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, 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

themomx6

"NO"

fifteenthgreen

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

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

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

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

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

District Average (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.)

fifteenthgreen

http://stateimpact.npr.org/ohio/...

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%

Good 2 B Me

They were giving FREE ice cream from the Ice Cream Truck using little kids to do so. Pathetic and underhanded as all get out. The little girls had to have beed only about 10 at the most. Making them hand our propaganda and such. Makes me sick to see the parents USE their kids like this.

arnmcrmn

How is it that kids doing something to support their schools attempt to pass a levy under handing and pathetic? You have your priorities all screwed up. School children do things all year long in every district to support their schools. Vote how you want but leave the kids and their attempts out of the discussion. Doing so is pathetic.

Good 2 B Me

Pretty sure that I don't really have to answer to you. I am showing how pathetic the Schools are being by making 8-10 year old kids beg for our votes. These kids have no understanding of the vote and what it means other than their parents telling them their opinion.

Bherrle

You made the comment Good 2. We are entitled to our opinion too.

You really aren't showing anything of the sort. The school forced nothing. It was a parents choice as to whether or not to involve their child, and that is a family decision, a personal choice for each family.

Good 2 B Me

Which I am suggesting is a pathetic thing to do to a little kid.

Bherrle

Thank you for your suggestion, but I'll raise my kids how I chose to raise my kids. But thanks for trying to tell me, and other supporters, how to do so.

Your comment also assumes that the child doesn't want to be there.

Good 2 B Me

It does suggest that. Usually kids in this situation are led into it by the parents. YOu cannot ell me that the kids researched this information and made a decision based on it.

Good 2 B Me

Which I am suggesting is a pathetic thing to do to a little kid.

Brick Hamland

Have you ever seen an election that doesn't play on people's sympathies? It is done at every level, from Obama and his free phones to local school levies. I voted for the levy twice this morning and feel good about it. I didn't get any ice cream, but would have been happy eat it with kids from the school that will directly benefit from more teachers being employed and more programs being offered.

StayInformed

No child is begging for votes! Children love to be a part of their school and help out. If you were 8 wouldn't you want to ride on an ice cream truck for your school?

Good 2 B Me

Apparently you were not begged by the kids. I WAS.

Strong Schools ...

It gives my family and I much joy to see such pride in our students, especially the high school students. It was great to see them stand up for themselves and stand up for their education. Thank you to the parents who got their children involved to show them that education is a priority. I will be supporting my children and yours!

Good 2 B Me

And My Vote will cancel out yours! TYVM!

Slats Grobnik

NO

Strong Schools ...

Vote yes and support our community!

fifteenthgreen

"Principles only mean anything when we stick by them when they’re inconvenient"

Vote No.....for now!

Strong Schools ...

Vote Yes now so it is cheaper for us in the future. We will have to pay more in taxes due to the 12.5% rollback by the state if this does NOT pass tomorrow. Think in the future and vote yes!

Good 2 B Me

NO!

goodtime1212

One of our kids was told that instead of practice ( that was monitory ) they would go out and pass out fliers, we kept them home from practice that day. VOTEING NO.

beborcott

unbelievable....perkins is getting desperate.

Pirate Mom

If they have kids out showing how important this levy is, they're wrong. If it was just teachers, they'd be wrong. If it's just parents, they're wrong. These people can't win with you. You have your right to your opinion and your vote. I'm voting YES.

Good 2 B Me

NO!

Strong Schools ...

You seriously want to pay $730 a sport? I would rather pay $25 a month and support the entire student body. Vote Yes!

Good 2 B Me

See?? It keeps coming back to Sports! NOT THE EDUCATION! Sports don't get most children anywhere in the real world!

Bherrle

Perhaps we believe that sports is an important part of a child's education in today's world. You assume that we think of sports as "just sports." You assume that we think that our child is going to become some big sports star.

Sports teach life lessons, and in some cases, do provide an avenue to accessing a better education at the next level. In case you missed it, there is a large industry out there in the sports world that does not involve directly being an athlete.

Good 2 B Me

Sports teaches that if you have a 'Name' or 'money' you can go far in HS Sports. Talent does not always have anything to do with it.

I happened to notice the Sports world has a Large Industry, one that does not require you to be an athlete. "In case you missed it, there is a large industry out there in the sports world that does not involve directly being an athlete." So, you are telling me that I am right.

Bherrle

Directly being an athlete at the professional level Good 2.

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