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

goodtime1212

How is not passing the levy hurting the students? We have 2 kids n hgh school ( and live in the Township ) they are just fine. If anything we are teaching them that if you don't get your way, stomp your feet hard enough and throw out lies, that sooner or later you will get your way.

Centauri

"Seriously, if you think 140k in legal fees for a 21 million dollar a year business (particularly a school) is excessive, you may need to look a little closer at the inner-workings of multimillion dollar entities."

A business makes money from profits. A school gets money from the tax payers. If a business ran like Perkins Local SD, it would have failed soon after starting.

"We advise private education businesses such as day care centers, preschools, and job-coaching services to consult their attorneys and have them approve every single form, waiver, or release and any subsequent alterations to them."

Did the attorneys go over that pro-levy Perkins Local SD site and that April 2013 PerkinsPirate school report?

Centauri

According to Lucas County (OHIO) public records, Dr. Gunner bought his home in Oregon, Ohio on July 2, 2008.
http://maps.co.lucas.oh.us/areis...

Subtle

Great detective work there Nancy Drew, you proved that Gunner bought his home in Oregon BEFORE being hired in Perkins on August 1st. >.<

fifteenthgreen

Hey, easy on Centauri. Been extremely informative and asks questions for all members of the voting community to consider.

fifteenthgreen
Hawkeye

I want to commend Dr. Gunner for wanting to explain to the Perkins taxpayers what is going on and his plans, but the issue is he is doing it a little late. Why does he want to be forthcoming before we got to this sad state of affairs? Why wasn't the community involved sooner, and all of you yes and no voters why did you not speak up at these board meetings before now? before the community was divided.

fifteenthgreen

Right, Hawkeye but at this latter stage what is it going to take to bring a divided community back together? I've never seen it like this!

Hawkeye

THAT IS A GREAT QUESTION!!! Any ideas?

fifteenthgreen

As with any organization, it usually takes a change at the top. While it won't change the way the schools are funded, it will increase the odds that the voters will support the schools and approve the necessary funding to put us back on track.

Bherrle

1st step, and most important step - The community has to be willing to come back together.

fifteenthgreen

I hope so, Brad!

fifteenthgreen

C.P. via facebook "Anyone against a new school should tour the new school in Clyde. What a great resource for students and teachers. School buildings have come a long long way."

Clyde has industry and manufacturing, i.e. Whirlpool! What does Perkins Township have?

Subtle

There are few who could convince me that the divide in the community is any more than a divide between people with children currently (or in the near future) enrolled in the district and those who don't. To many it wouldn't matter who was in charge or how the money was handled... $26/month is just more than they are willing to spend on the futures of children who are not their own. It really makes me sad :(

fifteenthgreen

No, this makes me sick, Subtle. If you build it, you better have the resources and support to continually operate it.

California district can't afford to use new $105M school

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/n...

Hawkeye

I do have children in these schools and add that 26 dollars to the 998 dollars in tax that we already pay annually (per $100,000 home) that makes it a pretty penny. However, you say the no voters don't listen, it is NOT about the money it is about communication but you would know that if you were listening :)

fifteenthgreen

The sales and Use Tax rate will change from 6.75% to 7.25%, effective October 1, 2013 for Erie County.

Add this to the list with Perkins police, Perkins fire, Ehove, Perkins renewal, Sales tax increase.........

Erie Countian

Just heard on WLEC news this morning that Jim Gunner and Ed Kurt are both on the finalists list for the Findlay superintendent job! I don't know much about Ed Kurt, but I'd be happy to see Gunner gone. Nothing will be accomplished for the better at Perkins until he leaves. His tenure here has obviously been a complete disaster. Now that he sees he won't be able to carry out his grandiose plans here, I guess he's ready to go and divide another community. Buyer beware, Findlay!

fifteenthgreen

Perkins...take me to your leader. Oh, sorry. He's applying for jobs elsewhere. I can't believe the people/teachers that have stood behind this guy. I'm not even going to start. The citizens of this community that have bought into this man's agenda and divided a community make me sick. You're all weak!

Rosa

And, again, how many times do the voters have to say NO?? There definitely should be a limit to how many consecutive times this can be placed on the ballots. That is a waste of money in itself.
As 15th said, we will already have some big increases in taxes. And still the school tax is the biggest.
And if I do want to spend $20/month on Starbucks, a glass of wine, a lottery ticket, GUESS WHAT, it is my money that I have earned to do that.
When will the schools learn??!!

Subtle

Ed and Jim are two of the highest qualified people for that position in the state and as a result, pretty much have their pick of where they go. I would assume they chose Findlay because they see potential there and probably considerably higher salaries.

Let's not forget that the voters squashed the single best financial improvement that could have been implemented in this community. Had the campus been voted in, by the time it was completed, open enrollment would no longer have been necessary, my 90k house would be worth 140k, and people would be offering obscene amounts of money to get current residents to give up their homes so their children could attend Perkins Public Schools.

The Laptop initiative, the STEM program and dual enrollment with Findlay University already make Perkins schools the best opportunity for our youths' futures in the area. I'm sure Findlay is jumping at the bit for the opportunity this community was given but was too short sighted to take.

fifteenthgreen

Oh please. Have you ever been to Findlay? The fact is, this man couldn't get it done so he jumps ship just like Printy. I've got news for you. A 90k house is worth 90k in any town. You build a bright, shiny new school and your house is still worth 90k....maybe. A 50k leap in value due to a new school being built? Come on! Jobs being brought back to this community is the only way your home is going to go up in value. How can you not see this? Jobs bring people. People pay taxes. Employers pay taxes. Are you people that dumb to think a school is our ticket to the promise land. Only in Perkins would one have that mentality. Only in Perkins can you wave to Santa Clause and Jesus every single morning on the corner of Strub and Hayes. Why do you people continue to think this way?

Perkins offers the best opportunities for the youth in our area? What? I graduated from Perkins and I don't recall colleges looking at my HS diploma and with great joy, they automatically started handing me cash and prizes so I would grace them with my presence. Every school in this area provides the same diploma as Perkins. An ODE diploma. Simple. It's a high school diploma not a spot on Forbes top 100. Give me a break.

Why now is Gunner attempting to jump ship? A true leader keeps fighting. Gets his message out there no matter what. Blood, sweat and tears, man! Through thick and thin. Goes down with the ship, if necessary. Not this crybaby. He gets told no a couple times and he bails. If his kool-aid tasted that good to you, maybe Findlay has open enrollment!

Subtle

Please? Did you grow up under power lines? There isn't a house in Perkins that isn't over valued at least 30k just due to the school district currently. Fairview Lanes average home valued at 104k average, actual value roughly 70k each. Michigan Ave 124k average, 80kish actual. Columbus Park 90k / 40k actual. Don't think the Perkins schools isn't the reason for this.

You seriously could pick up and move any house from Fairview lanes down to Jefferson St in Sandusky proper and not be able to sell it for 40k for the house and the property... those houses are like 900-1100 square feet and homes in Sandusky that are 3000 square feet sell for 40k.

People of any kind of financial status simply don't live where they work. Look at my examples from earlier. People in Avon / Avon Lake work in Cleveland, not Avon Lake... You certainly wouldn't find anyone with a decent job and quality education living in Cleveland/Parma/Brooklyn metro area.

Some communities are for working and for people who can't afford to choose where they live. Others, like Perkins are for people who worked hard so their families didn't have to live next to the factories and the economically disadvantaged.

fifteenthgreen

"Live next to the economically disadvantaged"? Who do you think you are? It's people like you that will continue to fail this levy and destroy a once proud community we live in. The folks that live in the very neighborhoods that you speak of are the hard working people struggling to find the extra $26 to fund your dream school. Perkins Schools is the reason for the devaluation of everyone's property? Demented thoughts!

You are wrong in every way when it comes to the suburbs of Cleveland, as well. 150,000 people work in the city of Cleveland. 13,000 actually live there. 600,000 - 700,000 work in every town from Parma to Brooklyn to Richfield to Medina to Avon Lake to North Royalton, etc..............! They live everywhere and they too have their share of struggles with the economy and schools.

If I had to guess, you turn your nose up at the less fortunate, the handicap and at people of color. I feel sorry for you!

underthebridge

Subtle - I appreciate your explanation of the ODE report card previously.

Give me an explanation of how the district faired so poorly on their Science scores given the STEM program?

By the way, I think you're mistaken about the no voters being those who don't have children attending the schools.

Erie Countian

Despite my feelings about Gunner, I HAVE voted yes on every levy to support our children. If I am not mistaken, Gunner left his previous position at Bryan Schools when the people there became unhappy with him, also. Gunner may be "highly qualified" in your opinion, but I feel his lack of honesty and the underhanded tactics used to try and implement his plans at Perkins (whether they were perfectly "legal" or not) created an extreme lack of trust that he will NEVER overcome here, no matter how good some of the programs and initiatives he implemented are. This lack of trustworthiness was evident early on when he applied for the Oregon Schools superintendent position after he had already accepted the job here. I believe he should have been shown the door right then! Then we were told in the district newsletter that he and his family would be moving to Perkins. That never happened, evidently due to some personal issues with illness in his family. But that was NEVER explained in a timely manner, which maybe would have helped people to understand WHY he didn't move here with his family. It would have helped with his public perception and trust issues. I do not claim to understand the technicalities of public school finances, but I do not understand why...if our buildings are in such dire shape... WHY was $1.7 million in taxpayer dollars used to match the privately-raised funds for the new stadium? We could have had a perfectly functional and nice new track, field and stands without using much needed taxpayer dollars to create a rather over-the-top Taj Mahal of a stadium! And why was a $3 million dollar loan taken out (after voters had already turned down new building plans) that has now gotten us into even more of a mess? If those 2 things in particular had not been done, I feel we would not be in the sad and contentious position we are today. It seems the superintendent and school board could have stepped back and gauged the public perception of what they did and said OK, let's slow down and start over. Lets find a better way to do this. I have 2 children who graduated from PHS, and I always support our schools even though I no longer have any children attending there. I do believe we should eventually construct a new high school, as PHS is outdated and outmoded...it was when my kids went there. Putting it off will only cost us more. But I believe that unless Gunner leaves, no positive progress will be made. He started off on the wrong foot and never recovered in the eyes of many in the community.

fifteenthgreen

Erie Countian....I approve your message! Well said!!!!!

Wald

I just printed Subtle's original post to show it to some people I know who don't read the blogs. Hilarious! That's Perkins mentality in a nutshell, right there.

fifteenthgreen

I'm glad someone else sees it, Wald. Look at Subtle's last one. I can't believe this persons mentality and feeling of entitlement. Sickening.

AllTheAnswers

Leaders lead and cowards "dismantle" and continually look for what's next......elsewhere! Unbelievable the BOE bought hook, line, and sinker. Gunner has no affinity to the community, thus BAD decisions given the community circumstances. Bryan Schools were no better while he was in charge and reversed course after he left. Let's hope the same happens at Perkins. Gunner to Findlay, Kurt to Perkins, Fox to Margaretta. Let us move forward.

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