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

underthebridge

+100 ... and it should not get to the impasse of "if you think you can do a better job, run for the BOE."

fifteenthgreen

Spoken like a true leader!

beesknees

Perhaps some humor is in order? Would an alien from outer-space who possesses high intelligence see a difference between watching a dog chase its tail and reading all of these comments?

RMyer

More humor (or an attempt at same): Perhaps the alien would rush back into its intergalactic spaceship and head home at warp speed shaking its head and getting as far away as possible from the way we are forced to fund schools in Ohio. Trying to make sense of it would probably make its large cranium explode if it didn't get out of Ohio's air space quickly enough. Or, better yet, perhaps it would demand, "Take me to your leaders!" and would force them to finally fix the funding issue.

Thomas Paine

My only hope is that First Contact is civil. lol

fifteenthgreen

My only hope is that we could actually find a "leader" to take the alien to!

Thomas Paine

Sometimes I feel like I am living in the movie "Idiocracy" if you have never seen it...its worth a watch.

fifteenthgreen

Nice :)

Vote Informed

In the past 18 years, Perkins voters have passed 1 levy. The cost of living has increased since then, and so have the costs of educating a student. It's time to show our Perkins Pride and pass a levy. Did you know Perkins Schools have the lowest tax rate in Erie county? If we passed this levy, it would cost a homeowner of a house valued at 150k an additional $25.76 a month. How does that even compare to the cost of the new Pay to Play fees? I did the math, and for my children to participate in their regular school activities, it would cost well over $1,000. And neither of them play sports. If we vote no, it would not only cost more for Perkins Parents, but 14 of my children's most talented teachers would loose their jobs. I'm voting YES on the August levy and I'm proud of my decision! Please join me in voting YES for the future of our community and our children.

citizen

"In the past 18 years, Perkins voters have passed 1 levy. The cost of living has increased since then, and so have the costs of educating a student. "

PLEASE tell me you are more intelligent than actually believing that Perkins Schools has been operating at the same revenue levels for the past 18 years. Please, please, please. You state costs of educating a student have increased, so have revenues to the school district.

This is not about revenue to a school district or operations. THIS IS ABOUT GETTING GUNNER'S NEW HIGH SCHOOL BUILT ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. It is very simple to understand this.

Vote Informed

Citizen- I never said they were operating at the same revenue, only that the cost of educating our students has increased along with the cost of living. Did you attend the last board meeting like I did? At the board meeting Dr. Gunner stated that all plans to renovate/rebuild are on hold until we are more fiscally sound. Vote yes or no, like my username states, vote informed. And if that means attending the meetings before putting information out there, then you should attend these board meetings or ask the Board questions at http://perkins.k12.oh.us/Levy.aspx.

fifteenthgreen

We don't believe what he says at the meetings. How can we? The story changes by the day. Just read the past SR articles and timeline.

Bherrle

15th,

In response to your comment "We don't believe what he says at the meetings. How can we? The story changes by the day. Just read the past SR articles and timeline."

Then request a face to face meeting with Supt. Gunner so that you can look him square in the eyes. I did, and what was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting resulted in him giving me 1hr 45min of his time. He answered every question I asked and offered more time in the future should I have more questions. He is not the devious bully some are making him out to be.

I would caution anyone developing an opinion to not do so soley by reading the Sandusky Register.

citizen

You really do not believe that, do you? You do call yourself "informed" so I am assuming you're just repeating the propaganda.

Just a few weeks ago Gunner took out a $3,000,000 loan from Citizens Bank to design and plan the new high school building!!!

THIS IS A BUILDING LEVY. Gunner removed millions of dollars from operations funds to building funds because voters rejected multiple times brand new campus facilities. GUNNER IS BUILDING THEM ANYWAY! He now has to replace all the money he stole from operations/education. That's why this levy is for. THIS IS A BUILDING LEVY. As soon as this levy is passed, construction will commence for Gunner's new buildings.

It really is quite simple. What Gunner means by "fiscally sound" is as soon as this building levy is passed, it is full steam ahead on construction.

Since you are so very informed, please explain to me why, if Gunner and Board were truly putting building plans on hold for the forseeable future, they would take out a $3,000,000 loan to design new buildings!! (Remember, Gunner is proclaiming Perkins is on the brink of financial ruin. He has stated if the levy does not pass there will no longer be a district and he will have to dismantle the district.... that stuff actually came out of the man's mouth! If that's true, it will take YEARS AND YEARS to become financially stable... yet he takes out $3M loan to design facilities).

It doesn't make sense. You can't have your cake and eat it to.

RMyer

HB 920 passed in 1976 limits a district to collecting only the dollars that are authorized by the voted levy amounts. Income from voted levies cannot by law increase due to inflation. As property values increase, the auditor adjusts the voted millage so that the money collected does not exceed the voted millage. This "effective millage" is lower than the voted millage. For example, if we voted for 26 mills to be collected and property values have gone up, then the effective millage rate would be lower (20 mills for example). HB 920 is the prime reason school districts all around the state have to be on the ballot so often. No politician has the backbone to take on HB 920.

Property taxes from new construction make it on to the district tax roll, but the districts only see that benefit for one year, again as a result of HB 920.

The district has pursued other sources of revenue such as from open enrollment, and those sources have reached their limits. Unfortunately, the state has also reduced the payments to our district by $2,000,000 and counting the past couple of years. We are considered a "property rich" district, and the state's stance is the local community will have to take care of its own schools.

Strong Schools ...

Citizen,

The board announced cuts at the board meeting. Those cuts will include: specials for all the schools, the gifted program at Meadowlawn, students will have to pay to play for all the sports, band, choir, and school clubs at the middle school and high school. This is very detrimental to our students. All we want to do is get our programs back and support our students. Also, we need to make sure our community is able to thrive for the future. We want people to move to our community!

We are still trying to operate on the same school budget we had 13 years ago. Open enrollment and grant opportunities have helped to bring in extra monies to the district.

The state has cut over 2 million dollars from Perkins and they could cut more! You know that inflation occurs over time and we need to pass this levy to help fund our CURRENT schools. This levy is not about new buildings...it is about keeping what we have!

fifteenthgreen

If the ODE standards and state requirements pertaining to the music program are as stated RMyer, how is Mr. Kustec going to be able to legally teach over 150 band students by himself since the only other band director, Mr. Miller has been sent packing in the latest round of cuts........or has he??? He posted on the band facebook page that Mr. Gunner told him to proceed as normal through August. Can he legally do this? The band facebook page states he is still working, requesting kids to show up for summer music, writing drills, etc... Is he possibly being used as a tool to sway voters like Tom O was during past levy issues? Just a little curious!

Vote Informed

Fifteenthgreen- As my children participate in band, I too have also been actively checking the Facebook page. Mr. Miller stated that he would proceed as normal throughout the summer. My kids have told me that he is writing the entire show this year, and that he is not completely finished, so he's still working on that. He also has been giving them band lessons, like all summers before. The pending cuts won't be put into effect until the beginning of august, so technically he still works for the school. I think what you may have been confused with is that they stated that band camp will happen, levy passage or not.

fifteenthgreen

Thank you, vote informed. But how is Mr. Kustec legally going to teach that many kids in what we all consider a very prestigious program? After all, it still is a required class. Please don't get me wrong, either. I feel it is a huge mistake making that cut which is why I find it hard to believe.

RMyer

The second band director position was officially cut by the BOE last week as were other positions. Teaching contracts from 2012 have not expired yet, so he should still be performing whatever duties he has for now. I have not seen the proposed teaching schedule for high school music for this fall. In the past, the band directors split time between Meadowlawn, Briar, and the high school. At the high school marching band was held in one period with both band directors assisting since the band members were taken outside to practice (at least that's the way it was done two years ago). The concert band and wind ensembles were split into two different periods. I do not believe there are regulations limiting class sizes at the high school (but, I agree, it will be very difficult for Mr. K to do this by himself). I think "proceed as normal" through August is due to not having a levy result as of now. Also, if students have to pay the $220 participation fees for band, those will cover a supplemental contract for band that may be authorized by the board. Joel Miller may have an opportunity to help with band under that scenario, but his teaching position was eliminated. People can't support themselves with only a supplemental contract. If you need more info, or if you think this info I provided is incorrect, please contact the school administration for more detail.

fifteenthgreen

Thank you, RMyer. Probably not the wisest area/program to eliminate a teacher considering the amount of students involved in the program but the smartest from a political standpoint. Impossible for one teacher to conduct a class of 150 ? plus. Where is the teacher's union on this one?

citizen

Voteinformed- this is in response to your comment on the last page. It didn't reply correctly and was moved around. (The commenting features the Register has really is second to none.. sarcasm)

You really do not believe that, do you? You do call yourself "informed" so I am assuming you're just repeating the propaganda.

Just a few weeks ago Gunner took out a $3,000,000 loan from Citizens Bank to design and plan the new high school building!!!

THIS IS A BUILDING LEVY. Gunner removed millions of dollars from operations funds to building funds because voters rejected multiple times brand new campus facilities. GUNNER IS BUILDING THEM ANYWAY! He now has to replace all the money he stole from operations/education. That's why this levy is for. THIS IS A BUILDING LEVY. As soon as this levy is passed, construction will commence for Gunner's new buildings.

It really is quite simple. What Gunner means by "fiscally sound" is as soon as this building levy is passed, it is full steam ahead on construction.

Since you are so very informed, please explain to me why, if Gunner and Board were truly putting building plans on hold for the forseeable future, they would take out a $3,000,000 loan to design new buildings!! (Remember, Gunner is proclaiming Perkins is on the brink of financial ruin. He has stated if the levy does not pass there will no longer be a district and he will have to dismantle the district.... that stuff actually came out of the man's mouth! If that's true, it will take YEARS AND YEARS to become financially stable... yet he takes out $3M loan to design facilities).

It doesn't make sense. You can't have your cake and eat it to.

Vote Informed

Citizen- I stand by my original statement, that Dr. Gunner has put these plans on hold. At the last board meeting, an audience member asked him face to face what his plans were. He stated that he was putting them on hold, and that's what I'm going to believe. He took out the $3,000,000 to build the new school, but when he realized what kind of situation we were in, he put the plans on hold. The money shortage came from the lack of state funding. This levy is to save 14 teaching positions. Not to build the new building.

fifteenthgreen

Is the board willing to put that in writing? Are they willing to publicly guarantee that a school will not be built with the funds they are asking for? In addition, how are they going to pay that loan back should the levy fail again? The 14 teaching positions weren't on the chopping block prior to the May levy failure. It was never even discussed, but I believe the new school was still in play then.

RMyer

There were separate phases of cuts presented prior to the May levy and both phases were passed out to the public. The cuts made earlier this year are permanent. Once the levy in May failed, then the BOE had to decide which of the cuts on the second phase list would have to be made in order to put a balanced budget forecast together for the state. When the levy passes in August, this round of cuts and the increased pay to play fees will be reversed as stated at the last board meeting.

fifteenthgreen

Should it fail though, which it very well could, how are they planning ahead for what I feel shouldn't be aloud. A teacher couldn't possibly prepare a plan and execute it properly for that size classroom. Just something to ponder.

citizen

No, the board is not willing to put that in writing.

Gunner is saying whatever he needs to to get a levy passed. Whether it is a lie, a threat, a deceitful response etc etc.

This building plans are not on hold. As soon as this levy is passed, construction commences. This is a building levy, NOT an operations levy.

Bherrle

Citizen,

What is your plan, your suggestion, or what action would you take to address the significant building deficencies that exist?

citizen

First of all, I would determine if there are and to what extent "significant building deficiencies" exist. Gunner and Board had previously threatened taxpayers by proclaiming the high school presented a real and immediate danger to the students and community. As you know, the county building inspector denied many of Gunner and Board's claims regarding the status and safety of the high school building.

Secondly, I would determine WHY the buildings are in the state they are in, so the same mistakes are not repeated. As you know, the majority of the high school building is not any older than most of the high schools in the area, and in some cases, many years newer. You do not hear other school district leaders claiming their buildings present an immediate threat and danger to the safety and well-being of students, faculty and the community.

It is obvious the taxpayers will not support tax increases for new buildings, particularly under Gunner and this Board's (lack of) leadership. I think a few things would help change the minds of some taxpayers. Stop spending $1.1M+ annually so each student can have their own, personalized Apple laptop. Remove Gunner as superintendent. Significantly scale back the plans for a big, brand new, grandoise new campus. Keep the majority of the high school which was built most recently and good working condition in tact. Construct smaller additions to the current high school that would replace the oldest parts of the high school as I assume it would be less expense to replace rather than renovate those areas. In essence, much smaller, much more simple and fiscally conservative.

citizen

He took the $3,000,000 loan within the last several weeks.

"He took out the $3,000,000 to build the new schools, but when he realized what kind of situation we were in, he put the plans on hold."

Your quote.

He took the $3,000,000 loan out in the past several weeks. In just the past few weeks Gunner realized that Perkins Schools were allegedly on the brink of financial ruin and that they are near "dismantling themselves"?

Why on earth would you take out a $3,000,000 to design and plan new facilities, that you are saying you are putting "on hold" until you reach "financial stability" all the while stating you are near financial collapse and will soon have to "dismantle" your district.

Again, it just doesn't compute. You can't take a $3M loan out to design a new high school. Then say you aren't really building a new high school (yet you have a new $3M cash liability). Then say you are on the brink of financial disaster and have to make all these massive, draconian, threatening cuts but move millions of dollars from operating funds to building funds.

Again, it is very simple. It is common sense. This is a building levy. This is levy is not about saving 14 teaching positions.

As soon as this levy passes, the new high school plans are full speed ahead (note the $3M loan already taken out to design and plan it). This is not an operations levy.

By the way, if you really want to save 14 teachers, tell Gunner to quit spending $1M+ every year so every single student can have their own, personalized Apple laptop. That will save your 14 teachers.

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