Battle plans drawn

District seeks support for 10-year, 6.73-mill levy.
Alissa Widman Neese
Jun 18, 2013

Jason Bennett stood before a crowd Monday night to offer a simple but clear rallying cry.

As a contentious levy debate effectively divides the Perkins Schools community, Bennett urged a group of passionate levy supporters to consider it a unifying matter.

“The only way we’re moving forward is as a team, a community and as a cohesive school system,” Bennett said. “Put any personal interests aside and do this for our students and our school district.”

About 125 people gathered in the Perkins High School cafeteria for the kickoff meeting of Citizens for Perkins Schools, the district’s newly formed levy committee.

The group includes parents, teachers, school officials and township residents, all volunteers aiming to promote the district’s upcoming August levy.

The supporter turnout was at least 10 times that of the past levy campaign’s turnout, district communications director Chris Gasteier said.

“I won’t pass judgments as to why, because we’re just happy to see them here,” Gasteier said.

Perkins Schools is proposing a 10-year, 6.73-mill emergency operating levy on the August ballot, nearly 2 mills larger than a May proposal which voters overwhelmingly rejected. The levy would fund day-to-day operations for the district, including employee salaries and benefits.

Although the county auditor hasn’t yet certified its official amount, superintendent Jim Gunner has said the levy will cost the owner of a $150,000 home an additional $310 in taxes per year.

Click here to get related news coverage, videos and photos. 

This past week, board members approved about $2 million in district-wide reductions, including eliminating 15 staff members and hiking pay-to-participate fees to as much as $730 per sport for high school athletes. If voters approve the August levy, the cuts could be reversed and fees will return to normal.

Brandy Bennett, Citizens for Perkins Schools committee chair, organized Monday’s crowd into focused subcommittees with Jason, her husband. In the next couple months, subcommittee leaders will oversee various levy campaign efforts, including distributing signs, collecting funds, visiting residents door-to-door and dispersing information online and in-person.

“Everyone here is very passionate and ready to commit to getting this levy passed,” she said.

The group knows convincing a majority of township residents to vote in favor of the levy won’t be an easy task. Voters haven’t approved an emergency operating levy for the district since 2000, its only levy for new operating money in the past 18 years.

Still, the Bennetts are determined to do all they can to promote the cause. They moved to the area so their two children — now students at Perkins High School and Meadowlawn Intermediate School — could attend Perkins Schools. They don’t want to see the district’s stellar reputation marred by costly cuts, they said.

“There are still questions that need answered and still misinformation which we need to address,” Jason said. “We’re dedicated to doing it as a team. We’re all pulling in the same direction.”

Comments

Bherrle

I did not intend my statement to be a negative. I understand that they are probably being inundated with questions, and I'm sure they will get to all questions in due time.

underthebridge

I think that they are also trying to direct/control the course of the dialogue. That is not meant to be a negative statement either.

Centauri

PUBLIC INFORMATION

http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com/Dat...
$154,550 2006 valuation
$154,330 2008
$138,140 2013

http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com/Dat...
$77,010 2003 valuation
$83,990 2006
$71,590 2013

citizen

Gunner's supporters keep repeating that this alleged fiscal emergency is caused by a decrease in state funding. I will assume that the number of $2 million they keep repeating is accurate. If that is the case, Perkins Schools has annual revenue of appx. $26.5 million. Reducing that by $2 million is about an 8% revenue decrease.

These state cuts have been anticipated by everyone around the state for some time.

Something is wrong with your leadership if a somewhat expected, planned 8% decrease in revenue is causing your organization to be on the brink of financial disaster and having to "dismantle" itself or no longer be in existence as Supt. Gunner has claimed and threatened many, many times. (on video here on the Register website).

Again, Strong Schools, the 8% cut in state funding is NOT what is causing this alleged fiscal emergency. It is Gunner moving millions and millions of dollars from operating funds to permanent improvement/building funds that is causing this alleged emergency. It is a lack of fiscal discipline such as paying over $1.1M annually so each student can have their very own Apple laptop or paying an unneeded, ineffective communications director $100k+ per year that is causing this alleged fiscal emergency. It is taking out a $3,000,000 loan to design and plan new buildings that voters have overwhelmingly rejected that is causing this alleged fiscal emergency.

Bherrle

Citizen,

It is not accurate to state that Perkins spends $1.1M annually on the laptop program. The district spends approx $250,000 annually, approx 1/4 of what many have been stating. Below are the facts:

The district’s most recent 3-year lease for laptops cost $1.5 million dollars in total, approximately $900 per laptop or $300 per laptop for each year. Perkins received almost $350 per laptop for our trade in of previous laptops, or about one-third the original purchase price. Thus, the net cost was less than $1 million for the three-year lease. Perkins typically keeps the laptops for four years before trading them in on updated models. Perkins actual annual cost over the four-year period is somewhere around $250,000 when trade-in value and the four year period is considered. Prior to the laptop program the district was spending approximately $250,000 a year on technology hardware without an effective plan or direction for these purchases. By initiating the laptop program, Perkins did not significantly increase it's annual technology hardware expenditures, but focused them on a comprehensive plan for integration of the technology into all students and staffs’ hands to increase educational effectiveness. In the initial year of the laptop program, 2009, the district did also receive some grant money to support the initial purchase, which is not factored into the above. Since that time, the program has been completely funded by the district. The laptop lease/purchase is expended from the permanent improvement fund, not general operating revenues.

RMyer

Also Citizen, I am not trying to pile on, but your previous revenue figure for the district appears to be incorrect. It looks to me like you picked up the total expense figure. The forecast page I have shows the projected fiscal year 2013 revenue number is actually $22.9 million (projected to fall to $20.8 million in fiscal year 2014). You mentioned the state reductions to districts. Remember that districts have also lost most of the Tangible Personal Property Taxes (on commercial inventory) that used to be paid by businesses and lost any short term federal stimulus dollars that were sent a couple of years ago, plus the loss in property taxes due to property reevaluations. Districts did see the state cuts coming a few years ago after the gov. announced his first budget, and many around the state warned that the reductions were going to cause districts to make cuts and go back to taxpayers to make up for the losses. That's what has happened all around the state; our situation is not unique.

citizen

Wrong. FY 2012 revenue was appx. $26.5 million. It is on page 6 of their audited financial statements.

Gunner supporters keep stating that Perkins is losing $2 million in state funding and that is the cause of the alleged financial emergency.

I take these "informed" supporters at their word that $2 million is the decrease in state funding which equates to a 8% decrease in revenue.

RMyer

I will look into that number a little deeper, but the actual fiscal year 2012 number I have is $21.7 million. The previous number I posted was for projected fiscal year 2013.

citizen

I am not sure what you are looking at because if the $21.7M figure were accurate, revenue would actually be increasing for FY13.

FY12 revenue was appx. $26.5M. Projected FY13 revenue is $22.9M. That is appx. a 15.7% decrease, or $3.6M. Gunner supporters have stated there is a $2M reduction from state of Ohio, therefore a $1.6M reduction due to Gunner and board determining new buildings and facilities were more important than operating the district and educating students.

citizen

That is incorrect. Please look at the audited financial statements regarding capitalized leases. Perkins Schools (taxpayer) have a cash expense of appx. $1.1 million annually for the lease of personalized Apple laptops for each student.

If I take you at your word, Perkins spent appx $250,000 annually on hardware prior to the laptops. Do they not have any hardware any longer because of personal laptops for each student in 6-12?

No, that is again deceiving. They will have the same costs for K-5 and any other office or lab hardware (not sure if there are any computer labs for 6-12 or if everything is done through each student's laptop). So out of the $250k they spent in technology hardware costs for K-12, they are still spending it for K-5. So go ahead and subtract $150k (approximately) from the $1.1M and you still have a net $950k-1M net annual cash spend on behalf of the taxpayers for personal Apple laptops for the students.

Bherrle

I will verify the numbers the numbers I have and get back to you.

Centauri

http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com/Dat...
Matt Kosior

No property record found under that name
Brian Printy

No property record found under that name
Brad Mitchel

http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com/Dat...
http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com/Dat...
http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com/Dat...
Andy Carroll

http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com/Dat...
http://erie.iviewtaxmaps.com/Dat...
Terry Chapman

James Gunner property information.
http://maps.co.lucas.oh.us/areis...
CLICK on "Advanced Search"

Type in Gunner, James

In upper left of the screen, you will see 3 tabs. Click on DATA

You should be able to see Parcel 44-92628

To the left of the screen, you will see a list of about 20 options for the information that you want to look at. Top one shows "Summary" and bottom shows "Sales"

Click on "Values" for example to see current and past valuations.

The Lucas County (Ohio) Auditor makes you jump through hoops to get public information.

Pirate Mom

Financially, many people in this area are living above their means. When the recession hit, some people went down to a fair wage, not an inflated one. Their homes went down to real value, not the pre-recession inflated value. Anger set in. Some found that they couldn't afford to live the way they had been living but chose to change nothing. They became angry and jealous of anyone who was earning more in their paychecks. Their anger turned toward our teachers..."they make too much money, they don't work a whole year, they don't pay for insurance, they need to take pay cuts like the rest of us, their job is easy, they should work in the REAL world" and on and on and on. I couldn't believe that even some of my intelligent "friends" were trashing teachers. Some STILL are living their pre-recession spending lives but can't make their finances work. This being the reason some people are angry with the board members and Gunner is just as unreasonable. I don't begrudge them their education, paychecks, or addresses. This should not be the foundation of people wanting to vote yes or no. Get back to the reasons the levy is needed.

Vote Informed

Make an educated vote on August 6th! Read the Q & A or even ask the board a question at http://perkins.k12.oh.us/Levy.aspx. In the past 18 years, we've past one levy. It's time for a change! We are the lowest tax rate for schools in erie county, and when this levy passes, a house valued at $150k will only pay an extra $25.76/mo. VOTE YES!

underthebridge

You do your side no favors when you say that the community has passed one levy. Furthermore, I've even been at meetings in which Gunner says this community does not financially support its schools. We have passed levies. We pass renewals. We financially support our schools with our property taxes and with the renewals. I do support students, teachers, and education in general. It isn't that I am uninformed. It isn't that I don't do my own research. I disagree with the funding structure (moving mills around) that in addition to the cuts from Kasich has created some of this mess.

Vote Informed

Thank you very much for attending the board meeting! We haven't had any additional funds from the community in the form of property taxes since 2000. Although we are grateful for the money we do get, we cannot maintain the same quality of education without this levy. The longer we wait to pass a school funds levy, the more it will cost homeowners and more teaching positions will be lost. Perkins receives $500,000 less state aid than it did in 2002. We need to pass a levy school funds levy. We will eventually, but how long will we wait and how much will it cost homeowners and how many teaching positions will we loose by then? These are the questions for the community and voters to answer. VOTE YES! http://perkins.k12.oh.us/Levy.aspx

citizen

"Perkins receives $500,000 less state aid than it did in 2002."

WHAT? You are stating in other posts state funding will drop $2,000,000 this year alone!

And now it's dropped only $500,000 in a decade?

And you say that no voters are misinformed? Gunner and supporters are just throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks.

RMyer

As promised earlier, I know why our revenue numbers are not the same. First, the revenue number you are using includes the property tax amount that flows into the permanent improvement fund and includes revenue from sources that are "program specific" (i.e. grant money rec'd must be used to a specific purpose and cannot be used for general operations);these revenue funds are listed as "Other Governmental Funds". I can provide a list of what accounts those include if you are interested. These revenues are not included when discussing general operations and are not part of the district five year forecasts.

The revenue amount that should be used for purposes of this levy discussion is the general operating revenues (total revenues less the permanent improvement and other gov't funds amounts). When calculating the percentage drop in state aid and the loss of the tangible personal property tax amounts, you must use the revenue figure from the general operating funds because that is where the loss in state money is occurring. For fiscal year 2012, that revenue number was $21,000,000 +/-. The following paragraph addresses that in the audited report you cited. Pg. 17 in the report shows the breakdown for each revenue source.

General Fund Budgeting Highlights
The District’s budget is prepared according to Ohio law and is based on accounting for certain transactions on a basis of cash receipts, disbursements and encumbrances. The most significant budgeted fund is the general fund. During the course of fiscal year 2012, the District amended its general fund budget several times. For the general fund, original budgeted revenues and other financing sources were $22,490,559, while final budgeted revenues andother financing sources were $21,000,223. Actual revenues and other financing sources for fiscal year 2012 were $21,520,194

If you would like more info, please contact the district treasurer's office.

citizen

And projected revenues, according to you, for FY13 are $22.9M. FY12 was $21.5M.

So revenues are actually INCREASING by $1.4M???

And Gunner is saying Perkins Schools are on the brink of financial collapse?

RMyer

You are wearing me out! The FY 2013 number is a projected number (FY 2012 is the actual). We already know that the 2013 projected number is too high because of a drop of about $400,000 due to a discrepancy in property tax figures from the auditor's office. There may be some other adjustments in there also due to state or other local property taxes. For example, there is a higher number than normal projected for Transfers In in FY2013 that is not projected to carry forward beyond FY2013. Revenues are projected to be $20+ million in FY 2014. Who knows what will happen with state funding. The new biennium budget hasn't been approved yet. That let's see where the actual number comes in at the end of June before getting too excited.

citizen

I'm still not understanding.

Revenues are projected to INCREASE by $1.4 million for FY13 and Perkins Schools are on the brink of financial disaster and about to, as Supt. Gunner says, "dismantle" themselves?

Again, something doesn't compute. Revenues are projected to be $1.4M higher (or $1M if you take into account revised property taxes). How in the world has Gunner managed to lead the district to the precicipe of financial ruin?

Finn Finn

Yes. And AGAIN, using "loose" instead of "lose". Good Grief!!

underthebridge

Let me correct you. I have attended multiple BOE meetingS!

Not everyone here who is dissatisfied with the leadership of Gunner and the current BOE is anti-student, anti-teacher, anti-education. Not everyone here who disagrees is just uninformed and giving a reflexive "no to any new taxes" response. To know that students may have to forgo effective and enjoyable programs and good teachers may experience a reduction of force because people couldn't say no to an athletic facility infuriates me. It should you infuriate you as well. Don't tell me not to punish the students and the teachers. Like many voters, I am in between a rock and a hard place. I have little confidence in the decision-making and priorities of this administration, but I love students and promote education.

When and if this levy passes, what are you going to do to address the misplaced priorities of this administration.

Vote Informed

I understand that there are residents of Perkins Township that are unhappy with the BOE. I am also irritated with how many students may not be able to participate in their day-to-day activities because Pay to Play will be so expensive. I've done the math and for my kids to do their activities, it would cost over $1,000. I cannot afford to pay that much, but I know my household could cut back somewhere and pay $25.76/mo. By voting yes, we can save hundreds of dollars and save 14 teaching positions. I understand that most of this issue is caused by lack of state funding. I ask that you think of the students during this election, and if you don't approve of the BOE's decisions, then its your job to vote them out.

underthebridge

How will you help with voting them out?

Vote Informed

People in your family and some of your friends and neighbors may be as upset with the board as you are. Please inform them that this levy is vital to the students and the programming of the district. When the board member's names are on the ballot in November, that's when people should take their frustration out, because that will directly affect the board. Voting no on this levy only punishes the students.

Strong Schools ...

It is great our community passes renewals! Inflation occurs and the district needs to be able to operate. This levy will provide us new operational money. The state has put a lot of school districts and colleges in this financial hardship. Now, more than ever, we need to help our students and ensure our schools can still operate and provide great programs.

RMyer

Each of us has to make our own decision about paying for our schools. There are a few things to keep in mind. There are no renewal levies for operations (unless I made at mistake at the Board of Elections while doing the research into our levy history). The only change to operating funds millage was the 2.9 mill additional levy passed in 2000. There have been four permanent improvement renewals at 2 mills and one replacement at 2.0 mills (in 2002) since 1993.

I hope you have made your dissatisfaction with the state funding of schools known to the elected officials in Columbus.

The past two operating levies (4.98 mills in 2010 and 5.5 mills in May) were on as emergency levies which expire after a period of time. The levy in August that will pass is for ten years.

As residents of Perkins Township, we pay approx. 14 mills below the state average for schools, and we are at the lowest millage amount of all area districts.

Strong Schools ...

Thank you for the information! RMeyer, you do a great job stating some very important facts. All the more reason to vote yes in August!

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