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

Also stop drinking that rotgut whiskey.

VOTENO

I'm drunk and still voting NO in NOvember!

Strong Schools ...

Vote yes for the students in November!

http://perkinslevy.org/

princedenny

Here's the solution: If the district wants to save money AND PASS A LEVY, have the teachers take a 15% pay cut, and the administrators take a 30% pay cut. More importantly, FIRE GUNNER, and get a new BOE. Princedenny has ALL the answers.

Strong Schools ...

WOW! Teachers, staff, and administrators have not received a pay raise in over 5 years. Also, they are paying more for the insurance. Everyone has given money out of their pockets to help the district and now it is our turn as a community!

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

EZOB

Voters have witnessed this just about every time in the past. They need a levy means, most importantly, they want a raise. The latest is Margretta. Seriously needed money last Year, pass a levy and now they gave out raises before the school year. Most of the "NO" voters haven't seen a raise or maybe took less to keep working and simply put, don't care that You haven't had a raise in 5 years. Suggestion-QUIT-- and go someplace else. There are thousands of qualified teachers who are begging for Your jobs. This is the economy today. Teachers have an abundance in their field. Advertize an opening and just not locally but people willing to relocate will apply.

Laughing

I think people are going to find any reason to vote against the levy no matter what. People keep bringing up other schools in comparison. Well go ahead and send your kids to SMCC and see what that cost you. Or send them to SCS and their failing academics and athletics. People, there is a reason Perkins is the school of choice and hundreds have enrolled. As far as building, Port Clinton, Norwalk, Clyde, Bellevue, Margaretta built on to Bogart, etc. have new facilities. Also SCS wants to build new. Just go to one of their forums. They didn't buy the land next to the high school for nothing. It's a shame this community is wiling to become so divided and destroy such a great opportunity to keep Perkins strong. Careful what you wish for. And now comes all the negative replies from the full time bloggers.

Wald

"Or send them to SCS and their failing academics"
Perkins had more F's on the latest state report card than Sandusky.

Laughing

8 of 24 indicators met compared to 20 out of 24. You're kidding right?

fifteenthgreen

I'm not kidding. This is a joke and I'm not laughing. http://reportcard.education.ohio...

Furry

08-09 Effectiive
09-10 Excellent
10-11 Effective
11-12 Effective

Meadowlawn

08-09 Effective
09-10 Excellent w/Distinction
10-11 Effective
11-12 Effective

Briar

08-09 Excellent
09-10 Effective
10-11 Effective
11-12 Effective

High School

08-09 Excellent
09-10 Excellent
10-11 Excellent
11-12 Excellent

District (with additional years)
03-04 Effective
04-05 Effective
05-06 Continuous Improvement
06-07 Continuous Improvement
07-08 Effective
08-09 Effective
09-10 Excellent
10-11 Effective
11-12 Effective
12-13 F - Value Added - http://reportcard.education.ohio...

Ohio gives public schools and districts one of six ratings. The state does not award schools letter grades, but the official ratings can be roughly translated as follows:
Excellent With Distinction = A+
Excellent = A
Effective = B
Continuous Improvement = C

Wald

Why would I be kidding? Check the most recent state report card. Perkins had three F's, the most in the area. Sandusky had two F's.

Strong Schools ...

They did not. Did you look at all of the components? Probably not. We did not score well in two areas. Special education and the fifth grade math and science were the lowest scores.

Support the students!
http://perkinslevy.org/faq

fifteenthgreen

So how do you explain the terrible district grades in previous years?

SmokingGunn

TAXES have to stop! Your running good hard working people right out of the township. There are other ways to generate funds.
Generate new job growth in manufacturing rather a restaurant every 50'. Maybe consider a renters tax rather than a home owners tax.
At any rate..home owners can not continue to carry the burden.

kURTje

To the Register. This is another valid reason why blogs & your format here are great. People can address their feelings. All notice & all are heard. While not in this district one notices how Gunner comments. Again great stuff for ALL concerned. ALL have a voice.

Subtle

15th, you are going down a rabbit hole that most people will not want to hear with that report card, and here is why: Perkins and Sandusky are the only schools in the county that trigger ratings in certain categories. In Perkins, the bottom 17.8% is bringing the entire district down.

If you look at http://reportcard.education.ohio..., You see that Perkins is getting hit by poor performance in the following categories: Multiracial, Economically Disadvantaged, African American, and Students with Disabilities. Outside of Sandusky, Perkins is the only school in the county that has a significant population in most of those categories to be rated; Huron does not, Edison does not, Margaretta does not.

The state is also kind of spins their numbers where these are concerned as well... basically if you are a multiracial, economically disadvantaged, student with a disability, and they fail the test, the State penalizes the school in all three of those categories as well as the 'lowest 20' category. One student, one failed test, 4 negative marks and percentage drains.

Let's look at Edison. Their district is scoring a B just like Perkins; however, they have only two risk categories: Economically Disadvantaged and Students with Disabilities. Where Perkins Students with Disabilities are at 49% / 35% for Reading and Math respectively, Edison's are at 44% / 29% respectively.

Edison's special needs program is abysmal; however, since they don't have enough students of any of the other risk categories, they don't get penalized (overall) as heavily. If their Students with Disabilities was comprised of students also falling into the Multiracial or African American categories, their overall score would be much much lower than Perkins as their 29% would hit them across 4 separate categories.

Of course Perkins could 'help' (i.e. cheat for) students in those categories the way the majority of schools that span multiple specialty categories do, or like others, tailor their curriculum to the lowest common denominator... but Perkins has always been about building successful adults, not about padding some antiquated metrics.

PyrkinsPyrate

Maybe if Gunner & co did not max out every class by letting open enrollment kids come from Sandusky we would have higher scores, not only would our own kids who belong in our schools do better we would not have the drag on the scores from the Sandusky kids who generally have lower cognitive abilities.

fifteenthgreen

We essentially are merging schools via open enrollment and they wonder why the buildings are beyond capacity.

Strong Schools ...

Open enrollment has helped to keep us off the ballot. This was a great way for the school district to make money. I am proud to know that Perkins is the school of choice in our area. There are over 500 open enrolled students and there is still a waiting list. The open enrollment has brought in well over 2 million dollars to our district. Also, every district in our area has open enrollment and people choose to come to Perkins. We have to keep the Perkins pride in our community!
Vote yes in November!
http://perkinslevy.org/faq

fifteenthgreen

Open enrollment has caused a huge population issue within the schools. I actually feel bad for many of the "home grown" Perkins kids that have been here from day one. Example: the football team. Plus, the parents of the over 500 students crossing the borders to Perkins aren't paying any taxes to support the very school district their children are attending.

Subtle

Open Enrollment made it possible to supplement the budget without falling under a state takeover. I'm all for supporting our own and just our own except Perkins has always been the lowest tax rate in the county and most of northern Ohio.

Our residents are notoriously stingy voting in levies, yet both of your statements reflect the general feeling of township autonomy. Over 80% of all schools in the state are open enrollment...

If you are going to try and project the image of a school so special that we exist outside the norm of the majority of schools in the state, you have to exhibit self sufficiency well beyond the norm.

People in this thread talk about other local school districts all managing to keep their buildings maintained; but they all get more tax revenue than Perkins because at some point in the past decade, they have passed a levy. Many of the schools people mentioned get nearly double the tax revenue as Perkins does, so of course their buildings are better maintained, they have more tax revenue to work with...it's not really rocket science.

When you think about it, based purely off the numbers, Perkins gets the least support from its community than any other school in the district. Growing up my parents would say 'when the schools need money you pass the levy because the school IS the community'

Bad school, bad community... good school, good community, and that sentiment was shared by most. If that were the prevailing mentality, we could probably make a case to end open enrollment; however, when you get basically no support, you have to take funding wherever you can find it.

This levy really highlights that... people are squabbling over a monthly increase that amounts to less than most of us spend a week on lottery tickets, or gourmet coffee, or judging from at least one of the commentators in this thread... alcohol :P

MrGadfly

Subtle,

I will continue to vote against this levy not for financial issues but to stop the loss of voting rights. With the present move of millage in place the citizens of Perkins Township will lose their rights to vote and oversee any building issues in regards to the school system. The present school board and superintendent have manipulated the present system to accomplish their goal.

Understand, if you approve this levy, you have given the school board and superintendent the right to do as they wish without public approval , forever.

Yes, that means they can add their fountain and you have no recourse.

As someone that looks at situations and their long term effects rather than this short term issue I ask that the voting public to vote against this and all issues that reduce our American rights to oversee our life.

I know some of you don't believe it is possible but the school board and superintendent could be worse and we have no final control of their actions.

For this reason alone, all Perkins citizens must vote "no" on this issue.

Strong Schools ...

Understand, if you vote no against this levy you are only hurting the students. Gunner and the board will still be there. Also, their financial plan does take a long term approach. They have put together a comprehensive plan to help us in the future.
Vote yes in November and gain your Perkins pride!
http://perkinslevy.org/faq

fifteenthgreen

Their "comprehensive plan" has destroyed a community!

Sanduskyloveito...

Why do these discussions of Perkins have to become a bashing of the Sandusky City School System? I am so tired of reading about how horrible it would be if their children had to attend Sandusky Schools. I have had 3 children graduate from Sandusky and have grandchildren attending there now. If you have children who want to learn , and take advantage of everything Sandusky Schools have to offer you can get a quality education. Unless you know, for a fact, that Sandusky is so darn bad, do not make these negative comments.

I should not get on and read these comments because it just infuriates me. Sorry, but I had to comment.

fifteenthgreen

I personally am not opposed to merging or at least exploring it further. What's the difference? $$$ That's why I said it. If students from Sandusky are jumping ship and coming over, why not combine and make one. 400-500 students have entered the Perkins system already. This is the reason the buildings are beyond capacity. It certainly isn't due to jobs being added to the area and families being relocated here. Taco Bell and Longhorn don't need that many people. Also, give me one reason why any industry would want to come to Perkins Township? We've lost almost everything and so has Sandusky.

themomx6

^^^^ You are absolutely right! I know many FINE parents and exceptional students who have, and are currently, attending SHS. Very successful, outstanding community members. I also don't know why bashing SHS has anything to do with the fiasco going on in Perkins right now.

That being said, I will also say, I agree completely with MrGadfly.

Centauri

http://www.perkinsschools.org/Do...
"Superintendent Gunner, the Board and Bond Counsel proposed a second
alternative: using the districtʼs “Inside Millage” for the construction of new and/or renovated facilities. In this method, the Board has the authority to redirect tax dollars currently collected through “Inside Millage” into a special fund for renovation and/or construction of facilities instead of the general operations of the district. No community vote is taken, or even permitted in the law. The authority
rests entirely with the elected Board of Education members to make this decision. By moving the “Inside Millage”, no bond levies will need to be passed by the community to address the facility issues. Revenue collected from the “Inside Millage” would be utilized to issue Certificates of Participation (i.e. similar to bonds) to permit the school district to move forward with construction."

Centauri

Have extra money for schools? Spend it and then beg for more money.

http://www.sanduskyregister.com/...
Perkins Twp. schools create new position

Brick Hamland

I am a "yes voter." For all the "no" voters out there that is up to you I am sure you have your reasons. If you are going to vote "no" again that is up to you, and if you want new board members that is up to you as well. I would encourage you to watch the debate at least so you know whom you are voting for. One of the canidates probably couldn't balance his own check book and based on his reponses to the questions isn't qualified to be a class president let alone on the board. If you are running for a spot on the board you should not have to answer questions like "i don't know, i will learn that when i get there." I am not giving names, just watch the debate and make your own decision, have a good day

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