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
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, perkinslevy.com. 
 
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
MILLAGE: 6.73
LENGTH: 10 years
ANNUAL COST TO OWNER OF $100,000 HOME: $206
ANNUAL FUNDS GENERATED FOR DISTRICT: About $2.8 million
USE: Day-to-day operations, including employee salaries and benefits

Comments

Centauri

"The 1.7 million is what the BOE would have spent on the track just to get it up to specs"

Can you provide some public documentation to back up your comment for the Perkins voters?

Wald

This is more supporter misinformation. It has already been stated that it would have only cost $1.1 million to renovate the track and stadium both. Yet Gunner had to have a $3.4 million palace, which is actually more of an eyesore with all the ads. Yellow Pages Stadium is what I've heard it called.

swamprooster75

15G, How much millage is appropriate? ...the state says we (taxpayers) must provide a public education. How much should we pay and at what level of millage would you turn into a YES voter. Forget all the other chatter my personal views and your personal views. What is the millage number that would turn you into an excited YES voter?

Good 2 B Me

It might say that we need to provide an education, but where does it say that we need to provide Sports?

Strong Schools ...

I am a strong supporter of providing a well rounded education. That includes arts, athletics, and academics. All of these entities support the growth of our children and I want them to have as many opportunities as possible! Vote Yes!

Good 2 B Me

Athletics is not a part of Education. Just another 'Varsity Blues' type of mentality. Sports will not give the kids a better opportunity in the 21st Century. They need an actual Education. Really!

believeit

When colleges or employers look at a persons transcript/resume, it is well known that grades are only a portion of what they review and value. A student with a 4.0 and no extra-curriculars will never compete with a student that has shown they have the ability and desire to go beyond the classroom, whether it is band, drama, sports or other school activities. A quality classroom education and extra-curricular skills are not mutually exclusive. The most successful individuals do both.

Strong Schools ...

A lot of students get the opportunity to go to college and further their education due to their sports scholarships. Academics is very important and students excel in different areas.

Good 2 B Me

So, let them pay to play if that is how they want to get to college!

Centauri

Steubenville has a great sports program.
http://odevax.ode.state.oh.us/ht...

Good 2 B Me

WOW!! Nice one Centauri! High 5!

queenjhb

@ strong schools , Do you also want people to do without, such as heat, gas , and food to get what you want? You are full of [I want ] feel entitled dontcha.

Strong Schools ...

The levy committee has their own funds. Again I said the levy committee, not the school district!

Good 2 B Me

Why isn't the Levy Committee sending their money to help the Schools?

Strong Schools ...

We are trying to help the schools...What do you think this campaign is all about? Vote Yes!

Good 2 B Me

No thank you! I will put my faith in replacing the BOE. Gunner is going to Retire Next Year. We can replace him with a more qualified CITIZEN OF PERKINS!

Strong Schools ...

Then don't take it out on the students. They have done nothing to you and they need our support. It is shameful to know that people can't think beyond themselves to show a child that their education is a priority. The investment will be well worth it in the future. Take your frustrations out in November when the board is on the ballot. Not OUR children! Vote yes!

Centauri

"Then don't take it out on the students."

But the striking teachers did by not teaching.

http://www.toledonewsnow.com/glo...

http://www.zwire.com/site/171273...

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...

Strong Schools ...

Are you going to be our next leader? Or are you just going to sit and complain and not try to help our community?

Good 2 B Me

How about you? Will you be applying to replace Jim Gunner next year? If not, stay out of my wallet! I AM trying to help OUR community.

queenjhb

@ strong schools, its about you . vote no.

Pirate Mom

We were educated by taxes funded from our parents, grandparents, and neighbors. They performed their civic duty, whether their kids were still in school or were grown and on their own. Back then, they were proud to think of the greater good, not selfishly wondering "how much can I get" or "you owe me" because we were the future. Now that we're here, what message are we sending? Please vote yes tomorrow. Pirate Pride!

Strong Schools ...

Agree! Show your Pirate Pride and vote yes!

Good 2 B Me

NO!

Wald

There is no pride, only fear of the pay to play fee.

queenjhb

@ pirate mom, If my parents & grandparents had to suffer doing without ,heat, gas ,food or medicine, to pass this levy ,it is not for the greater good. You're selfish, look around.

citizen

If I hear the LIE one more time that Perkins Schools hasn't received new revenue, new taxes etc etc in 18 years or whatever the lie talking point is....

This is the fact (and something you will not read from any Register reporting).

The State of Ohio Auditor's website has audited financial statements back to 1999 of Perkins School District. That is 14 years of audited financial statements.

REVENUE TO PERKINS SCHOOLS HAS INCREASED 99.47% IN THE PAST 14 YEARS. Their revenue has doubled! Stop with the lie they haven't received any new funding. It's DOUBLED since 1999.

And, by the way, doubling their revenue worked just fine. Perkins Schools was operating with $1 million+ annual profit every year for almost the past decade. That is, of course, until Gunner's leadership took effect. Gunner led OUR school district to a 170% net income decrease, taking us from $1 million+ profit to $1 million+ loss.

Bherrle

Citizen,

The fact is that Perkins has not passed a levy for new operating or PI money in 13 years. I don't believe that anyone has said Perkins hasn't gotten new revenue.

Something is wrong with the way you are looking at the numbers. You say that "Perkins Schools was operating with $1 million+ annual profit every year for almost the past decade." So this means that Perkins would have generated a nearly $10M surplus in the past decade.

You have stated in other posts that Perkins has spent it's surplus in the past two years. So they deficit spent $10M in two years? I don't think so.

The fact is that the district was heading towards deficit spending before Dr. Gunner took over. In his first year, at his first board meeting, the board at that time wanted to put an operating levy on the ballot. He asked them to wait, to give him a year to make changes to how the district operated to save money.

Those changes resulted in the district not needing an operating levy in five years. Keep in mind that the economy tanked during his first two years. That's pretty good management if you ask me.

Strong Schools ...

The school district has brough in money due to open enrollment. Not because of our community. Look at out history. We don't do very well passing levies and supporting our students. Vote Yes!

Good 2 B Me

Why don't we do well at passing Levies? Have you put your finger on that yet?

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