Proposed School Budget Contains Large Reductions

Board member Sam Tripp said nobody likes to make cuts like these, but it had to be done. At right is board president Kathleen Allen.

Board member Sam Tripp said nobody likes to make cuts like these, but it had to be done. At right is board president Kathleen Allen.

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.

Board member Sam Tripp said nobody likes to make cuts like these, but it had to be done. At right is board president Kathleen Allen.
Board member Sam Tripp said nobody likes to make cuts like these, but it had to be done. At right is board president Kathleen Allen.

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.”


  1. 2.5% increase?!…keep cutting…I’m voting a big, fat “NO” on it! It’s simple really, this district…namely the taxpayers who fund it, are BROKE!!! Myself included!!!

  2. Tax and spend and tax and spend, what else is new in this school district? It is “just” 2.5% this year and it was 10% the year before and “just” 4% the year before that. Then they’ll keep hitting us with “just” 2 or 3% for a few more years before slamming another 10% or more at us.

    Time for a change on the school board. Someone like Fran Hoefer is what is needed.

    Why can Central Square educate more children, with a lower budget, lower teacher salaries, a higher student to teacher ratio, and have HIGHER test scores? Can someone explain this to me?

    Contract negotiations are coming up, if the teachers do not like these cuts “for the children” it is time to put their money where their mouth is. No raises, and increased contributions to their platinum plus health care plans.

    It is a good move to cut team leaders who don’t do anything. But this was cut 10 years ago and brought back the very next year. I am sure the gravy train will roll back into town again next year.

    The taxpayers are TAPPED OUT with these constant increases. Unbelievable.

  3. The real solution is close a school, our numbers show this has been needed. Reconfigure to one k-2 and 3-5 school on each side of the river. Middle school goes 6-8. Or leave it as is and close one school. Budget problem solved with some other non classroom cuts, you keep all activities in place and taxes in check. Sad part we are cut to bone to keep unneeded school open and short change everything else. Close a school reconfigure and you can actually improve education and have more options for our kids not less. Smoke and mirrors game again. Such BS, it is time to close a school and get things right sized. I worked on this two times over past 20 years. A closed school saves 3 million EVERY year. The reality is you abandon it like Nestles or donate it. You do not maintain and do not think you will sell it. Pretty much same as the Ed center sell it or put it up for auction. It costs over $500,000 a year to keep it up. Move them into a school. Bville has single-story building next to the high school for the whole administration. The size of the McDonalds, they have more kids a larger budget and perform better… because the money is spent in the classroom and on programs.

  4. Hey Dean, we pay $29.00 a thousand in the Fulton District. Let us all know when YOU are close to what we pay. You have been bleeding students for 20 years but kept adding staff and classroom space instead of cutting. Now it’s time to face reality.

  5. Its funny how the basketball teams did not get cut while haessig is on the board. At least Dunsmoor is gone so we can face realities with the football program. The lack of foresight here is a disgrace. The State education department didn’t help, but they should have seen this coming to an extent. IT amazes me how not one guidance councilor lost their job when they do absolutely nothing while kids can’t even play sports after school.

  6. Hey Jim.. If you paid attention, you would realize that the football team is a waste of money as 1) they barely have enough kids to field a full team every year 2) they are god awful 3) football is the most cost-heavy sport. Obviously basketball doesn’t get cut because it costs little money to make happen. The district doesn’t have to provide any equipment for basketball, just refs and transportation– so it has absolutely NOTHING to do with Haessig being on the board. Also; the basketball program has been pretty decent compared to the other sports programs.

  7. Hi Jim. It’s “funny” how you’re complaining about the sports cuts yet criticize Mr. Haessig for the fact that basketball is not cut. A comment like that, in it’s entirety, is ignorant. It’s people like you who create a toxic environment for people to have educated discussions.

  8. JIM– you are SO right, oh my gosh! lets keep a team that has went 0-8 last year and has been the laughing stock of section III for years.. I agree, nothing should be cut, but you’re ignorant for blaming it on a guy that dedicated many years to the basketball program to then be turned on by the players and coaches– maybe try to come up with some other excuses!!!

  9. I thinks it’s obvious that reductions need to be made. We have less students to teach, less tax payers to make up the budget. I’m disappointed in the proposed budget in that the sports are used as a leverage point. I would propose the closure of leighton elem school only bc it is my understanding that it is close to 1/2 compasity. Move the Ed center into it. Utilize the rest of the building with either YMCA or the children’s museum( someone who pays rent) and sell the building on east first that looks at the river, create housing that pays property tax. Couple that with the elimination of the jobs listed and/or the elimination of positions from leighton for 0% increase

  10. I will give Mr. Goewey the credit he is due.

    The cut to his own salary was a classy move.

    Hopefully this is a sign of things to come moving forward into the next contract negotiations with the teachers and principals.

  11. Sorry. One more comment but I again have to give Mr. Goewey his due.

    He is the first superintendent in the history of this school district to correctly use the words “cut” or “reduction” in a sentence.

    Last year, previous Superintendent Halsey told the public that he cut the budget, yet it increased from 79 million to 82 million.

    They all did this. Put out a proposal that increased spending by 4-5 million dollars, then scaled it back to a 2-3 million increase, and told us they were making “cuts.” HUH?!!?! It never made sense to me. I always figured I was just a private sector simpleton if the six-figure superintendents of the past were somehow able to use “new math” to tell me they were making “cuts”.

    Goewey actually DID cut the budget and has the right to use the word.

    I don’t approve of the 2.5% and will vote no but Goewey is playing this honestly and upfront. Good for him and thank you.

    The cuts are a start. I also have been critical in the past of the entire board. I believe that the majority of this current board is prepared to take on OCTA in the next round of negotiations. Unless Fran Hoefer is willing to run for board, it may be logical to consider keeping Mrs. Allen and Mrs. DelConte on the board. Haessig is the former president of OCTA – watch out and be very wary of him getting a majority on his side – we do not need a fox guarding the hen house in the negotiations.

  12. Well the superintendent is not taking a pay cut the numbers that were provided are incorrect. They are numbers from a previous year. He is not giving up anything. If someone were to do some digging they would be surprised at some information that might find out about the superintendent. I really wish someone would speak out.

  13. It was all too predictable how this movie would end. The overall administration and teacher compensation was extremely high for far too long. Do some research and you will find recent buyouts were extremely generous. You have only the teacher’s union and Democrat state representatives who bow to their whims to blame. The fun has just begun. Housing prices will soon slump as Fitz closes and folks move. Businesses will struggle with $12.50 per hour requirements, and when folks have less from lower wages to spend. If you ever voted Democrat I don’t feel the slightest bit of sympathy. Enjoy the socialist mess you liberals have made.

  14. B-ville spends $4000 a year less per student and outperforms OCSD. If we spent that we reduce the budget $15 million dollars and have 25% tax reduction with sports and band

  15. I have done my research and Cassandra is correct and I was incorrect.

    The public has been misled into believing that Goewey took a voluntary cut from his pay and this is not the case.

    Here are the facts
    To begin 2015-2016 Goewey’s salary was budgeted at $120,000 as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction (see link: )

    Goewey was promoted on November 17th to become Superintendent of School’s after former Supt Halsey’s departure. Goewey’s new salary approved at $153,000. See link: ( )

    In the 2015-2016 school budget, as filed in April of 2015, budgeted $177,065 for the Superintendent of School’s salary. This was what the board negotiated with Halsey in his contract. Again, see link ( )

    The math doesn’t exactly calculate out to a $27,140 reduction. But, the school will be budgeting $153,000 on a line item for 2016-17 that they budgeted $177,065 for last year, and THAT is where the “cut” comes into play. Salary is $24,065 lower, I assume the balance of $3,075 is because Goewey’s benefits are less than Halsey’s were. This is based on the INITIAL agreement the board made with each of these two superintendents, based on their qualifications and experience coming into the job.

    This was a disingenuous attempt by Goewey to portray it as a selfless cut, which it was not. I am sorry I fell for it. I hope the record is corrected because the research is above.

  16. Funny that you mention Haessig, as he sits on the board, he was the main man that negotiated some of these contracts that has led to this. As far as not cutting the basketball program that is silly.

  17. They want you to vote no. They play the bait and switch budget every year. Their is a reason some of the sacred cows are on the chopping block. They want you to vote no. No leadership with this group year in year out. Slowly gutting a school district. Doesn’t matter what local governments do to help communities when the school district is continually hammering any growth. Vote yes and watch them eat their own.

  18. I think teachers and administrators are paid way to much!When I was a kid, I sat down with a book and taught myself graduating with honor and a scholarship!I was also born blind in one eye!I believe in home schooling.It works great for my son and I would like to see more of it!The heck with all of these stupid taxes!

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