School board to place 7.3-mill incremental levy on November ballot

By Deb Buker

At  a special meeting on Tuesday, August 12, the Perrysburg Board of Education approved a resolution to place a 7.3-mill incremental levy on the November ballot.

District treasurer Matt Feasel explained that this is the second of the two-step process to submit the request to the Wood County auditor to ask what rates would be associated to the dollar amount requested.

"It went from 7.32 mills down to 7.3 mills, a little different than what you have seen before," said Mr. Feasel. "The intent is to replace the current [incremental] levy which is collecting approximately $4.6 million this past year, assessed at 5.8-mill rate to request a 5.7-mill for the 2009 collection year which would equate to 7.3-mills. So we are asking for an additional 1.5 mills on top of the 5.8 mills, which will bring it to 7.3 mills."

Mr. Feasel stated that the renewal of this levy is crucial to operations of the district.

Without passage of the levy, the district would lose $2.6 million this fiscal year, according to the treasurer.

He also stated that the district has factored in significant budget reductions of 2 percent, which equates to an $800,000 annual savings.

"With the passage of the levy and the 2 percent reductions applied, it would secure the stability of the district for a five-year period," added Mr. Feasel.

Superintendent Tom Hosler said that given the economic condition, the school district is placing on the ballot the "absolute minimum" as to what is needed.

"There are times where there are wants and times where there are needs. This is a needs type of situation-needs to provide the services. Given that the district must reduce its expenditures by 2 percent as we move forward, we are not putting it all on the voters and taxpayers. We have to be prepared to demonstrate some fiscal discipline, which I am happy to say has happened over the last seven years," said Mr. Hosler.

Junior High Principal

Touting "Calvin 4 Principal" signs, approximately 20 students and parents attended the board meeting in support of suspended Perrysburg Junior High School principal Patrick Calvin.

At a special board of education meeting August 5, the board passed a resolution to "initiate proceedings to consider termination of the administrative and all other contacts of employment of Mr. Calvin with the board of education, and suspend all contracts effective at 12:01 a.m. on August 7, 2008, without pay or benefits, pending the outcome of termination proceedings."

The cause of the suspension was for failure to follow district procedures relative to maintaining accurate financial records at the building level. (A copy of the resolution is on the school district Web site and also was in the August 13 issue of the Messenger Journal.)

Mike Hammitt, a Perrysburg resident and friend of Mr. Calvin told board members that he was concerned when he had heard Mr. Calvin was suspended from his role as principal without pay or benefits.

"The need to suspend Patrick with no pay or benefits led me to believe he was being accused of stealing money from school or involved in some sort of scandal. After making several telephone calls and reading a copy of the resolution on the district Web site, I didn't feel that the consequences Patrick and his family suffered matched up with the itemized testimony listed in the resolution. I was and still am confused as why someone with 10 years of outstanding service to our schools was removed without pay or benefits for what apears to be more of a misunderstanding than a misdemeanor," said Mr. Hammitt.

Another friend, Robert Bernhoft, described Mr. Calvin as a man of "high moral character and respected deeply." He questioned the board on who is responsible for the oversight of the school district cash accounts.

"I would like to know if the other accounts have been scrutinized? Are there any other irregularities that we are not aware of? Some of these date back to 2005.  I'm concerned that we have all this time lapse between the time these occurred and the present when he is about to be terminated and his whole career ruined and without pay for his family. I am very concerned on how that looks. Maybe we need a separate state audit to find out exactly what is going on with all these funds going through the school system. Hopefully we will find that Patrick Calvin has not been singled out for other agendas that we have not been aware of to this point," said Mr. Berhnoft.

Alyssa Pinkerton asked the board of education to "right the wrong you have created and reinstate Patrick's salary and benefits for the 2008-09 school year and show Perrysburg and the greater Toledo area that this is a great place to live."

Mrs. Pinkerton believes the school board is taking a minor infraction for which Mr. Calvin has never been reprimanded for making him an example with the power of the board of education.

Also speaking in support of the junior high principal, Madeline Duntley questioned board members regarding the secrecy of the actions and the failure to disclose information.

"We have no idea what your justifications are for this suspension without pay or benefits. We want to know what justifies such rash actions when you tell reporters and the public that no accusations have been made at this time. There is a complete disconnect. I believe Patrick Calvin has been unjustly handled in terms of a suspension policy and the public has not been effectively made aware of the procedures or reason for  the termination process," said Mrs. Duntley.

The superintendent explained to the group that the board took a very deliberate process and consulted and followed the route laid out by the school's attorneys. He also added that the Ohio Revised Code was followed in terms of procedure and due process.

"There were a number of attempts made to resolve this matter in a less public way that would have been more beneficial to Mr. Calvin. The sole issue remains in this particular issue that it comes down to the question of handling monies that come into the office," said Mr. Hosler. "We have a treasurer who oversees the operation of the district. But at every level whether it be a cafeteria worker or a superintendent, there are obligations that each employee must have individually-a responsibility to assure that those dollars are being handled in a way that is appropriate and can be accounted for. In terms of reviewing this, we had employees come to the board with concerns and an investigation took place that involved numerous employees-it was upon that investigation that we felt there was not a single occurrence but a breach of policy."

Board president Gretchen Downs told those at the meeting that the board is committed to ensuring the best use of public dollars and the board holds that to high standard.

She also stated that the suspension and initiation of termination is a legal proceeding and ongoing. Due to legalities, the board could not answer any questions regarding the matter.

"There is not one person at this table who is going to say something without the advice of attorney. I will guarantee you, I will promise you heart and soul no other conditions, no other causes for termination have been discussed at any point. When you asked why we are going so secretively, I personally would have gone a little more secretively. I personally would not have released the last pages of the document until a later date. But according to our attorney in this matter, openness was of the essence. When you asked if there was a hidden agenda here-absolutely there is no hidden agenda," said Mrs. Downs.

According to the superintendent, Mr. Calvin has filed the necessary paperwork with the Ohio Department of Education to request a hearing on the suspension.

Other  Business

In other business, the board:

  • Approved the following certified one-year contracts: Carrie Sanderson, Valerie McConkey, Lauren Miller and Jennifer Scharren, speech pathologists, transfers from Lucas County Educational Center.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 25, 7:30 a.m. in the Commodore cafeteria. The meeting is open to the public.