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

VOTENO

Vote no you bot.

Thomas Paine

Let me also state I didn't agree with the millage move then, but do agree now that its moved moving it back would be a financial disaster. I also don't agree with the loan, but it was voted and needs to be addressed. The board has made some bonehead moves, making another bonehead move to fix the first one (moving the millage back)is going to do exactly what Gunner said...cost us more. As far as facilities go- please ask to take a tour of the facilities- they are substandard and in this day and age it is cheaper to tear down and rebuild than it is to repair and remodel.

Thomas Paine

I don't like the solutions any more than anyone else, but saying there is no problem and making more bad decisions on top of ones already made is only going to make the issues bigger. I have no problem with any no voter that is on a fixed income and has to choose between fixing a soon to be broken school system vs medication. But placing a no vote with your head in the sand about the real issues I have some serious problems with that. I ask the NO voter committee to come up with their figures in rebuttal to Mr Gunners figures, come up with their solutions. Lets have a REAL debate with REAL numbers. My guess is the NO voter committee will not come up with a more viable solution using REAL numbers. Its all talk, as soon as the new board members get in, I believe their first words will be some four letter expletive followed by why we need a levy or the State will take over and raise our millage to the state average. Which by the way is much higher than the going levy. I hope the no committee is ready for the trolls to turn on them when that happens.

Thomas Paine

I also have a problem with the voter that says they don't have any kids in school so why should they pay. How did you get your education? My guess is someone else that didn't have kids paid for it just like you should now. Its called living in a community and paying it forward. This community needs to grow up and start acting like adults.

looking around

@Thomas Paine I've lived and paid property taxes in three states, my school years were not in this community. I continue to pay property taxes in two states inclusive of this one. I'm in my sixty's and have no children. I think I've paid my share thank you and really don't feel I should have to continue to pay for your kids. I'm voting NO!

What I have a problem with is people who don't own property or pay taxes voting to raise mine!

starryeyes83

Renters pay via raised rent. One way or another, not everyone is on Metro.

deertracker

Finally, an honest comment!

princedenny

tracker....this comment, your history of trolling, and your (usually) ignorant opinion make me think you're one of the metro people living off others. Sorry for your situation, unless you're milking the system and not trying to find a job.

Strong Schools ...

You chose to live in our community. It takes a community to raise a child...and to educate one. If you can afford three properties than I am sure you can afford to pass this levy. Just because you don't have children doesn't mean you can't help others. Think outside of yourself and help this community. Put the students and future before yourself and vote yes in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/

looking around

I say NO NO NO!

themomx6

Is Thomas Paine really Bherrle?

Bherrle

Nope, you'll hear from me later tonight.

VOTENO

Oh great

Thomas Paine

I am not Bherrle. I also understand that frustration of people who don't own voting. Its been ruled unconstitutional by the State supreme court yet it continues. The way schools are funded is a joke. However that is how the system works until we vote for change at the state level, not at the local level. Change at this level will do nothing to solve this district or any districts issues. I am sorry you have had to pay taxes in multiple states. But I personally am a firm believer in public education and feel I should make a personal sacrifice of things I want to make sure my children, your children, and everyone elses children have an opportunity. If I can afford to live and still give back. I feel sorry for those that get forced out of their homes because of taxes- one reason I despise our states decision of a rollback of the Homestead exemption.

mikesee

$20 here, $30 there, $27 out of pocket somewhere else and the next thing you know is that with all of the increased costs such as utilities, insurance (home/auto), groceries etc could add up to over $200+ per month. How much of a raise did people get this year? Aaahhh yes, not that much. So the question is where do people get the extra cash?

To be fair this does not just apply to Perkins but all schools.

Strong Schools ...

I have not received a raise in years and neither has my spouse. We believe that strong schools and education will enhance a stronger community and we will do our part! Vote yes for the students and think about our future!
http://perkinslevy.org/

themomx6

"This community needs to grow up and start acting like adults."

We are. It's called "living within a budget, and not spending money we don't have." Gunner, and the BOE, should try it. Seriously, what person (or BOE) in their right mind takes out a 3.5 million dollar loan to plan a new school building that they don't even have the funds to build?? Utter incompetence, and you want us to vote to give them even more money to mis-handle? It's called a lack of TRUST. The voters in Perkins have NO TRUST in this current administration, and you know what? They're getting mistrust because that's exactly what they've earned!

Bherrle

Please visit www.perkinslevy.org to find the answers to these questions and more.

themomx6,

Incompetence would be continuing to ignore the facilities issues facing our district. The loan you reference was not just for a school design, it included studies on renovation and building new, as well as the districts share of the stadium project. I have a longer answer for you but it will have to wait till tomorrow. They have not mishandle the districts finances.

PyrkinsPyrate

So the loan was partially about the stadium too? So it wasn't just 1.7 million of our dollars they spent on the stadium but part of the 3.5M loan also?

Bherrle

Yes, the loan was partially about the stadium too, but no it was not $1.7M plus money from the loan. The $1.7M came from the loan. I believe the timing was such that the $1.7M (or at least part of it) was initially paid from the districts cash reserves, and then cash reserve replenished by the loan.

Strong Schools ...

Oh my goodness...please check your facts.
http://perkinslevy.org/
Vote yes!

fifteenthgreen

It's the truth. If the buildings are in that bad of shape and asbestos is rampant, why are we not fixing those problems first. Afterall, it is about the safety of the children, isn't it? What is your message? Asbestos? No Asbestos? We can live with it a while longer? We can fix it now? Build a stadium? Live with Asbestos? Free laptop? Asbestos in the classroom? Not sure what you are trying to tell the voters and taxpayers? The levy site doesn't talk about teaching in asbestos laced classrooms. Why are we not fixing this problem....yesterday!

oldpirate

If anyone wants more answers that are accurate and true you can go to www.perkinslevy.org

Bherrle

Very funny 15th. But yet again, you bring no viable, detailed solutions to the discussion.

fifteenthgreen

A solution would be to not spend money on the future, i.e. building loans, when you have an immediate asbestos threat in our schools. Who is responsible for fixing this emergency and why hasn't it been taken care of? Aren't there government grants available for this type of crisis in public schools?

My viable solution, bherrle: Don't spend accrued money in the district savings account for a dream school, free laptops and stadium donations when you have an immediate danger to everyone that enters those buildings. Priorities!

Strong Schools ...

ummm okay??? Get the facts at the levy website. Support the students in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

"ummm okay?" You sound like our board members and Superintendent when asked for a blank check. We need 1.7 million dollars to donate to a field. ummm okay??? We need free laptops for everyone. ummm okay??? We want a 3.5 million dollar loan for a school plan without voter approval. ummm okay??? We want a new school without voter approval. ummm okay??? We want raises for poor test scores. ummm okay??? We want to move millage. ummm okay???

When are you going to stop wanting??? ummm okay

Thomas Paine

You cannot compare school/public finance to personal/business finance. Two completely different realms of how things work financially. The main culprit of all the schools issues lies with the State. How schools are funded is ridiculous and it pits the board/superintendent against the community. They ARE living within a budget. You can disagree all you want, but they are required to have a balanced budget. Perkins just happens to be deficit spending and the money will be gone soon. You have seen the reaction when services are cut or services are charged for or if too many students are in a classroom. Please offer solutions as to what this board or any school board is supposed to do with a broken funding system that is impossible for the general public to understand while being forced to offer services at a loss? That's the bigger issue. Its not one super over another. Gunner leaves another comes and the SAME problems will exist. This community and all voters are ticked, I get it I am too, but for different reasons. Our state has left our education system in shambles and it isn't going to get any better anytime soon, the only resource schools have for funding is us. If we don't fund it another community will and our community falls even further into disrepair and poverty.

schaefer

i have been in those buildings and they are pathetic. my grandkids attend perkins schools.i live in bellevue and we built two new schools a few years ago.my wife and i are both retired and on fixed incomes but we still voted for the levy. come on people let's start thinking about the kids.

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