Perkins Schools offers free pizza, levy discussion

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Alissa Widman Neese
Jul 16, 2013


Citizens for Perkins Schools will host a question-and-answer session with Perkins Schools superintendent Jim Gunner at Chet and Matt's Pizza at 6 p.m. tonight.

Anyone can come and ask the group questions about the upcoming August levy vote or general questions about the district.

Chet and Matt's Pizza will provide free pizza and drinks.

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To all the tax increase supporters-

I have heard this argument several times: Eventually we need to replace (by the way, I guess renovation is totally out of consideration as that doesn't fall in line with Gunner's grandoise Academy plan) our buildings. They aren't in great shape now and at some point in the future will not be useable. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will become.

Similarly, I would like to build a new house someday. When I have kids, a new house with more space and a yard will become necessary. It will become a need instead of a want. However, the longer I wait to build, the more expensive the house will be.

Just because it will be more expensive in the future doesn't mean I build the new house now when I can't afford and I don't need it for the near future.

Gunner and Board are doing just the opposite. They do not NEED a new high school in the near future (see County Inspector's report) and they certainly can't afford it right now (see Gunner's comments re: his "dismantling of the district" or Perkins residents "no longer having their school district" without this levy).

It just doesn't make basic common sense. Yes, it will be more expensive in the future, but the buildings are safe and serve their purpose currently and Perkins Schools is allegedly on the brink of financial ruin according to Gunner, so they aren't in a financial position to build. Just like building my new house will be more expensive in the future.... but I am not doing it today because I don't NEED it at the moment and not in a financial position to build the type of house I want.

Edwin Ison

Great comment "citizen".

Also, your new house may not be more expensive in the future. Construction costs typically decline during periods of recession as competition for less available work lowers prices for labor and materials.

The same house built in 2003 would be cheaper in 2012.

The argument to hurry and build it now is purely speculative.

Bherlle, do you have a CDL?


Your comments about the economics of the situation are exactly why the 4.98 mill levy (in 2010) was an ideal moment to address facilities AND operations. Construction costs (labor and material) were at low points, incentives through the gov't bond programs to build were at a point rarely seen, the millage amount was about as low as we will see. The total amount to address all buildings in the district was less than it will take us in the future to address issues building by building and would have improved logistic, economic, maintenance, transportation, and other issues that are being dealt with today and that people are unhappy with. We also passed on the 4.98 mill levy in May. Both of these 4.98 mill levies were ten year emergency levies not permanent levies. To expect those types of gov't bond programs to return in the future (I am not aware of those programs being offered in previous recessions) and to be able to accomplish what will need done at a 4.98 mill amount in the future is probably unrealistic (we are now up to a 6.7 mill ten year levy). Waiting and hoping for another confluence of those events is also "speculative", and I would rather not see a repeat of the "great" recession we have recently dealt/are dealing with. So the problem the school board and residents have is a difficult one; do something now when conditions indicate the cost/benefit is best or wait and hope for lower costs in the future-that could entail waiting and waiting and waiting until a facility issue makes it imperative to act, and if that time happens to occur when interest rates are high and if construction labor and material costs are high, then people will be blaming others for not having acted sooner.



My comments were less about economics and predicting future supply/demand, and more about basic common sense.

I assume it will be more expensive to build a new house in 6 or 7 years. However, I cannot afford to build the house I want to build right now. I also don't need a new house for another 6 or 7 years until I have kids. Therefore, I am not going to build it today just because it will likely be cheaper because I cannot afford it today, and I don't need it today.

Similarly, I will assume it will be more expensive for Perkins Schools to build (as renovation is out of the question for Gunner) new facilities in 6 or 7 years than it is today. However, Perkins Schools cannot afford to build new facilities today (see Gunner's comments regarding his "dismantling the district" and the Perkins community "no longer having their district" without a tax increase, and the 14 teachers laid-off, the $730 pay to play fees and other draconian cuts). Moreover, they do not NEED new facilities today. Since they cannot afford new facilities, and the need isn't there for several years, they should not build today.

I've been in consulting and financial servies business for a number of years. I have never seen an organization that is on the self-proclaimed brink of financial ruin and implementing massive, draconian cuts have in their short-term strategic plan the construction of brand new facilities. And on top of it taking out $3 million loan to design and plan these new facilities.

Only Gunner and Board do that.


You are so right citizen. It makes no sense to admit that a revenue source (state funds) are being cut so we should -- build? The opportunities presented with the feds matching did not represent a savings to the taxpayer. Why? Because instead of Perkins maintaining an appropriate plan, they planned for 2xs what they wanted.


This is interesting. We both have business backgrounds and see this situation differently. I would also argue that decisions about personal property (houses, cars) are different than decisions that have to be made in the public and business arena. I would be happy to discuss these with you-just name a place and time.

Also, the decision for new or renovation hasn't been determined as of yet. The loan included plans for both possibilities as well as stadium design.


First, if you think Gunner will agree to anything but a massive new building and settle for a simple renovation, you are sadly mistaken.

Second, I'm not quite grasping how you see this situation differently. If an entity (be it closely-held business, publicly-traded business, a taxpayer-funded public entity) is on the brink of absolute financial ruin (which again see Gunner's comments regarding his having to "dismantle the district", Perkins community "no longer having their district" etc) one of the last things on their radar screen should be developing and constructing new facilities. Gunner says they are on the brink of financial ruin and cannot afford to operate the district, yet Gunner's top stragetic objective is building new facilites. In fact, moving millions of dollars away from operations to do this and taking out millions of dollars in loans to do this.

That doesn't happen in the real world. Only in goverment and particularly with government entities run by Jim Gunner.

Perkins School District as stated by Jim Gunner is in near financial ruin. They are about to "dismantle" themselves. In the short and medium runs (next 6-7 years) there is no pressing need for new facilities. Given that Perkins cannot afford and do not need it, Gunner and Board have decided new buildings and facilites is their top objective.

Again, only in Gunner's taxpayer-funded world.


It doesn't matter what Dr. Gunner would like or not like; the board members have final decision making authority.


I started my career right before the financial collapse.

We had our share of clients that were near financial ruin, as Gunner tells us Perkins is. There wasn't one... not one... that was even thinking about new construction and facilities. All they were focused on was how will they maintain their operations. They certainly were not moving millions of dollars out of operating funds (as Perkins did). They did not take out millions of dollars in loans to design and plan new facilites (as Perkins did).

It's truly mind-blowing. You cannot have it both ways. No competent leader or executive will run an organization that is on the brink of financial ruin and publicly stating they will have to dismantle themselves... but turn around and move millions away from operations and plan new construction and facilities.

It doesn't work like that.


Citizen.............FINALLY someone posting with some plain old "COMMON SENSE"!!! (apparently a rare commodity at the BOE) ...........Thank you!


The school board was presented with information on three separate occasions since 2008 stating clearly that facilities was an issue going forward. The board elected to address that issue as opposed to ignoring it. It would have been much easier to not discuss it or take action on it. Since the decision to address the issue was made, then the decision making process becomes one of what is the most economical way to pay for the renovation or replacement. Given the various scenarios and projections , the board chose what it believes is the best plan for residents and students. An operating levy was in the works within a year regardless of the millage move. If the inside millage had been left in operations and an operational levy (of at least 5 mills) had passed, there would be no option to address facilities other than to pass a bond levy (an additional amount of approx. 5-7 mills and that for only one building). I prefer the lower amount strategy.
I do not disagree that some businesses retrench and pull back during difficult economic times. There are other businesses which position themselves to move forward by taking advantage of economic conditions (e.g. low interest loans, lower construction costs, absorbing competitors) so that they emerge in better market position as the economy heats up again. Timing for decisions like those we are debating is never right for everyone. In 1959, the decision to address facilities by adding on to the 1904 structure wasn’t agreed upon by everyone; the decision to add on in the 1980s wasn’t agreed upon by everyone; any tax issue isn’t agreed upon by everyone.
Are the majority of voters who pass a tax levy for any purpose at any given time irresponsible since not everyone agrees that the tax is needed or affordable? When is the right time? I do not have a definitive answer, so I base my decision on what I think the best strategy is at the time and going forward. Elected officials (here specifically board members) have a much tougher job trying to maintain a balance between what they have been elected to do and how the public expects them to do it. As can be seen from the comments here, there are a lot of opinions about what the board should or should not do.


The board was only presented with the "information" regarding our facilities because they asked for it. I know what their intentions are. Come on!



Wouldn't it have been irresponsible for them not to ask for an inspection knowing there were some issues? Is it really fair to criticize them for seeking out an independent inspection?

Not trying to diminish the historical/sentimental value.


I do not Edwin, but am considering going to Truck Driving School to get it. I've been in Logistics/Transportation Management for most of the last 15 years, and I know that the driver shortage will only get worse, not better. The number of driving positions being advertised for around here are staggering.

Edwin Ison

Maybe consider driving school bus.

Sandusky will train you and get you CDL and State certified. I have a friend who drives there. Call the transportation department.

You could also drive a refuse truck.... my job.


Bherrle, here is some information to think about.

I have been told that some trucking companies pay peanuts.




SOS. Support Our Salaries!

Pirate Mom

My family has lived in a community that split an income tax between schools and police. It turned out to be so unpopular it was legally rescinded. Do not go this way. Property taxes fund schools...leave it that way. Renters will always be affected because landlords pass the increase on in rent prices.


" Renters will always be affected because landlords pass the increase on in rent prices."

What percentage of the rent collected goes to the schools? Rental properties have many tax advantages such as depreciation.

Earlier, I posted information about the Foxborough apartments from the Erie County (Ohio)Auditor's online site.

Here is information on the Shaker Village apartments.



Maybe we should follow suit with Florida. They have county wide school districts instead of every township. 1superintendent with 1 school board would save thousands of dollars. We could save over 400, 000.00 a year just by eliminating the supers. Seems a better way to go then taxing folks to death.


I received an email from a Perkins School District resident who saw a few "No" signs in yards. He or she wanted to know where to obtain them.


Some states have school taxes that fluctuate with the valuation of properties. If the value of your house goes up, the taxes you pay automatically go up also. But that could be disastrous when the values go down while other costs rise.



That's inside millage.

When property is assessed at a higher value the amount paid to the school goes up. And when the assessment goes down the amount paid by the home owner should go down. But, that's not always true. The bureaucrats have build in a floor to stop the actual reduction to match assessments.

That's why the school board changed the millage. It can only increase. A levy is fixed.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but that's what Ohio had prior to the 1970s. However in the 70s, property values were rising quickly and inflation was running extremely high; as a result, school districts were seeing large increases in local funds due to those factors. That did not sit well with many people. So HB 920 was passed.

"It’s perhaps the most misunderstood law in Ohio. H.B. 920, enacted in 1976, freezes property tax revenues at the dollar amount voters approve.

The dollar amount. Not the millage, but the dollar amount. Except for inside millage, school districts can’t collect a penny over that amount until voters approve another levy [other than new construction]. On Election Day, you’re actually approving a dollar amount, not a millage figure. The millage will drop with inflation over the years so the revenue stays the same." That is why the effective millage rate is lower than the voted millage rate. As property values rise, the auditor adjusts the millage rate so that the dollars voted through tax levies remain the same (dollars remain constant, millage rate declines as property values increase).

No politician has had the fortitude to attempt to tweak the effect of HB 920 on school districts. It is this law that sends schools back to voters so often around the state. There is no way for districts to keep pace or within striking distance of inflationary cost increases.


In Ohio the amount generated by a levy is fixed. A relative lives in Maryland and told me that when the value of their home goes up, the taxes they pay to the schools goes up. The purpose is to keep from having to go back to the voters all the time for more money.


As DSG pointed out above, the only millage that increases/decreases without a vote is the inside millage (which for Perkins is the 5+mills). In Ohio, this inside millage is also known as "unvoted" mills and is provided by state law (actually 10 mills, but other local gov't bodies also share in part of the 10 mills-schools do not get all of the unvoted mills). Most education funding experts in Ohio point to HB 920 as the source of school district levy woes (i.e needing to ask for funds every 3-5 years) for the past 25 years. Currently, we also have a state gov't that likes to reduce funding to districts by different means.


My daughter-in-law just offered me some pizza one hour ago. I told her okay as long as it wasn't Cameo or Chet and Mat's Pizza, it wasn't. She asked why their pizza is so bad, way to much oregano. This said, I have no problem to never eat there just like I still don't patronize Schuster's place.
A taecher recently brought students down our street to gain support for the levy. My how times have changed. When I was 16 or 17 we spent the summer trying to earn money. Now they are going door to door begging. I have no respect for any on the school board or Gunner. This should be the last time in quite awhile that we should be voting on a school levy. We need on the ballot that if it's defeated it can't be brought up again for 5 years.

Pirate Mom

If teens are affected by the levy, why wouldn't they be out showing their support? Many work, go to school, and play sports! Making time for something this important that affects their education is mature and responsible. I see it as their civil responsibility. We hear that only teachers have been seen in the past. In your thinking, these kids are damned if they do and damned if they don't. I was glad to see them at my door putting effort out there!





Come on. We aren't talking about an organization that is financially stable. Jim Gunner has publicly cried out that Perkins School District is on the brink of financial ruin. He is going to have to "dismantle the district" and the community will "no longer have their school district."

What inflammatory comments for the leader of an organization to publicly state over and over.

In your response, it's businesses that are financially healthy or at least stable enough to finance their operations that can, as you say, take advantage of lower economic costs to strengthen their position for the future (which, by the way, interest rates are at historic lows, but construction costs are not. Most construction companies have been having strong years the past 2 years).

It is not businesses who are the brink of financial collapse. You can't have it both ways. You can't be out publicly stating you are going to have to "dismantle the district" or there will "no longer have their district".... but then move millions away from operating funds and take millions out in loans to design new buildings.

No competent and successful leader does that. Not one... other than Gunner.

It doesn't make basic common sense. Their is not an short or medium run need for new buildings. A want for new facilities, yes.... a need, no. There will be a need in the future, but in the short and medium runs there is not. Further, Perkins Schools cannot afford to buildings and facilities right now. Gunner has stated repeatedly they are about to "dismantle the district." The community will "no longer have their district" due to their perilous financial position.

New facilities and buildings aren't needed at the moment, and evidently Perkins Schools are on the brink of financial ruin. What does Gunner and Board do? Move millions away from operating funds and take out millions in loans to design and plan new facilities.

It doesn't make sense. Like I said, I started my career in financial management and consulting right before the recession hit.... I have never seen a client employ a startegy like that.... ever.... because it does not make sense.

New facilities/buildings are not needed at the moment, we're on the brink of financial disaster and having to "dismantle" our organization..... but we're going to move millions away from operations, and then millions more in loans to design and plan new facilities? Only in Gunner's world.


It seems that we agree that our district is due for an infusion of funds. After 18 years with 2.9 mills in additional money (none in 13 years), and after the district has taken other steps to stay solvent on both the revenue and cost side, it is time to pass this levy (between Nov. 2004 and Nov. 2010 no levy was asked for other than permanent improvement renewals). An operational levy is needed to keep the district above state minimum standards.

The facility issue will hang over the district until addressed. This board chose to begin to address the issue as opposed to ignoring it. We can debate about the timing-was two years ago the right time, is now, is next year, is five years? But I think we both would agree that when the facilities are addressed, it should be done with strategy that costs residents the least.


You really like to "Blow Smoke" stating that there hasn't been any new money. Perkins has witnessed continuous growth in tax values. People that have lived here over 20 - 30 years have now realized how much more we are paying. I recently talked to a couple who are moving to a Condo in Norwalk after 40 years, 200 more square feet, less traffic, less taxes, and 25,000 cheaper. Our school leaders and those associated with Perkins are way out of touch with reality. No explanation you can give to the average citizen can justify more taxes.


No smoke-it's the reality of school funding in Ohio. Just putting these out there for consideration: (1) Perkins receives $500,000 less state aid than it did in 2002 (2) Perkins receives 33% of revenue to operate from the state; the average district receives 45% (3) as for property tax rate: the state average is 35 mills: Perkins is at 21.6 mills, 14 mills below the state average (4) Perkins has either the lowest (or next to lowest) school tax rate in Erie County (5) the state has cut approx. $2.8 million dollars from Perkins in the past two years; in May,revenue projections for FY 2014 were $2.5 million dollars lower than in FY 2011

Growth in property value does not equate to additional money for schools unless a new or replacement levy is passed. When a levy is passed, the amount of dollars generated by that levy remain constant (we actually vote on a dollar amount expressed as mills). The auditor adjusts the millage rate as needed to keep the actual dollars collected static. There is no adjustment for inflation or other factors to that amount. That is why the effective millage paid is less than the actual millage voted over the years and why districts have to be on the ballot so often. School districts see a rise in property tax collections with new construction and the new construction in the township hasn't been enough to offset revenue losses (also, remember that often large business are granted TIFs that delay taxes paid to schools in order to fund infrastructure improvements to encourage businesses to locate in a district). I do not know the school tax rates for Norwalk but have recently read that its board is mulling a levy request.



Why must you answer with lies?

"Growth in property value does not equate to additional money for schools unless a new or replacement levy is passed."

Inside millage grows with property value.

Why do you think the school board moved the outside millage to inside millage? Because of that very reason.

You and a few others have become the mouthpiece of the school during this debate. Your lies make the school look dishonest. Be careful with what you write.




When the levy fails, can we expect all those who voted yes to donate to the schools the amount their taxes would have gone up if the levy had passed?