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.”

Click here for related articles, video and photos. 

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

Bherrle

I will reply later this evening 15th. Need to get to family time right now.

Bherrle

Wald,

I never said they did away with textbooks. I checked with my junior daughter to be sure my perception was correct before my first post. Textbooks for most if not all classes exist, but they get used, taken home, etc, much less due to the online textbooks available for most classes. Wear and tear is less therefore replacement textbooks would be needed less often. I'm not trying to represent this as a "huge savings", but there is something there.

On keeping the laptops, I will find out for certain, but I was never of the mindset that they get to keep them after senior year. The students turn them in at the end of the school year, they don't keep them thru the summer. I just asked my daughter what her understanding is, and she doesn't think she gets to keep it after senior year, she's not expecting that, and neither are her parents. I can tell you that if they do get to keep them, I don't agree with that aspect of the program, and we would immediatley donate the laptop back to the school when she graduates in 2015.

Tsu Dho Nimh

E-textbooks are a significant savings to the textbook budget even when you include the cost of the technology needed to use them. In the scheme of the total budget it may not be a lot, every bit of savings adds up. Most districts use a five year rotation when replacing textbooks and at $50 - $150 per book, it does get costly.

fifteenthgreen

How much do the e-textbook rights cost?

underthebridge

It will eventually be like a subscription service.

fifteenthgreen

Wonder how much the subscription cost is?

Strong Schools ...

Cheaper than old textbooks and you can get the updates faster!

fifteenthgreen

Could we get by without this technology until the district is more financially stable? The students believe!

Bherrle

15th,

"The students believe so!" - what sampling of the student population is being taken to determine this?

Tsu Dho Nimh

Typically, it is around 40% of the cost. I do not know the cost to rent or lease the book for a limited period of time.

fifteenthgreen

Thank you.

fifteenthgreen

I'm just as concerned about the state of the other districts in the area. Are any in the same financial shape as we are?

Bherrle

15th - I already previously stated that I wasn't assuming wear and tear was a very large number. But it is something. No, I don't feel other districts are going broke due to that, in fact that thought never occurred to me till you mentioned it.

fifteenthgreen

Everyone should be thinking about saving the fifteen teacher's jobs!

Bherrle

I agree. But only if it is done the right way, and those 15 jobs are actually needed.

fifteenthgreen

It is something? What is it exactly. What are the exact, audited figures of savings using e-books vs. the wear and tear cost/replacement on textbooks?

Bherrle

I don't know that those official/audited numbers exist, but I will try to find out. It is my opinion that there is at least a small textbook savings there. Nothing huge, nothing that would tip scales.

Bherrle

I'm just starting to get up to speed on our own district, I do not know the status of others.

Bherrle

Fact - Supt. Gunner does not live in Perkins Township, and pays no taxes into the district.

Perception - Supt. Gunner has no "skin in game", and does not care what it costs the taxpayers.

Realilty - Supt. Gunner pays higher school taxes in the district he lives in, than he would in Perkins. A lot of people "work" outside the school district they live in. The five member school board do all live in the district (by law), and therefore are voting to impose these fees or higher taxes (levies) on themselves too. They do have "skin in the game."

My opinion - Where Supt. Gunner lives is a non-issue.

fifteenthgreen

One thing we can't do is assume the outcome of anything. It is our job to leave no stone unturned to reach a positive outcome for all parties involved. Agree?

Bherrle

15th,

I won't assume anything, pass or fail. Someone earlier asked for facts. I'll provide them as I get comfortable with them. What anyone chooses to do with the information, change their mind or not, is their business.

Bherrle

I'll cross that bridge when I come it. There are a number of options, but I'm not going to dwell on that now.

I could hardly blame Supt. Gunner for not moving here, for several reasons, but him living here is a non-issue anyway. I'm not sure I agree with him receiving a travel stipend, but I don't know the details there yet so I'll reserve judgement on that until I do.

Bherrle

You changed this from "assume it will fail" to "assuming it will pass."

I won't assume the outcome, I'll keep an open mind. I'll continue to get the facts, and I'll do what I can to help get the levy passed, assuming that I don't find something out that changes my mind. However I realize that there are those who can't be convinced. But you have that anywhere.

RMyer

The students do not get to keep the laptops when they graduate.

fifteenthgreen

Thank you. What do they do with the old computers? Roll them over to the 9th grade/junior high or return to Apple as part of the lease?

underthebridge

Parents were told upon graduation Seniors would be able to purchase the one that they had. Not sure if that has happened.

Also, RMyers - do you realize that corporations don't change their computers as frequently as this school system has?

RMyer

I've been in the school system for 11 years and haven't seen "frequent computer changes." Prior to the laptop program our district technology system (both infrastructure and desk top computers) were in a bit of a mess (I could go into more detail if you wish). I recall the laptops being switched out one time so far. I think that the laptop buyback at the time was in the neighborhood of $400,000 which was receipted back into the p.i. fund.

Corporations update hardware and software depending on their individual business needs and compatibility issues with new applications. Some go longer than others. Most of what I have read indicates that businesses typically plan on a life of five years for the computers. The "behind the scenes" technology gets upgraded as well (routers, servers, wireless equipment, software and whatever else is needed). Businesses that rely heavily on technology aren't going to allow it to become obsolete to the point of harming business.

Strong Schools ...

They give them to the younger students who are starting the lap top program. The computers are constantly being recycled between the students. The old information is wiped off the computer and the updates are set up for the new student.

fifteenthgreen

If the students use their own computers instead of a school leased computer, can the software and hardware be updated to adapt to the present programs implemented in the district?

Bherrle

I would think that is possible, but first you would have to get every parent to purchase laptops, and they would have to be compatible with whatever the schools system and programs are.

Pages