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

fifteenthgreen

Ugh!

Tribester

Too bad you had to sign up by the end of May like it clearly states on the application you linked to. Reading comprehension, something they teach at Perkins schools, you should look into it!

JEF

Applications are still being accepted. Thank you.

Strong Schools ...

Facts on why you should support our students in August...Vote Yes!

• Perkins, Sandusky & BGSU partner on $7.28 million National
Science Foundation Grant to fund a five year project titled
“iEvolve with STEM” ( Inquiry and Engagement to Invigorate and
Optimize Learning for Everyone with Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics). Supporting partners include
Ohio State University Stone Lab, the University of Toledo,
Lourdes University, Owens Community College, the Toledo Zoo,
Metroparks of the Toledo Area, and Erie County Soil and Water
Conservation District.The goal of the iEvolve with STEM project
is to substantially increase student achievement on state and
national science standards and to increase student interest in
science as a pursuit and as a career.

Bherrle

Folks - if you disagree with the way the school is approaching any facet of educating our communities children, including technology, athletics, languages, etc, and how it is spending funds to that end, then vote out any board member you see fit. Better yet, it seems that a lot of you know exactly what all the problems are, and what the solutions are, so how about putting your name out there for a school board position. Put your ass in that seat and let's see how you do?

It's very easy to play Monday Morning Quarterback. It's very easy to criticize our leaders, especially on a blog behind fake screen names. It's also very easy to mis-represent the facts with your opinion, for or against.

My name is Brad Herrle. What is yours? (That is directed at everyone on this blog, No Votes and Yes Votes.) Shame on me, but I am coming to the party late. I am just starting to get involved after moving here two years ago. But I am where I am, and I am educating myself. I don't have all the answers, and I don't know all the facts, yet. But I know this. The current board was elected, not appointed. They are representing the community via an election. Whether you agree with them or not, they are our local leaders, doing what they feel is in the best interest of our childrens future and future generations childrens futures, and I will argue that point with anyone. If you think they are being "selfish", you are misguided. That includes their direction on building new facilities, whether you agree or not. They deserve more respect than a lot of you are showing them. It is possible to agree or disagree without the personal attacks, insults, and rhetoric. If your point is a sound one, all you need is the facts. The facts, not your intrepratation of them, for or against.

The majority of voters have voted no several times to funding the idea of new facilities via new levies. That's everyones right. But that does not mean that the Superintendent and the Board should stop exploring other ways to fund facility repair, or new facilities, if that's what they feel is needed. They need to do so within the law, which to my knowledge they have not broken. It's their job to think 5-10-15-20 years down the road. If you want that responsibility, then run for the board, or get someone else to run and vote for them. You don't like their ideas, vote them out!

I personally would have voted yes in 2010 had I lived here, and I voted yes in May to both levies, the renewal and the additional levy. That's my right. I am of the opinion that our current facilities are inadequate. Simply comparing them to what I had when I was in school 20-30 years ago is not enough. Simply comparing them to neighboring facilites in the county is not enough. We have to think forward, nationally, and globally. That's the world we live in. I don't have all the answers to these problems, so I will continue to educate myself, and I will excerise my right to choose new leadership in November if I feel that any board member is deserving of being replaced. But I will not intentionally defund our schools to force out a Superintendent, or a Board.

Thomas Paine

Bherrle- Well said!

Edwin Ison

Bherrle,
The voters have not defunded? the schools at all.
The voters just recently approved a renewal levy.
Actual funding has been increased through the 20 mil adjustment.

Bherrle

Edwin - thank you for the information. I did not choose my words correctly. What I was referring to in that statement is the rumor (perhaps fact) that there is a petition going around that if signed states one will vote for the levy in august, if Gunner and all of the board resign. That is totally irresponsible, in my opinion. That is the public trying to be the board.

In my opinion, we are effectively "defunding" our schools by not being willing to raise millage at all in 13 years. By not being willing to replace the $2 million plus the state is taking away.

Let me be clear - I am not a Kool-Aid drinker. As I learn more, I certainly see mistakes that were made. I am not a blind yes vote. I choose to separate my levy vote from my board vote, and I think it is wrong of anyone who is combining them. But that is their right.

fifteenthgreen

I think you eventually can be one of those but you are too new to the district and have much to learn. Keep at it! We've been here our entire lives, have been served by several administrations and witnessed all the good and bad that goes with being a close community. This current crisis does not define what we used to be or where we're going!

Bherrle

I don't know who it started with, don't know enough historical fact yet. I am not aspiring to be on the board. If I were asked to run at some point in the future, I would consider it, and perhaps I would decide to run on my own at some point in the future, but that would not be a wise direction for me to take right now.

Bherrle

Fifteenth, it sounds to me that you perhaps live in the district. Do you? If so, why do you say "your board?" It is the board of Perkins Schools. Our board. They are elected representatives of the residents of Perkins Township. I'm trying to urge everyone to stop using any language that is divisive. No matter their position on the issues. It helps nothing, it only drives those of differing opinions further from coming around to your way of thinking.

I appreciate your opinion of me, or of my potential. I want to learn about and from the past, but at the same time the past is the past. We need to define what we are now, and what our future and the future of others will be.

eriemom

He lives in the district, but sent his kids to SMCC

fifteenthgreen

Who? Beherrle?

Bherrle

No, I live in the district, a 7 Iron from the Middle School and a Driver (with some roll) from the High School, and both of my daughters are and will stay in the district.

Take it from an outsiders perspective who has lived in Western PA, South Central PA, and now here. This is a very good district, we choose it over many other schools in Erie, Huron, Seneca, and several other counties, when we moved here in 2011. But not because of the low millage. It was because of the progressivness of the academic program. I knew the millage would have to go up in the first few years we lived here. Saw that coming before our family moved from York, PA.

I'm not saying the board or Supt. Gunner is perfect, but I am saying that I feel priveleged to live in this district and send my kids to its schools. We would have applied for open enrollment into Perkins had we not found a home in the district.

Nemesis

Bherrie:That is the public trying to be the board.

No, that is the public asserting, correctly, that the board is their subordinate, or did you miss the week in Civics class that they discussed the whole consent of the governed and government by, of, and for the people thing?

You say you're not a Koolaid drinker, but answer this - have you ever voted no on a levy in your life?

Bherrle

Nemesis,

The answer to your last question is yes, I have. More times than I have voted yes. Now answer this - Why does that matter in June 2013 in Perkins Township, OH??? What does that answer have to do with the circumstances facing this community right now?

To your first point, I did not miss that week. You are right, the board is subordinate. So vote them out. Holding a perverbial gun to their head (do this or else) is not treating them as subordinate, it's treating them as "submissive", in my opinion. There is a difference.

Elections ensure that we have a government by, for, and of the people.

fifteenthgreen

Who's holding the "proverbial gun" to who's head???

Bherrle

If it is in fact true, my opinion is that the petition indicating one will vote yes to the levy if Gunner and board resign is the "gun". If one wants any board member out, simply vote them out.

Some will, and have, characterize the boards vote on Monday as the same "gun." "Scare Tactics" it is being called by some. I disagree. This is scary, but real life is sometimes scary. What the board did was vote to approve a plan that is by law required to be reported to the state, as an in balance budget. That doesn't mean they can't change what will actually happen, before or after the August vote. They are putting out there what they think is the best plan for the district at this point in time. They are doing their job, whether we agree or disagree with the outcome of their vote.

Strong Schools ...

Vote Yes!

• Perkins is the only school district in the area that has both a full
day regular kindergarten program and a specialized half-day
“Little Pirates” program.

citizen

Gunner not only thinks a new high school facility is more important than educating students, he now also thinks each student having their very own Apple laptop is more important than having teachers in the school! Take the $2,500,000 and assume it costs the district (taxpayers) $100,000 per year for a teacher (including benefits... and that is being generous)... I just saved the Perkins School district 25 teachers. Bottom line is Gunner could save 25 teaching positions by eliminating the $2.5M annual spend on laptops. He chose Apple laptops over teachers. Gunner's choice, not no voters.

This is a case of inept leadership, weak decision making and a culture of threats and deceit towards the taxpayers.

If Perkins Schools is such a PR disaster, why in the world are the taxpayers paying over $100k per year to have a communications director? A position that is not needed, as admitted by Gunner, held by an individual who according to you is inept at his job.

Why keep giving this Board and Gunner more money when it's clearly evidenced they are not fiscally responsible in the least ($2.5M annual expense for personal laptops; $3M loan to design a new high school when they are now lying to the community and saying that project is on hold; $100k/year for an ineffective and unneeded communications director; stealing millions of operating money from the students and teachers set to actually provide an education and arts/athletics etc to students and moving the money to build a new high school building after multiple no votes from taxpayers)

RMyer

I'm sorry, but where did you get that annual laptop expense number? The info I received from the district office is much lower.

citizen

The district. It's the annual cash expense.

Individual Apple laptops for every student >>> 25 teachers.

Only in the reality of Gunner and Board.

Nemesis

and just switching to Windows laptops would still save 13 teachers.

fifteenthgreen

How much did they tell you, RMyer?

RMyer

Here is the answer I just rec'd. The treasurer is out of the office until later today. She said that if the $2.5 million was correct, then there wouldn't be enough money in the p.i. fund to meet the lease payments. I suspect I will get the same spreadsheet I got before. So, here is where I will leave this: please contact the treasurer directly and ask her for the same information. That way we can compare numbers later. I encourage community members to contact district officials directly rather than ask others who may or may not have the correct information. I try to teach students that they need to be diligent and careful to gather reliable information before presenting results or opinions.

fifteenthgreen

As a teacher, I would think that you would be willing to share your findings and present said information with us.

RMyer

We have a different philosophy about teaching. I believe it my job to teach how to think independently, how to analyze the source of information to determine its validity, what options to consider for how to find information, then proceed to your final destination. I do not believe it my job to always provide information; that makes for students who sit around waiting to have someone tell them things. Also, more than one person verifying information and then comparing later makes the conclusion more valid (I've had my students do that also). If I have the wrong information, I'll correct it and vice versa.

I also teach my students that if you are going to post on social media, then you should also stand behind what you post. You know who I am, what I do, and I have tried to post with respectfulness even when my statements disagree with others. You have not afforded me the same.

fifteenthgreen

$1,185,745 owed in 2012. Beesknees provided this information. Is that the figure you received? Just verifying and cross checking what you have. Keep up the posts. Informative!

RMyer

Nope, not the same figure. Remember, we were looking for the annual laptop cost. The number quoted above is from the State Auditor's report and is the principal payment on all computer technology obligations that were capitalized . A chunk of that payment is for technology infrastructure upgrades throughout the district to upgrade older equipment and lines that were less than effective. The upgrades to infrastructure would have needed to be done regardless of what computers the students were using. The obligations for the infrastructure upgrades and other computer equipment matures in 2014.

So the annual cost of the laptops is actually still lower than the number quoted above.

fifteenthgreen

Regardless of the cost, this is one program that will cost a few of your fellow teachers their jobs should the levy fail again. You have to assume that it will. I'm sure they would agree since their income stream runs out in two months. Sad to me that you, a teacher, would take a computer lease program or a stadium payment over a fellow teachers job. Would you be willing to trade places with one of them? Feel their fear? You answer is what? "Nope" Make the students provide their own computers. We did!

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