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Oswego School Board Examines Funds

OSWEGO, NY – Members of the Oswego School Board gathered Tuesday night for their first 2010-11 budget workshop.

Financial advisor Thomas Zuber, the district’s external auditor, was present to explain about reserves and their purpose, fund balance and revenues.

He cautioned the board that any time they take money out of a reserve, it’s one shot revenue.

It would be logical, board member Fran Hoefer said, to budget for what the district spends.

He said he’d like to know what part(s) of the district’s budget has the most impact on the community, and if possible, make some cuts there.

“I want to know what kind of things are impacting the local share,” he said.

Board member John Dunsmoor wondered how much money the district could save for other things if it didn’t augment its school bus fleet for just one year.

“Taking teachers away from kids would hurt a lot more than not having a brand new bus,” he said.

“We’re always hearing about non-funded mandates. I am curious as to what is a non-funded mandate? They tell us we have to teach English?” asked board member Dave White.

“We need teaching aides as opposed to disabled student classroom aides,” Superintendent Bill Crist pointed out. “That’s a perfect example.”

Peter Colucci, the district’s business manager, offered another example.

“Drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers. It’s an unfunded mandate,” he said.

The district has created the illusion that it can keep raising the budget without increasing the tax levy, Hoefer said.

“That’s an illusion that’s doomed to fail,” he added.

The board has another workshop planned for 6 p.m. today (Dec. 9) in the Curriculum Center on the second floor of the Ed Center, 120 E. First St.

The workshop is scheduled to discuss recommendations (pros and cons) of a six-period teaching day at the secondary level.

Representatives from the community, teaching staff, administration and students are expected to be discussing this topic with the board members and central office administration.