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

RMyer

The senior's laptops are reset, reimaged, and recycled for the next group of students who are coming up. When Apple took back laptops during the last exchange, the district was credited with a $400,000 "buy back" which was put into the p.i. fund according to our treasurer. Also, keep in mind that there was p.i. money spent for technology prior to the laptop program.

fifteenthgreen

Thank you, RMyer!

Bherrle

Thank you for that info R Myer.

oldpirate

30% voter turnout. The no voters were the motivated voters. There could be a increase in the yes voters many of whom took things for granted. They are paying attention now. We will see.

fifteenthgreen

Agree, oldpirate. Sadly, we have to bank on that philosophy but you still can't assume.

Strong Schools ...

Support our students yes voters!

fifteenthgreen

Support our students and the fifteen teachers being let go by looking at all alternatives should we fail again!

underthebridge

I'll never understand why cracked floors necessitate a new building. Exposed wires sound like an immediate safety hazard that should be addressed regardless of whether a new building is erected or not. Closed bathrooms seem like something the Health Department would've addressed.

fifteenthgreen

Agree! They should have fixed/remodeled the restrooms when they conducted a massive renovation of the entire boys and girls home and visiting locker rooms, swimming locker rooms, PE locker rooms/training areas/coaches offices, the student study lounge, the auditorium, etc... That locker room renovation extends from the gymnasium to the cafeteria. Massive expense. Why were these restrooms and exposed wires ignored during those renovations? Also, you could have fixed them when you took out the old tennis courts, added new ones and constructed the new parking area in the rear of the high school. Why ignore the safety issues then? We're talking about the safety of our children, right?

eriemom

Shoulda, coulda, didn't and this is where we are. That 2.+ mill permanent improvement levy voted for and renewed this year just didn't go far enough.

I wasn't able to attend the last BOE meeting. I wish that the SR would upload it.

fifteenthgreen

Agree, eriemom but why aren't we able to forecast far enough ahead to allow ourselves a cushion or did we spend the cushion we responsibly created for ourselves frivolously? Good intentions but is this really the right group to be giving a massive, blank check to? We need some serious number crunchers on that board that are willing to take an even harder line stance! Remember, people are losing their jobs because of this mess and not because of voter reluctance.

Wald

I had an interesting conversation today with a high-ranking township official who had a meeting with Gunner to discuss the timing of the school and police levy a few months ago. He told me that what he got out of the meeting was that Gunner is going to build his high school NO MATTER WHAT. He said Gunner was prepared to cut and threaten cuts to pass the levy and get his building built. You can believe me or not, but I wanted to put this out there because I'm tired of the guilt trips, bullying, and misinformation from the supporters. Make no mistake, this is a building levy disguised as an operational levy. This sets a precedence. A yes vote means the super and BOE can use taxpayer money carte blanche for whatever they want without a public vote, then just put up operational levies and threaten cuts later to pay for it. Donutshop guy used to post about this, but he and his family were bullied and threatened by supporters so he stopped posting about the levy. What does that tell you? Voting no protects our democratic rights and avoids a dictatorship where bullying is used whenever one doesn't get their own way.

Bherrle

I'd like to talk with this official myself. If there is a way you would be comfortable connecting me to him privately I would appreciate it.

44870 South

What??? Why isn't this bulldozing considered criminal?? This whole thing is so wrong on so many levels and just keeps getting worse. Sad, disturbing and infuriating all at the same time. There has to be some law passed that keeps school districts, special interest groups, etc. from bullying tax payers into passing levies and issues...or at least a time frame before which they can return to the ballot.

Bherrle

I would urge everyone to reserve judgement on the meeting with a "high level township official" until you know the facts of the conversation. For a couple of reasons:

1. The conversation took place months ago. Memory (over time) has a funny way of changing in one's mind what was actually said, on both sides of any conversation.

2. Who is this official? With no name behind it, I don't put much stock in the comments from this person.

3. The phrase "what he got out of the meeting" implies opinion. It does not state what was actually said or discussed. It's the "officials" interpretation of what was said, what he thinks it means.

4. What is the officials position on the levy, his/her opinion of the board and Superintendent? Bias could be playing a factor in how this person interpreted what was said.

I would like to know exactly what was said, who the "official" is, and in what context things were said, before using that meeting as any influence on my vote.

fifteenthgreen

Now you're committing "political suicide". Are you on the blogging committee set up by Mr. Gunner? I trust Wald's statement as he has been spot on with many issues in regard to this community and other topics of discussion. My suggestion to you, being new to the community, is get out there and go door to door. Walk the streets. Build some relationships for yourself.

Bherrle

15th,

In response to your comment/question "Now you're committing "political suicide". Are you on the blogging committee set up by Mr. Gunner?"

I am not trying to be political at all. In my opinion, there is no room for politics at the local level. I'm not trying to gain any personal favor or standing by sharing my thoughts/perspective. I only hope to have my own questions answered, get facts (not opinion or hearsay) and I hope I can provoke additional thought by providing my perspective. I'll meet people and build relationships in due time, as I accomplish the above.

I am not on nor am I aware of any blogging committee, set up by Mr. Gunner or anyone else. I am just a citizen with something to say. If you feel I don't have as much right to do that as someone who has been a lifetime resident, then I respect your opinion, but disagree with it.

I don't know Wald from Adam. Not knowing him at all, I have no basis to believe or not believe what he says. I need to, and urge others in my position, to find out for themselves. Notice I did not say what he said wasn't true. I'm saying I can't count it as hard fact yet because I see potential holes because of the context. That is no reflection on my opinion of Wald, his character, honesty, etc. I really don't have one, as I don't know him. I may come to find out I agree with him, or I may not, or it may be something in between. If you are comfortable with Wald's objectivity, that's fine, that's your choice, you've been here a lot longer than me.

Strong Schools ...

I agree Bherrle!

I would like to speak with this "official" myself. There are so many false statements on this blog that it is so hard to keep up with all of them. Wald or anyone else, could you please share who this official is so I could make a phone call or stop by their office.

citizen

It really doesn't matter who this official is. It is just a fact that this tax increase is a building levy being threatened and sold as an operations levy.

Multiple no votes to new facilities/campus... Gunner moves operating funds to building funds... Claims school district has no money to operate and provide an education and on brink of financial disaster. Attempting to pass an operations levy. Took out $3,000,000 to design and plan new high school. As soon as levy is passed, new facilities and construction will begin.

Can I make it any simpler?

Bherrle

Citizen,

Sure it matters who the official is. If it really doesn't matter who the official is, then I have to question if it really matters what he/she says.

And yes, you can make it simpler, by not representing your opinion as fact, and when listing facts, it would be simpler if you listed them correctly. I will explain more tomorrow.

fifteenthgreen

I agree with the both of you that there are so many false statements on this blog, and at board meetings and levy campaign meetings. One of them being, "No, we're not going to build a new school until we're financially stable". The "Future Perkins Academy" sign is still posted at the stadium. The admitted 1.7 million dollar gift paid towards said stadium. The 3 million dollar design loan. On and on and on. Who cares what an official said. Just one more No vote. All that matters is what the voters are saying. NO Don't you get it? The very people that write the checks. Who works for who anymore? We are not students. They are so used to living and working in a child's world, dictating their every move. Welcome to the real world people. Now you're being reminded who you work for and answer to. The voting public! You two on the blog committee are not helping the cause. Mr. Gunner, they are not helping your cause...whatever that is!

Bherrle

15th,

Dr. Gunner is not at all directing what I say. I say what I say as my own man, a citizen, with my own opinion. I found out some interesting things today that I will share much more of tomorrow. Such as the fact that two 25 person committees (filled by the community) both recommended to the board the facility direction (Future Perkins Academy) that many are complaining about now (calling it Gunner's campus), at different times in the time frame of 2008-2010. I also learned that three public meetings were held on the "inside/outside" millage issue, to inform the public , and hear comments/ gauge public opinion before the board voted on it. Attendance at each meeting was less than 100 people per meeting, and some attendees went to more than one of the meetings. These decisions were not made in vacuum's as some are suggesting. The more I learn for myself, the more I see that the public was involved, and/or was given ample opportunity to be involved/imformed.

In response to your comment "Who cares what an official said" - Wald apparently cares about it, as he brought it up, perhaps you should discuss that with him. I can say that I don't care what the official said base on the context and it being anonomous.

Yes, I get it. 25-30% of all potential voters have said no to funding a new building via a special levy. Will pick it up tomorrow.

44870 South

Eventually the average American tax payer is just going to cave on all issues...We are being bullied, told we are uniformed, misguided, intolerant, narrow-minded, etc. There will become the day when our Constitutional right to cast our vote will be such a miserable and exhausting experience, that people will simply become indifferent on all issues and not vote at all. That's how the bullies and big mouths will get what they want. How pitiful these tactics, to browbeat people until they have just had it, is the only way they will get their levy passed. If they pass this levy it will NOT be because of the grass roots "Perkins Pride" turn out. It will be because people are just sick of hearing about it.

fifteenthgreen

!

Bradley Linton

Pretty simple. Schools need money to pay staff, utility bills, and building maintenance. This is why they put levies on the ballot. Trash the levy, and this is what we get. Spending cuts. Don't act surprised.

fifteenthgreen

Far from simple!!!

Thomas Paine

Really enjoying this blog. Lots of good arguments and thoughtful comments from both sides, amazingly. What bothers me most is a lot of people deem themselves experts, trash the admin, the board etc, with no evidence other than perception and feelings. Feelings that on some issues are unjustified. On others based on answers I have recieved are justified. And none of this is simple. None of it. Behrrle we need more like you moving into the community. People that listen, research, learn, and have some lack of trust but not an unhealthy amount and are willing to be open minded enough to swing their vote either way based on the information they recieve. Honestly I don't care which way you vote..just do it based on fact. I have seen numbers thrown out here and asked for a source and the best answer I get is I have heard...not good enough for me. A lot of school officials not just ours are correct in their assessment as well that Ohio and Columbus has failed in setting up a working funding system. I am extremely glad my job isn't funded the way the schools are. But the fact remains none of us are in those executive sessions the board holds. Its why I keep saying this is a PR issue. They have to have legitimate reasons in their priorities. Reasons right now most dont believe. Do they differ from ours currently- after several no votes...yes they do. Its the boards job and supts job to get the public behind them in the same direction. Which hasnt happened. Browbeat, intimidate, misappropriate are words I have seen used to describe what is happening. This board, other than committing political suicide with their tactics, from what I have read, listened to and observed, has what they believe to be the kids best interest at heart.

underthebridge

I agree with someone a few posts back who says this isn't about PR or politics. This is about leadership. If you are an effective leader, people follow you and you have influence. These people are ineffective leaders. They have lost their ability to influence the community and therefore can't get the public to follow them with an affirmative vote on the levies.

But this inability to lead is more than just about the levies. Morale, even before this financial crisis, among the staff and teachers has been low and I don't think it has to do with just the concessions to their wages and benefit packages.

Ask around and if you seem trustworthy, they will tell you.

fifteenthgreen

Well said Mr. Paine. I'm just afraid too much damage has been done by those committing the "political suicide". I really believe the community will reunite with the same immense amount of pride that once existed in Perkins Schools and is showing up via this passionate, yet sometimes colorful, blog. Everyone cares or they wouldn't be on here voicing their opinion and sharing their knowledge and ideas. Unfortunately, the wrong vote comes first for the schools, teachers and students. Once changes are made with the removal of those that actually have committed the "political suicide", I personally think the citizens will regain the necessary trust and back the schools wholeheartedly. I don't necessarily believe that by removing members from any school board you're really going to change a flawed, funding system, but as with any political position, corporation, board or coaching job, results, trust and confidence are vital for survival. Sadly, for this Superintendent and Board of Education, they have lost all of the above with many of the voters for one reason or another. Unfortunately, for them, the citizens of Perkins Township have spoken loudly and are demanding the obvious. They simply must go!

Thatgirl123

I personally think the way they state things the board & Gunner is why it makes things 10x worst, it just seems to I myself and many others they scream MONEY while, if they would just basically re-word what they say into something people will interpret much better than they are as of this moment people might think the levy will be a semi decent idea. Yes, it is going to be taking tax payers money in which some people don't even have to give because they need to still place food on the table for their family. Maybe if they were to prove us that this levy would be a very well idea and make Perkins Schools a very well school for children to attend instead of barking down the tax payers and saying if you vote no all this is going to happen basically because you voted no. I'm not for the levy or against it but I really think they need to watch the way they say things.

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