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



Agree, citizen.


$3,000,000 + design loan for a school supposedly not being built
$1,700,000 + gift to the stadium project - post recession
$1,200,000 + student laptop program - middle and high school
$2,000,000 + being moved annually from Operating to PI.

Are these numbers correct?

Strong Schools ...

We can't move forward on the buildings! Dr. Gunner stated that the buildings will be put on hold at the board meeting!


If there is any threat that these children, teachers, staff and public could even remotely get sick from being in those schools, why are we still using them?

Edwin Ison



Government jobs, best paying jobs in the area.




Do the YES voters consider the loss of fifteen teaching jobs as smart or desperate?



In response to your question "Do the YES voters consider the loss of fifteen teaching jobs as smart or desperate?". In my opinion, ALL voters should feel that it is a huge step in the wrong direction. I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but this YES voter sees it as being necessary due to continued cuts in state funding, coupled with the fact that Perkins has passed only one "additional funds" levy in the past 18 years, for 2.9 mills. In comparison, one of our neighboring districts have passed an additional 26 mills in that same time frame.


As a new member to the community, you would think that. I feel for those fifteen teachers and their families.


After reading citizen's many comments about a 3 million dollar bank loan related to building a new school I went to the school website and read through all of the BOE meeting minutes from March through May.

Wouldn't the district treasurer need the Boards approval in an open meeting for this expenditure? I couldn't find anything related to this. I did, however, learn that the district has cut more staff than most realize.


Good point on the loan, eriemom. We need to fact check this for accuracy. I believe the loan was taken out well before March 2013.

Sad that one staff member should have to lose their job.



In response to your comments "Seriously Bherrle. As a new member to the community, you would think that. I bet those fifteen teachers and their families aren't having a good night."

The fact that I have only two years in the community is what it is. Each day I learn more about the history I have missed. If the points I'm making aren't valid, then you have nothing to worry about. I'm not trying to change your mind. I encourage everyone to vote in August, even those who publicly state that they are a "no" vote and will not change their mind. I post to make sure that the facts are out there, and in some cases give my opinion/perspective, for anyone on this blog, Yes, No's, or Undecided's.

I've had several people in the last two days come up to me and say that what I am saying makes sense, and that it is good to have some fresh perspective on the issues. I would ask you, why do you feel that my lack of time in the district is a negative factor?

Lastly - I know none of them personally, but no, I don't imagine those 15 families are having a good night, and every day I pray for them and this community.

Thomas Paine

Bherrle- As another yes voter despite my trepidation with the administration,- I am glad to have you in the community- virtually and physically. I look at you being new to the community as a positive. A fresh look at things is always good to have. Doing things just because they have always been done that way bothers me.


Easy to say when both of you still have your jobs??? What about those that just lost their jobs. I wish the teachers would speak out more and stand up to this administration. Credit to those that do!

Thomas Paine

A) How do you know that we both still have our jobs? B)Everyone is asking the school to be fiscally responsible- (The state requires them to balance a budget too) - Yet nobody wants anything cut they all want their programs and but refuse to increase their taxes. You cant have both, something has to give. The fact is over the past 13 years this community has shown zero additional support. Its a lose lose situation for the school to be in. I am right with the negative views on taking money from operation to fund property improvements. Especially right after the people voted no for the grandiose school that this community would never be able to support in the future once it was completed. I have disagreed from the beginning on their approach, we are a conservative rural community, building something like that doesn't sit well when most of us make do with what we have and work and save for things we want. But with comments like yours no wonder we don't attract new people to the community.


We don't attract new people to the community, Mr. Paine because our schools are only rated "efficient" by the state, you stand a pretty good chance of getting mesothelioma from our school buildings, according to Gunner and there are no jobs available.

Strong Schools ...

Actually, we do attract people to the community. Families move to Perkins because our schools provide a great education. Perkins is way ahead when it comes to technology, STEM, and up to date teaching practices. We just had someone move onto our street with young children and they are excited to be apart of Perkins Schools in the fall.

I would encourage anyone to go to the schools and ask for a tour of the buildings. Make sure you ask someone for a tour so they can clearly show you all of the problems.

Support our students and community-Vote Yes!


Is it possible that the STEM and multi-age programs may have driven us to an "efficient" rating rather than "excellent with distinction"? Just a thought. Also, if you dare enter the buildings, do so at your own risk. We may be the next "Clyde" according to Dr. Gunner.



In response to your comment "Easy to say when both of you still have your jobs! You can sit next to each other in the new bleachers and watch all six kids play football this fall."

You are wrong again, and I really encourage you to make sure you know the facts before making comments like this. I understand first hand what it means to be without a job. Unfortunetly, the career opportunity that brought our family here two years ago did not turn out to be what I envisioned it being, I am currently unemployed, and am engaged in an intensive job search, focused on staying right where we are. God moved us here, and he will provide the right opportunity here if we are meant to stay here. Our focus is staying here.

So now that I've put that out there, I'll take advantage of a free opportunity to network. My background is in Operations Management & Logistics, with a focus on Transportation Management, however I have experience with Warehousing and Inventory Management also. My past three positions where Transportation Manager, Director of Operations, and Service Center Manager. I also have plenty of P&L and finance experience. Should anyone have any leads or suggestions, my email address is, and I would be glad to forward my resume to anyone who may want to pass it on.

Judging by past comments, I know that I just opened myself up to personal attack. I expect some on this blog to say something to the effect of "Oh, ok, now I understand why you are for the levy. You want someone else to pay for your kids education, sports, etc. because you don't have a job right now." My response to that - Not true. First, I fully expect to be re-employed soon, and our goal is to stay right here. Second, I was a levy supporter (albeit not very well informed then) soon after we moved in 2011, and in fact I knew that our taxes would likely go up in the first couple years we lived here, due to how low they are (in comparison to the region, and to what we paid in Pennsylvania.) My wife and I made sure we put ourselves in home that we could afford if taxes did go up, factoring in what I saw as a tax issue in 2011. Third - absent the pay-to play fees, all parents are still paying something out-of-pocket for their children to participate in their activities. For example, we are already spending over $500 for our daughter to be a Varsity Cheerleader this coming fall. That is not a complaint, we have no problem with that contribution. The idea that we are expecting others to fully pay for our kids to participate is not a valid one.


At least our children will get an oversimplified "efficient" education and a free laptop. Oh, and if you listen to Dr. Gunner, maybe mesothelioma to go with it??? Dr. Gunner's words, not mine! When you made the big decision to choose Perkins were you aware that we were only "efficient"? Were you aware that you were putting your children in harms way by letting them attend our schools? I wasn't. If so, why are we letting any child step foot in those buildings? Why are we letting anyone in those buildings?

Also, hang tough, Bherrle. It will all work out in the end. Never lose your passion or drive!!!

Strong Schools ...


Your comments are becoming harsh and very personal for some people. When our school building were built they were filled with asbestos. Now that we are more educated, we know that asbestos causes mesothelioma. Some of the men that have worked on our buildings and other structures throughout their career have died. I know this for a fact because I know two families who have had a loved one pass due to this horrible cancer. Please be a little more aware before you make these harsh comments.

Some of the tiles in the schools have been replaced to keep the asbestos from being exposed. Also, the ceilings have had work done on them to contain the asbestos. These "quick fixes" only last for so long and we need to make sure that we take care of our schools as a community. I am sure you take care of your home and make sure it is safe and healthy for your family. what is the difference with the schools?

We send our children to school each day because we know they are going to get a great education form amazing educators. This district does prepare our children for the 21st century.

Support our students!


Harsh is an understatement when it comes to the seriousness of what I am stating. I truly believe what you are saying, as well. It hits home for all of us. I'm just agreeing with Dr. Gunner that if the schools are an immediate health risk to everyone involved, they should be torn down immediately! As a Superintendent and Board, why stray from this all too important message. If we are at risk, destroy the old and build new immediately. Or is it safe enough until we pass a levy? I'm confused with their message but feel yours.



Someone about a week ago commented that you live in the district, but send (or sent) your kids to St. Mary's. Is that true?


It was eriemom, and I actually thought she was talking about you. We discussed this. Not sure who she was referencing regarding that statement. I'm sure she'll be more than willing to clarify it, though. She's good!


From February 6, 2013??? Only five months ago. I still don't understand how this district got this far into the building project not knowing how bad our districts financial health really was in.

They're actually talking about the security buzzers on the doors of the new school. But now five short months later, they're literally showing teachers the door! Come on people! Who do you think you're fooling?


Q: The State promises that if we build (a new 7-12 building) now, we will get credit in the future for our costs--No Guarantees--what if they renege like the state did on the reimbursements (to schools) for personal property tax credits we lost?

A: Absolutely positive that the funding promise for the new 7-12 building is available at this time. We would be able to receive this estimated $7+ million dollars as soon as July 2013 for the construction of the 7-12 facility. By qualifying for the “Exceptional Needs” program, we move to the top of the list for funding. We are awarded our funding before every other school. Future funding to help replace other buildings in the district is uncertain. While it is promised as part of the charge of the Facility program, future state funding is always uncertain.


Q: What kind of security would be in the new building? Cameras? Entrance Ways? Metal Detectors?

A: The Board of Education is designing the new building with security as an uppermost concern. There will be significantly less entrances into and out of the new building compared to the current high school. Two main entrances will be used in the morning and afternoon for student arrival and departure. Both entrances will have a double entrance “buzzer” system to enter. Guest must push a button to let the receptionist know someone is present. The receptionist will “buzz” the guest into an enclosed foyer. A second “buzz” entry will be required to pass through the foyer area into either the office or main building. At the main entrance used throughout the day will be a security office for our School Resource Officers to have a presence in this immediate area.
Security cameras will cover all entry/exit doors, the student and staff parking lot, and all interior corridors of the building as well. The building is designed with no dead end hallways to prevent inaccessible areas where someone might hide. There are no plans for metal detectors at the present time.


Our buildings are a security nightmare. Wings were built on as the population grew and each has exits. Some lead to trailer classrooms where students exit and enter all day. I wonder if we followed donut's idea if we would end up with the same type of inefficient building design.


Q: Why are we starting the Campaign levy so late?

A: The Board needed to work through the promise to the community of thoroughly investigating both renovation versus new buildings as promised to the community after the November 2010 levy defeat. It was only recently that the final consultant’s report arrived verifying the need, once again, to replace the existing facility with a new building.