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.”

Comments

Erie County Resident

You want a YES vote from the taxpayers?
2 things need to be done to acquire them.

1. Move the millage back where it belongs.

2. Remove Gunner immediately.

Bherrle

Did You Know?

In the 2012-13 School Year, Perkins spent $9,836 per student, which was less than Perkins spent 5 years ago, and is $1,800 dollars per year, per student, under the statewide average.

bobshumway92

Back up. How much did we spend per student? How does open enrollment cover this? Don't we get $5500 per student? No wonder they're broke! VOTE NO!

Bherrle

If it weren't for open enrollment, the spend per student would be higher. It is not accurate to say we lose money on OE students.

VOTENO

Are you kidding me? We spend more to educate open enrolllent kids than what they bring in? Are you kidding me? I'm glad this was put out there! Get the word out! Vote no! This is insane!

Bherrle

If it weren't for open enrollment, the spend per student would be higher. It is not accurate to say we lose money on OE students.

Perkins brings in over $3,000,000 in open enrollment revenue. 536 Open Enrolled students, $5,700 per student in state funding received. Perkins spends roughly $900,000 in additional staff/teachers to support the extra student body brought in by open enrollment.

Open enrollment is a revenue stream of $2M plus after expenses.

Strong Schools ...

Absolutely False...Open enrollment has brought in million of dollars to our district and kept us off the ballot for that last five years. The state has cut funding and now the voters have to take responsibility.

Vote Yes!

VOTENO

I thought we made money from open enrollment and that open enrollment saved us from a levy a few years ago! SOMEONE NEEDS TO EXPLAIN THIS! SOMEONE NEEDS TO BE FIRED!

Bherrle

Perkins brings in over $3,000,000 in open enrollment revenue. 536 Open Enrolled students, $5,700 per student in state funding received. Perkins spends roughly $900,000 in additional staff/teachers to support the extra student body brought in by open enrollment.

Open enrollment is a revenue stream of $2M plus after expenses.

Strong Schools ...

The state has cut over two million from our budget. This is out of the district's control and we need to step up as a community and take care of the students.

We have the lowest tax rate for schools in Erie County. When this levy passes we will still be 7 mils under the state average.

Vote Yes!

VOTENO

Why aren't we charging the parents for the balance the state doesn't cover for open enrollment? Someone needs to be fired if we are paying for kids from other districts!

Bherrle

Because by law that is not allowed. No one needs fired.

bobshumway92

How does no one need fired? We are making up the difference as taxpayers of this district to educate kids from other districts! How is this not a fireable offense? Especially after we were told that we are making money off open enrollment! Lies lies lies lies!

Bherrle

Perkins brings in over $3,000,000 in open enrollment revenue. 536 Open Enrolled students, $5,700 per student in state funding received. Perkins spends roughly $900,000 in additional staff/teachers to support the extra student body brought in by open enrollment.

Open enrollment is a revenue stream of $2M plus after expenses.

Bherrle

No one is lying Bob.

bobshumway92

Doesn't open enrollment only bring in under $6k per student?

Bherrle

Answered above Bob.

RMyer

Open enrollment has netted this district $2,000,000 dollars per year or more since it's inception. It is the equivalent of 7 (give or take) mills in operating revenue for the district. If it is a money losing proposition, then 480 districts in Ohio are losing money with it. See the last sentence in the quote below.

"According to the Ohio Department of Education, about 430 of the state’s 611 school districts now have open enrollment policies in place. Based on data from Fordham’s recent statewide study on student mobility, as of 2011 (last year for data) more than 61,000 students attended a public school outside of their home district. There are 29 districts in the state with 20 percent or more of their students as open enrollees, and 12 districts have more than 30 percent of their students enrolled in another school district. Since the fiscal crisis of 2008 more and more Ohio districts have embraced open enrollment policies" (Thomas Fordham Institute). In the same article is this quote from a superintendent, "Open enrollment is our life blood."

Perkins students leave our district for other districts taking state money with them to their new school district. The funding problem in Ohio has forced the majority of districts to open enroll. The state has reduced funding to Perkins by $2,000,000 and counting the past couple of years. Those losses have offset a large portion if not all of the benefit we received from open enrollment dollars.

To continue to state that open enrollment students cause a net revenue loss to the district is incorrect.

eriemom

@Bob: Dude you don't have to read the entire explanation. Just subtract (rounded):

$3,000,000
<900,000
__________
$2,100,000

Bherrle

Open enrollment brings in $5,700 per student. The district spends under $1,700 per open enrollment student on extra admin/teaching staff. This results in a $4,000 per OE student revenue stream.

YepThatsMe

Wow a lot of negativity on these blogs, and misinformation from most of the No People. I can respect anyone for their thoughts and values, but it should be based on something that is true and factual. The Register, and especially this blog, is more like the National Enquirer than an actual site of facts and information. Venting on here is fine I suppose, everyone is entitled to that. I have spent a great deal of time researching the mils, property tax, and other things that I did not understand. These are the things people seem the most misinformed about. I believe the information presented by the Super to be true, based on what he and his staff have from the state and treasurer. The school board has dug themselves a hole for sure, with misinformation and lack of communication, but as they say, "It is what it is". Where this school system is now financially is a culmination of a lot of things, some preventable, some not. The bottom line is, I am not going to turn my back on my kids, my neighbors kids, or Joe-Schmoes across town. I graduated from this school and the community was there to support my education and extra-curricular activities when the time came to step up. Now its our turn. This levy is needed to keep the good things- no great things going that this school system offers!

As for a new building- I agree with some of you. That new high school will be built sooner or later. But do you know why? Because it is warranted. I do not know or recall the exact way the State of Ohio did its evaluation on the high school, I just remember the review was bad- almost emergency-like because of the infrastructure and underlying problems, not visible to the public. In my opinion, we blew it a few years ago when the proposition for a new building- funded heavily by the government- was shot down at the polls.

Its very simple to me. I would vote for a school levy no matter where I lived. Its our civic duty really.

bobshumway92

"Misinformed" A keyword Gunner told these yes voters to use on here.

Finn Finn

Yes, "civic duty" is another key phrase for them. They don't see how offensive they are being when they throw that phrase around. As though we haven't been paying our taxes and supporting the schools all our working lives. Incredibly self-righteous and pious. Unbelievable!

bobshumway92

I served 6 years in the military. These do gooder yes voters don't need to be lecturing me on civic duties. Did they serve?

Finn Finn

Exactly. And thank you for your service.

Bherrle

Thank you for your service Bob. My father was a Marine and served in Vietnam as a machine gunner on a Helo.

Wald

Did you know the Erie County Health Department inspected Perkins High School and said it was fine? Of course, they weren't paid by Perkins like the other inspector was. Hmmm...

eriemom

The health department inspects for immediate threat.

Bherrle

Erie mom is correct. Not long term chronic threat.

fifteenthgreen

So if a student busts one of those asbestos tiles, what threat level is that considered?

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