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
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

eriemom

This is the only thing that makes any sense to me. I can't bring myself to believe that any of these men are evil or immoral.

To lead one must be intelligent, but that is not enough. I have noticed that this community is very cliquey. I really don't think that Gunner had any chance at success once the money from the open enrollment program ran dry.

sandusky2012

we can have a bake sale all those on public assistance can purchase the food and those whom are on section 8 can bake the items since they receive government assistance

NewToPerkins

I have found all these blogs very interesting, both for and against the levy. Before I share my thoughts, I don't know how people have so much time to blog...but, I have learned a lot from the posts. So thanks to all! I have to say that my family and I are new to Perkins and actually moved here because of the schools. The year we moved here they just began work on the stadium and it seemed like a very postive place. We were excited that we were going to be a part of this community. Since then, I became very upset with the board and Dr. Gunner because I assumed that they were trying to fool us, as many bloggers are still saying. I voted no in May for the levy. After finding out the levy was going to be on the ballet again, I was like...are you kidding me? This time, I decided I would do my own research and make myself informed. After coming to understand the details surrounding the schools, I am ashamed that I voted NO. I apologize to this community for voting no. This time my family and I will be voting YES! I agree the board and Dr. Gunner were not very good in communicating information to the public. But now that I know the infromation...I feel informed to actually make a more educated decision on the ballot. A few things I wanted to say that makes me proud of Perkins. They are preparing our students with the right technology that is vital for our students and their futures - let's face it, it's a new world out there. The teachers and instruction are amazing, and the schools offer educational opportunities that the other schools in our areas do not. I hope we will be able to keep these. Finally, I wanted to check out what all this talk was about regarding buildings. Everyone who told me to vote "no" said that the schools were fine and in good shape, so I believed them. Well, I had to go to the high school for an event a few weeks ago and was shocked to find cracked floors, broken doors, closed bathrooms, and exposed wires outside the building due to aging/decaying pipes. WOW! Again, I am ashamed that I voted no. I am not a blogger, but I felt compelled to share with you my experience. I went to inform myself of the realities out there and have decided, along with our neighbors, that this time we are all voting YES!!! Thank you to all of the bloggers who have been on here providing facts. Those are important for us to know and understand. To many of the nay sayers on here, I encourage you to just go check out the facts for yourself and make an educated decision. I know this levy is not for the buildings, but operational funds. But lets hope that we will have a school system that will keep operating and building this community.

Strong Schools ...

New to Perkins,

First of all, welcome to our community! I am sorry you have moved here during this crazy time but I have to give you so much credit for going out yourself and figuring what the facts are. As you can see, a lot of people on this blog like to "talk" and not say anything of importance. Thank you for educating yourself and sharing your story! Our school district is amazing and provides unique opportunities that other schools do not provide. We will continue to fight and support our children.

Stay strong positive bloggers! Support our students and vote yes!

Strong Schools ...

New to Perkins,

First of all, welcome to our community! I am sorry you have moved here during this crazy time but I have to give you so much credit for going out yourself and figuring what the facts are. As you can see, a lot of people on this blog like to "talk" and not say anything of importance. Thank you for educating yourself and sharing your story! Our school district is amazing and provides unique opportunities that other schools do not provide. We will continue to fight and support our children.

Stay strong positive bloggers! Support our students and vote yes!

Wald

" I know this levy is not for the buildings, but operational funds". If you truly believe this, you are either misinformed or naive. This levy is all about Gunner's $50 million palace which voters have already said no to, prompting him to take the funds which put the students in this mess. If the high school is so bad, why did the Erie County Health Department inspect the building and say it's fine? I know students who go there that say it's fine. You make it sound like a war zone; if it is so bad, how can students even be let inside the building? Don't be bamboozled...I and everyone I've spoken with are voting NO!

Strong Schools ...

The high school was rated as one of the worst buildings in the state. The worst score you can get on the evaluation is a 100 and Perkins scored a 92! That is from the state and the people who looked at the buildings are trained in this field and do it year round. This levy is about keeping the programs we have in place now. Wald, you are so stuck on the buildings and you really need to educate yourself in other things.

VOTE YES!

citizen

This is a building levy. If you don't recognize this fact, I am not sure what alternate universe you live.

As soon as this levy is passed, it is full-speed ahead on construction of new facilities.

Gunner and the Board can flat-out lie all they want and say the building is "on hold" until the schools are "financially stable" (really specific, huh?).... but why on earth would they a few weeks ago take out a $3,000,000 loan to design new facilities that were "on hold" until they were "financial stable." Gunner and Board are telling us they are on the verge of financial disaster and dismantling themselves. One would assume it'd be a few years, at least, until they are "financiallly stable" but they take out a $3,000,000 loan to design a new building anyway?

To further solidify the point... Perkins Schools tried to pass tax increases to build a brand new campus twice and then just a new high school. Voters overwhelmingly rejected these tax increases, even though Gunner and Board said each time it was a "once in a lifetime opportunity." After voters overwhelmingly said no multiple times, Gunner and Board moved money from operating funds that was set to educate the students, pay faculty and staff, provide arts/athletics/music etc.... into a fund to build new buildings! Gunner and board are now saying they are on the brink of financial ruin and must make all these massive cuts unless this levy is passed. This is because they moved operating funds into funds to build new facilities, after multiple taxpayer votes saying no. They are the ones that are a danger to the students' education, not fiscally responsible, conservative no-tax-increase voters.

If you do not see the problem with this, and recognize this is a building levy as opposed to an operations levy as they are trying to sell it as... you ought to go take some logic or critical thinking courses.

fifteenthgreen

If we were rated one of the worst in the state, I would hate to see how some of the others in the area would fare! Also, I've visited few on the East side of Cleveland and visited a few public schools in Toledo. I'd say we have it pretty good!

Bherrle

New,

Welcome to the community. Our family moved here two years ago from out of state, and we share much of experience and opinion. Thank you for your post.

fifteenthgreen

Is the laptop program free to the students?

Bherrle

Fifteenth green,

The laptop program is not "free". First, parents do pay a technology fee year, off the top of my head I believe it is $40-45. Second, the students do not get to keep the laptops, they belong to the district or as a part of the lease. Third, one needs to consider how much the district is saving in textbook costs due to the technology. I don't know that number, and I don't assume it comes anywhere close to the cost of the program, but it's a factor that everyone is overlooking. Lastly, the benefit to current and future students is immeasurable. It's a tool that we should be putting in their hands, and it is one of the reasons my wife and I choose this district two years ago. I disagree with the opinion that supt. Gunner and the board are choosing laptops over teachers.

Wald

So Perkins did away with their textbooks? You sure about that, or are you just guessing? Since, you know, you want facts, maybe you could check this out, since I'm pretty sure they still use textbooks. Also, I thought they got to keep the laptop once they graduate. Again, maybe you could get the "facts".

fifteenthgreen

Tell that to the fifteen teachers and their families that are losing their jobs. My children having a free laptop provided to them is more important than your job. If the district told you they were eliminating the program to save other programs and jobs, would you be willing to go out and buy your own $1600 MacBook Air? Or would your mentality be that of I don't really care about their jobs. Again, you have to really assume this levy is going to fail and everyone will be spending more time at the "19th" hole. You have to look beyond August and November and assume this thing is going to fail.

How many books could have been purchased with the 1.7 million dollar stadium gift? How many books could have been purchased with the $3,000,000 design loan? How many jobs could have been saved. Why were we even looking that far ahead post recession? Plus, how is it that Perkins was able to obtain that sum of a loan in a barely post-recession era when most can barely obtain a home loan or credit card for that matter. Really? Stricter lending? How many jobs could have been saved? Peoples livelihoods are at stake here! Remember that when you sit in those bleachers or watch your child use that Apple!

Wald

Good questions. But they needed the football stadium. Couldn't have other SBC schools with better facilities; programs and teaching positions were collateral damage.

Strong Schools ...

You really think doing away with technology is smart in the 21st century. I know the teachers support preparing the students for the FUTURE! Our neighbors and friends feel the same way. We have to provide technological opportunities if our children are going to compete in the job world and be successful. Get off the golf course and do some research on technology in the classroom and how it enhances a students success in college and the real world.

fifteenthgreen

Does anyone on here care about the past alumni or teachers from PHS?

Bherrle

15th,

You are making that correlation, we are not. The past is the past. No, I do not think they are doomed. Life is a continuing education opportunity. The world constantly evolves. We had some of the best tools available to us when we were in school (for me 20-25 years ago.) Why shouldn't current and future students?

fifteenthgreen

Are you interested in learning how other districts have learned from their mistakes and made their district successful? I believe that it is important to learn from other school districts in the state.

Bherrle

I will tell you that had Perkins not been a STEM school, or at least progressive with it's academic program, it would not have been as high on our list, when we were choosing schools during our move here. In my opinion, Perkins would not draw as many open enrollment students either if the progressiveness did not exist, and the financial situation as it is today would be far worse, and it would have been painful years ago. It seems to me that many staunch "no" voters are underestimating this.

fifteenthgreen

Perkins has always had a reputation of excellence now and prior to your decision to come here. This is not about your decision to bring your children here. Please stop referencing this. We get it. I've lived here my entire life and so have my friends and family! I know the schools, teachers, coaches, administration - present and past, policies - present and past, buildings, fields, conferences and community inside and out. In about thirty years, you'll earn the right to get it. Until then, keep listening, observing, asking questions and learning. You've only been here two years.

Bherrle

15th,

Couple of things. Why do you keep changing previously asked questions to new questions? Other than the time stamp, it is making it look like I'm am answering your newly worded question, not the old one, and my answers don't fit your new questions.

Second - Please don't tell me what to reference or not reference. My point in bringing up our decision to move here is that we had choices, and we chose Perkins. I know that Perkins reputation has nothing to do with my family. What I am trying to give everyone is an outsiders perspective. You want families to move into the district, don't you? Someone on here pointed out that Perkins is transitioning from a "bedroom community of Sandusky" to a retirement community. While I may not totally agree with that, the fact is getting younger families to move into the district will help counteract the trend towards a retirement community, and will keep more "non fixed income" working taxpayer home owners on the tax rolls. Younger families will not want to move into this district if things keep going the way they are. Everyones property values will suffer, and the district will become a sheel of it's once great self, or completely dissappear.

Sometimes, a fresh face, new perspective is a good thing. I respect that you have lived here for 30 years. But sometimes all that history can cause one to not be able to "see the forest thru the trees." I'm not saying that applies to you, but I can see it in some others.

I don't feel that I need 30 years to be able to contribute something to the community, or ideas to any cause/discussion, and especially to express my opinion.

Bherrle

Yes, I am interested in learning how other districts have learned from their mistakes and made their district successful. But I'm not going to use that as the sole basis for making decisions. I.E - they don't have something, so we don't need it either.

citizen

My goodness... no one is suggesting doing away with technology!!

I am stating that local taxpayers should not be forced to spend $1-2 million per year so that each and every student can have their own personal Mac laptop.

Bherrle

I don't understand your point Citizen, what are you replying too?

citizen

Strong schools first sentence.

Bherrle

Gotcha. I took that to mean "doing away with laptops", but I can see how that could to be taken, or could have been said, to mean more than that.

Bherrle

15th,

I they were eliminating the program, it wouldn't matter if I purchased my child a laptop or not. There would be nothing online, supported by the school, to link it too. What would the purpose be? They don't just get a computer, it is linked into the school system. It is provided as a part of the academic program. Therefore your question is mute.

I wouldn't tell them (the 15 losing jobs) anything. I'm not on the board, nor am I the Supt. I am not an expert on educating. The board and Supt. have decided that given the taxpayers continued reluctance to provide any additional operating funds, and given the states funding cuts, that it is better for the students to retain the program, and cut staff. In my opinion, it is those two funding issues that are causing the choice to be made. The board and Supt. are being put into a no win situation.

Some will say they caused it by moving inside millage. Wrong. That move was needed to ensure capital funds were available for capital needs, and it was the least costly option available. Capital needs would be maintenace, repairs, renovations, or new buildings. The district would have been short on one side or other, they have to have a certain amount of funds set aside, no matter what direction is taken, renovation, new facility, or something in between.

I know alot of folks are going to say "As soon as the levy passes they will build a new building. This is a building levy, not an operations levy." I don't agree.

Lastly, I don't have to assume anything. I have faith in the people of this district that they collectively will do the right thing in August. I understand that they are some whose minds will never be changed. That's unfortunate, but that is their choice, and it is what it is.

fifteenthgreen

The downside of school-provided laptops is that students lose the challenge and freedom of choice, and they also lose the full personal and academic machine experience (since there would always be some limits as to what could be done with a school-managed machine even if they are local admins), and of course the loss of access over the summer.

So, the benefits of fully achieving the more focused/limited goals of the true “bring your own” program are not to be underestimated. One could say a program that really achieves the more limited goals fully should be considered more successful than the program that partially achieves the higher goals of the school-provided laptops (with full Adobe apps, Mathematica, etc.). Also, one should not underestimate the higher costs of the school-provided program, for the hardware and licensing and summer work.

One could say the school provided program is more scalable as time passes than the “bring your own,” but again it comes back to the school culture and what wants to be achieved. In either case, the laptops should fade out of prominence and become everyday tools and part of the evolving academic goals of a healthy school. A healthy school we are not!

fifteenthgreen

Everyone should have thought of all your valid points before writing checks that they eventually knew they couldn't cash should the voters say NO and state funding dwindled. Several times now they have asked and look at the predicament we are in now. My question to you is again, should this fail, how important is that laptop, new school and stadium to you? What would you do should this fail again? Go back to the primitive era like Sandusky, Huron, Margaretta, Oak Harbor, etc.?

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