Oswego School Board Continues Working On Budget Issues

OSWEGO, NY – 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.”


  1. The work level of the staff needs to be increased, i.e. teaching more of the day. This will allow approximately 17% of the staff to be laid off without impacting the children as Tom DeCastro is concerned about. Or is he actually concerned with OCTA and just using the good ol’ “do it for the kids” motto?

    Next the unions will be suing Sam Tripp for his suggestion that they cut their raise in half next year. I applaud Mr. Tripp. Since we have seen that the suggestion has been put out there, we will now be able to see where the unions stand. They claim they are in it for the kids. If this is true, they would reduce their wage. My guess is that greed will prevail. Oh well, the elections in May will turn the tide and Fran Hoefer will be the next President of the Board. With Fran leading negotiations, the unions will get nothing in their next contract. That is fine by me.

  2. How can the School district even look at a raise when every day company’s are laying off all around the world and the amount of people out of work just in oswego is said but lets give out a raise lets raise taxes just one more thing people can’t afford oh but wait thats right if I can’t pay my school tax they just take my house sometime down the road when the taxes keep piling up it’s a sad world we live in when the school can’t hold the line on taxes to help the people out how are having a hard time with bills as it is well if all else fails we can go to the school cafeteria and watch TV with the kids,,

  3. I agree Larry, it is outrageous to be looking at raises, but we are currently locked into 4%. Sam wants to decrease that to 2%, something that the unions could realistically do without sacrificing much. They could prove a lot if they did this.

    The problem is, Bill Crist stated he already put this out to the unions. Yes, Bill Crist, the same one who demanded the board give him a $4260 raise only 3 weeks ago. How can the unions take his request seriously, when he is essentially stating to them: “I am entitled to $4260 but can you all reduce your raise by half?” Crist is a truly appaling example of leadership! It looks like the board isn’t willing to give him his raise, but the teachers know he wanted one.

    If Bill Crist was a true leader, he would publicly state the following: “I asked for a raise and I was out of line to do so in such economic and financial circumstances. I officially withdraw my request and apologize for my audacity in requesting such to begin with. I have come to realize that our school district cannot afford raises at this time, and I ask the bargaining units to join with me at this time in taking a sacrifice for the 2010-11 school year with no raises for anyone. I also would like to ask Mr. Colucci and Ms. Chamberlain to join me in giving back the $6000 they received over the summer, as their job performance has not warranted such.”

    That would be leadership. Making a personal sacrifice and asking others to do the same. Bill’s style of leadership is to demand more for himself and take from everyone else. Our school board made a poor decision in hiring him for this position. I feel we need someone who will do a better job and display a stronger resolve to do the right thing for the district.

  4. “The work level of the staff needs to be increased, i.e. teaching more of the day.”

    If this were done, it would eliminate a period where teachers plan, grade, meet with students, make copies, update grades, phone parents, etc.. Is this really what we want?

    How about instead of knocking each other we all work together to find ways to cut or consolidate that do not impact students? Is it too much to ask that we stop the public mudslinging and set an example for our students, instead of working together, a vital skill that we should be demonstrating?

  5. Jane, the staff would actually lose their babysitting period of study hall or lunch duty. But either way, I would not mind if they lost a planning period. They could come in 40 minutes early or stay 40 minutes late and work an 8 hour day like the rest of the world, if they need the time to do these things.

    The teachers union has no problem suggesting the taxpayers pay more, so I have no problem suggesting they work more.

  6. I agree with Jerry and most of the other posts here. The teaching staff have teacher aides, parents, etc. who can help them during the hour they should be working and not have the paid time to pick up dry cleaning, call their parents in Fla., go to McDonald’s, check the local websites, etc. I was a helping parent for years. I know what happens (or doesn’t happen) in our schools.
    I see our Superintendent is receiving much criticism for his requested $4,300 raise. He should save face and admit he made a terrible mistake and he didn’t realize the regular Oswegonians (who aren’t employed by our school district) have no more blood to give him and his overpaid staff.
    Maybe Mr. Crist or Mr. Hoefer can eliminate that $950.00 (every year added to their base salary) for having the NYS mandated Master’s Degree. That perk should have stopped the 3rd year after the State required it. That’s $380,000 a year just for the teachers. Add to that Mr. Crist’s $950.00 as he has a Master’s, all his Assistants, all the principals, it is a lot of unearned and unneeded perks.
    Our retired citizens didn’t receive a COLA increase this year yet Mr Crist wants one?

  7. THe primary school teachers get 1 40 min period for planning , 1 30 min for lunch. And they have to plan lessons for each and every subject so they need to plan several different lessons for an entire day. When they grade papers they need to grade for 5 different subjects.

    OMS/OHS teahcers get 2 40 min periods for planning 1 40 min period for lunch and 1 40 min period of babysitting. They teach generally the same classes, maybe 2 different classes. So they need to plan 2 lessons for a day. The kids turn in all the same assignment so grading goes much more smoothly because its 100 versions of the same thing ……….. they have to plan for less classes and have smoother grading yet get more time to “plan”

    Secondary teachers for report cards just need to submit a number. Elem teachers need to fill out an entire evaulation for each kid. Yet they each get a half day each semester to “work on report cards”

    See the differences? How come elem teachers can do so much more with so much less planning time???? I think secondary teachers need to spend more time TEACHING and less time babysitting and farting around. The drastic financial situation of the OSD requires teachers to be laid off and those who remain to pick up the slack and spend more time working.

    OCTA — welcome to the real world! Those of us who actually WORK for a living have dealt with this forever!!! AND with no raises!

    Go Fran Hoefer keep up your fight you are doing great. Thanks for speaking up for us.

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