Open letter to the Perkins Community

Letter from Perkins schools superintendent Jim Gunner.
Register
Oct 25, 2013

Perkins Community:

The Perkins School District levy is critical to providing ongoing quality education to the students of Perkins now and in the future.  This levy addresses both the day-to-day operational costs necessary to run the district as well as a solid plan to renovate and or build new facilities all at a modest cost.  Without the passage of this levy, additional reductions will make it more difficult for our students to have the education they need to be prepared for life in the 21st Century.

The Board and I recognize there is an active "No" voter campaign in the community.  But, what do they offer?  As I have listened to those who oppose the levy, they indicate three actions they would take:

1. Fire me as superintendent

2. Elect two new Board members to promote a change of direction

3. Move the "Inside Millage" back to general operations.

These actions fail to provide a long-term solution to the financial and facility problems the school district faces.  If the "No" voter campaign did their homework, they would discover their plan costs taxpayers significantly more, approximately 11.85 mils compared to the Board’s proposed 6.73 mils. Ask yourself as a taxpayer, do you want to pay almost twice as much to have a direct vote on the building of a new facility? Or do you want to trust Board members you elected who researched all available options over three years, involved four different community committees in the process and have proposed a long-term plan to solve both operations and facilities and keeps your school tax rate the lowest in Erie County?

This is what the “No” voters campaign will really cost you as Perkins taxpayers:

1.53 mils -   (6.73 – 5.2 = 1.53; Difference in Board's request from Inside Millage

1.78 mils  - (1.78 mils required to pay off the loan if “Inside Millage” is moved)

1.34 mils  - (1.34 mils to make up for tax collection starting in 2015 instead of 2014)

7.20 mils - (Bond Levy required to build the same cost building proposed by Board)

11.85 mils - needed to solve fiscal and facility problems as proposed by “No” voters

The "No" voter campaign indicates that we should just move the "Inside millage" back to general operations and then we could maybe pass a small 2 mil levy and everything would be all right.  This simply is untrue.  First, we cannot move the entire 5.2 mils of "Inside Millage" back to operations at the current time, unless we generate additional money to pay off the $3.5 million loan taken out by the Board.  Whether the "No" group agrees or not, the district has a $3.5 million loan that needs to be paid off over the next 4.5 years.  The annual payments of $770,000 are being paid from the "Inside Millage".  At least 1.78 mils of the "inside Millage" must be left in the Permanent Improvement fund for the next 4.5 years to pay off this debt. 

If a new Board of Education decides to move the “Inside Millage” back to the operations budget, this vote would take place no sooner than January 2014. Any “Inside Millage” moved back by this action would take effect with taxes collected in 2015, not 2014. In addition, if the November levy fails, the district would fail to receive an entire year's collection (Taxes collected during 2014) on the 6.73 mil levy, or another $2.9 million.  This $2.9 million dollar loss, by not passing a levy in November needs to be made up with either further reductions, or a larger future levy.  To raise an additional $2.9 million over five years would require an increase of 1.34 mils in any future levy.

But, let's not forget in this scenario, the "No" voters leave absolutely zero money for fixing our facilities. A traditional bond issue would require another vote of the community for at least a 7.2 mil initial bond rate to generate the same revenue the Board is suggesting by using the "inside millage".

So, really the "No" voters are asking the public to pass the equivalent of 11.85 mils to solve the operational and facility problems of the district. Is this the “Change” you want as a community? Is this the long-term planning you want for the district?

Secondly, the “No” voters would like to remove me as superintendent. And why do the “No” voters want to remove me?  Because I don' t live in the district, and a decision that required a vote, a 5-0 vote, by the members of the Board of Education who were elected to represent the voters, to move “Inside Millage” to fix facilities. These five elected members, after over three years of reviewing all fiscal options voted as your representatives to approve the proposed funding alternative of moving "Inside Millage" as a strategic move to fix facilities now and in the future. 

In the past five years, the district has had nine different Board of Education members.  All nine members, elected by the community, well respected diverse business and professional members of the community, have agreed that the current plan before the voters is the best plan to solve both operational and facility needs.  ALL of these Board members agree it is the least costly method for the taxpayers of Perkins.  Four different community committees as far back as Superintendents Buccierri and Rectenwald concluded the district facilities needed to be seriously addressed.  Three different independent construction firms have determined to repair our facilities is more costly than new buildings.  One of these firms ranked our high school as the school in the worst condition and in need of immediate replacement in the State of Ohio at the time.  The "No" voter campaign indicates we should form another community committee to examine the situation again.  After nine board members, eight years, four community committees, and three independent school construction firms have all concluded the same thing, what does another committee give us that we don't already know?

Don't be fooled by the "No" voters.  Consider some of the tactics used by the "No" voters during this campaign.

1. Smear the existing leadership of the district with half-truths, rumors, and innuendoes.

2. Spread half-truths through the "Blogs" where they refuse to identify who they are.

3. Threaten local business owners that display signs supporting the schools levy efforts.

4. Destroying and stealing pro-levy yard signs.

5. No real plan to solve the financial and facility issues facing the school and community.

Ultimately, it is up to the voters of Perkins to decide whom they will believe in this "War of Words".  The superintendent and Board have willing met with any individual or group to explain their position and have not changed their opinion in over three years on what is best for the school district and community.  Can the "No" voters explain how they are going to solve the complex financial problems of the school district?  I hope, as a voter in the Perkins community, you place the value of your children first and recognize that the duly elected Board of Education has done its best to solve very complex financial and facility problems at the best possible cost to you as taxpayers.

I hope you vote to support the Perkins Schools.

Jim Gunner, Superintendent

 

Comments

themomx6

" First, we cannot move the entire 5.2 mils of "Inside Millage" back to operations at the current time, unless we generate additional money to pay off the $3.5 million loan taken out by the Board. Whether the "No" group agrees or not, the district has a $3.5 million loan that needs to be paid off over the next 4.5 years."

^^^^ And just who's fault is that???!!!??? It's time for YOU and the current BOE to go! The people of Perkins are NOT as stupid as you seem to think we are.

I DO agree with THIS part of your post:

"1. Fire me as superintendent

2. Elect two new Board members to promote a change of direction

3. Move the "Inside Millage" back to general operations."

^^^^ Really like point number 1.

Strong Schools ...

Read why you should support the STUDENTS! Get the facts at the levy website!
http://perkinslevy.org/

Resident51

What you don't understand - Jim - is that there is NO facility issue to address. What you have is fine.

The "complex financial issue" was brought on by you and the board by moving inside millage, paying for half the cost of a football stadium and hiring architects before your "complex" plan was approved by the voters. It's not my problem you have a $3.5 million dollar loan to pay off now.

Your open letter only motivates me to Vote NO!

Colonel Angus

Actually, it is your problem that YOU, not him have a $3,500,000.00 loan to pay off now. Jim doesn't live in Perkins.

Hawkeye

Jim never intended to live in Perkins he bought a house in Oregon 2 months after he was hired here. C'mon why raise taxes in a town you live in? Just screw with someone else's community.

Strong Schools ...

He has always had the house in Oregon. A family illness kept him on Oregon because he had to help take care of an ill family member. Call the board office and he will be willing to share his story. The taxes in Oregon are much higher than Perkins anyways. He has been completely devoted to this district and puts in unlimited hours.

Know the facts and visit the levy website! Support the students and our FUTURE!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Who cares where he lives. He works here and isn't getting the job done and the poor test results are a true indicator. One man has divided a community!

beesknees

This is funny! He has ALWAYS had the house in Oregon. Really? Since the day he was born? UNLIMITED hours? Isn't he LIMITED to 24 hours per day like the rest of us? Vote NO!!

VoteYES

Do you put in hours after your done being off the clock? I know teachers and administration do of the Perkins District.

Resident51

True. But I'm not going to vote yes for his bad choices. They can find a way with the money they are already getting from me.

Strong Schools ...

Please visit the levy website and get facts about the schools! Support the students in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/content/s...

The Bizness

I don't live in your area but I would beg to differ about the facilities. That building is in need of some upgrades.

Resident51

Really? Like what? Every hear of the permanent improvement budget? Maybe they should have used this money to maintain their buildings all these year. Look at Margaretta, Sandusky, SMCC....all educating students in older, well-kept buildings and doing a fine job.

Strong Schools ...

We have one of the oldest buildings in the area. The high school dates back to the 1920's and they kept adding different sections to make it bigger. Please get the facts at the levy website!
Vote yes in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/content/s...

fifteenthgreen

One section/hallway is that old. The north end. Tear it down and put up a new wing with the funds you moved....oh, and don't forget about that immediate asbestos emergency!

Bherrle

Resident 51,

In response to your comment "What you don't understand - Jim - is that there is NO facility issue to address. What you have is fine."

Please describe for us your qualifications to make this assessment on the long term viability and conditions of the facilities. Please let us know when and specifically how you have made yourself fully aware of the conditions of the facilities. When did you perform your inspections?

I'm going to focus on just the High School for the moment. Do you really think it is "fine" that there is asbestos in numerous areas of the building (ceilings, floor tile, pipe insulation, etc?). Asbestos which would cost at least $2.5 million dollars to remove. And that's not replacing anything, that's just the removal of ceilings, floors, insulation, etc. Add more cost put something in it's place. And oh, it can't be done in three months time, it would take longer than a summer break, so now we have to find a place for high school students for part of a school year.

Building plumbing - properly fixing the building plumbing will be another $3.5 million dollars. This would include that upstairs bathroom that was closed over 20 years ago and is still closed. Oh, and in case you didn't know, which I didn't until realize until recently, you can't fix the plumbing problems without dealing with the asbestos problem too, because a lot of the pipes are wrapped in asbestos insulation, and/or are in areas were other asbestos containing materials would need to be disturbed.

$6,000,000 on just those two issues. There are many others (such as the corrosion of the exterior electrical conduit). The districts annual PI budget is between $700 -800K. This is money that is currently being spent on buildings and ground maintenance (as an example maintaining parking lots), the bus fleet, etc. The district would have to stop maintaining anything, and collect approx 8 years worth of the current PI budget to deal with just those two issues.

The board moved inside millage to set aside money for facilities needs, be that renovation or new. The football stadium & track was un-insurable and was on the brink of being closed, with a minimum repair bill of $1.2 million. Architects are needed to draw up plans that lead to determining costs.

Yes, it is your problem, as it is the problem of every resident of Perkins. The Board and Supt. are doing their jobs by planning for and looking to the future. I urge you to contact the district and ask for a tour of the high school, as it relates to these issues. Hell, I'll take you on the tour myself if they'll let me. The issues are real, and the longer we ignore, the worse they are going to get.

fifteenthgreen

"2.5 million dollars to remove the asbestos" that could potentially harm our students or 1.7 million stadium district donation and 3.5 million for a building loan, plus, plus? Why was this money not spent to insure the immediate safety of our children, teachers and community??? If we're so worried about it, why has this emergency not already been taken care of, bherrle?

Is the district going to continue to kick the can down the road on this asbestos issue? It should immediately be taken care of - levy or no levy. They don't care, though. It's just another good scare tactic.

Wald

Yeah, taking out a $3.5 MILLION loan for architectural plans makes a lot of sense when asbestos is apparently such a big concern. How can we trust anyone with such screwed up priorities such as making plans for a new building and building new football stadiums when our children are inhaling asbestos every day?

Strong Schools ...

The district does as much as they can to take care of the abestos. If you go into the schools you can see where they have tried to replace floor and ceiling tiles. But it is like putting a band aid on a cut. Eventually the band aid is going to come off and you will have to address the issue again.
The stadium was not safe for our community. Children were falling through the stands because they were so bad and our track was not even usable. We had to hold track events elsewhere due to the bad condition of the track. The community worked together with the board to fund the stadium. The community helped raise funds for the stadium. They had to fix the stadium and take care of the safety of our students, community, and visiting athletes. Support the students in November and vote yes!
Check out the levy website for the facts!
http://perkinslevy.org/content/s...

Kobayashi Maru

The band aid on a cut doesn't doesn't make sense. When I get a cut I take care of it and it heals. Why hasn't Perkins been taking care of the buildings all along? What did the P.I. monies go for?

fifteenthgreen

What do you mean address it again? Band aid? Once the asbestos is removed, it is gone. Give me a break and get you facts straight. One child fell through because the parent wasn't paying attention. A child could fall down the existing bleacher steps.....so we replace them? Make your child sit on their butt and watch the game or go home!

mikesee

How about we send the kids to school to learn and not sports!

Strong Schools ...

Perkins has a great educational system set up! Technology, STEM, and 21st century learning tools are a priority! Check out the website for more facts and see why Perkins is the school of choice in our area!
http://perkinslevy.org/content/s...

fifteenthgreen

"Technology, STEM, and 21st century learning tools are a priority" but apparently test scores per the Department of Education don't matter. Why are Perkins test scores so low compared to every other district in Erie County but Sandusky....and they're closing the gap for the second to last place position. Why are our district grades so low? Perkins is second to last!

Wald

The Erie County Health Department said the high school was fine. Or are you saying they are liars?

Strong Schools ...

NO one said they were liars. They looked at the building "right now". We need to think long term and think about the safety of our students tomorrow and in the future. Check out the facts on the levy website.

VOTE YES!
http://perkinslevy.org/content/s...

fifteenthgreen

But it was our understanding that this wasn't about a new building. Teachers were laid off so we could just scrape by. What is it? A new school? Get the teachers back? Programs? No fees? What is it that you want? Speak clearly, please!

Kobayashi Maru

Teachers were laid off? I've heard that the newest teacher in the district went from part time to full time! The kids still have gym, art, and music. No teacher, except the track teacher, isn't working. That's what I've been told, can't verify if that's true. I don't attend any of the schools and my child graduated a few years ago. Anyone know?

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