Oswego School Budget Approved; Ciappa, Allen Elected

OSWEGO, NY – Voters approved the Oswego City School District’s budget for 2018-19 school year by an unofficial vote of 1,391 yes to 900 no.

Tom Ciappa
Tom Ciappa

They also elected a newcomer, Tom Ciappa and former board president, Kathleen Allen earned the second open seat on the board of education.

The top vote-getter, with an unofficial tally of 1,324, was Ciappa.

He was followed by Allen with 854.

Allen said she is thankful for all the support she received.

Kathleen Allen
Kathleen Allen

“I’m am happy to be back on the board. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done,” she told Oswego County Today. “I want to help make the district more efficient; we can’t take a step backward. Our district is ranked low – that is something I really want to improve.”

“Thank you very much. I appreciate all the support,” Ciappa said. “It’s an honor, and very humbling. I am looking forward to bringing what I can to the board.”

He wants to help improve the district’s graduation rates and students’ test scores, he added.

“I think everyone (on the board) has the same goals in mind. They all want what’s best for our district,” he said. “We want to get it back up to where we know it can be.”

Rounding out the vote was Chris Joyce with 784, (incumbent) Tom DeCastro with 489, (former board member) Mike McLaughlin with 408, and Jeffrey King with 351.

Incumbent Lynda Sereno didn’t seek re-election.

The budget was approved in all four voting districts.

The $84,115,075 budget is a 2% larger budget than the 2017-18 budget. However, the current tax rate of $20.46 per thousand is anticipated to remain the same in the 2018-19 school year, Dr. Dean Goewey, superintendent, said in his budget newsletter.

The 2018-9 budget has a zero dollar tax increase.

The district can only control the tax levy, the superintendent pointed out. Changes in assessments in July may impact the tax rate from what the district projected, he added.

Voters also approved (1,423 yes to 851 no) the purchase of buses:

One 34-passenger mini bus at a maximum estimated cost of $53,656; One 34-passenger mini bus with wheelchair lift at a maximum estimated cost of $64,781; Four 64-passenger full size school buses at a maximum estimated cost of $111,226 each at a total combined total maximum estimated cost of not to exceed $681,106.

And the public library vote ($1,299,199 to operate the library) passed 1,479 yes to 784 no. Two board candidates, Mercedes Niess and Joe Sgarlata, were elected to the two open seats.


  1. 1.3 mil for the library– close it down to part time– how many actually use the library to pay that much cash

  2. School taxes rose by about 12% between 2013 and 2016 when Mrs. Allen was board President, just saying.

  3. The library is used continuously. People work different shifts, there are activities for the kids during the day, it makes for a good place to finish work/homework after work hours. Closing it to part time hours is an ignorant solution.

  4. Well, the library taxes are also up 20% over the last few years. Why? What is the reason that the library cannot live within its means? They are coming back to the taxpayer as though we are a bottomless pit of cash. Why are 20,000 citizens paying so much money for a very small subset of the population to finish work and homework after hours?

    Regarding school taxes, as election winner Kathleen Allen notes, the district is ranked very very low. Why? They, including Kathleen, have raised taxes every year since F. Hoefer left the board. They tell us they need CA$H to improve results “for the kids”. We’ve forked over the CA$H and the schools are still doing poorly. Why? Has it occurred to anyone that raising taxes is not the solution? How about looking to see where money is being wasted and reallocating those resources to something more meaningful? Hello…last year the people approved a 2.5% tax increase by a 70-30 margin, this year they only approved a 0% tax increase by 60-40. There is no confidence and it is because this board and superintendent have revealed themselves to be very spend happy, arrogantly admonishing the taxpayers for not eagerly signing up for $60 million for turf fields. These are our hard earned dollars, not mad money.

  5. When Mrs. Allen served on the Board our Governor was making many districts spend down reserves and for lack of a better way to say it was committing all out war against our public schools and communities across the state.

    The entire BOE at that time also had to deal with the common core fiasco (Something Bill Gates has now admitted was a failure…but isn’t offering any reparations for his failed experiment on a generation of children).

    Attached to common core was over use and abuse of testing and data collection. The testing has been shown time and time again to be shown not age appropriate, the formula to measure our children’s’ growth was found to be “Arbitrary and capricious” by NY’s highest court and yet it is still being used, that also means that that flawed formula is still being used to rate and rank our schools. The Federal Gov’t passing the ESSA was smoke and mirrors that essentially cemented common core in place. (thank Obama and his Ed secretary Arne Duncan for that).

    Ms. Allen was the sole board member that took a very public stand in support of the test refusal movement while administration throughout every level of the district was using threats, bribes, and bold faced lies to get parents have their children take the NYS Assessment tests…in collusion with NY State Ed.

    Now the Governor has loosened the purse strings in aid to several districts that he almost bankrupted…oh that’s right…it’s an election year for him.

    Ms. Allen is not perfect, but understand that there were pressures on that whole BOE and BOE’s across the state that was previously unheard of.

    The real problem is East, down the thruway, in a swamp called Albany in the offices of the Regents, Commissioner Elia, and Governor Cuomo. take it a step further…President Trump was very publicly opposed to all aspects of Common Core yet has not addressed it as a matter of law.

    The make-up of our “new” BOE has some strong personalities from across the political spectrum. I pray they they can put politics aside (as that is what created much of the mess we are faced with) and put the children FIRST…ALL CHILDREN.

    I would love to see this new board unite and take the fight where it belongs, and that is not amongst ourselves.

  6. I cannot imagine a community without a library. It’s not just about paper books! There are computers for many uses, and not everyone is a library member that uses the facilities, so it is hard to gauge how many people actually use the library for all the varied activities/social events/children’s events, etc.

    I was there recently (and only recently renewed my own library card because I use the library without taking anything out most of the time (I own a bookstore so I have pretty much what I want to READ in my own stacks). However, the last time I bought a major appliance and a car, I used the library magazines to do my research, for instance. I am not alone because many of these magazines are dog-eared. I almost always see people reading newpapers, some on the computer! Movies to take out are a nice bonus, with a card. I use to do that all the time before I worked this many hours.

    I have attended art openings/and other gatherings, including a writer’s group at the library.

    I think that a city without a library would be a city that bodes ill for
    a sense of ‘community.’ It’s actually sort of sad that MORE people don’t use the library (although there are a lot of people that DO), because when we are in Liverpool or Rochester THEIR libraries are packed.

    IF you haven’t been in the library in recent years, you need to stop by and check out all the things on offer. Bring the grand kids (or your kids) to story hour or play times or crafts, or the summer reading program that stimulates kids to KEEP reading over the summer. Many children who are reading challenged NEED this extra boost to help their children keep on track (and it’s FREE with a library card!). There is even a summer picnic, with prizes at the end of the summer! Great FUN for kids. Most of us do want to help out kids and this does for ANY income level!

    I cannot agree with the writer who says our library should close its doors, or at the very least cut hours! WHICH hours would you suggest when parents and children have varied schedules?

    Libraries are an investment in all of our futures. For your doctor/lawyer, etc., should be a good reader. And maybe the choices are influenced by their libraries and the reading materials contained within.

  7. (to the other John) — that’s fair, but I still, for the life of me, can never wrap my head around higher property taxes for fewer children for worse results (and I get your point about crazy standards from the state). It’s why I almost never vote an incumbent or previous board member back into office, because every year spending and taxes go up, and enrollment and results go down. I vote the same way against incumbents at the state and federal level, because no matter what I am always paying more and getting less. I am not picking on Mrs. Allen, but the year she (and McLaughlin and DeCastro–I didn’t vote for them either– and Sam Tripp and the rest) increased taxes 10% only about 10 months after the city gave its own whopper of a tax increase made it very difficult for citizens to make ends meet.

    I can never wrap my head around the number and scope of capital projects they do either. They are trying to sell the ed center for $1M correct? (Goewey promised it would sell). What is the real property value of 7 school buildings? I would think it cannot be more than $30M. So why would it take $60M to repair $30M worth of buildings? And thats just this year. A few years ago they asked us for $15M and a few years before that it was $48M and a few years before that it was $10M. I really don’t get it. All I know is I don’t take $250,000 of equity every 3 years out on my $90,000 house to do repairs. If these buildings are costing hundreds of millions of dollars to keep up on every decade, why not tear them down and build new schools? That would almost certainly be less expensive than these capital projects. I’m sorry, as a private sector citizen, I can never make the math work. I don’t mean this as a pot shot, but it feels like a money laundering operation of some sort. Why are we fixing roofs and windows and boilers SO often for SO much money on buildings that HAVE to be worth less than that?

    *as I was typing this, I got curious so I looked at the full market values from the county tax office

    Oswego High school = 6,521,800
    Leighton = 5,714,500
    Fitzhugh – 4,870,000
    Kingsford = 1,987,000
    Riley = 3,464,500
    Middle school = 8,000,000
    Minetto = 6,000,000
    TOTAL = $43,079,600

    so can someone tell me why we have to pay $60,000,000 to fix 7 schools? why don’t they put up a $43,000,000 capital project to tear all 7 schools down and build new? The school district shows we have 6 open projects with $82,207,772 of outstanding debt and they would like to take on $60M more.

    Am I missing something? Can anyone convince me that these capital projects really aren’t a money laundering operation?

Comments are closed.