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


Strong Schools ...

There would be so many conflicts with the different sports at each school. The stadium is not just used for football. Other athletics and band use it daily. It would be a scheduling nightmare and it would not be effective to either school.


Sandusky and St. Marys seem to manage the "scheduling nightmare". Been effective for decades. Track and soccer would be the only additional conflict and Mr. Burrows had that worked out with Margaretta, as well. Soccer could use another field. The band doesn't use it during the day and only one evening a week. Mute point now!


It isn't a good decision if you don't have the funds to operate the district. I was at BOE meetings when the repair of the stadium was suggested rather that replacement. There were even some alumni football players who suggested holding off at least one school year. We read the paper and Gunner says there was overwhelming support to replace the stadium. What meeting was he at because the ones that I attended did not overwhelmingly support replacement.

Thomas Paine

Beeknees you need to take the computer fund one step further. Yes they are paying 1.185745 million out of the debt service fund. My question would be where does the money that is in the debt service fund come from? Is it all public funds? Does it in include grants? Etc. As far as the general fund balance decreasing goes, what is the 14.41% actual dollar amount decrease. The district was still deficit spending even without the move. Now its 14.41% worse.(from these stats) I have disagreed with the millage move from the beginning. But the fact is we cant change the past so why dwell on it now. Lets move forward and fix the problems. The district is at a financial crossroad- The voters should be questioning what we can do to fix the issue. There are two parts to that 1) The levy is going to be needed no matter who is running the district. and 2) Who do we want running the district. Once again like Bherrie has stated as well its two votes. Not doing anything about #1 or turning it down will not change any of the negatives you have with #2. In fact I would be willing to argue doing that will have an even more negative impact while still having the same people running the district. Voting yes to #1 and no to #2 will correct each and every one of the negative viewpoints. Just ask yourself the question by voting no are you changing any of the things you are upset about? The people on the board are still going to be there- the decisions you disagree with are still going to be made in the same fashion. Please, please, please take the time to think about your vote. If its strictly a financial vote for you and you cant afford to pay more- I get those no votes. I haven't seen many of those naysayers on here. Look, I don't trust Gunner either, and I still think they will attempt to build the school too or at the very least renovate and repair- which some of us would agree too. Money is needed for that too. The millage move effectively gave them that money at the expense of operations- I don't agree with it, and I think it was a really dumb political move on the boards part but I get it. The fact is an operation levy has not passed in 13 years and only 2.9 additional mills have been approved in 18 years. If any business had to operate under school rules not many would succeed. The funding system needs to change- but that too is another vote.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.


The district is proposing a 10-year, 6.73-mill levy, nearly 2 mills larger than its May proposal. Perkins , what makes you think you can ask for this when you have been turned down time after time ? Not to mention if I reacall , the amount has increased each time you ask for another levy . You must think we are blind and stupid . or both
Expect another defeat in Augest


They are asking the community, because as a whole the community failed them. Now they are running out of money and without a levy pass for a couple more years, the state will take over. The state will then run an operating levy and if that fails, they could shut down the school. Pay now or pay later. Voting no is voting against your interests even if its a boost to morale or gives you the stick it to the man feeling.


Vote no for the kids

Pirate Mom

This situation is like your family savings. If your paycheck does not increase and bills increase because of inflation, you eat up your savings paying your bills. The savings decreases faster when your paycheck is cut. This is why more mills are needed every time the levy is defeated. Vote yes so the district can catch up to their bills.


You "think" they will attempt to build a new school? Gunner just took out a $3,000,000 loan to design the school. 3 MILLION DOLLARS.

This is not an operating levy. Call a spade a spade. This is building levy. It is to replace funds Gunner and Board removed from operations.

And yes, we can do something about it. We can move the operating funds back to operations.

The school district will still have to make cuts. But there is a lot of fat to trim. Namely a $100,000+ communications director and a $1,100,000+ individual laptop gift.

Because Gunner and Board decided a new building was more important than providing an education to the students (against taxpayer vote TWICE) we are just supposed to blindly give more money to Gunner and Board "for the kids?" No, I don't think so.

Gunner and Board were smart enough to get themselves in this mess against taxpayer voter, they can get themselves out of it. They do this by moving back operating funds to where they rightfully belong and start cutting the fat.

Thomas Paine

Streak, I don't know enough about the school contributions about the Stadium to make a comment. But I can tell you the financial mess is not All the Boards fault- some of those comments may make it seem like I believe that but I don't- Its a combination of the board and supt policy- and their lack of public and political awareness and ability to communicate effectively, a horrible system in the State of Ohio for funding that still is unclear of how it works- effectively making it impossible to plan ahead accurately, and finally a lack of support from the community. We all have some blame in this. I am not knocking the dedication, work, time and all the headaches each and every one of these board members have gone through, I actually commend them for their service and respect them for doing their job. They have taken a LOT of heat- some rightfully some not so-. But this is what the signed up for when they ran for the position. Its a thankless job.

Thomas Paine

Citizen- as stated in comments above the money cannot be moved back by state law. It also doesn't correct the deficit spending they were already doing prior to the millage move. I am still not sure if the laptop program has grant money coming in to offset or if its an actual expense from operations and public funds. But I am not a yes voter that is blindly giving money to the administration- The November vote is just as important to me to change the direction of the board and district. Is there a document showing the $3,000,000 loan out there? Just curious. I don't have enough toes and fingers to count how many times studies have been done and designs and plans made that have never been used,(which is just as bad as taking out the loan when we are in financial turmoil) its why I used the word think. But its a very loosely used word think. :)

Thomas Paine

I cant agree enough with the negative viewpoints of most of the people here. I just ask does a no vote accomplish what you feel needs to be done to correct anything you are upset about?

Thomas Paine

As far as the increased millage- It has been discussed before in other blogs but I will ask again to clarify why its being done. I am not willing to just take a negative viewpoint and not ask. Maybe the answer I get will create a negative viewpoint. Perkins SD isn't the only district that does that. Too many people can't seem to get past their own feelings about this and objectively look at the answers they get and the figures they are provided and make a educated decision on what best fits the situation and yours. This is exactly the attitude that I feel the board and supt have created and allowed to fester to a point that even if you try to get rational people to objectively look at what is needed (now that the damage has been done) they don't believe any of it, stop asking questions and just vote no out of principal only. This vote is too important to the community to do that.


Q. And, third will the Board reconsider this decision of moving “Inside Millage” to fix the current operational funding problem?

A: No. Moving the “Inside Millage” back does not solve either problem:
facilities or day-to-day operations. Moving the “Inside Millage” back
abandons the facility problem to a more costly bond levy before the
community of at least 7.2 mils to renovate or replace the high school
alone. Moving the “Inside Millage” back does not solve the day-to-day
operational problems of the district. The staff cuts announced by the
Board will still be necessary to balance the budget. The best projections
show that in as little as two or three years the district will be in the same financial position needing an operating levy to prevent even further cuts.


Q: Second, why did the Board decide to use “Inside Millage” to address the school facility issue instead of a direct bond vote before the community?

A: It was the most cost effective way to solve the school facilities problem, both now, and for the future. This method provides a permanent solution
to meet all facility needs now and for the future with one low cost levy.
Other solutions require three to four levies over a period of time at a much higher cost to the taxpayers. For a complete explanation read the narrative provided below.


Q: First, why is the Board focused on school facilities as opposed to
academic programs and staff?

A: Three independent analysis show there are health, safety and security
concerns in our present schools that cannot be ignored. Quality school
facilities that provide a healthy, safe and secure school for our children are as important as the teaching and learning that takes place inside.


Merge with Sandusky and you can get rid of Gunner and your Board


I agree

Strong Schools ...

So Bobby, You feel that we can't come together and solve these issues like adults. You should have more faith in your community members. We will get through this!

Stay Positive and Focused on the Students! Vote Yes!


I still can't believe the comment towards the public in regard to the facilities issues. Thank you RMyer for reminding me with your link.

"But if your solution is to ignore the health, safety and security of our kids by failing to fix the school facility problem both now and into the future; or if your solution ignores the need for increased revenue to continue to operate a quality school system, then the Board does not agree with you and your solution. We were elected to oversee and lead the school system in the best interests of the students, schools, and community. Our solutions presented to the community do just that."


The wording is not the way I would have presented it. But, let's look at the message. So far, no one that I am aware of has reviewed the financials regarding operations and building facilities and presented a plan that would take care of both and which is at a lower cost than the one presented by the board. Moving the inside millage back will still require another operating levy in a year and there will be no solution to the facility problem unless an additional bond levy is passed. There is no "quick and easy inexpensive" fix for the high school infrastructure and other issues. The only solutions offered so far are to ignore the building other than routine maintenance or just tear down the north end (well, those classrooms will have to be replaced with something-the rest of the building can't just absorb the students and space needed). If the north end is torn down and replaced, then I believe the whole building has to be brought up to modern building code.

I think the board would be very happy to hear a plan that will take care of both short and long term operational and facility goals and which is lower cost than the current plan.


So as a PHS teacher, RMyer, you're suggesting that we build a brand new school and ignore the possibility of short term repairs? Is that what you're implying? As a teacher, you want to build a new school?


The board was not elected to do exactly what every taxpayer thinks they should do on every issue. Nothing would ever get done if they tried to do that. They were elected to do what they feel is in the best interest of the students, district, and taxpayers. You may disagree with the direction they choose. Fine, vote them out then.

I may not agree with every decision they make, but I am not willing to run yet, and I am not on the board. I applaud them for doing what they think is right despite the public outcry. Weren't they elected because a majority of voters felt they were the best people for the job who were willing to run? If they are such bad men, how in the hell did they ever get elected in the first place?

If I don't like any indivuals positions enough, I'll vote against them when/if they come up for re-election.

Thomas Paine

Fifteenthgreen. Your questions and answers proves that board and super aren't listening to anything the community is saying. I think most will agree to that. The millage move was political suicide. But the question still remains, if the millage is moved back, (The funds currently in PI cannot be moved back by state law) we still face the cuts, we run out of money to run the school and we have little to no money left to repair the school that has been neglected and the State comes in and addresses the millage issue. I am not arguing any of those points at all. My argument is there is a money issue no matter how we look at it, a levy hasn't been passed in 13 years. In November I will be voting out board members.


Blame George Bush!


Here is a question for the levy supporters: why do you automatically assume that someone casting a no vote is uninformed or doesn't understand the information? I understand the levy just fine. Because of mismanagement in the past, I don't trust the super or BOE to spend my tax dollars responsibly. It's not that I don't support the students or what have you, but I'm not going to give people I don't trust to be responsible my tax dollars. Why can't you accept that without assuming I'm "misinformed?"?



Pirate Mom

I don't trust these people either but facts proven by professionals say that the facilities need to be fixed and it will only cost more later, either by renovating or rebuilding. My property values have a strong foundation in our schools. Does your statement mean that you did vote for the levies in the previous 13 years, because most of these board members were not part of the board then? With the way you and other bloggers have vocally stated your displeasure, sometimes bordering on slander, who exactly will you be voting for in November? Who will run?


First sentence is false.

Only the "professionals" that were paid by Perkins Schools say that.

Have you read the building inspector's report lately? Totally opposite all of Perkins' "experts" claims