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.”





Another inane comment to make anything you post less relevant.


ORC 5705.211 (D) ...An additional tax for (School District)for the purpose of paying current operating expenses ... at a rate to offset any reduction in basic state funding caused by APPRECIATION in real estate values.

I am sure my property value DECREASED in the past few years

"Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops"


I just wonder if $ for $, it is worth it. The big promoters (and if you check out Gunner's dissertation a few posts back) say it makes students more engaged. The lingering question is whether engagement = achievement.


Why do schools often pick outsiders to become superintendents of schools in Ohio? I am open for debates as time permits me. I have done some research into the Perkins Local School District in Ohio.


I am of the opinion that an insider would have been a better choice for the superintendent position after the divisiveness of the strike to bring the community together.

That being said, I think that all school districts benefit from hiring teachers from outside of the community because outsiders bring in fresh ideas. A closed community can easily become hostile to outsiders and react negatively to change. Learning IS a change, so in a closed educational environment little progress will be made.


A valid point although every district has its own particulars. Speaking in general terms, many would probably argue that hiring within only perpetuates the "old boys network". Or as we have seen locally, hiring from within does not necessarily ensure a divisiveness-free community (ie. Huron).


Which is why I stipulated that teachers can make change from within. It is our teachers that have direct contact with my children. It is our teachers that I work with to help guide my child's learning. That is why I send my kids to school.


@ Centauri: What have you learned while researching?


"I am of the opinion that an insider would have been a better choice for the superintendent position"

Good comment.


Thank you, but keep in mind that I was referring to the period since 2007. We, as a district and community, needed time to heal.


True, but Denny Rectanwald did a wonderful job as interim superintendent during those times.


Yes, but not nearly long enough.


It was Mr. Rectanwald's choice to leave, not the board's, but the point is that depending on circumstances, an outsider is sometimes the appropriate and best choice.


Key to your point is "depending on the circumstances," and we were not ready to move in the direction that this superintendent led. Dr. Gunner's inability to communicate effectively with our economically diverse population, along with the boards lack of diversity, have created an atmosphere of distrust.

I believe that a trusted "insider" may have been a better choice. Hindsight. Looking forward, which insider would Perkins trust and follow today?


I was wondering if any of you might know how the schools that are losing Physical Education teachers are planning on teaching P.E.? Seeing how it is required for every school to teach P.E. I am wondering if they plan on making regular classroom teachers teach P.E. to the kids and if those teachers will be required to take the PRAXIS exam. The link goes to a page with the Ohio State Physical Education requirements. So, our children will not be losing P.E. class, they are losing the appointed P.E. teacher.


"Elementary classroom teachers (generalists) may teach K-8 physical education classes." From your link. General education(Elem. Ed. 1-8)teachers have passed the PRAXIS (at least 2 tests).


Don't know if anyone is still looking at this blog, but I received numbers on the Laptop program yesterday from Lisa Crescimano - CFO/Treasurer of Perkins, which support the information I received from 2 others, that Perkins spends less than $300,000 per year on the laptop program. Below are her comments:

We signed a laptop lease with Apple on February 9, 2012 for $1,479,280. In this lease there was $200,000 in computer expenses for the elementary buildings which left a net lease amount for the one-to-one laptop initiative at approximately $1,279,000.

• We received $363,000 for the trade in of the old laptops,leaving about $916,000 for the actual net cost of the new laptop lease.

• We intend on keeping the laptops for 4 years instead of 3.

• If I calculate $916,000 by 4 years, the annual hardware cost is $229,000.

Regarding textbooks, expenses were as follows:
FY2013 = 104,640
FY2012 = 73,960
FY2011 = 216,964
FY2010 = 176,341
FY2009 = 175,294
FY2008 = 403,791.55


Well, according to what you learned, the district is paying less for technology out of the Improvement Fund. Before we moved to the Apple 1:1, the budget was at $250,000 according to Dr. Gunner. At $229,000 per year we are spending less. I'm sure that start up costs for infrastructure was costly, but now we are just maintaining.

What you didn't include in the Apple project was human resource costs. I believe the district pays a technology administrator and at least two techs. Although some of this cost could be paid for with other resources. I'm not sure how they are paid.

Textbook cost FY2008 were very high. I wonder why. These costs do seem to be lower with the use of technology, if that is the cause.


I wonder what the Board meet at 7:30 am on Wednesday, 6/26/13 was about. It was posted to the school website sometime after the meeting was held. The website does not state whether it was public, special or executive.