At the first meeting Jan. 8, which was sparsely attended because of winter weather, community members, superintendent Jim Gunner and board president Matt Kosior all pleaded for a diverse, opinionated group to come share their views tonight.
“We hope the public can help us all narrow down the final decision of what we should do next,” Gunner said.
The district is on the heels of three consecutive failed levy attempts this past year.
• WHAT: Perkins Schools meeting regarding May levy
• WHEN: 6 p.m. tonight
• WHY: Anyone can attend and voice opinions on future Perkins Schools levy attempts, district-wide reductions and other financial issues
To place a levy on the upcoming May ballot, board members must approve two separate resolutions by Feb. 5.
If approved, the measure could restore some of the $2 million in detrimental cuts made earlier this year, Gunner said. The reductions included eliminating about a dozen teachers, drastically increasing student pay-to-participate fees and reducing health, art, music, computer and physical education programming.
Determining what size of levy to pursue in May — or whether to propose one at all — is a complex balancing act.
Perkins Schools is projecting a surplus of almost $140,000 in the current school year, with about $650,000 total in its cash reserve. This rainy day fund will carry the district through until the 2017-18 school year, when it will be completely depleted. The district’s annual budget is about $21 million.
These figures reflect Perkins Schools operating “as is,” however, with all costly reductions still in place.
Ultimately, the goal is to rally voters to approve enough funding to restore some or all of the cuts, while still maintaining a healthy cash reserve.
At tonight’s meeting, board members and district officials will provide guests with an interactive spreadsheet, so they can calculate the direct effects of levies of various sizes and determine the best option for Perkins Schools.
“I encourage everyone here tonight to reach out and make sure all viewpoints are represented,” district parent Richard Uher said. “I’d like to hear constructive, alternative approaches, if there are any, and get all sides of the issues. We need to see all sides”
The third meeting is Jan. 29, also at 6 p.m. in room 805 of Perkins High School. If tonight’s discussion goes well, board members are expected to take action that night and place some sort of levy initiative on the May ballot, they said.
Voters haven’t approved a new Perkins Schools tax levy since 2000.