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

VOTENO

Vote yes.

gyrocartfluffikins

I believe the cornerstone on St. Mary's main building records the year of construction as 1909. Amazing that it's still structurally sound.

What hack built that (allegedly) dangerous brick monstrosity on Campbell Street?

Strong Schools ...

Please read why Perkins Local Schools needs your support so our students can have a safe and healthy learning environment.

Vote yes for the Students and check out this link!
http://perkinslevy.org/content/s...

fifteenthgreen

Strong Schools - I didn't think this was about a new school. What is your message and don't direct me to the site. Been there. What is it that you want? The last push for a yes vote stated it wasn't about a new school. Someone tell us why you want our money. Leadership please!!!

Bherrle

15th Green & All No Voters / Undecided Voters,

This election/levy, and the past levy attempts, have not been and are not about just one thing/issue. Should one want to narrow it down to one thing, I would call it the long term viability of the school district. This is made up of 3 main components (which I will break down further in a separate post):

1. Fiscal Responsibility for Today & Tomorrow - This applies to both the school district and the tax paying community.

2. Safe and Quality Schools - Our facilities. It is not about how old they are, it is about how they were built, their current condition, and how to address those issues both short and long term.

3. 21st Century Education for our students - The cirriculum, incorporating technology, and the learning environment.

fifteenthgreen

The exact indecisiveness that will continue to bring failure to future levy attempts. What will the money be used for? Save the canned message for the website. It's black and white! What do you want?

Bherrle

15th,

This is an operating levy. Therefore, the money generated by it will be used to fund day to day operations of the district.

Specifically, it would be used to restore the bulk of if not all of the positions that were cut as a result of the August Levy failure. Less than half of the positions were brought back part time between the August failure and the start of the school year.

It would also be used to return the play to pay participation fees back to their original levels, prior to the August levy failure, and to refund any amounts already paid over and above the pre-August fee level.

Now, that said, it all ties into the three points I made in the above post. It is not indecisive. It is complex.

Cowboy

Wow! You are really out of touch with reality! VOTING NO AGAIN! And I will continue to vote NO until the inside millage is moved back, Gunner is fired and a REASONABLE levy is put on the ballot!

Hawkeye

You keep saying for the students why? How is this supporting these students? If you are implying a new school.. well all of these students you are talking about will be gone by the time you are done building it, you really should be saying support the administration right? We still have loans to pay off and the more you borrow,those students you are trying to support will be paying for their kids and grandkids from this original levy And I bet we will need to pass another levy during that time because of maintenance and updates on the new buildings because we still will have no money due to the fact we borrowed more than we make. By the way (just like electronics) by the time the school is built it will be outdated :)

Brick Hamland

The current students are losing programs that can no longer be offered because of budget cuts. By way of a generic example, this is how it effects students: my son would have music class (or insert any class like health, spanish, gym, etc). in 4th grade (or insert any grade). Budgets cuts have eliminated the 4th grade music teacher and now my son doesn't have music in 4th grade. That is how it effects the students. Again, i am using 4th grade music as a generic example. Anyone that thinks the levy failing, this time, next time or anytime doesn't have an effect on the students should probably become more familiar with the facts available to them and how a school's operating budget works.

Hawkeye

I'm sorry but you cannot blame the taxpayer you have to look at how the money is being spent. We have proven support by the renewal in August. We do not like the direction the school board is heading.

Bherrle

Please visit www.perkinslevy.org for factual information, answers, and videos regarding this levy.

VoteYES

On comments stated before about teachers making paycuts or deducting money and donating to the district I find a little absurd. I have students in the school district and those teachers dedicate to their life to the students. I know they are there hours upon hours after school and take work home. How many of you can say that? Also, a lot of that hard earned salary goes right back into their classroom. So when you say teachers get raises I think you need to get your facts checked and talk with a teacher.

ldlong

I live in Olmsted Township, I live in a $220,000 house, I pay $6,100 in annual real estate taxes. Sister #1 lives in North Canton, she pays $5,200 while living in a $200,000. Sister #2 lives in Perkins, she pays $3,800 while living in a $250,000 house. For every $100,000 that's a rate of $2,772 for me, $2,600 for Sister 1, and $1,520 for Perkins. I pay $1,200+ MORE per $100,000 than PHS residents. We have another Levy up in November, we WILL also pass our Levy because our community realizes the economic and social benefit a strong school system creates.

It appears to me you want Premium Beer services for Busch Lite prices. Wake up and look at what other communities pay. Ask yourself, does Perkins want to be like Elyria and Lorain?

Brick Hamland

Thank you for the facts. Makes it clear that what the board is saying about Perkins being a low tax area is true. I assume the "no" voters will disregard this as a half truth

themomx6

Problem is the voters of Perkins have ZERO TRUST in the superintendent and BOE. We're basically tired of being threatened and manipulated, and we are not going to continue to just hand over money to people who have mismanaged it for years to begin with! That's just common sense. Trying to lay this "it's for the students" guilt trip on everyone just makes it worse. People still remember the teacher's strike and how much they were concerned about the students. I will repost MrGadfly's response. It explains very well why this levy will not pass:

MrGadfly
Mon, 10/28/2013 - 9:33am

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.

StayInformed

We said idlong. It's nice to hear such a realistic viewpoint on the situation from the outside. It appears that so many in the community do not realize how fortunate they are.

In the long run it will only cost more. Not only money but the loss of education and services will be drastic to our community.

fifteenthgreen

ldlong....Your income is different in the suburbs of Cleveland, Akron and Canton. CPAs make good money, ldlong! Also, you're paying way too much for Olmsted Falls. bherrle - His property is taxed but he pays his taxes out of his checkbook!

Bherrle

15th,

We are not taxed (school taxes) based on our income. We are based on the value of the property we own.

IDlong brings up a very valid point. It's called "Tax Effort." This is a measure of the a communities willingness to tax itself to support the school district. It is made of up current tax levels (millage), levy passages and failures, property value, and the income of the residents of each school district. 1 is an average score. Greater than 1 is above average support, and less than 1 is below average support.

All schools in Erie County are above 1, except Perkins. Perkins is at a .88, below average support from the community. In comparison, Sandusky is at 1.85, well above average support from the community.

fifteenthgreen

Right, but you pay the tax bill with your income. I will not give this board and superintendent another blank check. Simple. Make some changes! Incompetence should not be rewarded.

Bherrle

15th,

I you make less than a CPA, then should you not be in a home that is worth less than the CPA's? Therefore, your tax bill is lower, even if the millage is the same.

The point is that there are many other communities in Ohio that are much more willing to fund their school district than Perkins is. And that hasn't just happened during the past five years. That is thirteen years worth of the either the district avoiding putting levies on the ballot, or the voters saying no. Our millage is lower.

It is not a blank check. The levy is for a specific amount of money, and it would need to be renewed in 10 years by the voters, if the district were to ask for the whole amount to be renewed. Both the Kalahari and Menard's properties come off of the TIF's they are current under in the next ten years, which will bring extra revenue to the district.

Cowboy

VOTING NO AGAIN! And I will continue to vote NO until the inside millage is moved back, Gunner is fired and a REASONABLE levy is put on the ballot!

fifteenthgreen

What's the money for, bherrle? It changes by the day...or election.

VOTENO

.

Colonel Angus

I hope Huron stays open enrollment, otherwise it's time to buy Sandusky school uniforms and a bulletproof vest.

deertracker

What is the vest for?

Strong Schools ...

Support the 21st century learner! Support the students of Perkins on November 5! Please read the facts on the levy website!
http://perkinslevy.org/content/2...

fifteenthgreen

21st Century child who is being taught to lead our American Heroes to the polls in their wheelchair....all for 17 votes!

Bherrle

15th,

That is not true, and I urge you to stop with rhetoric.

fifteenthgreen

You're right, bherrle. Many of the girls basketball team refused to because they felt it was wrong. Must have been the next shift that did!

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