OSWEGO, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Members of the Oswego School Board haggled over the administrative portion of the 2010-11 budget for a solid 90 minutes Tuesday night.
The board was apprised of the figures, “as we know them to date,” explained Bill Crist, superintendent.
Next week, the board will hear about the instructional segment of the spending plan.
“I will present my budget proposal to the board on March 16,” Crist said.
The public vote on the budget will be held in May.
Crist said it is still not known exactly how the state’s fiscal situation will impinge on the school district. There are other outside factors at play, such as the retirement system and Medicaid, which may cause problems for the district, the superintendent added.
“It’s an estimate of what we believe we need in terms of operating this school district,” Crist said of the budget. “We’ll present it to you and you’ll have a chance to mull it over before presenting the final version to the voters.”
Board member Fran Hoefer asked to be provided with the figures that show exactly what the district spent for the 2008-09 school year (figures for the current school year are not complete). That, he said, would give him a clearer picture of what the district needs for 2010-11.
“I want to see what we spent, not what we budgeted,” he said. “That’s the only way we’ll know what we really need to have.”
Pete Colucci, the district’s business manager, said he’d do his best to provide him with the figures by the next board meeting.
The state aid picture, “although alarming,” doesn’t impact Oswego as much as other districts, Colucci pointed out.
“We are fortunate that we are not as aid dependent as some others,” he said.
Board member John Dunsmoor said he’d like data on what the district would need to do to keep a zero percent tax levy.
“In my mind, if we’re going to keep the tax rate at a reasonable amount, we’re looking at cuts,” said Sam Tripp, board president.
“I don’t think we should wait until the last minute. I think right now we should go back to all of the bargaining units and say, ‘Look, we are up against it and we are going to have to make some cuts. Would you be interested in re-opening the contract and maybe going to two percent (salary increase) and saving us $700,000,'” Tripp continued.
Crist has contacted the unions in that regard, but he hasn’t received any word back yet, he said.
When certain people retire, the district could save money by not replacing them, Dunsmoor pointed out.
“There are always other places that we can make cut before we start looking at cutting staff,” board member Tom DeCastro said.
“Let’s look at them!” Hoefer replied.
“That’s what we’re asking (the business manager) to do,” Tripp said.
“We need to look at places that aren’t going to directly impact the kids. That should be the very last place we take into consideration,” DeCastro said.
“There is a lot of work to do yet. I understand that,” Crist said. “I can understand your concerns.”