OSWEGO, NY – The tentative 2016-17 budget for the Oswego City School District has cut the fat – and then some.
“Nobody likes reductions … I hate these reductions,” Dr. Dean Goewey, superintendent, said Tuesday night after unveiling his updated budget plan.
The $79,510,611 budget proposal is less than the current budget and less than the 2014-15 budget.
However, the cuts are severe.
Because the state aid came in less then anticipated, the spending plan contains a 2.5% levy increase. For a $100,000 home that translates into an additional $52.98.
That would generate $140,000 for the district, the superintendent explained.
“The largest piece of the pie and this is exactly as it should be, is instruction,” he said describing the district’s expenditures. “42.5% of our budget is under instruction.”
Reductions “were very necessary,” he said, adding that you can’t close a $5.6 million gap without impacting students.
Reductions at the Central Office level include a $27,140 cut in superintendent salary, a full-time personnel reduction of $157,245 and a clerical full-time position of $53,788 for a total of $238,173.
There was also some restructuring – such as the elimination of Dr. Goewey’s former assistant superintendent position and the elimination of the director of personnel.
Among the cuts in Athletics are Football (varsity and JV) – $59,270; Football cheerleaders -$20,253; Freshman Basketball – $8,491; Girls’ Varsity Hockey – $25,620; Varsity Wrestling – $24,034 and all Modified Sports – $190,015. The total is $364,474.
Some reductions at the elementary level include eight full-time teachers ($470,575), three phys ed teachers ($208,083), and instructional coaches ($120,000). The total is $945,118.
At the middle school the cuts include a technology teacher ($86,899), a health teacher ($82,304), and an art teacher ($78,572). The total there is $367,277.
Eight teaching positions are on the block at the high school. Among them are an art teacher ($78,572), two English teachers ($119,574), a science teacher ($85,562) and a language teacher ($67,150). The total at OHS is $526,730.
The total support staff reductions (20 full-time jobs), including four custodians, seven library clerks, eight typists and a security officer cut another $560,803.
Other stipend reductions include all team leaders ($81,078), club advisors ($140,010), elementary intramurals ($25,000) and others for a total of $271,288.
And, other reductions would include field trips, music equipment and supplies, health insurance, and all UPK classes that are not federally funded, and more for a total of $1,687,714.
They were “very, very difficult reductions,” Dr. Goewey said.
A Braille teacher, an ESL teacher and middle school intramurals were added ($160,000) to the budget.
As of June 30, 2015, the district had a total reserve balance of $7,959,735, the superintendent said. Now, it is down to $4,951,298.
If the voters don’t approve the budget, the district has three options.
It can put a revised budget up for a vote; it can put the same budget up for a second vote; or more to a contingency budget.
If the budget fails a second time, the board must adopt a contingency budget.
The district would have to go back to the 2015-16 levy of $28,169,825, the superintendent said, adding the result is an additional reduction of $704,246 from the budget.
There would be several restrictions placed on the district under a contingency budget, he said.
“This budget (proposal) is responsible, difficult. I know that nobody at this board table likes any of these reductions,” he said. “I hate these reductions. And, I know the audience does, too. It’s time for us to make some very difficult decisions. We can either curl up and die or we can look at this as an opportunity for growth and renewal.”
“I just want everyone to know there’s not one person sitting around this table that’s happy with any of this,” board member Sam Tripp said following the budget presentation. “We agonized over this for months.”
There were things the district should have done regarding past budgets, but didn’t do, he said, adding, “Now we’re going to have to suck it up and deal with it for at least a year or two. I just want everyone to know, we’re not happy with it either. The last thing I want to do is put anybody out of work. It is what it is and we have to work with it.”
Board president Kathleen Allen agreed. The district needs more help from state officials, she said.
The formula the state uses for aid still views Oswego as a wealthier district than it actually is, Dr. Goewey noted.
“It seems preposterous to me that as the largest district in the county we received $22 million in state aid, and the district that borders us to the south, Fulton, receives $55 million in state aid,” he said. “We will continue to be better advocates for ourselves. We really need to advocate for our schools. We can’t sustain programs with no money. The best way to get more money is fix the state aid formula.”