School board cuts $2 million from budget

Sports and extracurricular activities dominated discussions Wednesday evening as Perkins Schools leaders agreed to hike pay-to-participate fees and eliminate 15 staff members.
Alissa Widman Neese
Jun 13, 2013

The topic was fitting for the packed Perkins High School auditorium, where more than 200 people cheered on their side of a contentious levy debate with applause and praise.

Reductions approved Wednesday totaled about $2 million, a result of a failed May levy and state funding cuts, board members said.

Pay-to-participate fees for high school students increased to $730 per sport for the upcoming school year, up from $150 approved in April. Costs for dual enrollment classes, clubs and music activities also increased substantially for high school and middle school students.

“I don’t approve of this, and I don’t think you guys understand,” a mother shouted from the back of the crowded auditorium. “I want my son’s senior year to be a good one, not ‘mom and dad couldn’t pay for me to play my sports.’”

Board president Matt Koisor told parents no board members think the cuts are a good idea, however, they do recognize their necessity.

“Unfortunately we only have a certain amount of money to balance our budget,” Koisor said. “None of these cuts are cuts we want to make.”

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If township voters approve the district’s August levy, the reductions could be reversed and pay-to-participate fees will return to normal, superintendent Jim Gunner said. The district is proposing a 10-year, 6.73-mill levy, nearly 2 mills larger than its May proposal.

Before Wednesday’s cuts, Perkins Schools was projecting a $2.3 million deficit for the upcoming school year, with a budget of about $21 million, according to its most recent five-year financial forecast. It was set to spend all its reserve cash by 2015.

In early April, board members approved two rounds of permanent cuts totaling $12 million for the next four years. 

In addition to sports fees, several parents also voiced concerns Wednesday about cuts to music and art programming.

Conversation was calm, but tense, until parent Jason Dulaney commanded attention with an objective perspective. He criticized the board’s ineffective communication strategies, but also reprimanded voters for going to the polls without proper knowledge of the issues.

An angry “no” vote doesn’t punish board members or administrators — it only punishes students, said Dulaney, a levy supporter.

“I don’t want you to vote ‘yes’ and I don’t want you to vote ‘no,’” he said. “I just want you to vote informed.”

Levy committee members, many district parents, remained in the auditorium after the meeting to recruit supporters for their cause. They will kick off their campaign with a meeting 7 p.m. Monday in the Perkins High School cafeteria.

Township voters haven’t approved an emergency operating levy for the district since 2000.

Perkins Schools cuts approved

•Furry Elementary School: 3 teachers (art, music, physical education)
•Meadowlawn Intermediate School: 5 teachers (art, music, computer, gifted, physical education)
•Briar Middle School: 2 teachers (computer, music), 1 guidance counselor
•Perkins High School: 2 teachers (health, Chinese)
•District Office: 1 communications director, 1 EMIS secretary, full pay-to-participate fees

TOTAL SAVINGS: About $2 million for upcoming school year

Pay-to-participate fee amounts approved

•High school athletics: $730 per sport
•High school extracurricular clubs: $150 per club
•High school band or choir: $220 per music participation
•Middle school athletics: $185 per sport
•Middle school clubs: $150 per club
•High school dual enrollment classes: $300 per class per semester

Comments

Thomas Paine

Agree MrGadfly we are in a situation that has been created by Gunner and the Board and amplified by reduction in local and state funding. I don't like that we have been put in this position and its why I have been a no voter, but after looking over the financials yesterday at the board meeting and how things are currently set up the levy is a need. The numbers posted here on the negative side are not the whole picture- granted the numbers at the presented at the board weren't the whole picture either, but they are facts used from state mandated figures. I have previously stated the only thing that changed for me yesterday was my no to a yes for the levy only. Most of the board and Gunner need to go- through our votes in November- not by imploding the school in the August vote.

419Bearcat

Agree wholeheartedly.

BradChuros

Instead of everyone using all their energy to be negative with words. Use your knowledge and resources to remove Gunner and the whole BOE if that will make you happy. There's a thing called a no confidence vote, a recall vote..sad two straight supers have caused this much controversy..BOE needs to get it right, make it right...

General5StarMom

For those who are not aware, Mr. Gunner has kept the district going with numerous grants that he and the staff worked together to help funding. He has no control over the funding lost through the state that has put the district in the position it is in. If you want to vote someone out, look at the top person controlling these cuts ~ Gov. Kasich. As for open enrollment, it has saved the district from asking for a levy sooner. It is ridiculous that the community has not had to pass a levy for 13 years and find it so hard to do it now. Ask your neighbors at Margaretta, Sandusky, Huron, Berlin-Milan, how many levies that they needed to pass to operate during those 13 years that Perkins DID NOT collect on any new levy money.

fifteenthgreen

Didn't we just pass one!

Ibelieve2

We passed a renewal.

Bherrle

That was simply extending the existing levy. There was no new money there. And it barely passed!

Strong Salaries...

The salaries tell the story here:

James Gunner Perkins Local Superintendent -$117,200.00 - 235 days

Chris Gasteier, Perkins Local, Other - $94,315 - 260 days

Alice James, Perkins Local, Counseling, - $76,647 - 185 days - Union President

This levy will be used to replace operating funds that were taken from the state AND to replace the inside millage moved by Gunner and the Board for the new building. It will go to pay these bloated salaries.

Don't believe what these "supporters" are telling you. They simply want to keep their jobs in order to keep their nice homes and lifestyles. I never see junkie cars when I drive past our Elementary schools. I do at the high school, but I think those are in the student lot.

A no vote is not a vote against the children. It's a vote that we are fed up with what is happening and we don't support the current board and administration. Let's get new leadership in place before turning over any new monies to them. My grandchildren in the system are doing fine - my son said his daughter was in a class with only 21 students! When I went to school we had 28 or more per class, and we turned out just fine!

Let's support the school system AFTER we get new leadership in place. Vote No this August! We can't trust what Gunner and his puppets are going to do!

citizen

Why is Chris Gasteier still employed by Perkins Schools? It was determined by Gunner and the Board that position is not needed as it will be cut in 2014-15.

Why, then, are Perkins taxpayers paying Chris Gasteier $100k+ this year IF THE POSITION IS NOT NECESSARY?

Ibelieve2

This position will be eliminated August 1, 2013 as the board approved the elimination of this position at last night's meeting.

fifteenthgreen

Hate to see job loss of any kind.

underthebridge

They've always had a Curriculum Director, but a few years ago when someone needed an extra year to bump himself up to full retirement - they created an Asst Director position. Now he's retired and there is only one Curriculum Director.

Strong Schools ...

What Lifestyle??? I work two jobs to help support my family. I will vote yes and support the students. I choose to think about others and their children. I want tolive in a thriving community that will provide a quality education. Our schools will encourage people to live here.

Smaller classses are needed due to the demands of the state standards and common core. I am glad the teachers want to provide an amzing education to our children. They are putting their best interests first. They could put 28 kids in a class but that would give very little time for individual instruction. Students come in at all different levels and need more help. I am glad the school district is thinking about the students. Vote yes in August!

fifteenthgreen

Not good!

takeastand

As a graduate of PHS I think the whole thing is ridiculous! They want to build a new campus, built a unneccesary expensive football stadium, and now cry poor!! Really????

Love614

Become a Blue Streak. Sports are free. Your child can do art, music, health, orchestra, band, etc. It just makes sense. Well rounded student and ready for the real world.

Thomas Paine

General5star mom- agree with we should have passed a levy sooner than 13 years. I blame the board for that not the public. The PR debacles of the new school, the inside millage, the supt not living in the district- among many other perceived missteps has been one of the reasons a levy has not passed recently. Right or Wrong. The inside millage move was a mistake, I am hoping the community can see through the PR mess that has created a majority of the negativity and understand their are two different votes one for the school itself and one for the board running it. Somehow the board has managed to keep the district running without a levy in 13 years (Open enrollment has been good for us)- I commend them for that- however the lack of public trust and goodwill is a direct reflection on the boards inability to interact with the public and effectively engage the voters and has led to the lack of public support of any levy. I am putting my lack of trust aside for this levy after getting details at last nights meeting. While I think Gunner is a smart man and has good intentions- his lack of people skills really hurts the district.

Justme...

Perhaps they managed to go 13 years without new money because they ignored their buildings. Just thought...

General5StarMom

If you had attended previous board meetings you would know why Mr. Gunner does not live in our district. He has stated his reasons at more than 1 meeting and it is easy to understand why he chose a family crisis to determine his residency. His decisions have been in the best interest of Perkins students all along. They have experienced many educational opportunities in his employment at our district that were not in place before and did not include any levies to put them in place. If the inside millage was not moved the community would need to pass a bond levy which would last for 30 years. Seriously, the best intentions were there when they made this move. To pass a 10 year levy as opposed to a 30 year.... do the math. Again, if you want to vote to fix this, find a Governor who will not balance the budget off the backs of our schools, police and fire departments. What shows up on the ballot is proof to show where the major cuts have been. When I hear the lack of public trust that is a two way street. There has been lots of communication from the board and Mr. Gunner who have presented these changes for more than 4 years. If people would be more attentive they would not be so misguided from all the information that has been presented openly for all of them.

Strong Salaries...

His reasons made sense years ago, but why still not living here? He wants us to all pay a lot more in taxes, yet he doesn't pay a dime to our system. He mentioned at a meeting that his sister is doing better, so he should finally move here.

citizen

Come on man, think a little bit.

The Board acts as though they've operated on the same level of revenue over the past 13 years.

And you're repeating it. It's not true.

Does the name Kalahari mean anything to you? Great Wolf Lodge? The 250 boom over the past 13 years? The new housing developments? Plus open enrollment.

Perkins Schools have seen SIGNIFICANT and meaningful revenue increases over the past 13 years through the addition of new development and taxpayers.

Again, Perkins Schools has enough money to operate. It's Gunner and the Board who are choosing a new high school building over the education of district students.

Justme...

Citizen, educate yourself. There are two types of revenue for schools - inside millage (the kind you don't vote on) and outside millage (the kind you do vote on). The more inside millage generated from business the less money the state gives your school. And when you vote on outside millage, that levy can never generate more money than what was voted on. Vote no if you want, but don't spread incorrect information.

sash

Thanks Justme! I can't believe how many people are completely clueless about millage and how it works, yet continue to spread misinformation. Increased property values do not increase revenue to the school. By law, the auditor must decrease the rates so that the income does not exceed the amount that was approved. A new levy is NOT the same as a renewal or an emergency operating levy. Vote no or vote yes, but vote with the facts and not fantasy.

fifteenthgreen

Maybe someday.

citizen

Funding from the state is not eliminated dollar for dollar from new revenues realized from Kalahari, Great Wolf Lodge, the entire 250 strip, new residential development etc.

You really believe Perkins Schools is operating at the same revenue level they did 13 years ago? Wake up!

Bherrle

Citizen - I'm sure revenues have gone up. But don't costs go up too? We all pay more for gas, electric, natural gas, food, supplies, house maintenance, insurance, services etc than we did 13 years. Do you think the schools costs have not gone up as well?

underthebridge

The way the Super and the BOE think, I'm concerned that they will consider passage of the levy in August as an endorsement of their leadership. They have demonstrated that they cannot "hear" from the community anything that counters their way of thinking.

Thomas Paine

Underthebridge- They can believe that all they want- we as the voters decide that.

General5StarMom

We as voters also decide on the future of 2,435 students who deserve a well rounded education. One that previous students received in the past from Perkins. The reason that so many parents have open enrolled students in our district. How many other districts has such a response when they offered this opportunity in their districts. Which almost all Ohio schools do! The decisions that they have made have kept the schools operating with in their means. They have made cuts that are in no comparison to what the state will do if they get to step in and take over. AND if the state does step in THIS IS A FACT.... your levy millage will be closer to what the average school in Ohio has to pay at 14% more than Perkins has now. The state will decide on the millage and will still operate at the lowest standards acceptable. WOW! What an impact that would have in the community!

fifteenthgreen

Peoples lives are being destroyed.

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