Board shifts part of inside millage

In the end, they must submit to the masses.
Alissa Widman Neese
Nov 14, 2013
In an unexpected move Wednesday, Perkins school board members reversed course on plans to pursue new buildings, and they instead adhered to the majority will of Perkins Township taxpayers.
 
Board members voted 4-1 to return a portion of moved millage — 3.2 mills of 5.2 total mills — back to the district’s operating fund. Newly re-elected board member Terry Chapman voted against the measure.
 
The vote backtracked on a 2011 decision to move the operating funds, called “inside millage,” into the district’s permanent improvement fund, a separate account intended for building projects. The move quickly depleted the district’s operating fund, which is used for salaries and other day-to-day operations.    Voters rejected three tax levy proposals this year to restore the operating fund, most recently on Nov. 5. Many “no” voters said the millage move prompted them to reject the tax levies.

On Wednesday, board members contended the decision to move the millage back was a “political move,” and not the most “fiscally responsible” decision. They discussed the tough choice with almost 100 community members for about two hours.

“This will cost you more money in the long run, but we’re elected by the people to represent the people, and this is what they want,” board president Matt Kosior said. “What you’re asking us to do is a very difficult decision.”

The 3.2 mills was a “comfortable amount” to move, leaving some funds available to repay a district loan to conduct a new building study, Kosior said.

Moving the millage back will return about $1.4 million to the district’s general operating fund each year, superintendent Jim Gunner said. The district will receive about half that amount in the current school year, with the first payment collected in February.

To pursue future building projects and maintain operating funds, voters will still likely need to approve several tax levies or bond issues.

“This is not a long-term solution,” Kosior said.

Board members haven’t determined what they will do with the new operating funds this spring, but it’s possible they could restore some recently cut faculty members or reduce the district’s costly pay-to-participate fees.

Prior to Wednesday’s move, Perkins Schools faced a dire financial dilemma, with only an estimated $23,500 in reserve cash left at the end of the current school year, according to a five-year financial forecast. Its budget is about $21 million a year.

Voters rejected a 10-year, 6.73-mill levy proposal last week, with 61 percent voting against it, according to unofficial election results.

The millage move and the series of failed levy attempts effectively divided the Perkins Schools community, pitting levy supporters and opposers against each other in heated debates.

During Wednesday’s meeting, however, about a dozen individuals on both sides of the issue discussed their views, with most agreeing on at least one thing: the enlightening conversation was long overdue.

“This is the best meeting and back-and-forth dialogue we’ve had in the two years I’ve been on the board,” board member Brad Mitchel said.

Board members cleared up some misunderstandings Wednesday, such as the notion taxpayers voted to create the “inside millage” funds, when the state actually established them in the 1930s for districts to use as they pleased.

Community members Bob Weichel and J Franklin, who voted against the Nov. 5 levy, said Wednesday’s move and conversation was the best way to restore taxpayer trust in the district moving forward.

“Until we stop fighting and labeling each other, nothing good is going to happen,” Weichel said. “This will restore our trust in you. It’s a step in the right direction.”

The millage move was not initially listed on the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting. Board members amended the agenda following a two-hour closed-door meeting to discuss personnel. A closed-door meeting also followed the regular meeting, with no action taking place afterward.

Comments

Thomas Paine

I have always had a problem with paying people more just because they exist and have sat at the same desk for 15 years. There are other ways as an employer to show loyalty to its employees besides a separate "you are still breathing pay increase". I have no problem with giving loyal, competent hard working employees raises or increasing their pay and responsibilities. I agree with you employers have shown zero loyalty to people that have stood behind the businesses and made them run. The attitude of big business towards its employees and towards its consumers has been getting worse. I can only blame the business itself for the turnover and lack of loyalty from the workers.

eriemom

What is the woman in the picture talking about? I have seen her at Meadowlawn. In fact she was talking to people around the counter about a teacher who she obviously did not care for.

Bherrle

I was at the board meeting Wednesday. I don't recall every word she said, but she spoke for several minutes. She spoke about how heartbreaking it was to see all of the "Vote NO" signs in the community every day as she drove to work. She also spoke in support of Dr. Gunner, pointing out that thru all of the negativity being thrown at him by those in this community, he is still working hard each day for the future of the district. She pointed out Dr. Gunner shared with staff at a Monday meeting a $2 Million plus grant the district going after in cooperation with several other local districts.

SanduskyStrong

There is obviously still anger and disagreement, and my biggest fear is that this supposed "start to regaining our trust" is truly a political move that will strip the district of its funds with virtually no return from voters.

Until the schools receive our support, our entire community will depreciate. I know of at least 3 families that looked to move to Perkins and decided not to because of failing levy issues.

The fact is that the cost of doing business, as many conclude the school district must be run like a business, is rising. Without additional funds (which haven't been approved by voters in over 10 years) ANY business, but especially our schools, cannot survive. How can we expect Perkins to operate in 2013 with 1990's income???

I'm not the wealthiest person in the world, but I know how to invest my money wisely, and the schools are a good start.

VOTENO

Vote yes.

PyrkinsPyrate

Sandusky Strong, there is a choice here, either you are incredibly ignorant or plain dishonest. You should know that the "No new funds" trope used by the pro-levy people does not mean that the schools are running on the same amount of money, neither the entire budget nor per student spending. The budget and spending per student has basically gone up about 3 to 5 percent per year for the past 20 years. This is unlike many of the residents who you want to vote for the lavish expenses because their wages have been flat or reduced in the past decade.

Nemesis

Keep in mind that that 3-5% increase was, by law, fully funded, and inflation in the same period almost never exceeded 2%.

donutshopguy

Strong,

Shouldn't we also worry about those families on fixed incomes that will have to move out of our community due to increases in school taxes?

This is a complex issue. All situations must be examined to make the best choice for the entire community.

One overall trend must be understood. This community is growing older. Hundreds of people are retiring and now living on a fixed income. This is a very large portion of our community and they vote.

oldpirate

If they move out of Perkins they only are going to pay more in taxes elsewhere. Perkins is a good deal tax wise. Everybody lives on a fixed income even the schools. The way school funding is set up the community pays. A large sum of what we pay goes to other less fortunate schools. It sucks but that is the reality of it. Simply put either pay less now or more later or take your stand and don't pay any taxes. Good luck with that!

Nemesis

Or, just wake up and realize that districts with high achieving students could cut their per pupil spending in half and those kids would still achieve, and districts with low achieving students could double their per pupil spending and those kids would still fail to learn. It's the family's culture, not the school's budget, that determines educational results.

The USA spends more per pupil than the rest of the developed world, and gets worse results. There are maybe a handful of Ohio districts that couldn't get the same results spending 20% less than they do, and Perkins is not one of them.

fifteenthgreen

I'm tired of the "no support for the schools" crap. Add the $750,000 from the PI renewal to the $1.3 million returned from the millage move and that's over 2 million annually to work with.

Press Release - Perkins Local Schools - May 8

Perkins School District voters supported the renewal of the permanent improvement levy while defeating the request for new operating funds last night. The School Board and employees would like to thank the Perkins community for their continued support of the school’s permanent improvement levy. The renewal of this levy is expected to bring in $750,000 annually for building repairs, technology and the replacement of buses, vans, and other capital equipment. This levy is important to keep the aging facilities of the district from deteriorating further until a long-term solution can be implemented. The permanent improvement levy was first passed in November of 1988 and has been continuously supported by the residents of the community since that time.

Bherrle

15th,

The $750,000 renewal levy passed in May is not new or additional money. It is money that was already being spent for repairs and maintenance, and buses. That amount of money across 4 buildings and a bus fleet just does not go very far, and it is no where near what is needed to address the long term facility concerns.

Nemesis

Then they should have asked for a modest incease in its millage at renewal/replacement, to cover additional maintenance/repairs, instead of playing a shell game with the inside millage to hijack the funds for their disapproved effort to service their edifice complex.

Thomas Paine

Is Vote No happy about anything? You would think the odds are by mistake there might be one positive post about something...anything.

Nemesis

The Perkins administration has a long way to go before they get into positive territory, as opposed to simply less negative.

Thomas Paine

Interesting and quick read if anyone is interested on public education, Thomas Jefferson and how he believed the burden of education should be on the community (Not federal, state, or private entity) http://townhall.com/columnists/c...

Nemesis

Agree wholeheartedly. Repeal NCLB, dissolve the federal dept. of education, get the state of Ohio completely out of funding schools, and pass 100% of the savings back to the taxpayers with a flat percentage cut across all tax brackets, and you'll have a lot easier time passing levies. Of course, the flipside is that the community gets full autonomy over curriculum, etc.

Informed

Yeah, that'll work. You'll have entire communities of students who know nothing about science, and think the world is 5,000 years old.

Nemesis

99% of current high school grads know nothing about science, and of what possible consequence can it be how old they think the earth is when the current system can't even teach them to read or do basic math? People get hung up on one question that has absolutely no bearing on someone's ability to perform pretty much ANY job in society, when the schools can't teach basic literacy and numerancy. That is the folly of having government in the school business - everything is a political football, and people play ideological fiddles while in terms of educational value, Rome burns.

Informed

Your first comment is ridiculous. That's funny, because around here the vast majority of high school graduates go to college. How are they getting into schools like OSU, Miami, etc if they lack basic reading and math skills and know nothing about science. I think you know nothing about what actually gets taught in school these days.
And my statement about the age of the earth was just one example, and an obvious oversimplification of the problem of having each community decide a curriculum.

Nemesis

Apparently you've missed all the news about how 75% of incoming college freshmen require remedial coursework because they aren't ready to do college level work. Look at how many OSU students never see their sophomore year. Plus, most of them are pursuing watered down liberal arts or politically made up majors that allow them to get a (mostly worthless) degree without ever taking a math or science course.

Just go to any college campus and walk around asking people to explain the difference between an ion and an isotope, or what the cosine of zero is, or even the difference between an adjective and an adverb, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Freshman year of college, I worked as a teaching assistant. I was lecturing a group of graduate students - people holding bachelors' degrees, admitted to a top tier private university to pursue Masters' degrees in liberal arts and business in a course designed to fulfill their minimum science requirement. I was cautioned upfront that if I so much as put up 2x = 10 on the board and asked them what x was that half the class would be like deer caught in the headlights and the other half would curl up in the corner and start crying about how math is hard, and to keep everything at or below the Mr. Wizard TV show level. That was back when average SAT math scores were 20% higher than they now are.

As for your statement being just one example, I notice you don't offer any others, and your choice of example is telling. Basically, your real objection is that communities in flyover country that don't share your far left outlook might be able to pass their values on to their own kids.

PyrkinsPyrate

A freshman lecturing grad students. I think C-3PO would consider this delusions of grandeur unless there was a serious breakdown in the way the University process was working there. When you became a sophomore did you begin to teach the postdocs?

Thomas Paine

Nemesis never said I agreed with the whole thing. Just think its interesting how many layers of government and red tape schools do have to go through and the decisions schools are forced to make because of it. I don't think getting rid of federal and state involvement is the answer. Changing how they are involved is upd for debate though. Informed, I think we may already have some of those students. Have you seen the movie Idiocracy? I think its becoming true.

Nemesis

In the 90's New Zealand's educational reform did get rid of federal involvement in school governance, while switching funding to a pure choice system where the money follows the student to ANY school, public or private, that they choose. They placed each public school completely under the control of a board of directors elected by parents of students at the school. In the first two years, the public schools' share of enrollment dropped several percentage points, but then the new governance system yielded such improvement that in the next few years they gained back twice as much enrollment share as they initially lost.

You don't need a movie - just watch the Jaywalking feature on the tonight show, which is especially damning when he asks general knowledge questions of graduating seniors at the UCLA commencement.

Thomas Paine

The movie is supposed to be fiction. Its worth a watch. But agree on Jaywalking. Our country needs to change how we approach education.

Nemesis

Not our country, but our society. It's not a matter of political jurisdictions; it's cultural. Thinking and being knowledgeable are not fashionable.

It's my experience that leftists who spout off about the scientific ignorance of religious people tend to suffer from it themselves.

Informed

Yeah okay--there are plenty of scientists on both the left and the right who condemn such ignorance.

Nemesis

Not really, but if it makes you feel better to believe that, go for it. At least you're acknowledging that non-leftists can be legitimate scientists in your view, which is a major breakthrough.

Thomas Paine

Agreed.

donutshopguy

I'm for adding 2% to the sales tax in Perkins Township for school funding only.

It's a user tax. A large portion of our users are tourists.

Just a suggestion to think about.

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