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

Strong Schools ...

Check out the levy website for facts! Support the students in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Don't waste your time. No clear agenda. It changes with each election. They don't know what they want. Just more money to blow, I guess!

Subtle

The "No" campaign wouldn't go very far if its talking point were

'I don't have a child currently attending Perkins and couldn't care less what happens to the district because I have much more important things to spend $20 a month on'

so instead they try to make Gunner their talking point.

- Do you really think the rallying cry wouldn't have been

'We need to get rid of Gunner because he blindly repaired all the buildings without consulting one of our local contractors! He could have built brand new facilities for what he spent! Raaarh!'

if the board hadn't taken out the loan to look into the best option?

- Do you really think the rallying cry wouldn't have been

'Get rid of Gunner! All of these local businesses came together and offered to donate half the cost of a new stadium and he didn't even take it! How stupid is he? Now we're going to have to spend almost that much to make sure the old stadium bleachers don't collapse under the weight of the fans and so the players have a safe field/facilities to use. Now we're probably going to have to pay the entire cost of a new stadium out of taxpayer dollars in less than five years! It's time for a change! Raarh!'

if they hadn't built the new stadium for 1/2 price?

If the government wasn't stealing 2.5 million from the district every year to pay for some poorly managed district in Whoknowswhere, Ohio do you really think anyone would have any complaints about the only superintendent in this district to pull off an “Excellent” rating in the past decade?

If you want to be mad at someone because we need to pass a levy, be mad at the State for stealing our funds.

If you really honestly can't afford $20 a month in additional taxes to make sure the school is safe and secure, just say you can't afford it, or even better don't say anything because it's really no one's business but yours. Just don't try to fabricate a scapegoat so you can sleep better at night... it's not they are going to put you on a list of people against the levy.

As someone suggested earlier, I read through every question asked of the BOE on http://www.perkinslevy.org/faq over the past couple years and couldn't find any reason to doubt what was said in the letter.

Well that's my 2 cents (ok, maybe 10 cents if I'm charged per word lol) :)

PyrkinsPyrate

I wish that we could add comments on our ballots to explain the key reasons we vote one way or another. I would have to say the reason I am voting "No" is because after the community clearly voted against the fountains and marble palace the board and Gunner ignored the voice of the people and went full steam ahead with building a new school and paid 3.5 million to design it after the community said we did not feel we could afford a new school. It is just all the lies. Word games. Denying they spent 1.7 million on the football field when we were broke. Just lie after lie, half truth after half truth. Stealing "Vote No" signs. Apparently forcing students to trick the veterans into voting for the levy. They are just dirty dirty liars with no respect for the will of the people and democratic process. Making us vote over and over. And really, the biggest lie of all, that he would move to our district, instead he gets a car allowance so he can drive at our expense. I am just so sick of this all.

Bherrle

PyrkinsPyrate,

I was hoping someone would bring up fountains. Your refering to 2010. Your referring to an artists rendering of a campus. That was not the final design plan, it was merely an artists rendering of what could be. The board had not approved any design plans at that time.

The current plans are significantly different from that "drawing" in 2010.

Stealing signs? Plenty of supporter signs have gone missing or been vandalized also. By the way, the Levy committee does not condone this kind of behavior, from either side.

Your statement above is full of untruths. I urge you to get better informed.

Bherrle

I urge everyone to visit www.perkinslevy.org to find factual information about this levy and our district.

Centauri

That Perkins Levy site is a one-sided "Feel Good" site that keeps changing and avoids the real questions that the Perkin Local SD voters need to know. I ask questions on their behalf that I post in the comments. So far, all of those questions have been avoided.

princedenny

I'm just making assumptions for those opposed to the levy, but I think the three main problems voters have are:

1--The exorbitant salaries of so many of the teachers and administrators in the district. Here is a link to ALL public school employees in the state of Ohio, and from where I am basing these FACTS: http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/...

The 2012 salaries of some, if not all, of the administrators (Dahlman, Finn, Leffler, Neiderhouse, Quisno, Stanfield, Strohl, and Gunner) comes to a total of $$681,188...with Stanfield's $75,000 salary being the smallest and Gunner's $117,000 the highest. Then, you also have several teachers in the district making $70,000+

2--The district has mis-managed funds for at least 20 years, and the community is tired of it. Other area school systems (most Sandusky city schools, Huron, St. Mary's, etc.), with buildings that are older than those in Perkins, seem to be doing just fine.

If education is TRULY the most important thing for the Perkins students, maybe the money for the football stadium should have been used to fix the BUILDINGS, instead of the stadium which is used (an estimated) 90-100 times per year.

Other solutions, BESDIES MOVING FUNDS TO BUILD A NEW STADIUM, could have been:
A) playing all athletic contests at away sites,
B) renting the facilities at other local schools (Strobel Field, Kalahari Stadium, Maragaretta, Bellevue) on their off nights, or
C) canceling the programs until they can be financially supported.

Instead, Gunner and the BOE decided to stab the voters in the back by moving money around.

3--Gunner--This is self-explanatory.

Mr. Gunner, please feel free to reply.

underthebridge

Add to this the ridiculous amount of money spent on coaches, assistant coaches, athletic trainers, etc. It isn't sustainable.

Strong Schools ...

There have been no raises granted within the last five years. THe teachers who are at the top of the pay scale have been working in the district for over 30 years and have more than a Masters degree. I think they deserve to get paid what they are getting paid if not more! They put in a lot of their time, money, and education for this school district.
Perkins has the lowest administrator cost in the area so I don't think the financial troubles are from the employees!

Get the facts and visit the levy website!
http://perkinslevy.org/

Vote yes in November!

fifteenthgreen

Teachers with six figure or near salaries living in Perkins Township in Sandusky need a raise? Give us some results and you might get a raise. Failing scores shouldn't be rewarded, either. Um, Little Johnny, you got an F on your test but I'm going to give an A because you go to school here. We are Perkins, after all.

Have you looked around you lately. This community as a whole is dwindling....but hey honey, we have a new restaurant and store coming to 250!

PyrkinsPyrate

You claim that there have been no raises but when I look at BuckeyeInstitute.org and check the teachers salaries they all make more money year after year. Is this a mistake on the website or is it ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF THE PRO LEVY PEOPLE LYING?

princedenny

Sorry to point this out, but Mike Leffler made $71,421 in 2012, Darren Majoy made $71,000+ in 2012, and TJ James (who blatantly STOLE money from the district) made $69,824 in 2012, and I'm sure there are more examples I could find.

NONE OF THEM have been there 30+ years, so please keep your mouth shut until you know what you're talking about!!!

Eff that levy website to which you refer, because they OBVIOUSLY conned you into buying into their LIES.

Rosa

Most people in this community have not received raises, have actually been asked to take cutbacks or pay more for insurance and so forth. So for the school to KEEP begging for more money is a real slap in the face. Everyone employed by the schools seem to live pretty well, so maybe they could give back part of their salaries to have what they want, for the students of course.... I don't feel like sacrificing some of my grocery money to fund foolishness or pay for some kid to play stupid sports... We have to cut back in our lives, what does the school not understand about that??!!

princedenny

I agree with most of what you said, but sports AREN'T stupid. They teach discipline, hard work, working together as a team to accomplish a common goal, and a lot more life lessons that students need.

Strong Schools ...

I am willing to sacrifice because these students are going to be the leaders of our society and I want to make sure they have received the best education possible. Vote yes for the students and the community. Our future depends on this!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Leaders in the art of texting and social media! Apparently, not in the classroom via the poor district test scores.

Strong Schools ...

We have not passed a levy for 13 years. Could you pay your bills today on what you made 13 years ago. For goodness sakes people! We are making ourselves look bad. Support the students and show them we care about their future and ours!

Vote yes!
http://perkinslevy.org/content/c...

fifteenthgreen

No, our current leadership in the district is making us look like a disgrace, have put us in a horrible financial position, have divided a close community, moved millage, they seem to find mediocrity in the classroom acceptable and have destroyed all trust with the majority of voters.

princedenny

Strong Schools...your logic is IGNORANT. It's the same excuse pro levy people always use.

Look at the nitwits in charge of most of the local schools (Perkins, Huron, Margaretta, Sandusky) and (a few of) the city commissioners in Sandusky. There were probably levy issues back then, yet they still lack the intelligence to make good decisions in regards to the district or city.

As for paying my bills on what I made 13 years ago, I would still be able to. However, I could EASILY pay my bills (and have a lot more extra money to use for entertainment, travel, etc.) if I were making the salaries of MOST of these teachers!!!!!

VOTENO

NOvember!

Wald

The arrogance in this letter is astounding. Gunner is essentially trying to lay all of the blame for the trouble in Perkins Schools at the feet of the No voters. Doesn't he remember that, after his first building levy failed, he took away the taxpayers' rights to make any decisions on our schools by (unethically) moving the millage? The taxpayers didn't vote to take out a $3.5 MILLION loan. The taxpayers didn't vote to spend $1.7 MILLION on a new football stadium. Those decisions and others (like the Apple laptop program), decisions that have hurt the districts' finances, were made by him and the current BOE. Yet nowhere in his letter does he accept any responsibility. He should be writing the taxpayers a letter of apology, but instead he is basically saying that, oops, what's done is done, now it is up to the taxpayers to clean up the mistakes. I'm not buying what he's selling. Move the millage back and I will gladly entertain voting yes for a finacially responsible plan to shore up the districts' finances and renovate the schools even if it is a bit more expensive, provided a $60,000 marble fountain is not included. But I want to be able to make that decision with my fellow taxpayers by casting our votes, not have the decision made for us by a superintendant and BOE I don't trust, which ought to be our right as taxpaying members of the community. I saw a sign not too long ago that read "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results", which is quite applicable to Gunner and the current BOE. Hopefully, after November's levy fails and Ahner and Franklin are on the school board, real change can begin to occur. Until then, my family and I will be voting NO. Thank you.

themomx6

^^^^^ I agree 100%..............Best post yet!

looking around

They say they want to send me to rehab....but I say..NO NO NO!

fifteenthgreen

Question: Are we compliant with the EPA on the asbestos issues present in our schools? I've never been publicly updated as to where the asbestos is located as the EPA requires by law. http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos/sch...

Why are we spending millions of taxpayer dollars on dream buildings, stadiums and laptops when our children and teachers are being exposed to this threat? Who is in charge!!!

MrGadfly

Mr. Gunner is missing an important point in the "no voter" reasoning.

TRUST

There is a lack of trust in the superintendent and the present school board. Actions by the superintendent and school board have caused this problem. Here are a few highlights.

Mr. Gunner was interviewing for the superintendent's job in Oregon after accepting and signing a contract to be the superintendent of Perkins. This doesn't instill much trust from the community.

Mr. Gunner has numerous times spoken of moving to the district but he continually doesn't. This does not instill much trust from the community.

Mr. Gunner and the board lied about raw sewage under the high school to pass a levy to build a new school. This was proven as a lie by the Ere County Health Department. This does not instill much trust from the community.

Mr. Gunner and the school board ignored the community vote and moved millage. This arrogant behavior does not instill much trust from the community.

The movement of millage eliminates the public oversight on building project. Taking away the public vote on these large expenditures does not instill much trust from the community.

The superintendent and school board lying to the public about the loss of music, art and physical education teachers to pass a levy. Somehow, after the levy failed, $200,000 was found in state funds. Also, the superintendent and school board could not reduce these positions due to a contractual obligations. This mysterious money find after the levy failure and the incompetence of not knowing the contract with the teachers union does not instill much trust with the community.

Sometimes it's more than just money that makes people take a stand.

Wald

This ^^^^^^^

Centauri

Does anybody have their April 2013 PerkinsPirate School Report?
See the first question and answer under "Superintendent Residency Questions"

Here it is:

Q: Is it true that Dr. Gunner does not live in Perkins?

A: Yes. When Dr. Gunner was originally hired in 2008, it was both his and the Board's intention that he live in the Perkins community. Unfortunately, life sometimes does not cooperate with the best of intentions. A family emergency required Dr. Gunner to live in another community. At the time, he offered to resign his newly accepted position as superintendent. The Board of Education declined to accept the resignation and instead removed the requirement for Dr. Gunner to live in Perkins due to the personal circumstances. The Board believes the overall performance , vision, and daily work ethic that Dr. Gunner displays are evidence enough of his commitment to our schools and community.

QUESTION: On what date was the original employment agreement signed in 2008?

QUESTION: On what date were changes made to the original agreement about Dr. Gunner's not required to live in the Perkins Local SD?

I don't have the dates. There should be two employment contracts from 2008. One with residency required and another "edited" version with residency not required.

To avoid answering questions is avoiding the truth.

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