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Oswego Board Holds Public Hearing On $63.1 Million Project

Nicole Reed addresses the board of education Tuesday night. Sitting is Pam Dowd sitting. Standing in back is Craig Daily.
Nicole Reed addresses the board of education Tuesday night. Sitting is Pam Dowd sitting. Standing in back is Craig Daily.

By Bill Foley
OSWEGO – The Oswego City School District conducted its required public hearing on Tuesday night for the December 18, $63.1 million capital project vite (polls open noon to 9 p.m.).

Three local residents addressed the Board of Education.

Nicole Reed addresses the board of education Tuesday night. Sitting is Pam Dowd. Standing in back is Craig Daily.
Nicole Reed addresses the board of education Tuesday night. Sitting is Pam Dowd. Standing in back is Craig Daily.

Charles E. Riley Elementary School parent Nicole Reed had several questions as she inquired as to the disproportionate amount of money targeted for the east side school.

Riley is receiving just more than $1 million in work with the majority of that money going toward the interior classroom wall system, interior doors and hardware, mechanical system upgrades and mechanical controls to improve air circulation in the building.

It was explained by architect Craig Dailey and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dean Goewey that in a previous capital project CER had been one of the major sites for renovation.

Reed noted that just more than $11 million was being spent on the athletics facilities and asked if the locker rooms at Leighton was included in that amount? She was told that it wasn’t.

She inquired over type of roofs being placed on Fitzhugh and Kingsford and Dailey explained, that they are 30-year roofs.

The CER parent also asked about life span of the artificial surfaces and was told that 15 years was the anticipated time for use.

One of her concerns was safety for CER students as the drop off zone, in her opinion, is unsafe and needs to be addressed.

Minetto Elementary will be seeing repaving and reorganization of its drop off area as part of the $3.1 million going to that building.

She asked, “if money could be shifted to help” in that area.

Reed felt that the amount to students was disappropriate and provided the example that Riley school students are averaging $2,400 per student in this project while Oswego High School students were nearly $30,000 per student and Leighton (which has the smallest population in the district) is approximately $40,445 per student.

She closed by saying, “I really wish you would help the students in proportion.”

The capital project shows 11.3% of it going toward athletics.

Overall, Dr. Goewey explained,”Last March the cost to the taxpayer was $37.87 for a $100,000 home. With the change in building aid from 62% to 86% we now can bring this at $1.15 per year, for 20 years, on a$100,000 home.”

The breakdown is 75% state aid, 17% retiring debt, 7% capital reserves and just 1% local share.

Parent Pam Dowd said,”Eleven point three percent of $1.15 is 13 cents a year for the upgrades to facilities. To vote no because of 13 cents and all the work will not be done.That is just a small piece of the program. Time is now and the price is right. Do it for our community and the kids of Oswego.”

Former district clerk Bill Foley asked the board to simply stay aware of the project in areas of how many millions of dollars would be going to the architects and what impact that would have on planned work.

He also asked them to keep an eye on the project and to do the work the voters had approved.

The $63 million project broken down will see $24.7 million at Oswego High School, $13.1 at Oswego Middle School. $12.7 for Leighton, $4.1 for both Kingsford and Fitzhugh, $3.1 for Minetto and $1.1 for Charles E. Riley.

Phase 1 would commence in June of 2020 and be completed in December 2021 while Phase 4 would complete the project beginning in June of 2030 and completion planned for December 2031.

Among the major items in the proposed capital project are life safety system upgrades in every building, roofs and masonry restoration and reconstruction for KPS and FPS, bringing Minetto classroom up to fire code, and the previously mentioned CER work and at FLS reconstruction of the athletic wing including replacing the original 1955 locker rooms and officials facilities as well as lobby renovation and interior floor finishes.

The secondary schools also have plenty of major parts in the overall plan including the mechanical system, electrical upgrades, new up to code corridor walls and lockers at the middle school.

At OHS, there will be an entire facelift of the music wing, mechanical system upgrades and locker room renovation.

Though the OMS track is included in the building portion of the project the 15-year-old surface needs to be replaced as there has been substantial deterioration. That track is the district track and field facility.

Meanwhile, “exterior renovations” include the athletic and music areas.

A new artificial, 2,000 seat facility will be constructed at the corner of West Utica Street and Hillside Avenue.

Because of the flooding history, it will be raised and bladders will be placed below the field.

The current Wilber Field will be two grass practice fields, while artificial turf baseball and softball fields will be built.

The baseball field will also be suitable for the marching band practice area.

Tennis and basketball courts along Buc Boulevard will also be shifted.

Another part of the project will be the reconstruction of Buc Boulevard. as well as the Liberty Street parking lot (which is starting to sink) and retaining wall (which is starting to collapse).

Information regarding the project is available on the Oswego City School District website (oswego.org).

7 Comments

  1. I had concerns last year about honesty and transparency within the previously proposed capital project and I have the same questions and concerns now. All the fun and colorful bar graphs presented by the school board show this work to be 75% state funded yet they also state that the state building aid has jumped to 86%. If I do the math correctly it appears as if we are paying 100% of the athletic complex and receiving 86% state aid for the remaining building improvements. Not to mention some of athletic complex work is hidden as building improvements, for example the locker rooms at Leighton and the surface of the track.

    So, my point being, if this state aid is NOT contingent upon building the athletic complex why are we presented with a second capital improvement project with no option to proceed without the athletic complex?

  2. I agree Steve. You also may note the retiring debt average per year of $648,237. This tells me that we have taken on debt…for what? They certainly didn’t use their serial bonds to fix the buildings. This is an additional $40 impact per year per taxpayer, that has ALREADY been squandered. They’ve ALREADY artificially raised our taxes to pay for the debt that they took on to do….who knows what? Also note the $5,900,000 local funds from the reserve. Again, this is $413 that the average taxpayer has already dumped into a reserve fund somewhere. To pretend that the impact per taxpayer is $1.15 per year is superficial at best. It is $1.15 ON TOP OF what the school board has already squandered and collected taxes for.

    It’s a catch 22. Clearly the buildings need to be repaired. The athletics and turf fields are unnecessary and unaided by the state, so anything they are asking for local funds is to cover the athletics. CLEARLY the school board has ALREADY been given the financial resources by the taxpayers to cover the building repairs that ALREADY should have happened. Our kids need safe buildings, they are in poor shape! But the school board and administrators have proven themselves to be financially imprudent. They will probably waste this money and cook the books later as well. What are we to do? I have to vote no because they need to take the turf fields and stadium out of the proposal before this can become anything near reasonable.

  3. Just like last time, too many unanswered questions and too little of a breakdown/explanation in expenses. $63 million is a LOT of money. Is it going to be put out to bid? Or is it going to be handed to local contractor? Has the district hired an engineering firm? I don’t buy the BS of “$1.25 over 20 years” baloney either.

  4. Seems like the critics and naysayers of this proposition should have brought their questions and concerns directly to one of the many meetings and forums that the OCSD provided to inform the public of every aspect of the proposal.

    This current administration and board has been as transparent with this proposal as I’ve ever witnessed and I do try to attend as many Board of Ed Meetings as possible. I’ve watched as they’ve made every attempt at answering every question regarding the proposal as possible whether asked on facebook, the OCSD website, emails, phone calls or public meetings bringing those answers directly back to all.

    I also don’t believe the district has hidden anything or tried slipping anything by regarding the athletic portion of the proposal. They have clearly stated and shown the breakout between the building renovations and the upgrades and additions to our athletic fields and department. As someone who is familiar with everyone of our districts buildings I firmly believe that the upgrades to our existing tracks, fields, locker rooms and athletic wing of FLS are absolutely integral and essential to sustaining and maintaining the infrastructure and value of our school districts assets.

    I urge everyone o support this proposal and take advantage of this extraordinary percentage of state aid being provided to our community and school district.

    Jim

    I

  5. The athletic improvements are hidden in each school’s total cost, that’s not transparency.
    Retiring debt is a cost to the taxpayers so the cost is not $1.15, that’s not transparency.
    Ask yourself, if the turf fields are desperately needed, why isn’t that a stand alone proopostion?

  6. How can they be hidden if you know they are there?
    Each proposition cost $$$$, why do more than one if it cost more?

    This is WAY more favorable than the last proposal.

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