Open letter to the Perkins Community

Letter from Perkins schools superintendent Jim Gunner.
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



Thomas Paine



I attended BOE mtgs and I still do not support how this BOE and administration make decisions, follow through with plans, etc.


Does anybody have their April 2013 PerkinsPirate School Report?

See the first question and answer under "Superintendent Residency Questions"

QUESTION: How much money was spent on attorney and legal fees the past 5 years?

QUESTION: On what date was Mr. Gunner's 2008 contract signed? (Tuesday, 24 June 2008)
"The Oregon School Board last Tuesday picked six of 16 candidates to interview for the superintendent’s position."

"• James Gunner, superintendent of the Bryan City Schools District, recently hired as the superintendent of the Perkins Local Schools District, effective in August. Gunner, a Clay High School graduate, was a teacher and coach at Eisenhower Middle School;" (Jul 02, 2008)
"The Oregon School Board chose Dr. Michael Zalar as their new superintendent. Zalar had been Clay High School's principal for the past five years."

(May 24, 2010) The date is wrong. Mr. Gunner was hired in 2008.

"It's official. James Gunner has been chosen to lead Perkins Schools into the future. Gunner, sup"
"He was granted a three-year, $104,500 contract starting Aug. 1."
(May 24, 2010) Wrong date. Mr. Gunner was hired in 2008
"Perkins excited about new boss"
"“We need someone who knows what’s going on in the district,” Bea VanMeter, a retired art teacher, said. “To know Perkins you have to live Perkins.”
"Gunner said he will start the relocation process with plans to move his wife, Carol, and children, Matthew and Emily, into the district."


Don't let the negativity ruin the school and community. Overcome the apathy and support the system. Change can occur over time if you get involved and I don't mean the blog. The schools are our most valuable resource. Go to

The General

You sound like obama....


Nope didn't vote for him but I was raised to value civic responsibility. Not to get hung up on whats in it for me mentality. I think much of the people on here are misdirected Tea Party people out to stick it to the government.


You got that right. Ironically, it is their guys in Columbus who have raised state taxes (rollback) and eliminated local funding (estate and business taxes) and put the burden on households.

Stop blaming your local officials and start looking to Columbus people!

Thomas Paine

At least a few people get it.


Wheels in motion when Strickland was governor.

The General

Yeah you do. You know nothing about the Tea Party. Yet base your so called opinion on them based on the main stream media's narrative and obama himself. Sounds exactly like what you believe most of the NO voters are saying about the levy...


QUESTION: How much money was spent on attorney and legal fees the past 5 years?

QUESTION: On what date was Mr. Gunner's 2008 contract signed?

Do not trust anybody who refuses to answer simple questions.


The answer to question #1 must be quite high. A past board member has agreed to represent Perkins at a flat fee, rather than $295 an hour.


Who is the past board member now representing the school district?



Your "Do not trust anybody who refuses to answer simple questions." thing goes both ways. The Vote NO contingent has dodged many of my questions. SO, I say, don't trust anyone who won't identify themselves, and who dodges questions. Also, don't trust those who offer no or very simple solutions to what are complex problems.

Again, I point out that your goal seems to be distract and simply create suspicion by asking questions you already know the answers too. Questions that, as in the two above, I don't see relevance in?

QUESTION: How much money was spent on attorney and legal fees the past 5 years?

ANSWER: I don't know. Are you suggesting that the district didn't need to spend what it spent? If so, why? On what? Do you know who has sued the district in the last 5 years? DId the district do anything wrong? If so, please present your proof?

QUESTION: On what date was Mr. Gunner's 2008 contract signed?

ANSWER: I'm not going to look it up. The board waived the requirement for him to move here. It is a non-issue. I'll concede that he signed his contract on whatever day you say he did. It doesn't matter. You are trying to make an issue of a non-issue.


"The Vote NO contingent has dodged many of my questions. SO, I say, don't trust anyone who won't identify themselves, and who dodges questions. Also, don't trust those who offer no or very simple solutions to what are complex problems."
"The 25-person community committee than worked with The Collaborative-TMP
on a master plan for Perkins."

QUESTION: Are these 25-person community people anonymous?

"Do you know who has sued the district in the last 5 years? DId the district do anything wrong? If so, please present your proof?"

Here is one lawsuit:
QUESTION: How much money was spent on all of those attorneys and all legal fees?

There might be another lawsuit coming because the Perkins Local SD seems to go after female teachers and coaches but fails to go after the male teachers and coaches. One set of rules for females and another set of rules for males?

I am a very busy person. Why should I waste my time looking up answers to questions that the pro-levy people refuse to answer? What are the pro-levy people hiding since they refuse to answer very simple questions.

Somebody brought up TRUST as the reason why the levy failed. How about some TRUST from the pro-levy people and the Perkins Local SD? Stop hiding the TRUTH.

Strong Schools ...

Do you refuse to research them yourself? You always want answers but never want to take responsibility and research the facts. Call the board office and talk to Gunner directly. I don't trust anyone who does not take responsibility for themselves and expects everyone else to do their work.

Support the students!


I want answers as to what your agenda is with this campaign. Please clarify what it is that you want. New school? Teachers returned? Operations? Better test scores? Money? What is it that you want???


You love to play games. You seem to have all the answers.


Those are both public records. If you really want that data, you can get it. But it's more fun to confuse the issue on the SR blogs.

I agree with Old Pirate, you're just playing games. I bet you've never attended a BOE meeting in your life.


I've attended many board meetings!




Who's teaching the middle school band? I though the program was cut. I see they brought back the other director that was "cut" as well.


You thought? Care to show what you are basing the thought on?


Band night, parades and classes being conducted daily with the middle school kids. We were told this program was being cut to save money. Or was it just a scare tactic to get votes? More lies!


The funding for the band program was cut which is why there is now a $220 pay to play fee for band. Mr. Miller's position was cut when the last levy failed. He has volunteered to continue teaching the kids WITHOUT pay so that the kids and program will not suffer. Another levy failure will leave him with no choice but to look for employment elsewhere. Mr. Miller came to Perkins because he wanted to return home and teach at the school that gave him a wonderful education. I'm sure he and his wife are bitterly regretting that decision.


It is pretty sad when your leaders punish the kids and the teachers when they mishandle your money and threaten with pay to play fees they forgot that this is a republic not an oligarchy.


Is Mr. Miller drawing unemployment from the district while "volunteering" during the school work day? Hanging on for one more levy attempt? He should have been looking for other employment when he was notified in the Spring that he would no longer be employed by the district. This is when teachers find new positions for the upcoming year. Not mid stride. Or, was he told not to worry about it and his job was safe? Let's just use his position and program to get votes.


Not being on either side of this issue I have to admit I don't understand Gunner's remarks about the No voters wanting him removed as the superintendent. He goes on to say that is because he does not live in the district. He seems to say that was a 5 - 0 decision and goes on to talk about inside millage etc etc. It does not make sense what he is saying to's like a part of the paragraph was deleted or he lost his thoughts. Not sure how he needing to live in the district and inside millage are connected in his being let go as superintendent.

Why would he not in this situation not try and deflate one issue of the NO voters and announce his house is for sale in Oregon and he will buy a home in Perkins as soon as that house sells. Seems a logical move to me.


At one meeting I attended (yes, no voters attend them), Gunner said that he would not buy a house here if the levy did not pass.