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

Hawkeye

So lets just spend 50 million on a new school because that makes all the sense in the world. 6,000,000 or 50,000,000 lets see what the taxpayers think.

StayInformed

Repairs have to be done to any facility and there has to be money to use for it. The stadium needed repair. The BOE did the smart thing and actually saved the tax payers money by seeking donors.

All districts have loans of some type. It's a fact of life. They need to be paid. Wouldn't you rather pay off loans at a cheaper rate than cost the tax payers more in the long run.

Vote yes! It will save you money!

Resident51

And the threat of "more cuts"....we heard you cry wolf the first time (and second...and....)

Bherrle

The district is down 24 positions from 2 years ago. No one cried wolf, 51.

Strong Schools ...

The district has cut positions and made students pay-to-play. These are not threats but they are our reality. Be responsible and put the students first! Vote yes in November!
Check out the levy website for more facts!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

But I thought it was a new building we were voting for. Which is it? Teachers being cut? Asbestos removal? Pay to play? What do you need the money for? Operations? Repairs? Loan payments? The levy site doesn't clarify where the money is going. Why do you want our money? What is your message?

The Bizness

If I lived in Perkins I would probably vote yes after reading this...he seems to make a lot more sense than all you people just shouting "NO!"

Thomas Paine

Agreed. Offer some substance. Agree or disagree the district just offered substance.

Strong Schools ...

Agreed Bizness. The "NO" voters do not have a plan to help our students. Support the students in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Don't have a plan? All I ever here is no new school...new school....no new school....we're going to wait.....need it now. Define your objective and plan. It changes with each election. Come on. Which is it!!!!

StayInformed

Thank you The Bizness!

It's nice to see the plan outlined in a logical/concise manner. It's unfortunate that the no voters won't even bother to read the letter. They will just respond- no!

fifteenthgreen

Why read it. It will change based on what they feel the "no" voters want to hear. flip floppers

Truth2u

not to worry, Jim. You will get your levy even if it takes you four elections to wear down the voters resistance, and the teachers will be awarded more benefits & money and then in four years after you blow it all you can write another letter and start the process over again.

Strong Schools ...

There have been no pay raises given to the teachers, administrators, or classified staff in over 5 years. They are trying to help the situation and NOW it is time for the community to step up and do their part. Vote yes in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Start producing in the classroom and maybe they'll earn a raise. Failing test scores via the Ohio Board of Education in unacceptable to me. Your standards may be lower but not mine. This administration is not getting the job done! Our school is failing miserably in the classroom and the scores don't lie. But, we're 8-0 on the new football field so that's good!

beesknees

Strong Schools, according to buckeyeinstitute.org you are wrong. Countless teachers are making lots more money now than in 2008. In addition, James Gunner' salary was $106,391 in 2010 and now makes $117,200. Sounds like a nice pay raise to me. Try getting your facts straight before trying to "inform" us.

Eph 2 8-10

SHS is about five years older than PHS, and they're not wailing the need of a new building. The only "old" building in Perkins is the original elementary school on the north side of the campus.

Take care of what you have and stop wasting time and effort on grandiose plans at the expense of the taxpayer. We [especially senior citizens] can't afford your wants.

Vote NOvember

smeltz

EPH 2 8-10...Don't speak to soon...Last school year I was at a meeting with Dr Sanders and other community leaders & clergy. He shared in that meeting about the plan to begin pursuing renovations/replacements of schools in Sandusky. He communicated a lot of the same things that Mr Gunner and the BOE have been talking about for the past several years...new buildings, stem, etc. Check out the Transformation of Sandusky City Schools on their website.

Strong Schools ...

Perkins high school was constructed in the 1920's and they have added on sections since then. Perkins High School is way older than SHS. Dr. Sanders is exploring the thought of building new buildings. He has been talking about it during the community forums. Get the facts on the Perkins school buildings at the levy website! Support the students in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

The north wing at Perkins needs to be replaced. That's it. The rest needs some repair. This will buy us plenty of time for economic recovery.

Smcc Student

It's not to late to send your kids to St. Mary's.

http://www.sanduskycentralcathol...

Darkhorse

Does Mr. Gunner have to have a disclaimer on his vote yes letter?

VOTENO

Vote yes

Good 2 B Me

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

VOTENO

NOvember!

starryeyes83

Just how many jobs are going to be available in this country in 10 years , for these 21st century students?

Scary, ain't it?

[ eyeroll ]

Strong Schools ...

Perkins will still prepare the students for the 21st century so they can be educated and competitive citizens in our society. Hopefully they will bring their talents back to Perkins. Support the students in November and check out the levy website!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Poor test scores at Perkins nearing emergency levels only tells me to support Ehove even more. They are producing productive citizens. It is not the Ehove of old, either. They will bring their talents back here why? To work in retail, a restaurant or be a lifeguard?

Thomas Paine

Love or hate him this is a great response and explanation by Mr Gunner. Not sure what else the district can do to explain the very complicated nature of school funding. I hope it helps with those that aren't blinded by hatred and refuse to acknowledge facts. ALL voters NEED to show up at the polls not 44%. As a resident of the district, I really hope a high percentage of the no show voters vote this time around. Defunding the school because you disagree with the board will only hurt everyone in this community in the long run. For the trolls please pick up a book about Roberts Rules and understand how a board works and votes on issues before placing blame. Just wondering how many of those that commented actually read this statement or if they saw it was a response by Gunner and just scrolled to the bottom and commented like my son does when he doesn't get his way in minecraft.

TellTheTruth

Being called a "troll" is fightin' words! Come on TP! Roberts Rules don't change anything regarding accepting Gunner's explanation, which in effect is a signed confession to a failed administration of the taxpayer's money. After levy failures clearly indicating voters' "thumbs down" on replacing school buildings in the district, then bypassing their votes by the underhanded/sneaky(even if legal) moving inside millage to bring about their agenda the chance of passing a levy is small at best. Now Gunner has led us to the brink of falling over the cliff into an abyss of deep debt of his own making. Why should voters approve higher taxes to bail him and the BOE out now? His comments about two opposition candidates running for seats on the school board is totally unethical in my opinion. If the loan cannot be paid, let's consider getting some assistance from those agencies and 'experts' who may have colluded with Gunner in insisting Perkins Schools buildings are in terminal condition.

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