intended to expose students to cooperative learning and creative problem solving-traits that almost all businesses in surveys indicate they would like to see more of in their employees or potential employees.

Open enrollment has not affected the district ratings. If you look at the specific data for individual buildings and subgroups of students, you will find that the rating is not excellent due to a few isolated areas; one of which is the value added measure and AYP (don't get me started on those). So to show that open enrollment has not affected the rating, please see below:

Year # of students rating indicators met/total
07-08 2131 effective 22/30
08-09 2247 effective 23/30
09-10 2315 excellent 21/26
10-11 2345 effective 23/26
11-12 2393 effective 22/26

We have been excellent with open enrolled students and effective without them (07-08). You really need to look at the individual data points in the reports related to subgroups and grade levels to understand why districts receive the ratings they do. I can pretty much guarantee that there aren't many businesses that would sign up for being evaluated the way the elected leaders want to evaluate schools and employees using measures like AYP and value added.


I believe the data was posted on the cost of the laptop leases. If my memory is correct the initial lease was $2mm and the latest lease was about $2.3mm. Did that program not start right about the same time as open enrollment? And STEM spending at the middle school is quite small? How can that be when they all have laptops?

BTW if you read my entire post you will see I do favor the program and I'm willing to pay to keep it in place. However, teachers should not be cut in order to maintain this program. Laptops can't teach kids, teachers can.

You can spin the numbers every which way you want on open enrollment but when the residents continue to say they don't want it and will not approve a levy as long as it is in place then what choice do you have? Had we been given a choice of approving a new levy for additional operating funds vs open enrollment then that levy would have likely passed.


If you want to know how much our district spends on each student, this web site has a handy list.

According to that site our district spends about 9,995 per student. 0.0 The 5,700 our (actually every district gets the same amount as it is a state law) district gets for open enrollment students doesn't really cut it.


Thank you for the info. Now let's get rid of open enrollment!


@ Perkins Resident.
Have been told the same thing from co-workers and neighbors. Not that they dont want good for the schools, they just no longer trust Mr. gunner. They do admit he inherited a mess for the lady before him though. If he would resign like Nixon, I think the levies would pass.


Trump - You write a written request to the school district under the Ohio Open Records laws to inspect "any and all" financial reports, bank statements, etc. Here is a link to a sample letter.


I just don't get why in the world they changed the outside millage to inside millage, build a palace for a stadium, announce that they are going to build a new school, but now want an operating tax. I feel bad for the staff that are caught up in the cuts and the students it affects.


Outside millage was not "changed" to inside millage. Every political subdivision in Ohio is guaranteed 10 mills of inside millage by the state's constitution. It's called inside millage because it is "inside the law" and is not voted on by the public. The inside millage is divided among the public entities within each political subdivision; Perkins School District receives about half the 10 mills of inside millage that the township receives.

The board voted to move the inside millage to the permanent improvement fund to help pay for facility issues now and into the future. More school districts in Ohio are following this path. The old way to construct schools was to pass a bond levy; for Perkins that would have been probably in the 7-9 mill range, plus the district was going to need an operating levy in a year to the tune of 5-7 mills. So, the residents would have been asked for a total of 12-16 mills for both levies. Our board took the least costly avenue by moving the inside millage for building renovation or new construction. If effect, we have been asked to approve only a 4.98 mill ten year emergency levy (which expires in ten years) which we would have been asked to pay in another year. Had the board asked for only the bond levy, that millage amount alone would have been higher than the 4.98 ten year emergency mills being asked for.

The current permanent improvement fund, which generates about $730,000 annually, is used for routine capital improvements and equipment purchases. By the time normal or unexpected maintenance and equipment costs are paid for, there isn't enough to fund facility renovation or replacement (and that's not what the permanent improvement fund was set up to do). Parking lot resurfacing, roof repair or replacement, buses, mowers, technology, boilers, cafeteria equipment, and so on are expensive.

To renovate the old stadium facilities so that the bleachers, track and playing field were in good enough shape would have cost the district in excess of $1,000,000. I won't go into the specifics as to what needed repaired but the athletic office at the high school would be able to give you that info (think unsafe track, press box, unsafe/uninsurable bleachers, etc.). So, the athletic booster club approached the school district with an offer to match half the cost of a new stadium. The district agreed to spend an additional $500,000-$700,000 (I think my numbers here are close) over the amount it would have had to spend anyway to fix the old facility, and instead we have a new facility that will last long into the future and was enjoyed by many community members last fall and will be long into the future. Many local businesses, school employees and residents also donated time, materials and money to make this happen. In summary, the district has a new facility that it paid less than full price for. . . a pretty good deal.


So what RMyer is saying is they legally (not ethically) moved (stole) inside millage from operating to PI to pay for for "facility issues" (a.ka. build a $50 million school) without voter approval.

Funny how Gasteier's editorial doesn't mention building a new school either, irregardless of May's outcome. And now they have to ask the taxpayers to make up for the difference of the missing operating money. Their priority is a new school, not programs or jobs. Oh, and it doesn't matter what the voters think, they're going to do what they want.


CR Reader

Resident51...could you please tell me where I can find the Board of Education's approval of building this $50 million school?

Resident51 This is happening, irregardless of the levy outcome. This is why inside millage was moved.


Open enrollment + Gunner = Failed levies!


Out of around 650 school districts in ohio this was only the "second" time this formula was used to manipulate the millage.
Gunner threatened to take the Oregon position if He wasn't hired immediately. I think it was a bluff and he pulled the wool over the boards eyes. We got the booby prize just like we did with Sherri. She got fired at 67,000 a year and hired here at what? 92,000?
The problem,as I see it, is that ex or retired teachers are put in the positions to run the schools. These positions turn out to be anti-taxpayer and anti-resident positions. We would be better served to have an accountant or people with a business degrees or business owners running the show. As soon as they say it's for the children, cut sports, cut bussing, the negativity is there. For me, I have never forgetten past threats when My children were in school. It has continually left a bad taste that won't go away. Schools are already getting over 70% of the taxes anf they want more. The students who have turned their education into well paying jobs probably could have been just as successful with home schooling. PUTTING THIS ON A MAY BALLOT MAKES MORE NEGATIVITY! And please, don't tell the kids how their parents should vote, they don't have a clue what it takes to run a household or support a family. Teach them how much their parents taxes have increases the past 20 years and how much they'll pay in the next 10 or 15 years.


I read Robert Myer's letter in today's Register, but beneath all the pro-levy rhetoric, there is one thing all the supporters refuse to acknowledge. A new school levy was put to the public and it failed, so Gunner and the BOE stole the funds taxpayers had voted on for something else and moved them so that they could build their dream stadium and school anyway. Now, they need money to replace what they stole. How can I trust Gunner and the BOE to do right by my money when they've already proven that they can't? They didn't care about the taxpayers when they underhandedly manipulated funds, so I am voting NO now.


No kidding Wald! Did you notice they use words like "facility upgrades for the long term". IT'S A NEW SCHOOL PEOPLE!!!!!!! Hey RMyer, why won't you just admit that?


One clarification....they stole inside millage, which is unvoted. Still, it's underhanded, especially when no one is willing to admit what they are doing with it!


This guy a teacher?


Yep, 8th grade.


Big surprise.


The levy will pass at some point. The cost will only increase over time. The school system will not go away.Seems to make sense to get through this
as economically as we can. Support the levy and move on.Lose the hate.