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

Stop It

You voted on a levy to keep old schools in repair. They took that, ran with it to the state for more funding and tore those old schools down to build new. How many failures in the new equipment has transpired?

Strong Schools ...

Thank you Schaefer! Vote yes and think about our future..the kids!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

She's one vote you can count on but can't get enough of her own.

observer

I'm a very big into high school sports. I travel all over attending games. I've been in most every school building in the area numerous times. Schools in Erie, Huron, Ottawa, Lorain, Sandusky, Seneca counties, and more. Perkins school buildings are no worse, and a lot better, than most of the schools I've been in. Sorry, but the "Perkins schools are falling apart" mantra just won't fly with me. If Perkins needs a new school, then heaven help the rest of the area, because they're in much worse shape. I know BS when I hear it. Besides, if Perkins IS in such bad shape, why did the BOE let it get that way? And I agree with another poster who said "who takes out a 3 1/2 million dollar loan to pay an architect to design a new building that they don't even have the money to build?" Twist that any way you want, it still comes up "STUPID".

kal-el

You're joking, right? Your basis is on the quality of the other schools' sports facilities?? You've been to all of the classrooms in the new schools in Huron, Lorain, Sandusky, and Ottawa counties and you think Perkins' are on par??

Wow.

fifteenthgreen

I have and the conditions of our classrooms are better than most, unless you consider the asbestos laced portions. Why are these issues being ignored and not immediately being repair? Anyone?

Strong Schools ...

I don't believe you! Our schools are in such bad shape and a lot of area schools have addressed their facility issues..Port Clinton, Bellevue, Danbury, etc. Get the facts on our levy website or better yet, get a tour of the schools. Vote yes in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Why have we not addressed our classrooms but we address the football field instead? Our classroom are deemed "dangerous"? Asbestos or football. Asbestos or laptops. Asbestos or teacher raises. Asbestos or design loans. How about a loan to fix the immediate asbestos crisis or can that wait. What are your priorities or don't you care. Use the millage move to fix the asbestos now. No, we want to wait until the voters cave so we can get our dream school to match our dream field. Wait, I didn't think this was about a new school. What is it? Clarify your message. After all, our kids are breathing this stuff in as we speak!!!

middleclassworker

I see how this letter can attempt to clear up some reasons the board did whet they did....BUT....every action, reason, or excuse in this letter points to the fact they buried the school district into a $ 3.5 million debt that the community does NOT support. This is a backdoor attempt to sell us on a new school campus that is not needed.

kal-el

How many board meetings have you attended? Or are you relying on the integrity of the Sandusky Register to not stir up controversy to sell papers/keep people clicking on their trashy blogs?

middleclassworker

I have been to zero meetings. But I have read this letter from Gunner where he gives multiple reasons for finding a way to cover the loan that the majority of the tax payers do not support. If you don't believe me, read it again. I watched the debates on the SR website. But i'm sure the letter was twisted by the SR and I sure it was a fake debate too.

And I see you had no problem joining the trashy blog I am sooo guilty of creating here.

I search for truths, I don't have people hand me their version of the truth. So if I am wrong.....please explain!

Strong Schools ...

You totally missed the point of the letter. The board has given and researched many options to help our schools financially. All the "NO" voters can do is say "NO". They have no plan to help our students or community. I am with Gunner on this one. Check out the levy website for more facts!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Define your plan and stick to it. It changes daily and the scare tactics change with each election. Asbestos/sewage one levy. Teacher cuts next levy. Program cuts next levy. Now you're lumping it all together. Which is it? Come on, Strong Schools. Clarify your campaign!!!

middleclassworker

Correct me if I am wrong....But didn't the school district loan the $ 3.5 million from Citizens Bank? The same bank the Mr. Chapman (BOE member) is the VP of commercial loans? I have no doubt he has benefited by in some way by securing his future employment, achieving a bonus, or advancing in the banking ranks.

Hawkeye

So what you are telling us is that we need to pass this levy so Chapman doesn't lose his banking job??

Bherrle

You have "no doubt?" Then prove it. I'm getting real tired off innocent people being accused of things by people who won't identify themselves and have no proof.

middleclassworker

I said correct me if I'm wrong! did the school borrow $3.5 million (+/- a little) y or n ? Did they borrow it from Citizens Bank y or n ? Is mr chapman the VP of commercial loans or did he lie on the introduction of himself during the online debate ?

middleclassworker

My identity ...... Perkins twp tax payer !

So now you know me....who are you?

As I had said in the past, don't force me to support actions I don't agree with, any "yes voter" out there, resident or not, the school system will eccept your money, levy or not! So if you are that strong of a believer then pay up!

Bherrle

Middle class,

You made a direct accusation, that Terry is getting something due to that loan. It's on you to prove it. We are are not here to allow you to make any allegation you want, and then have us set about proving it wrong.

The answers to your questions have been out there in public for over a year now, from the day the loan was made. Yes, the loan was from Citizens, and yes, Terry is a VP of Commercial Lending at Citizens. One of 17 VP's of Commercial Lending at Citizens. Do you think there's a chance that one of the other 16 handled that transaction so that Terry was not involved in it??

I stand behind my statement. Saying you are a taxpayer isn't enough when it comes to accusing someone of wrongdoing when you have no proof, only circumstance with which to make the accusation. SO tell us who you are. My name is Brad Herrle, that has also been out there for some time now.

middleclassworker

So your only argument with anything I have said is that he may not be benefiting in any way from the loan? You would have been better off never responding to my post... this is too funny....I set out to make a simple post, and you ran it right up the flag pole, verifying all my facts. Thank You

Maybe the SR can take these accusations and use them for their next story. My guess is, I am not the only one who has noticed this shade of gray in the loan story. If I sit on a board that signs a $3.5 m agreement to the company I am employed by, then I get a benefit from it...my employer can afford to support mine or others employment, raises, health care coverage, retirement contributions, and possible end of year bonuses.

Strong Schools ...

Again you are spreading false information...get the facts before you type about Mr. Chapman!
http://perkinslevy.org/
Support the Students!

fifteenthgreen

Who cares about Chapman. He'll be gone and we'll be stuck with a 3.5 mil loan and ZERO direction/leadership. Nice job!

observer

Where is ole Bherrle? He's been awfully quiet lately.

Bherrle

I'm here, Huckleberry. If you don't get the reference, I'll splain it later.

Stop It

You're no daisy.

Bherrle

There you go! Stop It got it.

queenjhb

Gunner, move your a$$ to this area, pay taxes, and generously take a salary cut, lead by example. Vote no.

Strong Schools ...

A lot of people commute to work! I don't care where he lives as long as he does his job. He has done a lot for our students and he puts in a lot of hours at the board office. Support the students...stay focused on the students and the future of our community!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Who cares where he lives. Our schools are failing in the classroom and our community is divided by one individual. Why? The future of our community? Please. We've been going backwards for twenty years or more.

kal-el

Great to see some adults come on here and emphasize the importance of education. Like Gunner or not, voters had an opportunity to pass this levy before the State changed the rollback rules. But they needed to make a point. Instead attending board meetings and having conversations, and learning how school funding works, they promoted shouting loud and voting no. That strategy has only made matters worse for everyone. People need to think a little harder about the people they listen to...and what kind of town they want to live in...and maybe listen to folks who actually know the how school funding works instead of jumping on the conspiracy bandwagon.

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