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

Centauri

http://www.perkinsschools.org/Do...
PerkinsPirate April 2013 School Report

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.

Kobayashi Maru

Word on the street is the "family illness" is taken care of, yet he refuses to move here. Sad that our leader doesn't want to live in our district...

Strong Schools ...

We do a real nice job making him feel welcome! I do not know if the "illness" is still going on but why would he move his family to a community who will not support schools and think progressively. I don't blame him!

Support the Students and think beyond yourselves. Pay it forward and we will see a better community in the future!
www.perkinslevy.org

Subtle

@fifteenthgreen, while we're making corrections, this is a comment section not a 'blog'. ;) A blog is a fully formed collection of articles or more often opinion pieces by an individual that usually identifies themselves so their views are known. Typically, their blog page consists of daily or weekly stories / opinions all written by the same author. On a blog, it is considered very poor form to make a correction, even spelling or grammar without using 'strike-through' so that the original language, mistakes and all are preserved.

I only say this because I enjoy dialogue with you especially since you usually provide links and don't throw random statements without backing and I am going to go out on a limb and assume that you would always want to be using the correct terms in a given situation.

In a comment section, it is rarely considered poor form to use abbreviations such as 'U're' or 'Gr8'; however, and everyone reading this is going to laugh, the SR comment sections are typically more intelligently written than most :D That actually tells us that more people are viewing and replying to the comments from their personal computers rather than smart phones that auto-correct (usually incorrectly in regards to contractions, pronouns, etc.) and auto-complete words.

As I said earlier, I am being sincere in this post and not knocking you (or anyone here) for your use of the term 'blog'; however, I am a little O.C.D. in regards to terminology and internet etiquette.

If I get a chance later, I'll pop in and reply to a couple of the other comments with more substantial replies, but I have a busy day and may not get the opportunity >.<

fifteenthgreen

Agree Subtle, but I believe I was the one being corrected by someone earlier. Not a big deal. The issues at hand are much more important! I was reading a "comment section" on another news feed and there is a huge difference. Sometimes it is impossible to read and follow. I guess I'm just old school. I look forward to your responses and input on this difficult issue. Catch you later!

buckeyeguy

Vote No!!!!!!!!!! These arrogant administrators have had it too good for too long.

underthebridge

This is an excerpt from the open letter:

"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."

With the exception of Mr. Carroll, most of the BOE members have been first hand picked by the BOE so they'd run as incumbents in their next election. This is the first election in which voters will have a choice.

Bherrle

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Off-topic comments.

Strong Schools ...

Then choose to vote out the board members and support the students! Keep our pride and community strong!
www.perkinslevy.org

Subtle

Ok so since a number of the replies can be responded to with a single reply, I think I have time to throw this one up here quick. A lot of ado has been made about Dr. Gunner's residency, so I'll address this quickly as my reply is opinion based and I won't need to research a bunch of links to state it as such.

There are only a handful of people in the state with the financial acumen to properly administer what is essentially a multimillion dollar business. I consider myself a intelligent, educated, person and I'm smart enough to know that I could not. The problem is the majority of individuals that can, are already managing multimillion dollar businesses that provide much more lucrative incomes than Dr. Gunner's $117k / year.

The situation is further compounded by the fact that whoever chooses to be superintendent of a school district should be well versed in school law; an area that in this time of hyper-sensitive, political correctness, is pivotal in the success of a district.

We live in a time where something as trivial as seating arrangements in the cafeteria can result in multimillion dollar lawsuits and administrative decisions that seem as trivial as whether to leave a light on for security or turn it off to conserve energy can result in community backlash. Every decision made effects the community, the teachers & administrators, the students and parents, and staff; and every one of those individuals now has a voice (unlike 10 years ago) and a platform to shout their approval or displeasure.

No decision is going to please everyone, and the public sentiment about those decisions are not static. Choose to turn the light off to conserve energy, and you please the conservationists and budget minded. If the area that light was turned off in gets broken into, robbed, and vandalized, those same individuals will be quick to yell "what were you thinking!" and the ones who wanted it on in the first place yell "Yeah! we told you so but you ignored us!"

The Perkins community has a history of being very hard on superintendents; a position that very few fully understand, and that even fewer could perform with any illusion of competency. Basically, we're looking at a position that requires outstanding financial and legal acumen, the ability to speak well publicly, a thick skin to not get caught up in the drama of multitudes of people all with their own opinion and voice, and the political savvy to balance the business with the legal and the decisions between dozens of groups (staff, students, community, etc.) to present the final best option that is then hyper-scrutinized and reviewed, voted upon, and eventually enacted all while the people involved scream "We need this NOW!". And always, always wrong in someone's eyes regardless of what decision was made... all for $117k per year.

Personally, I think residency is pretty low on the list of things we should be demanding from our superintendent. If it's just the missing tax revenue that would be generated from his residence, I doubt he'd be unwilling to donate the roughly $45 per month that his home would generate directly into the general fund.

As for knowing 'Perkins' to represent Perkins, his job necessitates the interaction between all the groups listed above. From reading the FAQ at http://www.perkinslevy.org/ and talking with other teachers, administrators, and parents, I know he frequently interacts with members of all those groups in both individual and group settings to answer questions and listen to their concerns. I've lived here all my life but I won't begin to pretend to know what the students feel about certain decisions, or how most of the parents are feeling... I have no idea what the teachers and staff think; honestly, Dr. Gunner certainly 'knows Perkins' better than I, at least where its schools are concerned.

Centauri

"A lot of ado has been made about Dr. Gunner's residency, so I'll address this quickly as my reply is opinion based"

QUESTION: How about factual based information?

Subtle

@Centauri, I figured I could rely on the common sense of the reader ;) Please tell me what items out of that post you disagree with and I'll try and find the supporting documentation.

Centauri

http://www.perkinsschools.org/Do...
PerkinsPirate April 2013 School Report

Look at page 2 under "Open Enrollment Question" in the second column.
"When Dr. Gunner became Superintendent in the spring of 2008, the finances of the district were such that there was some discussion of putting an operating levy on the ballot as soon as November of 2008"

QUESTION: How did Dr. Gunner "became Superintendent in the spring of 2008" when his contract commenced August 1, 2008?

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
"Gunner, superintendent of Bryan City Schools for the past six years, was introduced to the public at Wednesday’s board meeting with the approval of his three-year, $104,500 contract that begins Aug. 1."

Subtle

Really? semantics? If his contract states that he started with August 1st, he started August 1st. I'm not sure who wrote the newsletter, but I'm not sure what difference it makes when he started. Did Gunner attempt to take credit for something meaningful that happened between April and August that I am unaware of? I know the school released the renovation costs estimates from the Ohio School Facilities Commission (http://www.perkinslevy.org/conte...)in 2008, are you wanting to know if he was hired prior to that report being released? I just don't understand your question.

Centauri

It is what it is.

If you do not understand then perhaps it is your problem?

Please provide truthful facts and factual dates.

What is so hard about answering questions, providing facts and dates?

No half truths.

There is a timeline of Dr. Gunner. I mean no offense to Dr. Gunner but the people of the Perkins Local SD need to see the truth. Perhaps Dr. Gunner is not the problem but the Perkins Local SD Board is. Dr. Gunner does have some very good credentials. Who is the real boss of Dr. Gunner?

I have many more questions. Stay tuned.

believeit

There have been some excellent (and often repetitive) points on both sides of this issue, but one thing cannot be ignored. If you are arguing on ideology, then carry on. However, if your sole problem is with increasing cost to the taxpayer, then be aware of this - the price will only increase. Two things can occur. The levy is passed soon or the state will take over. If the state takes over, the community will eventually pass the levy (when enough of the people actually care and vote!) and not only will the levy be higher, but the state must be reimbursed for their actions, or the district will be dismantled and will merge with another district (obviously Sandusky, at a much higher rate for all), and that has never happened. Bottom line, pay less now, or more later. You will not be able to keep voting no forever, no matter how much you enjoy it.

Centauri

There are alternatives to excellent education at much less dollars.

No Taj Mahal can provide a good education.

fifteenthgreen

The "points" are repetitive because they keep coming back after being told no.

oldpirate

I disagree. That philosophy is shortsighted. It will still be very expensive to fix the issues in the old building. Over the long term a new building is the wise choice for the community.

Centauri

Pay oldpirate $1000 a week to pick up the feces from the broken sewer? That is only $52,000 per year.

Show some photos of the feces flowing from the school's broken sewers. What is so hard about photos on the 2013 internet?

Subtle

There is video up on perkinslevy.org of the sewers (http://www.perkinslevy.org/conte...). I will admit there are a couple shiny new PVC patches in there that can be seen (you can also see the busted couplings in the background where the old corroded pipes burst to require the PVC patches)but all in all, I'd say they need fixed.

fifteenthgreen

That plumbing is under one small wing on the north end. Tear down the North wing and rebuild it, if necessary. You moved the money to do it. Done!

Centauri

The first Perkins High School class was 1961?

oldpirate

61 or 62

Centauri

1961

Centauri

So long for now. I have other issues to tend to.

oldpirate

This levy is going to define this community and school system for many years. There are some that see the failure of the schools as the start to the beginning of the end of Perkins Twp. If the school goes the Twp, will follow. We all end up paying higher school taxes. Also, if the community fails we all end up paying city taxes and save the day for Sandusky. This issue is very important on several levels. We all need to vote.

Centauri

Go to sleep oldpirate. Your comments were 11:08pm EST. Time for sleep. I will be back to debate another time and day.

Strong Schools ...

We have friends from multiple communities and they are shocked that Perkins is having these issues. Perkins is supposed to be a leader and who would want to follow us after all of the nonsense the "no" campaign is causing. We have never seen a no campaign against a school! Who does that!!! It is so unethical and the "NO" people are sending a horrible message to the outsiders of our community and the students. The "No" people are making this community look bad and everyone notices it. I am a Perkins resident and it is embarrassing to live in a community that is against education. You can say you are not punishing the students or out to hurt them but who is the most effected by your choices. The students and community! If the schools fail than the community fails. It is time to wake up, get over yourselves, and pass this levy!

Support the Students in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/

fifteenthgreen

Perkins is not a leader in the classroom. http://reportcard.education.ohio...

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