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

Proud Pirate Mom

I can tell you - 6 years ago I moved from a declining town in Lorain County to Perkins. We as a family weighed the options of other schools/cities but had a a little flexibility with jobs, so without much hesitation chose Perkins for their academics, sports and COMMUNITY. I wanted to offer my kids the best and I felt I was doing so. I still do. I lived in a "poorer" area, I saw how it affected the schools and city. I knew what I was getting myself and family into by moving here. I am just like most, living on a tight budget, but I will find the money to support this levy. My kids will not suffer for the State or BOE decisions. So we don't go out to eat a few times - the landscaping may look a little less spruced. I will do whatever it takes. The cost of living rises everywhere, facts of life. Again, let's put our heads together to fix other issues ( board - or whatever you feel is the problem) but it sure isn't the kids. I will vote YES and help in any way to get others to as well.

Bherrle

Well stated Pirate Mom.

fifteenthgreen

Playing the "kiss the baby" role in politics. Look at both sides objectively. You have promise.

Bherrle

"Fifthtenth" - I'm a golfer too (I assume you are by the username.) Perhaps we can play a round together sometime and discuss face to face the issues. I'm not politicing at all. There is no place for politics in this issue, and I think that there is already way too much of it being brought in varying degrees by both sides of this issue.

I merely was commending her for stating her opinion in what I deemed a polite, well stated way. Politics is the last thing I am trying to accomplish. The way the public in general treats this board is way below the line. I wouldn't blame the entire board if it resigned right now. Good decisions or bad, they deserve to be treated with respect. I've seen people calling them "low-lifes", among other things. Really? I'm not saying you agree with that. But they are elected officials, and can be voted out if they are not liked. Insults and rhetoric accomplish nothing. I'd like to know how many people that are calling them names, questioning ethics, and are being negative on everything actually ran for or have served on the school board themselves? Are they willing to put themselves out there? There are ways to agree and disagree in a respectful manner. It starts with getting fully informed, which is what I am in the process of doing. I've already stated that I am for the levy. That doesn't mean I agree with all of the board members, or Supt. Gunner, and everything they do. And it doesn't mean I won't change my mind before August. But I'm not in that seat right now, they are as elected officials. They have to do what they feel is right in the present, and for the future, of the district. They don't have to do everything that those who voted for them think they should do. If the voters want that, then run for the board, sit in that seat, and take the heat. I myself will consider offering my services to the voters if I find that I feel strongly that one or more of the board needs to be replaced. I don't have that opinion as of now.

As far as objectivity - those opposed to the levy just haven't shown we much yet. I get that they are mad about the stadium. My opinion, the stadium was the right thing to do. I don't know enough yet about the allegations about the "unethical" movement of money within district accounts. What has been stated so far does not convince me that anything wrong was done. I understand some think it was unethical, that's fine to disagree. But voters don't get to decide how money is spent within state guidelines. Voters get to elect officials. I also think the voters of this district missed a huge opportunity in Nov 2010 when Federal Matching funds were available for the approx 2 mil increase being asked for then, and it was voted down. I would have voted yes, hands down, had we lived here, and the vote would have still failed, just by one less vote. I graduated HS in 1992. School is not the same as it was 20 years ago, and it will not be the same as it is now 20 years from now. We have to think forward. Does that mean a new building? Maybe, maybe not. I don't know yet.

Finn Finn

Hey Pirate Momma, many people gave up eating out a looong time ago. The landscaping has been at the bottom of the "must do" list for many people for years. Clearly, we don't all live as lavishly as you. Many are bare bones already, and another $25 a month is simply not doable.

Proud Pirate Mom

Sorry - but my childrens education is worth more than $25 a month - and no I don't live a "lavish" lifestyle - I just feel as a parent I need to do what I can for my kids future.

Finn Finn

Well guess what mama, you do what you "need to do" for your "kids future", and I'll do what I need to do for my future. Your kids will not turn out to be hobos if this levy doesn't pass. And your flip attitude about $25.00 a month is insulting to those who find another $25.00 monthly bill a true hardship.

Proud Pirate Mom

I will do what I need to do - stop blaming and face reality. Personally - I would rather pay $25 more a month than the fees ( with two children involved in many sports/activities etc) - easy math for me. If you have no kids in the system or future children, than you have that right to your opinion. I am not knocking you in the least bit. I just feel blaming the higher ups are not the solution. Prices increase everywhere. I don't want to pay more. I would rather my savings grow. But again, I moved here because I loved the school system and community. I want to offer my children the best - Again, I respect your decision, please respect mine. Thx.

fifteenthgreen

What are the dollar amounts?

Proud Pirate Mom

If I had a $400,000 home - I would hope I would be able to afford the taxes on it. I know it may be hard for some, the increase, but I am only stating my opinion and what I feel is important. The future of all the children and just trying to give them all the same opportunities.

Finn Finn

Of course you are entitled to your opinion. I just don't understand why you feel I should pay so you won't have to pay the extra fees for your two children "involved in many sports/activities, etc." I'm sure that IS easy math for you. It effects me a little differently. I just don't understand why you parents always feel that your kids are "entitled" to sports, activities, clubs, etc. that the school can no longer afford to pay for. If you want those things for your kids, then pay for them. Don't expect me to.

Bherrle

Finn - the school could afford to pay for it, if it's tax structure were in line. There have always been folks without children who pay taxes that go towards educating someone else's children. It's called civic responsibility. And by the way, every parent who has children playing sports already shells out a fair amount of money, before the "pay to play" structure. There is no "entitlement." Athletics and other special groups are a part of a childs education. I will pay out over $500 for my to-be junior daughter to be a cheerleader this year, without the "pay to play" structure. You can see how much more I will pay if the levy fails. But that is not my motivation. I disagree with the board on how it is structuring these cuts, but I respect that it is thier job to make those decisions, and I know it was agonizing. If I disagree strong enough, I'll vote one or more out, and/or I'll put my name on the ballot. Being 7 mills below the next closest school in the county is not fiscally sustainable. And thinking that facilities as old as our districts facilities are OK as they are is very short term thinking, in my opinion. Not approving increases for 13 years is just not being realistic as a resident.

Finn Finn

Don't lecture me on civic responsibility. With 35 years in the work force, I'm extremely responsible.

What's not realistic is expecting taxpayers to keep shelling out more and more so that Tommy's parents can afford to have Tommy play golf, basketball and baseball, and Mary can play cheerleader, tennis and volleyball. Seriously, you can't have everything. While athletics may be a small part of a child's education, the bigger and more important part is classwork, study, academics.

I see no problem with the pay to play structure. It's the only fair way for those who choose not to play sports.

Nemesis

Hey pirate mom, then send them to a private school. Nothing is as effective as putting them in an environment where all the students have parents willing to make those sacrifices.

Strong Schools ...

I agree Proud Mom! We need to prioritize and think about the students. It is all about priorities!!! All of you negative people think about that when you are talking on you iPhone and drinking your Starbucks coffee!

Finn Finn

Hardworking people, who have raised their kids already, have worked all their lives, are hoping to retire but can't because they can't put enough money away to do so with rising costs and taxes, are supposed to "prioritize" and put you and your coddled kids first; typical of the mom/dad/teacher mindset. You have got to be some of the most selfish, self-absorbed people on the planet. In your self-centered world, anyone who doesn't gladly hand over money to the schools so we can pay for every indulgence mom wants for her kids is considered negative. The only ones talking on their iPhones (while driving / tailgating) and drinking Starbucks are the "stay at home" (yeah, right) Moms, all on their husbands' dime. They can't see anyone else's plight because they are so focused on themselves.

pigeon farmer

I like the idea of holding the people who wanted New Departure to close and destroy the union accountable. We all know who they are. It is time they come foward and support the schools. The christian conservative union haters detroyed the jobs to support the Japanese economy. Now the children will pay the ulimate price. Makes you wonder what was really going on when they gathered at the gazebo downtown to pray or was it prey? Once a teabagger always a teabagger.

VOTENO

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Strong Schools ...

That's intellegent!!! Punish a child for what their teacher drives. Half of the parts are made in the U.S. anyways. Okay Vote No...What is your next excuse? Again not factual and pointless informtion. My whole family are union workers and we think you are off your rocker with this post!

Thomas Paine

My idea of holding them accountable is voting them out- not effectively destroying the district and damaging the kids of the community in the process over a political point of view. There is a middle ground.

44870pt

I understand the classified employees union (OAPSE) made significant wage and benefit concessions in the contract most recently negotiated/approved with the Board. I understand the teacher's contract is currently under negotiation. Is it known if the teaching staff has offered to make/accept similar concessions? Has there been a recent, official, public statement from the teacher's union regarding negotiations?

fifteenthgreen

Not sure.

citizen

But according to Gunner, Perkins Schools is on the brink of not existing anymore and he will have to "dismantle the district!!"

Sad that Gunner and the Board want this new building so bad they will resort to lies, scare tactics and threats... and actually harm the students and school district in the process by making all of these massive cuts.

THESE MASSIVE CUTS WOULD NOT BE NEEDED IF GUNNER AND BOARD WOULD LISTEN TO TAXPAYERS AND MOVE OPERATING MONEY BACK TO OPERATING MONEY.

We don't want to pay for buildings and facilities when the current ones are newer than many in the area!

THIS IS A BUILDING LEVY! Vote no... again.

OH-IO

Haha! People made an exodus to Perkins schools in search of a so called better education and oppurtunities. It's so ironic that Sandusky High School now has an advanced program, uniforms and no fees to pay to participate. Sandusky toot your horn a bit. Love it.

OH-IO

Well the chickens have come home to rouse. I remember the mass exodus to Perkins because Sandusky High was so called unsatisfactory. How ironic that SHS has an advanced program, uniforms and no pay for participation fee. Sandusky toot your horn a bit. Love it.

Strong Schools ...

I think you should be proud of your district...just like we are proud of ours! Why don't you let the Perkins community handle this! You obviously don't live in our communtiy and pay our taxes. Your comments mean nothing on this blog!

RMyer

The BOE is also responsible for facility management both short term and long term. The p.i. funds generated by the 2 mills aren't not enough to pay for major renovations or new construction. Those p.i. funds have been used to maintain four buildings, parking lots, grounds, technology, etc. The high school is rated with one of the worst scores (92/100 with 100 being worst). Either renovation or new will be costly, but has to be done. The stadium expense was a one time expense and is not repeated going forward.

The Health Department inspection only verified that there wasn't an immediate danger of asbestos fibers, lead, etc. That inspection had nothing to do with infrastructure integrity or life span going forward or correcting issues that are not in compliance with current code (fire suppression system for example). Comparing the Health Dept. inspection to a building infrastructure inspection for renovation or new is comparing apples to oranges.

The district was on the hook for stadium repairs whether the community helped or not. The community asked the school to solicit private donations and it did. The athletic boosters also ponied up money to get the facility we have now. That facility was had at a bargain to we taxpayers due to the private donations that the community gave.

The board does not have an architect on staff to review and analyze options for both renovation and new nor do architects work for free. Planning for facility renovation or new (again, one of the board's responsibilities no matter who is sitting on the board) is not a decision to be made without expert analysis. Ignoring the issue will only aggravate the problem.

Moving the inside millage takes care of facility issues for decades going forward without the need for additional bond levies passing. So, for 6.73 mills now, we stabilize operations going forward and address facility issues for the entire district without needing bond levies.

The action the board has taken is the lowest cost to taxpayer options that are available both now and into the longer term. The numbers are what they are. If you believe the calculations or option chosen was wrong, then take them to a school funding expert for verification.

BooBeeDoo'

RMyer: Good sales job RMyer. Aren't you a teacher and union rep at Perkins? That will keep you off Gunner's hitlist! Keep up the propaganda...it may work for a few votes.
I however still vote NO.

RMyer

I am a teacher and have made no secret about that. I am no longer a "union rep" although I remain a union member. I also have a 20 year background in private business as a member of management. I am not concerned about being on or off anyone's "hit list". In the past 11 years as a teacher, I have attended most board meetings and expressed my opinions whether I agreed or disagreed with a decision, have requested, received, and analyzed detailed account statements, have done research on my own by going to the Board of Elections and Erie County Auditor, have talked with school treasurers in other districts about school funding issues, have communicated with the folks at the ODE offices in Columbus, have considered the alternatives presented when decisions have been made and came to my own conclusions based on my positions of father with students in the district (past and present), as a taxpayer whose own household income has declined recently, as a teacher who wants to continue to see all of our students receive the best opportunities possible to ensure a better future for them.

Now, you are aware of where I am coming from. I, however, do not have the privilege of knowing you.

Wald

"The numbers are what they are" because of Gunner. Now you want me to vote to give him more money to mismanage?

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