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.

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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.”



They won't get money from this levy until 2014 EITHER, so your point is moot.


The "problem(s)" will not be solved. If you would like to review the numbers, I would be happy to direct you to the proper source.


Your first 3 sentences are patently false.

Gunner and Board recently took out a $3,000,000 loan from Citizens Bank to design and plan a new school.

Why would they do this when the school district is on the brink of financial disaster if they were not planning on immediately building the new junior high and high school buildings as soon as the levy is passed.

Pirate Mom

My offer still stands from Friday. Let me show you what I've seen in the schools. Stop calling facts false unless you can address what I've seen with my own eyes.


You will have to refresh my memory by what you mean from your offer on Friday.

The argument presented is FALSE. It's either spreading lies or being non-sensical enough to believe the propaganda from Gunner.

The new facilities and buildings are NOT ON HOLD. As soon as a "operations" levy is passed, it is full-go on the new facilities.

Gunner has already taken out a $3,000,000 loan to plan and design the new junior high and high school buildings, even though Perkins is on the brink of financial disaster, according to him. These buildings are far from being "on hold."


How can you possibly know this for a fact? It is on hold, go to the meetings and be informed.

Strong Schools ...

Get off the building issue unless you are going to take a tour! Educate yourself and step away from your computer. People have offered to take you around the buildings so take advantage of their offer. Anyone can get a tour of the buildings. All you have to do is ask!



And just how will you become financially able without this levy passing? As you have said, you don't plan to put up a bond issue for a new school. Sacrificing good teachers and programs and increasing pay to play (to an amount larger than the cost of a new levy) is just a way to get your yes voters to wake up. Passing it puts you in a position to build.

If Gunner and the board publicly proclaim to not build a new school after this levy is passed and use this money strictly for operations, I'd consider voting yes.

Strong Schools ...

Our financial resources are running dry due to the state cuts. The board and Gunner have been great about bringing in monies to our school. Open enrollment has brought in million of dollars to our district along with grants and partnerships.


" The School has been put on hold until a time comes that the School is financially able to sustain with everything cut restored". You mean like when a levy passes? It is a building levy. Vote no.

Pirate Mom

I will vote, YES, and keep my democratic rights. We may disagree on which way we vote, but I will exercise my right to vote and keep my property values strong. We've managed to get by for 13 years without an increase but the time is now. It's a fact that we have the lowest millage in Erie County. Vote YES on August 6.


You no voters are being moronic. You're being cheap, lazy, and stubborn. It time to talk honestly. Feelings hurt? Move out of the district! Perkins needs a new high school in order to maintain its status as the best school in the area. A no vote just means you're not bright enough to understand the issues. Vote yes or move out!


Wow, that's going to convince the no voters to change their minds. Unreal.

Strong Schools ...

The state came in to assess the schools. The worst score you can get is a 100 and Perkins was rated at a 92. We don't get a 92 by having stable buildings. Our high school was rated one of the worst, structurally, in the state.

Vote yes and support our students!


Being rated "effective" is hardly the best school in the area. Great post...way to sway those no voters.

God Of Thunder

I'm voting NO....And I'm staying!!!!!


I'm not sure why you people waste your time arguing with the same people on these blogs. It is obvious by reading them that it is mostly the same people over and over.(you know who they are) The register has provided these individuals with a little bit of power for once in their lives. It gives them a feeling that their opinion actually matters. I doubt if they couldn't hide behind a computer screen and would have to give their real names you wouldn't hear from most of them. Just look at how many and the times that they blog. It's kind of an obsession. Guys, c'mon, it's getting a little weird. Go out, meet a woman, get on a dating site, blowup doll, something. Or since you have all this free time to blog about your jealousy of board members, teachers, and administrators I could give you the number to the board of elections or to some colleges. This way you could either run for school board or start your degree in education. Now guys I'm pretty sure you are all excited to respond to this blog and just can't wait to start typing away on your sticky keyboards. But this will be my only blog.
By the way, I'll be voting yes.


And what's your name? You and your blow up doll must be proud.


Great post! It's time to get tough with these ridiculous no-voters and their meaningless posts. No one cares that you don't like Gunner or the BOE. Vote yes or move out!

God Of Thunder

I'm voting NO.....And I'm Staying!!!!


If you want a new school and want another operating levy in a few years, vote yes. If not, vote no. It's as simple as that.


The levy is not for a new school. That was put on hold. This is strictly operating revenue. Not a permanent improvement. Honestly the school can last a few more years. But not many. This is strictly an operating levy. Be informed.



Strong Schools ...

Be informed...moving the inside millage back will not solve our problems due to state cuts!




"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."

Alissa, Alissa, Alissa.

I know Westerhold has you under tight orders regarding Perkins Schools, but let's tell the truth.

This is a building levy, disguised as an operations levy. Gunner and Board had multiple, very public tax increase proposals to build grand new facilities and buildings for a new campus. These proposals were rejected overwhelmingly by taxpayers.

So, Gunner, who is adamant to build his new high school, moved millions of dollars from operating funds that were set to, as you stated "fund day-to-day operations for the district, including employee salaries and benefits", into a permanent improvement fund for new buildings and facilities.

Gunner has also taken out a $3,000,000 loan from Citizens Bank to design and plan his new buildings.

As soon as this building levy passes, it is full steam ahead for the new facilities.

I'll ask again... according to Gunner, Perkins Schools is on the brink of financial disaster. He has stated (it is on a video on the Register's website) that if this levy does not pass, he will have to "dismantle the school district" and the Perkins community will "no longer have a school district."

If the School district is truly in such a perilous financial position, why on earth is new facilities and construction even on the radar screen? Only in Perkins Schools with Gunner's leadership can you go from one day threatening to "dismantle the district" and "no longer having a district" to the next starting construction on grand new facilites and buildings!


So what if it is a building levy? Don't you want our kids to have the best? Why do the no voters hate our children? Look, if you can't give up your daily Big Mac to pay the small tax increase, move to another district with run-down facilities and no opportunities. No-voters don't have a chance in August. They're too lazy to go to a BOE meeting let alone a polling station to vote no! Time to get tough! Vote yes or move out!


This has to be a no voter in disguise using reverse psychology.


Wrong again. I'll be voting yes! I'm just sick of all the whining and excuses! Time for me to go to work now. How about you, Bobby?

Strong Schools ...

The yes voters have put up with the negativity. We are being vocal about standing up for what is right for the community and our students.

Vote Yes!