Oswego School Board OKs 2014-15 Spending Plan

OSWEGO, NY – On Wednesday morning, the Oswego board of education approved the budget for the coming school year 6-0-1 with member John Dunsmoor absent.

The $79,900,000 spending plan contains a 4 percent tax increase for the fiscal year commencing July 1, 2014.

Oswego superintendent Ben Halsey and board member Lynda Sereno listen as the budget resolution is read Wednesday.
Oswego superintendent Ben Halsey and board member Lynda Sereno listen as the budget resolution is read Wednesday.

It also calls for the closure of the Buc School located in the basement of the Education Center. The Big Picture School program isn’t being eliminated as the students will continue with the program in some manner as they are integrated back into the Oswego middle and high schools.

Board vice president Sam Tripp still has some reservations.

“The budget does financially what we need to do. I just want to state that I am not in favor of eliminating the Buc School. I know (business administrator) Nancy (Squairs) and (Superintendent) Ben (Halsey) have put a lot of hours into this budget and haven’t really had time to come up with a plan. Until I see that plan, I’m not in favor of throwing these kids back into a system that is already failing them,” he said.

Pam Dowd of the Leighton Home and School Association thanked the administrators and the board for their hard work on the budget.

“It is what it is. You can’t pluck dollars out of the air. You have to do the best thing you can with what you have to work with,” she said. “I appreciate all your time and effort; Nancy and Ben especially. Thank you all.”

“This is a difficult situation. There is not a perfect budget there. The board support of this budget means a lot to me as a superintendent. Now our task is to take these next few weeks and present it to the public in a way that they can understand it, and answer their questions so they feel informed to vote on it on May 20. I’m happy with the result today,” Halsey said following the meeting.

The superintendent added that he is confident that the Buc students will successfully make their way back into middle and high school life.

“I think those students and families that are currently in the Buc that are willing to work with us and give this transition a chance, I think they’re going to be pleasantly surprised with the result when they get into whether it be the middle school or the high school,” he said.

How the plan will actually look, he’s unsure right now.

He will be working with the building administrators and counselors to put together a transition team right away, including staff from the Buc, and start having meetings about what they can integrate into the regular flow of OMS and OHS and what changes may be needed to accommodate it all.

“So, those benefits the Buc students were receiving, might be able to be extended out to students that weren’t in the Buc. I know there is some great stuff going on in those buildings that students haven’t been exposed to either. So I really see this as a positive on both sides,” Halsey said. “And, financially, for us, over the long-haul, it’s going to be a lot more efficient.”

Convincing the Buc students to stick with the program is going to be a challenge, the superintendent admits.

“We’re going to want to make sure that we incorporate their thoughts, opinions and their concerns this spring. We’re going to start having these meetings this spring so when they leave in June they have a sense of comfort that when they come to school in September, it’s going to be OK,” he told Oswego County Today. “I understand that. They built a family relationship down there. But, they are still part of the Oswego City School District. That sense of community, that I know is strong here, we really need to make sure that they have that feeling when they walk in in September. I am confident that we can do it. We’ve got great people all over the place.”


  1. As a student of the Buc this angers me beyond belief. I remember the first day of the first year. It was exciting and we thought that we would have this school for at least five years. We have not even finished two. So tell me superintendent. Is it right to do this? Even though it has only been alive for two years. Even though it has saved students who would have never had a chance otherwise! Did the words of all those parents and students fall on deaf ears, do you consider use dumb. We are not mute. We are the Buc. And we will never forget this.

  2. 79,900,000 dollars, and they can’t even spare enough to keep our school? I mean, I know the people in charge don’t care about our feelings or those of our staff, but seriously… Have some compassion…

  3. I understand what your saying but people in Oswego are getting tax strapped
    drive around Oswego and take a good look at the houses for sale that’s all lost tax money and the people that are still here are getting taxed big time where do you think this money is coming from this city is getting run into the ground where do we stop

  4. I love the BUC it was always a dream, I was in for 1 year and it was the best I was hoping to graduate and become a historian, I was doing a good job to using ILP but now the dream is gone do they even know what we do, participate at Salvation army, Make maple syrup, do challenges, make model planes. Is that worth NOTHING!!!!!!!

  5. Thank you to the BUC students and families who spoke at last night’s board meeting. Though the board members clearly had no intention of actually participating in a democratic forum, your words did not fall on deaf ears. Your parents, your principal, your school, and your community hear you. We hear you say you were lied to. We hear you say you are a family. We hear you say, with pride in your voice, how much your school does for this community and how much you have learned through your ILPs and mentorships. We hear your fear of bullying, of getting lost in the cracks, of losing opportunities. We hear your frustration, your anger, your despair. We hear you calling out board members and your superintendent for unprofessional conduct and willful ignorance. We hear you, and we are very proud of your collective voice.

  6. Not one school board member was for the buc in the first place. One of them board members better watch out, you think you can post something on Facebook bashing these poor kids? Just remember everyone sees everything posted on the intranet. What about that agreement of keeping the school for 5 years? Obviously none of you guys are good educated because it’s only been 2 years.

  7. I am glad that we have a sensible budget proposal. I am sorry that the Buc parents and kids were promised five years, but that was not from central office but within their own program, a promise those folks had no right making. I know how hard teachers throughout the district work, and know that both OMS and OHS will have a transition program. The amount of money spent on the Buc for less than 100 students was ridiculous. As a taxpayer I would have voted no on the budget if the board left it open.

  8. The only obligation we have as parents, administrators, teachers and the community is to develop the minds of our youth and give them every opportunity to succeed. This should be promoted without reservation.

    The children of the BUC have been labeled as different. This is a hard burden for a child to bear. They were given five years to see how far this school could go. Sadly after two years financial restraints has put this on the block as one of the first to go.

    The children of this school, who up to this point were unsuccessful within a conventional educational setting, have finally found their niche. They have discovered not everyone learns or thinks the same way, and that is perfectly acceptable. Finding that spark that gets a mind excited has led to some of the greatest inventions and strongest leaders of our time.

    Mr. Halsey, the School Board Members and the community would see the excitement in the children’s eyes after one simple visit. I believe that the BUC is a tremendous opportunity that should not be wasted.

  9. You know you can still have this type of school – I understand Manlius Pebble Hill school has openings you can get an application on there website (and then you can have your PRIVATE school education).

    As a taxpayer why should we pay for a select group of students have a PRIVATE education when it is not available to ALL of the students. They KEY here is they are getting a PUBLIC education put them in with ALL of the students where they ALL can benefit! Not just a handful!

    BRAVO – to the superintendent for realizing that we didn’t need a tax increase when these students can be put into the middle and high school and maybe “ALL” of the students can benefit from it – not just a select few!

    I am glad they decided not to get rid of the security…. That is definitely needed in all of the schools!

  10. I am sorry to hear about the BUC school but if anyone should be upset or who to point the finger it would be with the BUC principal and teachers. I listened to the comments made by many at the meeting and to hear that BUC students were promised to have an Associates degree by the time you graduated high school is a complete false thing! Also hearing that you are receiving PE credits from someone who is not certified again a lie. I am a school counselor in Syracuse and know what the LAW says, and I feel very unfortunate for the kids in the BUC school who have been promised things that are not true, you cannot earn an associates degree from being in high school and nor can you receive PE (Mandated 2 credits to graduate high school by the way) credits from someone who is does not hold either a BSED or MSED in PE. And from further speaking to people none of you have been given legal PE credit! Your BUC principal should have known all of this all along, unless she is also not certified as well. I find it unfortunate that you have had the wool pulled over your eyes by the one you are supporting so much, point the finger at the one responsible, BUC students you are now way behind due to the lies you were told by your principal, the truth sometimes hurts and what I typing is the LAW and the TRUTH. You all speak of real life skills, welcome to real life, you have been lied to by the one you are supporting not by the BOE members. I am sorry for you.

  11. Friends and supporters of the BUC! We may be able to save our school! Come on May 14 to the basement of the Ed center to help support our school and bring it out of the dark ages! Long live THE BUC!

  12. Please come everyone, on the 14 of May, at 6:00 pm, in the basement of the Ed Center. We are having an open house and do not want to let our school die.

  13. We get it, you want the BUC to live so the kids feel like they are learning and feel welcomed in their little private school. People need to pay for private schools. the BUC is not a private school. What school do you go to that you can only be accepted and there are no behavior problems? That is called a private school. Taxpayers don’t pay for private schools. It’s unfortunate that kids feel they can’t learn in a regular school setting but that is life. Life is not easy. You are thrown curve balls that, when overcome, will lead to your success. If you are allowed to throw that hat in at an early age and take the easy way out how well is it preparing you for your future anyways?

  14. Dear Stu,

    There are several flaws in your arguement.

    First. School vouchers exist. That is all I have to say to your arguement that taxpayers do not pay for kids to go to private schools

    Second. Are you saying private schools have no discipline problems?

    Third. You seem to know little of the Buc and what we do. Students can have LTIs. LTIs(Learning Through Interships) and of course younger students participate in community service like helping at the Salvation Army. Some of the LTIs are at Bridie Manor and at the Bus Barn.

    Four. Other kids are “thrown curve balls.” There are programs for them, for instance the Special Ed program. Now do you think it would under any possible circumstances, reasonable to cancel the Special Ed program. Now that is not saying the Buc students are disabled mentally in any way.

    If you wish to make a reasonable argument the please do come to the open house on the 14th of May at 6:00 pm in the basement of the Ed Center.

  15. You can’t even bring up the Special Ed program in this situation. Special Education is a MANDATED program in New York state and is to help students who are actually labeled with a learning disability or special need in the classroom. The students in the BUC are not, so it is a far different situation. Private schools do have behavior problems as every school should, but to be accepted into the BUC you can’t have a behavior problem. Of course learning will be easier and more fun with no behavior problems for a teacher to take care of! LTI’s sound like volunteering or community service, which any student who goes to school for a full day is able to do anyways and does not need to do it through the BUC. All of your points make it more clear that it is a luxury and not something that is NEEDED.

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