OSWEGO, NY – At Tuesday night’s public hearing, Dr. Dean Goewey, superintendent, offered a brief overview of the school district’s plan to sell the Education Center and relocate its central offices.
He also responded to a handful of questions from the public.
The Oswego City School District will hold a public vote on January 10 regarding two propositions.
Proposition No. 1
Shall the Board of Education of the Oswego City School District be authorized to appropriate funds from the District’s Capital Reserve Fund in the maximum amount of $750,000, and to spend the money to repurpose parts of Leighton Elementary and the high school (as part of moving the central offices).
Proposition No. 2
Shall the Board of Education of the Oswego City School District be authorized to sell for the highest offer, in accordance with the board’s fiduciary duty to obtain the best price possible, the district’s interest the Education Center, 120 E. First St., Oswego.
Voters previously OK’d a similar proposition. However, that one was “very specifically worded,” the superintendent pointed out, to include a timeframe, which has since expired. Therefore a new vote is required.
The district’s enrollment has decreased, but remained stable over the past few years, the superintendent said.
The district would also benefit financially from the sale, he added. The list price is $1.8 million.
“The fact that we’re student-centered, the idea of moving the central office back into a school, being around kids, seemed like the right thing to do,” he said.
The Ed Center has exhausted its usefulness for the district, he said.
Any offer the district receives for the site must be approved by the board.
“We’ve outlived the use of this building. Because our enrollment has dropped so significantly we can occupy a wing of a school and put (the Ed Center) back on the tax rolls,” Dr. Goewey said.
The plan is to relocate the offices into the northeast part of Frederick Leighton Elementary School. As part of the move, renovations are also being planned for Oswego High School, across the street from Leighton.
The district has met with its architects, King and King and they’re putting together a detailed proposal for the board to review.
“It will give schematics, a breakdown of all costs relative to … the restructure of the Oswego High School main office, one is the relocation of our technology infrastructure and staff and the third is the Leighton renovations,” Dr. Goewey said, stressing,. “We have not sold the building yet. But everything that can be done at Leighton has been done.”
The architects will make a presentation to the board next month.
Currently, the capital reserve account has over $1 million in it.
They would not use in excess of $750,000 of the account. This amount should be sufficient and the district won’t have to go out for another vote if they had picked a lower figure and didn’t have enough funds to complete the work
Not a penny of the funds can be spent until the board gives its approval, the superintendent explained.
Doren Norfleet asked about the city parking spaces in the Ed Center’s lot.
Would the district acquire them from the city and include them in the sale of the building?
“We have had some conversation between the district and the city,” Dr. Goewey said. “The saleability of the building is greater with all of the parking.”
Norfleet owns property nearby the Ed Center, and noted the dearth of public parking in the area and the loss of these spaces to the public would only make matters worse, she said.
No offer to the city has been made; the two sides have just “talked” about the possibilities, the superintendent explained. “The option of purchasing the parking lot certainly exists. But, we’re not there yet,” he said.
With central offices moving into a school, Jim Jackson asked, what happens if there’s an upswing in enrollment and more classroom space is needed?
“Our long-term perspective on enrollment is pretty stable at what we are right now,” Dr. Goewey said. “We have room for some growth.”
Upon sale of the building, whatever portion of the $750,000 left would immediately be paid back; the district wants to sustain the capital reserve account, Dr. Goewey said.
The district has had two or three very serious inquiries on the building.
“Two or three potential developers have toured the building more than once,” he added.
The corporation that is listing and marketing the building wants the district to stay in the building until it’s sold.
“It’s more marketable with us in it,” Dr. Goewey said. “We’re going ahead with all the planning that is necessary to make this plan happen, should the building sell.”
Pam Dowd said she has heard concerns from some members of the public over how lavish the new offices will be.
“I have actually had people go, ‘Why do they need carpeting?’ I guess their concern is if this building sells, let’s not use all this money to retrofit this building or that building,” she said.
“The board and this administration, for the last year, have been pretty clear about our desire to be extremely frugal,” Dr. Goewey said. “I think it’s been demonstrated in the fact that we have an interest in selling a building that has out-lived its usefulness to our district. And I think it’s been exhibited by that fact that this central office and board is eager to move into an elementary school at a quarter of the size. This is about saving money and proving fiscal solvency moving forward. I think we’ve shown through our actions and our words over the last year and a half that we’re not about wasting money. ”
They are looking to bank at least $1 million from the sale of the Ed Center, he added.
Polling places for the public vote (noon to 9 p.m.) will be Scriba Fire Station, St. Paul’s Church, Elim Grace Church and Minetto United Methodist Church.
Absentee ballots are available at the District Clerk’s office at 120 E. First St., between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by calling 315-341-2001.