Board Approves Budget, Speakers Oppose Sports Cuts

Chris Cote Jr. tells the board why he thinks sports are important to the district.

Chris Cote Jr. tells the board why he thinks sports are important to the district.

OSWEGO, NY – The Oswego School Board Tuesday night approved the $79,510,611 budget proposal for the 2016-17 school year.

Heidi Sheffield speaks to the board about what cuts in the English Department could mean for students.
Heidi Sheffield speaks to the board about what cuts in the English Department could mean for students.

It contains a 2.5% levy increase. For a $100,000 home that translates into an additional $52.98, or $4.42 a month, according to Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey.

The budget also contains many reductions; several support staff and teaching positions are on the block as well as a big chunk of the district’s athletic programs.

Prior to the board’s action, more than a baker’s dozen of speakers pleaded with the board to not cut the sports.

As a sixth grader, Chris Cote Jr. said he was looking forward to playing sports in middle school.

Chris Cote Jr. tells the board why he thinks sports are important to the district.
Chris Cote Jr. tells the board why he thinks sports are important to the district.

“If you take away modified sports it takes away many things. It will take away our school team pride. It will make a student feel like there is nothing for attending Oswego City Schools other than education,” he said.

Kira Hartnett also spoke against the sports cuts.

Sports teaches things like teamwork and responsibility, the OHS sophomore said.

It would be devastating to lose sports, another speaker told the board. Others added that kids won’t have any after-school supervision and will be on the streets getting into trouble.

Dylan Dunsmoor will be a seventh grader in the fall. He said he believes there are ways to come up with the money to maintain the sports programs. Many kids will switch to districts that have sports, he added.

“Because, for many people, sports are the highlight of their school experience,” he told the board.

People will leave the district due to the lack of sports, local businessman Atom Avery agreed. He encouraged the board to take a little out of the coffers sports.

Chuck Alford said he has had experience being on a school board, making tough budget decisions.

The idea of turning loose middle school kids 2:30 in the afternoon is just a little bit crazy,” he said. “You’re going to see property values go down. You’re going to see families that care about their kids leave this district. This whole community is going to suffer a very harsh lesson.”

A licensed mental therapist cautioned the board that cutting sports would have a negative impact on students inside and outside the classroom.

Heidi Sheffield spoke on behalf of the English Department at Oswego High School.

“While we understand the fiscal stress of our district, we don’t understand the loss of two English teachers plus a part-time teacher for AIS at the high school level,” she said.

The new Common Core social studies Regents exam will be based on reading and writing skills, she pointed out. The English Department should team teach with social studies, but will be unable if they lose more teachers, she said. Students won’t be able to get the help they need.

“It is the students who will suffer” because of these cuts, she said.

Pam Dowd noted sports are important and the district is “keeping a whole slew of them.”

She spoke in favor the middle school intramural program. All kids who want to play would be able to play, she pointed out.

“I don’t want to see anything cut, nor does anyone else,” she said, adding that if the board saves anything – it should be for the students in the classrooms. “Look ahead. When one door closes, another opens.  Let’s go through the opening. Let’s find the ways around the tough time. Everyone made valid points. It’s not all about sports. We can’t keep going the way we’ve been going or nobody’s going to be here in a couple three years.”

The board and Dr. Goewey have been working on the budget since late January – early February, board vice president Lynda Sereno pointed out.

“We have been very transparent,” Dr. Goewey added.

He said he wasn’t going to create havoc within the district by putting up potential budget cuts early in the process. They have done that in the past and when they get a little more state aid or find other revenue they put some stuff back. But then, they might take it out again later, he added.

That is why he waited until later this year to present the likely cuts.

The budget is a revenue based budget, he said, adding that the district can’t spend money that it doesn’t have.

The public vote on the budget is set for May 17 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

13 Comments

  1. The revenue stream(taxpayers) is worse off than this budget purports them to be, keep cutting cause I’m voting a big N.O. until you hold the line on ANY increase! We’ve had more than we can handle with just the water/sewer fiasco! BANKRUPT THE DISTRICT, WE’RE FLAT-OUT OF $$$$!!!!

  2. Just some facts to consider, here are some head coaching salaries for 12 weeks of part time work in a county where the median household income does not even reach $50,000. I came across a three sport coach who rakes in $20,775 just in coaching stipends.

    Boys Football – $7,297
    Coed Cross Country – $7,060
    Girls Volleyball – $8,734
    Boys Basketball – $7,443
    Boys Hockey – $7,592
    Boys Swim – $7,744
    Boys Wrestling – $7,744
    Coed Indoor Track – $9,150
    Winter Cheerleading – $7,744
    Girls Hockey – $7,154
    Girls Softball – $9,929
    Boys Lacrosse – $7,778

    Also check out the Book Mobile supervisors who raked in $60 per hour.

    The answer is not to continue raising taxes. The answer is to start cutting back on these insane salaries.

    VOTE NO people!!! PLEASE get out and vote against the budget and get some common sense fiscal conservatives on the school board.

  3. Okay, we need to make cuts. What happened to closing a school. We no longer have the population we have had. Put a k-3 and 4-6 on east side and one on west side. Close one school. Yes there is shuffling of teachers, students, but the bottom line as I have read is $$$$. I hear they need their friends, sports, bonding, but what happens if mom or dad get a new job and have to move. They start over don’t they? No one likes change. Money is tight. That is a fact. We have assets that that be used to offset some cost, let’s start there.

  4. Let’s not forget that these stipends go on top of the big salery stud teachers make. Therefore increasing their retirement. I haven’t seen OCTA come up with any give backs for “the kids”. You would think some would step forward and VOLUNTEER to coach an after school sports program were kids could participate in. As a person on a fixed income I wish they would make more cuts so there would be zero increase. I’m glad that we have people on the board that have to make these hard decisions and I for one applaud your decisions.

  5. Chuck, since the majority of middle school students do not play sports, they are already turned loose at 2:30. “Hoodies” don’t play sports anyways.
    OCTA give back? That’s funny! OCTA volunteer, even funnier! Maybe the community has finally figured out that OCTA is for OCTA not the students.

  6. Maybe OCTA is for OCTA and the students. Are they really mutually exclusive? Is the only time you care for your company or customers is when you volunteer your time? When you get paid, your just being greedy and looking out for yourself? That’s an odd view of economics.

  7. OCTA can look out for OCTA. There’s nothing wrong with that. The taxpaying public needs to get engaged in this process and look out for themselves and their children.

    As a private sector taxpayer, my interests and OCTA’s do not align.

    I do not benefit by paying 1 individual $20,775 to coach 2 seasons of volleyball and 1 season of softball.

    I do not benefit by the 22% raise OCTA received in their last contract and 8% in the current contract.

    So, I vote accordingly. And more people who are not associated with these unions need to do the same. The voter turnout last year was abysmal. It should have been a slam dunk – a 10% tax increase voted down and Mr. Hoefer elected. It didn’t happen because people are apathetic.

    This needs to go to a contingent budget with no tax increase and we need school board members who will negotiate better contracts. The health insurance and pension benefits, on top of the salaries and “extras” are out of control.

  8. From time to time, I hear the grumblings throughout the Oswego community that “teachers make too much money & the benefits package is way too good”.Why is it that the teachers always get the brunt of this type of bad publicity? They are the only ones sucking money out of the taxpayers? Get real. What about the high salaries at the top? Teachers are rich now? Come on. “Teachers got a salary increase & have great benefits”. Good for them! They applied for the job, got it & are getting paid accordingly. You try dealing with kids, parents, administration, etc. They went to college to get a Master’s Degree in teaching! If you had a Master’s Degree, do you want a $20,000 to $30,000 a year job! You ever see how much these colleges charge for tuition! What are we saying here? The only people that can make money in this community is School Administrators, Doctors, Lawyers, slumlords, etc., but if a teacher makes good money let’s rake them under the coals? If your argument is that we have too many teachers or too many schools, that’s one thing. But don’t bash a teacher because they make what you think is “too much money” and “to good of a benefits package”. That’s ridiculous!!
    As long as they are doing their jobs, I don’t care what they make! They are teaching my kids! They are professionals & went to college! Isn’t that what we are taught? The more education you have, the higher the reward. You want to talk about cutting teacher salaries & benefits, then also cut from the top & blame it on years of mismanagement from the higher ups! I don’t want my taxes to go up either, but I’m not blaming teachers! There are not striking it rich! There is only 1% of the total population that is rich & it’s not the teachers!

  9. There is Fran Hoefers name again. Jeez, is he the only person who is on the pro taxpayer anti Union side? I don’t align with his ideas, but at he least he volunteered his time and tried to change things. I find it funny that the same people who expect coaches to volunteer their time 5-6 days a week, won’t volunteer to be on the school board for a few meetings a month. Hmmmm….interesting. I guess that is why he called you all out as lazy couch potatoes, binge watching Game of Thrones.

  10. If you think teachers have it so great then please by all means go pay for a masters degree and go in the classroom where majority of the students do not have the same morals and values they used too due to the lack of parenting these days. Teachers agreed years ago not to make the 6 figures that people do with their masters so they could have a descent pension. I would love to see the complainers of educators spend a week teaching in a classroom and I guarantee they would learn to respect what teachers deal with on a daily basis. If we had more working class citizens in this city that were able to pay their taxes things wouldn’t be as bad. Yes the district has mismanaged in the past but the other problem is the fact that our poverty rate is through the roof and the working class people can only carry the unemployed for so long. Until things change economically and until parents begin to parent again and take some accountability, our city will continue in the downward spiral it has been in!

  11. Ren – excellent post and you are spot on! I’m not a teacher, but I’m so sick of hearing about what teachers make! Also, I agree with you, create incentives to get more working class people to move to Oswego, push out the ones who don’t want to work, never worked, and will never try to work and take the slumlords with them!

  12. I am not a teacher and I had children attend school on tight budgets where it was a pay to play system. Something like this can be done in Oswego. In addition, I read about teachers’ salaries and believe the negative comments are very short-sighted. The complainers do not realize how many years go into making a teacher. Along with those years are thousands and thousands of dollars in debt for the levels of degrees necessary to be a teacher in NY along with all the testing fees. Student loans stay with the teachers for many, many years. On top of that, most of the people who complain work typical 40 hour jobs. Teachers NO LONGER have the summer off like many speculate. They are required to go to their school for development sessions and to end one school year and prepare for the next school year. During the school year not only do they put in their class hours, but on their own time are required to attend school events, parent conferences, open houses, e-mails and phone calls. They are required to do this when parents don’t even show up to support their child’s education success. Then they also have the hours at home of grading and class preparation. There is the complaint of stipends for coaching. How many whiners would spend hours required for practice sessions and games? Divide all those travel hours and hands-on hours and the stipend is very small per hour. If so many people feel teachers should volunteer, where are all these people when youth programs need parental volunteers. They are sitting in chairs on the sideline or not showing up at all! You have the same people over and over again willing to do this for free and if you look, you will probably see some teachers. And as far as retirement, do your homework folks. The retirement is no longer what people are stating. After many years of teaching the little darlings who use foul language, don’t do their assignments, do not follow school rules and have parents who do not require their children to participate in their education, many teachers will retire with a plan that is equal to what other businesses offer their employees. Walk a mile in a teacher’s shoes and see how you feel about a teacher and what they do.

  13. This is proven strategic move by the educators to rile up the taxpayers. The first cuts are always music and sports. This spins up the taxpayers into a frenzy so they can hit you with the “real” budget that includes a smaller tax increase while maintaining the status quo. You even feel good about it because you saved your kids sports team. This is just cover for another massive tax increase none of us can afford.

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