OSWEGO, NY â€“ Now, it’s in the hands of the voters.
The Oswego school board spent about two and a half hours Tuesday night cutting approximately $80,000 from the proposed 2010-11 spending plan.
Board members approved the latest budget option 5-2. Voting in favor of the plan were Sam Tripp, Jim Tschudy, Dave White, Tom DeCastro and Sean Madden. Fran Hoefer and John Dunsmoor were opposed.
At times, tempers flared and voices raised as board members argued back and forth about what to leave in and what to leave out; prompting board president Tripp to call for an impromptu recess for several minutes.
When school district residents go to the polls next month, they will be asked to vote on a $74,848,045 that contains a zero percent tax levy increase.
“Until one board member said he was going to campaign to have the public vote no, I was confident that we had a shot of passing it,” Tripp said of the budget. “I still hope we do. We tried to do the best we could, given the circumstances without depleting programs and destroying the district. We’ll see what the public says.”
The public really cares, Tripp said, adding, “The bottom line is what the tax levy is going to be and how much are their taxes going to go up. Right now, we’ve held that at zero.”
There are many uncertainties, the biggest of which is what Albany is going to do, he said.
“It’s a tough process, it really is. You’ve got seven board members coming from seven different areas. You’ve got administration coming from where they’re coming from; they are putting out there what they think is best for the students,” Tripp said. “The board members sometimes don’t always agree. So we went back and forth back and forth to try to reach some kind of resolution. The best we could do is what we came out with tonight.”
It costs the district $18,700 per student, according to Hoefer’s figures. To spend that much during “a budget crisis year” is “Twilight Zone stuff,” he said.
Six years ago, the district was spending 10 grand per student, “now we’re looking at 18, almost 19 thousand dollars per child,” he said. “A doubling of the cost per child, in just six years.”
“This whole thing has been the biggest joke I’ve ever seen. They’re just not on the same planet with everybody else,” Hoefer said following the meeting.
The only thing he was on board with was the minimum class size and the requirement for teachers to teach a minimum number of students, he said.
“The rest of this is a disaster, an absolute disaster,” he said. “The only solution we’ve got is turn this thing into a charter school. The only thing I can say people is get out and vote no, get out and vote no. This is an outrageous obscenity, an abomination. This process is thoroughly broken. Say no, please. We need to throw the union out, get these associations out of this process.”
There will be another public hearing on the budget on May 4 at 6 p.m. in the OHS cafeteria.
The public vote on the budget is set for May 18. Polls will be open from noon until 9 p.m.