Oswego School Board Initiates Committee Format

By Samuel Weisman, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY- The Oswego City School District began a new meetings format this week, committees.

The Finance Committee met at 3 p.m. and the Personnel Committee met at 4 p.m. Tuesday as part of the new system implemented by the Board of Education.

The Curriculum Committee meeting was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. However, it was postponed until 8 p.m. Thursday, to allow more community participation.

Chair Jim Tschudy made the decision. He didn’t want the committee to meet after Personnel (at 5 p.m.) because that would be the dinner hour for many people and if it met prior to Finance (at 2 p.m.) it would still be too early in the day, he said.

“What we gotta do, especially with this finance and stuff, is get in there and see what times work for everybody,” said Dave White, school board president. “We can’t force anyone to come.”

“But we can provide the opportunity,” added Bill Crist, superintendent.

The board used to meet every two weeks, but under the new system it meets once each month with preliminary committee meetings to set the agenda and to answer any questions board members may have.

Feelings on this new system are mixed.

Peter Colucci, assistant superintendent for business, thinks that the new system could be really beneficial.

He said, “I’m excited about it. I think it’s going to help everybody and I think the connection that it establishes between the administration and the board is going to be valuable, and is going to grow a good team effort.”

Colucci is part of the Finance Committee, which focuses on the budget and the allocating of funds.

Overall, the financial meeting seemed beneficial to board members and got everyone contributing and working together.

This was not the case for the Personnel Committee.

The committee had its hands tied because, by law, it could only discuss positions and not the actual people involved.

After this rule was declared by committee head Tom DeCastro, Fran Hoefer, board member, said, “I don’t know what I am doing here. I not being be critical, I just don’t see the point. If anyone has any objection to this stuff, then object and let’s deal with it. But I feel like we are just spinning our wheels for something meaningless. We are performing a meaningless function.”

Hoefer added, “I don’t see the point of a personnel meeting if we can’t discuss any of the people and it’s just going to be brought up at the actual board meeting.”

Colucci recognizes some of the flaws to the new system.

He said, “I think one of the challenges that we’re going to have, that we certainly will address, will be the fact that as we move forward, we live in a fluid organization so there’s things that have to be addressed pretty much continuously and may not be able to wait for the next board meeting. I think we have to find a way for the board and the administration to work together to find some common ground on how to take care of those things.”

One question that the Personnel Committee did raise was how to deal with issues that the board typically handles, such as specialized substitute teachers in foreign language or physics.

The issue is if a substitute is needed for a lengthy period of time, how is that going to be handled with the once-a-month meeting to approve the substitutes and their pay as opposed to the two week intervals of the past?

Hoefer said, “Of course there could be emergency board meetings. But, we can’t have one every time a decision needs to be made. In my opinion, this was not discussed thoroughly or analyzed enough before we did it and it wasn’t really discussed openly. Now that we’ve seen how it’s going to work, I think it is a big mistake. I mean it makes things a lot easier, just rubber stamp it, but what’s the point?”

Colucci who approves of the new system said, “I mean there are pros and cons to it, more pros than cons. I would say the preliminary meetings make sure everybody’s on the same page and nobody is caught by surprise, in that way I think it’s terrific.”

1 Comment

  1. I agree with Fran Hoefer, it seems like a bad idea. Given that things have to wait an entire month for board approval that means the administration is just going to sneak behind their backs and do whatever they want. Remember the Smart Tables debacle? The board tabled the resolution and the administrators didn’t want to wait so they did whatever they wanted anyway. The administrators do not represent the taxpaying public and we need our representatives making these decisions. Not self-interested administrators.

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