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


Good 2 B Me

Question: If you were walking down the street and got robbed, then the next day were walking down the street again only to be held up by the same crook; would you volunteer your wallet to them or fight back?

Strong Schools ...

Well, nothing was "stolen" . The decisions were made at public board meetings. Were you there or are you just talking again? We voted the board into office to make these decisions and if you don't like it then vote them out and run for the board yourself. I do not volunteer my wallet to anyone! I will be voting yes because our district is financially responsible and they have no control over what the state does.

Good 2 B Me

Sorry, but statistics already posted show otherwise about the financial responsibility of the BOE and Jim Gunner.

As I mentioned before, I only wish that I was able to run for the BOE, my style would be noticed and changes would be pushed! I will be backing a candidate for the elections, don't you worry your pretty little head about that!


@ strong schools , don't volunteer my wallet either.

Strong Schools ...

The community has passed renewals, which is greatly appreciated. But we do not pass levies for new revenue. Support the students and vote yes!

Good 2 B Me

I thought that we are not passing this for New Money? You posted that earlier. Which is it?

Strong Schools ...

It's not for buildings! It is for operations which equals new money!

Good 2 B Me

NOT TRUE! Read your own Propaganda!

It states that the District will be fine once the Levy is passed. It also states that the BOE will not choose to build new buildings until they believe that the District will be ok without a new levy for 3 years. So, basically once you pass this levy, the BOE can say that we will be ok in 3 years and begin the process of building the new schools. Read your propaganda.


This is not an indication of "Strong Schools". This trend needs to change!

Here is a brief overview of how Perkins has scored on the ODE District Report cards from the previous ODE link.

08-09 Effective
09-10 Excellent
10-11 Effective
11-12 Effective

08-09 Effective
09-10 Excellent w/Distinction
10-11 Effective
11-12 Effective

08-09 Excellent
09-10 Effective
10-11 Effective
11-12 Effective

08-09 Excellent
09-10 Excellent
10-11 Excellent
11-12 Excellent

District (with additional years)
03-04 Effective
04-05 Effective
05-06 Continuous Improvement
06-07 Continuous Improvement
07-08 Effective
08-09 Effective
09-10 Excellent
10-11 Effective
11-12 Effective

Ohio gives public schools and districts one of six ratings. The state does not award schools letter grades, but the official ratings can be roughly translated as follows:

Excellent With Distinction = A+
Excellent = A
Effective = B
Continuous Improvement = C
Academic Watch = D
Academic Emergency = F
Those grades are based on:
The percentage of students passing state tests;
How well students score on state tests;
For elementary and middle schools, a calculation showing how much progress students made in a particular school year;
Attendance rates;
High school graduation rates; and
Whether or not the school or district meets federal standards. (Those federal standards are called Adequate Yearly Progress and include reading and math test passing rates and test participation, attendance and graduation rates.)

Good 2 B Me

If my kids came home with 4 B's and an A I would be quite happy!


Right, but at adjacent districts they could get all A's and A+'s. Would you keep forking money over to a restaurant, car dealership, hospital, etc. for "B" service? I'm just saying this needs to improve for a school of this caliber. Why is it trending lower?

Perkins seems to be excelling in the Athletics and Arts and neglecting the Academics.

Common Sense

Do you understand how the ratings are derived? Are we absolutely certain that all school districts are measured in the exact same manner? Have you ever gone to a BOE meeting to ask how or why the ratings are dropping? A little education on this matter would make your response a little easier for me to swallow.
My discontent is with the number of people who post only what they read and do not bother to look or ask beyond what they have read. By the way, my dear departed mother always told her children you can never believe all that you read or all that you hear. Seek the whole picture.


District OH Rank Rating 11-12 10-11 Per.Ind Value Low Income

Edison Local Erie 247 A A 100.8 Met 33%
Huron City Erie 124 A A 103.7 Met 30%
Margaretta Erie 412 B A 97.6 Met 37%
Perkins Local Erie 391 B B 98 Below 33%
Vermilion Local Erie 371 A B 98.4 Met 41%
Port Clinton Ottawa 430 B B 97.2 Met 47%
Put-In-Bay Ottawa 21 A A 108.7 Met n/a
Danbury Local Ottawa 241 A A 101 Met 45%
Oak Harbor Ottawa 240 A+ A 101 Above 34%
Norwalk City Huron 332 B A 99.3 Met 49%
Sandusky City Erie 585 C C 86.5 Met 78%

District: Perkins
Ohio Rank: 391
Rating 2010-2011: B
Rating: 2011-2012 B
Value: Below
Low Income: 33%


"By the way, my dear departed mother always told her children you can never believe all that you read or all that you hear. Seek the whole picture."

Oh yes, seek out the entire truth.

Have you noticed that the pro-levy people evaded all of my questions?

What are they hiding?

I already know.



All of your questions were already answered. We are hiding nothing.

But please, go on, tell us, what do you think we are hiding. What do you wish to accuse of us now?


.....and AYP is the key. A school could hit 98.5% in a category in one year, and hit 98.4% the next year, and the district gets "gigged" by the state. Theoretically, you could hit 100% in every category, then 99.9% the next year, and the state would not be happy.


So just Perkins is getting "gigged" by the state? It's a trend that should be unacceptable to everyone and needs immediate attention. We're not talking about one or two years.

3301-35-05 Faculty and staff focus.
Chapter 3301-35 Standards for Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade

Be Positive-Vote Yes

So proud of so many community members coming together and fighting for such an important issue! Our children deserve the best education and we all deserve a successful and continually growing community to live in. Vote YES! : )


15 green, I Did not see the answer to my question. How much millage do you think is appropriate? How much millage would turn you into an excited yes would voter?


None until they learn to spend appropriately what they are currently receiving.


I really doubt the sky will fall if the levy does not pass on Tuesday. I have not seen a school system close its door in years because a levy failed. The State of Ohio .....alas us our tax dollars pay enough for the school door to stay open and lights on and teachers in the classroom.

Now the difference may not be the extras.......more classes of this and less students in a class etc. Maybe sports reduced or even eliminiated. All can happen but school will still be open, lights on and learning taking place.


I really doubt the sky will fall if the levy does not pass on Tuesday. I have not seen a school system close its door in years because a levy failed. The State of Ohio .....alas us our tax dollars pay enough for the school door to stay open and lights on and teachers in the classroom.

Now the difference may not be the extras.......more classes of this and less students in a class etc. Maybe sports reduced or even eliminiated. All can happen but school will still be open, lights on and learning taking place.


I do notice the pro levy forces are much more aggressive this go around. To note that "Strong Schools' keeps countering every negative comment on the blog. My guess is one or group have been assigned the task of sitting at home and countering negative comments. Tehy came up to do that one as they sat around the levy planning table in the past few months.

Reality is Strong Schools I doubt is convincing anyone on this blog to vote for the levy and I doubt we are convincing Strong Schools to oppose the levy. Levy supporters might have been better to get hundreds of folks to be pro levy and make countless testimonies to the value of the levy vs assigning Strong Schools all the work of posting only. Sounds like the levy's PR folks are not thinking straight.

God Of Thunder

Wow... It amazes me how many brainwashed people are on here in support of the levy. Gunner has done nothing but divide this community, chose not to live here and pay his fair share of the taxes he wants raised, and drove the value of our schools down.

Until Gunner and the current BOE is gone, I will never voluntarily give up another penny to help them drive the schools further into the ground.

And until Jimmy Jones, AKA Gunner, is gone, I would not drink any more kool-aid and smack yourselves across the face to snap yourselves out of it...

VOTE NO!!!!!


I'm heading out to vote NO. I strongly encourage others to vote no to keep your democratic rights and prevent your hard-earned tax dollars from being mismanaged for a new building. Thank you.


Bherrle, Can you explain to the readers the teacher's two part salary issue...the first being the step raise(although they say this is not a raise) and the second part the "real raise" they get each year...That is OK..I will. All teachers will get an automatic raise (which justifies why salaries were increased each year) with the step system. For example, if you have taught 5 years, you get X amount. If you taught 6 years, you will get more than you got at 5 years. This has "nothing to do with the raise" so when the teachers state that they are not getting a raise, they will still get the "step" raise but not the cost of living raise that gets negotiated in the union's contract. All teacher state that the "step" raise is not a raise BUT IT IS. The definition of a raise is getting more money. When teachers complain that they have not received a raise, then ask them if they got their step raise.
One other point...when our house values go down...who cares...the school has open enrollment so go ahead and have the tax payers pay more for the other children whose parents do not pay a cent to go to Perkins.


I'm going to assume that the Perkins teaching staff and BOE did not negotiate a pay freeze, just no yearly percentage pay raise. If a pay freeze was negotiated, I believe there isn't the step increase for every year of experience either......


Here is the key word "operating levy" used to pay salaries and benefits of union teachers. $206 for a $100,000 home is crazy. How much more can you keep squeezing. People who vote for this levy are just plain crazy and deserve the hike in property taxes. The county needs to work harder at collecting the 10.7 million owed in delinquent property taxes to the schools. Perkins should not have opened the door to open enrollment. Now, they have to support all those kids that transferred over to their school.


I see the vast majority of people using crtedit cards knowing they will have to pay later. I Voted No! Bill me more later and I'll put it off again. Why should I pay now for something I don't want and feel that isn't needed. Bill Me later is my new Slogan!