OSWEGO, NY – Members of the Oswego City School District’s board of education got their first look Tuesday night at the superintendent’s proposed 2013-14 spending plan.
The tentative budget, right now, is $78, 402,453.
“At a time when other school districts, many school districts, are looking at cutting significant staff and impacting programs, I think we’re in pretty decent shape,” Crist said.
They are looking to make some reductions, “soft cuts,” according to the superintendent.
“Whenever we can, we try to make ‘soft cuts,’ cuts that are presently vacant positions at this point,” he explained.
In light of the declines in student enrollment, he has proposed a reduction of 11.6 full-time positions. The specific cuts were not identified. What the positions are hasn’t been finalized, the superintendent noted.
“Of the 11.6, I would say at this point we have a few vacancies that exist in the district that allows for us to make some soft cuts,” he said. “It won’t be someone getting laid off. It will just be the evaporation of that position from the budget. The other positions are focused on our view of enrollment.”
The district is going into its second year of redistricting, which allows them to look at class sizes at the elementary level and how they can best keep class sizes within established guidelines and meet the needs of the students based on enrollment projections, Crist explained.
The middle school population is projected to be smaller for the next school year, Crist said.
Over the last few years there have been smaller classes at the high school, he added.
“We believe we have one of the smallest student populations at the high school next year in the last 15-20 years,” he said. “It’s hovering below 1,200 students. When we look at what we’re scheduling students for next year, we see that there are some class sizes that will result in us being able to reduce staff and we hoping to do most of that through retirements.”
The Big Picture School and the Universal Pre-K program are both points of pride for the district, Crist said, adding that both will have a positive impact on increasing the graduation rate and decreasing the dropout rate.
The potential cuts will be “largely impacted by what we see in the retirements coming forth in the next week,” Crist said.
If things don’t work out well, there could be more staff cuts proposed, Crist said.
“Everything’s on the table,” he said.
The budget priorities include program preservation, with appropriate staffing; health and safety of students and staff; efficiency of operations; 2% tax levy cap vs. tax levy limit; and the 2013-14 appropriated fund balance limit, the superintendent said.
“The levy that we’re going to be setting out is a slight increase (over this school year’s). We had direction from the board to increase the tax rate by 3% and that translates into a 2.3% levy from year to year,” Crist said.
The budget will proposition #1 when people go to the poll in May. Proposition #2 is to replace 12 buses ($999,790 – $670,859 state aid).
April 9: Final budget presentation and adoption by board
April 26: Final legal date for adoption by the board (state law)
May 1: Deadline for submission of petitions for nominations of board of education candidates
May 7: Public hearing on budget
May 21: Public vote