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

MrGadfly

830 posts. Glad to see so much interaction.

First, all of these fees being bantered about are nothing more than an empty threat. The school board and superintendent are taking a page out of the township's playbook. Threaten a cataclysmic situation " no police if levy fails" and ride it until you get what you want. We all know there would be police and we all know the huge pay to play cost is a similar trick.

The school board and superintendent know what will pass this levy. They are only worried about their legacy at this point in time.

Option #1 The school board and superintendent submit their resignations subject to the outcome of the levy. If the levy passes their resignations are accepted. If the levy fails they keep their jobs.

Option #2 Return the millage switch or obtain a promise from the board to not start the building prior to the upcoming election of the school board.

Simple solutions to passing this levy.

My bet is they will ignore these options. There are egos at play in this battle of wills.
Is the community strong enough to vote "no" until the election of a new board?

"Vote no until they are gone" should be the new rallying cry for a community that doesn't want to give up their control of building issues forever.

This community is at a crossroads as Mr. Gasteier, Director of Communications at Perkins School has eluded. Do you wish to continue to control your public schools or are you willing to give up that American freedom for eternity?

MrGadfly

My friend, Donutshopguy, has a unique idea in regards to the possibility of a new building.

First, he believes in this community. He will spend the rest of his life in this community. He will have grandchildren attend this school system.

His idea is being stonewalled. Why? The present school board and superintendent have spent over $3 million dollars, of your money, to continue an academy concept that is not wanted by the community.

There are other options to the present building promoted by the school board and superintendent. They just don't want to hear them.

Bherrle

What is his idea, where can I find it?

fifteenthgreen

I miss Donutshopguy's insight. Much needed on this issue!

Bherrle

Pirate10,

I won't comment on the perception of him being a bully at this time, I didn't spend enough time observing Supt. Gunner to pick up on anything.

I'd like to provide a perspective on the comment "It is a shame that the pay to play fees don't effect any of the board members because you have board members that are doctors and can afford to pay the $730.00 to play."

I don't feel that is a fair statement, and would ask you to reconsider. They are imposing those fees on themselves. The fact that they earn whatever they earn is not something they should have to apologize for. They did the work and dedicated themselves to becoming doctors, or whatever position they hold.

Also consider that they, on average, most likely own property above the average value of the common citizen, so they, in asking for these levies, have been and continue to be willing to impose upon themselves higher taxes than they are on most of the citizens.

MrGadfly

Donutshopguy tried to propose this concept in a meeting with Mr. Gunner and Mr. Gasteier months ago but was rebuffed. This concept was proposed prior to the school board encumbering over $3 million dollars for an academy voted down twice by the taxpaying citizens.

This concept does not relieve the community from the cost of a new school. It offers the community a voting right to decide the cost and needs of the community. It eliminates egos and agendas of a few and rest the responsibility on the voting public.

The objective is to place a minimal building (meets minimal government requirements) on a levy and each individual special wing ( music, art, pool, auditorium gym and ect.) as a levy item which can be voted on by the public if they deem them necessary.

Thus, for example, the basic school could be voted on for $20 million dollars and each wing can be voted on as a seperate cost. The public decides the scope and expenditure they wish to fund.

Wings could be added by the school or by the township depending on possible funding availability.

Yes, the school board and township trustees would have to give up their kingdoms and work together.

God, you can only believe that there could be some cooperation for the benefit of the community.

Bherrle

Mr Gadfly or Donutshopguy.

If the public votes for only a "meets minimal government requirements" building, and votes no to all the "wings", doesn't the cirriculum then have to back the whole way up to "meets minimal government requirements" also? In effect, the public would be deciding the specifics of the building, as well as the cirriculum?

I'd like to learn more but so far I'm not in favor of turning all those decisions over to the general public. I'd rather the representative, elected board, the Supt. they choose, and the trained personnel they involve make those choices.

Again, I correct this statement. The "Academy" was not voted down. The idea of funding it via a special levy was.

Thomas Paine

My guess is there is some legal issue to separate levies or state guidelines and even more likely a cost issue with running multiple levies at once. After reading some really boring documents and other Ohio Revised codes, I have come to the realization many logical and great ideas just aren't possible due to Ohio Revised codes and school funding legal issues. That's why I go back to my belief that the Board and Supt are fundamentally flawed in their ability to properly convey why they have made the decisions they have to the public. If you want to call that flaw leadership/PR/ politics etc; call it what you want but it is my belief that it is the main issue and why there is so much distrust. There is a middle ground to explaining things so 1) the general public that doesn't want to or doesn't have the time to do the research and 2) the people that do want to research and ask more questions don't call BS at the same time.

RMyer

I would be very interested in your ideas about how to specifically communicate issues such as school funding and our current situation to the general public. I have thought about it for a long time and thought some of the communication efforts were better than before (going back 5 years and longer. But even when trying to put information in front of the public, the district has been criticized for the cost of doing so. What's the answer(s)?

fifteenthgreen

RMyer, I would welcome that communication and feel that it would be money well spent on the districts part, even if voters are opposed to spending tax dollars on marketing pieces. Once in writing though, you can't take it back, which is why many are so careful when putting such information in said format. Push for it, though because it should eliminate much uncertainty and false numbers and open up the fact checking floodgates which is necessary for all parties.

Thomas Paine

Some criticism is ok. You are never going to make everyone happy. There will always be that group of people that aren't going to be happy no matter what is done- as you have seen the educated no voters are still posting asking questions posting concerns- the same with the educated yes voters- you need to engage the middle in a better manner. Simplifying the message would be my suggestion. I know it sounds silly considering people want more information, but the flyers that have been sent out have way too much information for voters to digest. Most people are not going to take the time to truly understand inside and outside millage. If people want to dig for more info that's fine - source and footnote the numbers on the flyers with less information so its easily found on the perkins website for those of use that ask too many questions. People are generally confused by how school funding works. A school funding 101 FAQ flyer on one 1/2 page of paper with a good amount of white space would be good. The messages sent out now have to many words and info and most people wont take the time read it. Doing a PSA on the radio stations- 1 basic school funding fact a day- 10 seconds or less. I think the message received from the board is too technical for the general public that doesn't want to research to understand the nuances. 1 tweet or 1 facebook post a day as well. It needs to be broken down into chunks. I too would welcome that information. The public has been pretty clear about their concerns. Take one of the concerns and answer it in a short brief message as a PSA or tweet or facebook post. Personally I like too much information- most people do not.

Thomas Paine

Call me crazy but I would like to be able to opt into a montly text message about important items from the board meetings from the school or things going on, sports, clubs, fundraisers, etc. Use Twitter as an example- get the message across in 140 characters or less. Just to spur a conversation, you might be surprised in the response you get.

RMyer

Thank you for the reasoned, common sense comments. I will pass them along to the appropriate individuals. I do agree that all forms of communication need to be used since there are no doubt a number of folks who don't live in the Twitter, Facebook, etc. universe.

Thomas Paine

On of the main questions that Board members should ask is "how is this going to look to the public" Just because its legal and you CAN do it, doesn't mean you should. And if they decide they HAVE to do it that way, they should be able to answer "How do we explain to the public what we just did"

underthebridge

+10

fifteenthgreen

A leader has spoken!

Thomas Paine

I have actually had this argument with a past board member. The response I got was we did explain it. My response was if you did explain it why are so many people out there not understanding why certain moves were made? If you surround yourself in a locked room with a bunch of yes men, you will never get a levy passed. You need to engage the public.

fifteenthgreen

Smart man!

eriemom

Yep. Group Think, "everyone agrees with our plan."

Obviously they didn't.

fifteenthgreen

Currently, a timeline of decisions and events is being constructed on all issues, promises, threats, plans, cuts, high fives, building surveys, ribbon cuttings, etc... that will finally spell out why the public has lost trust. Once completed, it will be dispersed throughout the community and social media ending all doubt as to the districts true agenda. Please keep adding to that timeline!

eriemom

Is there currently a FB page?

fifteenthgreen

In the works.

donutshopguy

Just adding a little clarity.

I discuss this separate item voting method with the Board of Elections. They contacted the Secretary of State for Ohio. There is no problem with listing several items to vote in a specific levy. I do my homework.

Thomas Paine

No disrespect meant donutshopguy.

donutshopguy

My proposal offers middle ground. Those in charge want no part of it.

eriemom

Welcome back donut.

RMyer

I don't know much about your plan; I'm just going by what I read on here, so please bear with my questions. The ODE website still lists fine arts (music, art, drama, etc.) and phys. ed. standards to be taught for grades K-12, and high school students have to have so many fine arts and phys. ed. credits to graduate (unless that is changing, and I'm not aware of that). If the public decides to not vote for art room space, music space, gym space, etc., how would the proposed plan allow the district to satisfy the state requirements?

fifteenthgreen

Yes, welcome back!

MrGadfly

RMyer,

This new building is not designated K-12. So some of these factors do not apply. But the state requires a minimal requirement for those specials. This can be accommodated in the basic building. A pool, gymnasium, auditorium, state of the art facilities for music and art are not required.

This is not a negative against a building. This is a middle ground concept rather than the all or nothing proposal being pushed by the school board and superintendent. This concept puts the scope of this building in the hands of the public rather than the board and superintendent. This concept takes away the negative atmosphere surrounding the board and superintendent.

In all honesty, it may cost $50 million dollars to give the kids everything. But, the taxpaying public makes the decision. It's a vote with options not an all or nothing bully action.

Thomas Paine

donutshopguy, Agree that that is how this administration has handled many of the questions and concerns from the public. I understand they can't answer each and every option personally- its just not possible, however it does appear it is their way or the highway, and its not just a small select few people that feel this way.

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