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.”


Vote Informed

I agree 100%! VOTE YES!


I'm wondering how many parents will open enroll in other districts or SMCC to avoid Gunners ridiculous fees.

Vote Informed

They won't have to when this levy passes. We have too much Perkins Pride to see something like this happen. VOTE YES!


No way your levy passes.

Vote Informed

Our levy will pass. We have the facts and we have the support. I encourage you to visit to read the Q & A and even ask the board a question. Please don't spread false information. We believe Dr. Gunner and we believe in our children, the future of our community. We're not naive. And we will do whatever it takes for this levy to pass. Don't punish our students and teachers as a result of your hatred towards the board.

44870 South

You are brainwashed.


Vote Informed means voting yes because you believe the lies from Gunner and the Board.

Vote Informed

They're not lies, they are the facts. If you have any doubts or questions ask them personally instead of telling people of our community false information.


Informed, allow me to inform you. Just because Gunner and the Board type something in a Q&A on their website, it doesn't make it fact.

Gunner also stated on video that if this levy doesn't pass we will "no longer have our district." And he will have to "dismantle the district." How can you believe a word that man says. He will say absolutely anything to get his new buildings built!

Vote Informed

And some people will take anything out of context to get people to vote no. This levy is for school funds due to the lack of state funding. VOTE YES!

Strong Schools ...

Dr. Gunner and the board have shared information at all of the board meetings. They have not lied to us but rather they have tried to inform us. They have been open about their decisions and why they have made them. They keep the student's best interests in mind when making their decisions. We need to step up and take care of our students and community.

Vote Yes for the Students!


BSWA-In my opinion, voting informed means voting yes because you have reviewed the data and options and realize the best, least costly one has been presented to the community. Voting no due to personality or misperception or misunderstanding would be an uninformed vote.


These parents want the levy to pass because they think they will have to pay thousands in fees for all their kids to play sports, etc.

Save R Students

It's not something we think, it's something we know. That's not the only reason we want this levy to pass. If it doesn't teachers jobs will be at risk and the value of our homes will decrease. Vote Yes!

Vote Informed

Totally agree with Save R Students! We as a community have a choice. $25/month or $730/sport. The choice is clear! I will be voting yes for the sake of my house value, for the teachers' jobs, and for our students' education. VOTE YES!


Exactly! Gunner has you running scared with the threats! Too funny!!!

Vote Informed

This is not a laughing matter Bob. No family can afford to pay over $1,000 in pay to play fees. We're not scared and these aren't threats. We have Perkins Pride and we will get this levy passed for the students and the teachers! These are simply the reaction of lack of state funding and the fact that we haven't passed a levy since 2000. VOTE YES!


I agree...

Look at your choices...

Vote Yes

Strong Schools ...

We want this levy to pass so can be operationally stable. Also, we do not want to see any of our amazing programs and teachers to disappear!

Vote Informed

I agree! Too much is at stake here! The programs that will be drastically cut down are programs we've been building up for years and years! Vote yes!

Strong Schools ...

I have submitted your question to the Perkins Local Schools Website. Please check there for your answer. You will also find other questions and answers available.


Thank you!

Strong Schools ...

The ratings have improved. Look at 2006 to now! The state mandated tests have been changed repeatedly and the state has adopted new common core standards. Times have changed and we can't keep looking to the past. We have to change the future.

Vote Yes in August!

44870 South are for sure a teacher or administrator, it is quite clear.


Until I see something legally binding that says Gunner can't use these funds for a new building, I'm voting no. There is absolutely no trust in him or the BOE to not use these funds for a new school. I inform myself based on Gunner's past practices, which is why I will vote no.

Strong Schools ...

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 we can stabilize the day-to-day operations of the district.


Gunners 3rd shift of posters were busy last night. The robots were out in force.

Vote Informed

Just proving that there are more dedicated YES voters out there. We don't work for Dr. Gunner, we are simply promoting the levy so the teachers and students won't suffer the consequences of an uninformed no vote.



Vote Informed

We'll see in August. We've only just begun. Citizens may not approve on Dr. Gunner's decisions, but we're not compromising on our children's education! VOTE YES!