Getting the vote out

Election day is tomorrow; Perkins Schools emergency operating levy is only item on August ballot in four-county area
Alissa Widman Neese
Aug 5, 2013
Tuesday’s special election will be a quick day at the polls for area voters.
A Perkins Schools tax levy, the district’s second attempt for new funds this year, is the only item on the August ballot in the four-county area. The 10-year, 6.73-mill levy would generate about $2.8 million annually for the district, which would stabilize its deficit budget and restore $2 million in costly cuts approved earlier this summer.
Many consider the contentious levy debate a divisive issue. 
But to Citizens for Perkins Schools, a recently organized levy committee consisting of hundreds of volunteers, it’s one of the largest unifying forces the district has seen in decades.  
Committee members have blanketed the area with reinvigorated Perkins Schools passion and reliable facts, they say.
They’ve hosted handfuls of informative events, including serious sit-down discussions, a weekend “Fun Fest” and a parade Saturday headed by an ice cream truck.
By getting involved in the community, the self-declared grassroots group hopes to gather its much-needed support.
“We all volunteered to come together because we believe in this district, these teachers and these kids,” said Jason Bennett, committee chair. “It’s brought the community together in a way we’ve never seen before, to support our kids, our future.”
The history
Citizens for Perkins Schools members didn’t get involved because they expected their job would be easy.
Although levy opposers don’t have a comparable organized effort, the group has consistently made its views known at the polls with overwhelming “no” votes. Most recently in May, voters rejected a 10-year, 4.98-mill proposal, with about 64 percent voting against it. Voters barely approved a five-year, 2-mill permanent improvement levy, a renewal, by a slim margin of 51 percent the same day.
Voters have not approved a new operating levy for the district since 2000. Before then, voters most recently approved a levy in 1991.
Several Perkins Township voters at the polls in May, some retired, said they're cutting back and can't afford an increase in monthly taxes.
New campaign strategies
This spring, about 12 people manned any efforts to promote Perkins Schools at the May polls.
This summer, the effort has swelled to at least 300 people, under the new, unified name Citizens for Perkins Schools. District parents Jason and Brandy Bennett lead the committee, with the help of individuals heading nine different sub-committees. Each leader, a community member, is paired with a school employee. Members include district parents, alumni and students.
The new group’s efforts include campaigning door-to-door, posting on social media and news websites, hosting community gatherings and question-and-answer sessions, making phone calls, distributing hundreds of yard signs and keeping voters updated on their website, 
Their goals are simple: battle misinformation with the truth, keep voters informed and use multiple means to be accessible to a broad audience.
“What I said a month ago, I still mean it — I don’t care how they vote, as long as they vote informed,” said Jason Dulaney, a sub-committee chair. “As I talked to people door-to-door an overwhelming majority of the feedback was positive. It was a great experience to talk to them, answer questions and objectively listen.”
Citizens for Perkins Schools hopes its increased efforts will generate the district’s first “yes” vote in 13 years.
Its members also hope the new campaign strategies will increase voter turnout in August. They have helped several individuals register to vote since the past election. Less than 40 percent of Perkins Township’s 10,000 voters came to the polls in May.
What’s at stake if it fails
Without additional funds, Perkins Schools is projecting a $2.6 million deficit for the upcoming school year with a budget of about $23 million, according to its most recent five-year financial forecast. It is set to spend all its reserve cash in 2014.
Because a district can’t begin a school year projecting a significant deficit, board members approved a slew of district-wide cuts in June, putting this year’s total budget reductions at more than $12 million for the next five years, with more than 40 positions eliminated.
Most eliminated staff members taught special classes, including art, music, computer and physical education.
The hot-button issue: The June reductions also hiked pay-to-participate fees to $730 per sport per high school athlete, up from a $150 fee approved in April. Costs for dual enrollment classes, clubs and music activities also increased substantially for high school and middle school students.
If the levy isn’t approved, all the reductions will be permanent and more cuts are likely looming. Board members have already certified a similar emergency operating levy for the November ballot, which they are expected to approve Wednesday.
What happens if it passes
If approved, the August levy will generate about $2.8 million annually for Perkins Schools, stabilizing the district’s deficit budget. 
The new money will fund day-to-day operations for the district, including employee salaries and benefits. The additional funds will also reverse all the June reductions, about $2 million total, allowing board members to restore eliminated staff positions and return pay-to-participate fees to their normal rates.
The levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $206 per year. Perkins Township residents currently pay $998 total in school taxes per year.
Last chance for lower tax rates
An additional, one-time factor in Tuesday’s election is a recently approved portion of the new state budget.
Citizens for Perkins Schools members are urging voters to approve the levy now, rather than later, because an identical Perkins Schools levy will cost taxpayers more starting in September, according to the budget.
Until this year, the state paid a portion of approved levies through two tax exemptions, one 10 percent and one 2.5 percent, Erie County auditor Rick Jeffrey said. Now, according to the new budget, taxpayers will pay the entirety of future levies.
Simply put: If approved in August, the levy will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $206 per year. If the levy fails and is approved in November, it will cost the owner of a $100,000 home an additional $236 per year, a 14.25 percent increase of $30.
Existing and renewal levies will not be affected by the tax exemption changes.
“It’s so important voters understand the urgency to pass this now, when it costs them less,” said John Schlessman, a sub-committee chair. “We’re doing everything we can these last few days to help educate and inform people so the can get out and vote based on the facts.”
Perkins Schools emergency operating levy proposal
LENGTH: 10 years
USE: Day-to-day operations, including employee salaries and benefits



613 Ohio school districts.

40 Ohio school districts shown as moving inside millage, all or part.

Perkins moved all 5.2 mils.

Perkins led the 40 schools with 5.2 mils.

40 schools out of 613 Ohio school districts moved the inside millage.

Would that make Perkins Schools number 1 out of 613 Ohio school districts?


Dont get upset. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I do sort of agree if your voting for it you should be paying for it. I'm voting.


I have read several people make statements about other city's, suburbs school districts. I for one don't give to craps about what others pay or don't pay, I grew up here, live here, work here, I have never been one to " keep up with the Jones' " I have said it before it is my job to take care of my family and raise my kids the best I can with the money my wife and I earn. If that means not giving money to a school system that seems to think they can bully parents into getting what they want, then so be it.



It's not about keeping up with the Jones. It's about providing the children of the community educational opportunities that prepare them for the world. That educational platform has constantly evolved in this country. The world continues to change and evolve, at a much faster pace than it did even just 20 years ago when I was in school.

I agree with you that schools are not the be all - end all. But they are very important.

It is your right to feel bullied, but that is not the intent of anyone.


"The world continues to change and evolve, at a much faster pace than it did even just 20 years ago when I was in school."

With the computer and internet age, brick and mortar schools are obsolete. I am all for virtual online schools and classrooms.
"Brick and mortar schools are a thing of the past, already obsolete."


Folks, I've had enough of the bickering for one night... VOTE YES! God bless you all and I pray every vet votes tomorrow because they have EARNED it!


Get over the vet stuff. There are a lot of vets here. I'm a combat infantry vet. Can you say the same? Probably not. It's "vets" like you that give us a bad name.


pt109 your a phony , sympathy anyone? now vote the way I want you to. Duh.We all see through you, vote NO.


PT109.........I really don't like insinuating anyone is a liar, but I really don't believe your story about living in a nursing home. Sorry.

Good 2 B Me

Veteran + Nursing home = sympathy. Sad, but true.


He's probably not even a vet. Just a big mouth.


I guess by the calculations of levy supporters that my already paying over 1400 in taxes doesn't mean I support the students becuase I'm voting NO. They are getting over 70% of the tax dollars. 70% of 2000 is 1400. I think it's "Criminal" that the rest of the services only recieve 30% of our tax dollars. I want to support education not sports. You want a Ballerina? There's a dance studio on Columbus Ave. Band or music? try the Music shop by Peddler's Alley. Education is far more important than sports and I love sports.

Strong Schools ...

Academics is important but children need to be exposed to many opportunities. They all have different interests and they flourish in different areas. Our students receive scholarships in academics, arts, and athletics. Vote Yes!

Good 2 B Me

How many students have taken their Education onto bigger and better?

Now, how many Athletes have taken theirs onto bigger and better? The chances of making big money in the Sports world is much more minmal than making it in the Real World!


PT 109,
If every Vet in Perkins votes, I'm quite sure the levy is doomed for failure. Your right, One reason for defendiong our country is that we all have a right to vote but when our NO" votes are not respected and we have to vote every three months, this is not a system I defend.

Good 2 B Me

Well Said!


He's probably not even a vet.


how much should we pay if the no voters think we pay too much? A millage amt would be OK.


...I guess I'm just confused as to how Perkins can be so fiscally irresponsible when I've seen that they have had 1 "raise" in the last 18 years.



Strong Schools ...

Our community does not pass levies for new money. Check your facts and vote yes! It is time to pass this levy!


"Our community does not pass levies for new money."

What are levies passed for if not new money? Old money?


That is totally false.

What you just posted was an absolute lie.

Check Perkins Schools audited financial statements on the State of Ohio Auditor's website.

The oldest financial statements on the Auditor's website is 1999. That is 14 years. REVENUE HAS INCREASED 99.47% from $13.245 million in 1999 to $26.420 in 2012.

I'll say it again to hopefully end this LIE once and for all. Perkins Schools revenue has increased 99.47% in the past 14 years.

Please, please stop with the lies.

And StrongSchools, I have already went through one of your posts line by line and called out all the lies. Why are you still posting?

Good 2 B Me



I graduate from PHS and I feel that the buildings are just fine and they made their own mess here that they need to clean up without raising taxes! Seems to me that there is a lot of scare tactics going on to get the votes and according to these blogs the levy is going down!


According to the blogs the levy is going down? Why is it that you feel the buildings are fine? Have you fully reviewed all of the facility reports?

Whether it is building new or renovation, work needs done.

Good 2 B Me

You read blogs and believe what they say? That is just one person and their opinion.

Strong Schools ...

This levy is not about buildings...The money generated will be used for operations. But, now that you brought it up, the buildings are bad and shouldn't be ignored. The high school was 8 points away from getting the worst score possible on the evaluation. I mean, seriously, the bathrooms don't even work on the second floor! Vote Yes for this levy which will be used for operations.

Good 2 B Me

It is called Preventative Maintenance. They should have seen this coming instead of letting it go with the hopes of a $100M Campus to replace them.

Strong Schools ...

Gunner is the only supeintendent that has stood up and identified this problem. He could have ignored it but he didn't and he is invested in our student's safety.