Battle plans drawn

District seeks support for 10-year, 6.73-mill levy.
Alissa Widman
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.

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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

fifteenthgreen

Brian Middle School: Effective Grade B Value: Below

Vote Informed

I'll quote Strong Schools:

You need to get over this "B" rating. We are not the only district who was rated effective. There are other schools within the tri-county area that were rated effective or lower. Go to the ODE website and check out the results. You need to take some responsibility and research it yourself.

http://education.ohio.gov/Topics...

There are many indicators that go into rating a school district (some of which are not academic). Do not judge until you do the research and and figure out the facts. You blog on pure emotion but do not try to educate the public!

fifteenthgreen

Not good enough!

RMyer

I''ll toss out the same invitation to you that I did for another. If you would like to look at the details of the school report card reports, I would be happy to sit down with you, and we can see what is occurring within specific student groups. I'll buy your coffee. Huron and Edison middle schools were also Effective in 2012. I hope that doesn't mean those schools are a "disgrace" also.

Quite honestly, after arriving as a teacher 11 years ago after a 20 year career in private business and educating myself as much as possible about the operational and financial goings on, I believe we have a darn good school system with dedicated people. The folks I work with strive to help middle school students work through a rather rocky time in their development and to call what is done in that building a "disgrace" raises my dander (and I'm a pretty patient person). We make mistakes; we strive to get better; we start all over with a new group of students each year. Our high school has been rated Excellent which is also a testament to what goes on up there. I had one child graduate and another on the way to the high school, and there isn't a teacher at the high school who I don't doubt will prepare her for moving on with her education.

We work under a "grading" system the state has put in place that no private business would agree to have as its evaluation system either for its overall business or for its employees. That's a subject that I won't get started on.

Again, my offer stands to buy you coffee while we discuss this. I don't have the inclination to type all of my thoughts on the issues you raise on here. I'm going to stop now before I go further because I might type something I shouldn't, and I feel obligated to set a good example for my students because I talk about responsible use of social media to them during the school year..

fifteenthgreen

I won't settle for mediocrity like your campaign! Effective is a disgrace for this school district! Period!

fifteenthgreen

.....and a new school won't help increase that disgraceful, pathetic rating. Is it due to STEM, open enrollment, multi-age, teachers? Why have we declined so much?

Vote Informed

This levy is for the day-to-day functioning of Perkins Schools. Despite what rumors may be on this blog, this is not a levy for the new building. (Which won't be built until we are fiscally stable)

underthebridge

What will provide financial stability?

fifteenthgreen

It looks like we haven't been financially stable for many, many years. If so, why was a new school designed at great expense, presented to the community for vote and marketed with huge signage at the new stadium?

Vote Informed

The Board's direct answer at the last school board meeting:

We will wait to see what changes in state funding come in the next biennial budget. We will wait to ensure the district is financially stable and fiscally sound before moving forward with any renovation and/or new construction project.

fifteenthgreen

That doesn't answer my questions regarding the new building. This has been in the works for years. Did they put the cart before the horse? What about the impending doom with the safety/health issues? That was the previous campaign. What is it going to be next?

Vote Informed

Question: Why wait so long?

If you knew teachers were going to lose jobs, why wait so long for the levy?

Answer:

The district spent more money than it took in during fiscal year 2011. We knew at that time a levy would be necessary soon. We also had a significant carry over balance that we had generated through the previous three years. It would be hard to explain to the community why we needed money when we had several million dollar fund balance.

I hope that answers your question with the finances.

fifteenthgreen

No, it doesn't. Yikes!

Vote Informed

If I'm not completely answering your question, ask the BOE at http://perkins.k12.oh.us/Levy.aspx. Otherwise, please don't continue to spread false information.

fifteenthgreen

They won't answer. I've tried.

citizen

I will ask AGAIN, what SPECIFICALLY does financially stable mean?

In the Board's mind, it is as soon as this "operations" levy passes.

Vote Informed

The Board's direct answer at the last school board meeting:

We will wait to see what changes in state funding come in the next biennial budget. We will wait to ensure the district is financially stable and fiscally sound before moving forward with any renovation and/or new construction project.

fifteenthgreen

That doesn't answer my questions regarding the new building. This has been in the works for years. Did they put the cart before the horse? What about the impending doom with the safety/health issues? That was the previous campaign. What is it going to be next?

Strong Schools ...

I know when Dr. Gunner came to our district he knew he could not ignore the facility issues. He has tried to be open and honest with the public at the board meetings but they usually do not have high attendance. The buildings have been pushed to the side for many years and I am glad Dr. Gunner brought it to our attention.

On that note, this levy will not be a building levy. They can't do anything until the district is financially stable. This is a general operating levy for the day-to-day operations of the school district. This money will be used for salaries, benefits, supplies and materials to operate the school daily. The Board previously has set aside the 5.2 mils of “Inside Millage” to be used for facility renovation or construction. The Board intends on using the “Inside Millage” funds to address school facility needs sometime in the future. At this time, any building project has been placed on hold until they can stabilize the day-to-day operations of the district.

You should submit your questions to Perkins Local Schools website. You will be able to get your questions answered and they will be able to be seen by all.

http://www.perkins.k12.oh.us/Lev...

fifteenthgreen

This doesn't answer my questions either, Strong Schools and I've tried submitting questions. They won't answer them. Thank you, though.

Q: It looks like we haven't been financially stable for many, many years. If so, why was a new school designed at great expense, presented to the community for vote and marketed with huge signage at the new stadium?

RMyer

See my reply above.

eriemom

I guess you need to consider the source, as my mother used to tell me. Consider how your child did or does in school. Will they, or have they, been prepared to learn as an adult in their chosen vocation/career?

underthebridge

I'm not sure to what we can attribute the mediocre rating. I've got some concerns that the current Curriculum Director does not have formal training in education. He was previously a BOE member and a Sales Manager. I think his intentions are sincere, but I wonder if this has some impact. At least in the middle school, STEM has been okay. We were pleased with multi-age and it was a good fit for our kids. I do know that Gunner has said that the addition of OE students does not impact the ODE report card of the district.

Strong Schools ...

Thanks for your input.

Strong Schools ...

fifteenthgreen,

I don't want you to think I am ignoring your question. I am searching for the exact indicators. I believe there were only a couple areas we did not meet on the state report card and I am looking that up now.

Strong Schools ...

An effective rating is not disgraceful or pathetic. According to the State Department of Education that is a "B" rating. Meeting 22 out of 26 is 85%, which is a solid "B" on most every grading scale. Would the district like to be higher? Yes. Are they working hard to align the curriculum with the new state standards and the common CORE? Yes. Schools around the state are noticing a trend with the standardized tests and state standards. The state recently adopted the common core curriculum. Administrators have noticed the questions on the test are not aligned with the standards that are required to be taught. The state takes a look at several subcategories and they are all listed on the ODE website.

The New World Czar

Common Core is nothing more than the U.S. Department of Education setting policies for states and local school systems on how to run their school systems...seriously, this is what is best for our district???

eriemom

Do we have any choice? Read through some of these posts. Some folks think that the standardized tests are everything.

Strong Schools ...

The test seems to be all people look at! We have to look at all of the great opportunities our students receive daily. Perkins has great programs to help our students excel in the future. We can't base our decisions based on one test given one time. Look at all of the other things our students have completed successfully through academics, arts, and athletics. Vote YES!

MrGadfly

Here's a middle ground that takes away many questions and opinions.

The school board promises not to proceed with any building or negotiate a new contract with the superintendent until after the November vote on school board members.

This would eliminate the idea this levy is tied into a building.
This would allow both sides the opportunity to elect officials that agree with or not with the millage switch.
It takes away the trust issue on the board and superintendent with no voters.

If this levy is only about operating costs than this promise should not be a problem with the school board and superintendent.

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