OSWEGO, NY – In a brief session Tuesday evening, the Oswego School Board approved the superintendent’s proposed spending plan for the next school year.
The vote was 5-0-2 with vice president Kathleen Allen and member Fran Hoefer absent.
The district’s current budget is $74,744,748. The spending plan approved Tuesday is $76,604,057.
The district is required by law to hold a public hearing on the budget May 8. It will be held in the boardroom at the Education Center at 6 p.m.
The tax impact on the levy for 2011-12 is $19.15 (per $1,000), Superintendent Bill Crist said. For 2012-13 it is $18.85, he added.
“The tax rate is the result of a calculation involving three pieces of information. The only piece that we control is the tax levy. The other portions are the finalized assessments (set by assessors on July 1) and the equalization rates (set by the NYS Office of Real Property Services by Aug. 15). All else remaining equal, a lower tax levy will result in a lower tax rate,” Crist reiterated, adding the tax rate and the tax levy are two different numbers.
The tax levy for next school year is $25,810,661.
If the district used the “convoluted” formula put forth by the state, “We would have a tax levy limit of $30,884,916. That we could have imposed on the community,” Crist said. “It’s worthy to show what we could have done. What we could have done by law is that. But we didn’t; what we did out of respect to the taxpayers was this.”
The basic needs of the district is the balance, the other piece of the puzzle, he said.
Among the program changes for the coming year will be a Big Picture School for students in grades 7-9 to allow for an alternative non-traditional school, the superintendent said. It is hoped this program will increase graduation rates and decrease the dropout rate.
“It is a project based school program, that involves the kids in designing their own learning plan,” Crist said. “If you look at the benefit of proving students with the skills to be competitive in society it has a lot of good assigned to it. This has been proven to (increase graduation rates).”
The district is also looking to augment the Universal Pre-K program with a developmental component.
“Some groups of students would actually stay in a full-day program as opposed to a half-day to allow for additional interventions and additional support for these children,” he said.
It is the district’s continuing goal to increase the graduation rate, Crist said, adding they are making progress.
“It’s a priority for the whole board, to increase graduation rates and decrease dropout rates,” the superintendent said. “For kids to be competitive in society and our economy a high school graduation, diploma, is a prerequisite to that. We need to equip our kids to be successful. A high school diploma is just allowing for that first chip in the game.”
The district has a (wage) freeze for the teachers this year,” Crist said. They are in negotiations for 2012-13.
“We are out with CSEA and will be going into year two with them beginning with the 2012-13 school year. They are out presently, so we haven’t settled an agreement with CSEA for 2011-12,” he said. “Our administrators agreed to a two-year freeze, so we are through 2012-13 with them.”
COASA, AAP (administrators/department chairs) and the teacher’s union all took the freeze, Crist said.
District taxpayers will vote on the budget and board candidates on May 15. The polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m.
Also on the ballot will be a school bus purchase proposition and a $15 million capital improvements referendum.