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Q&A for Oswego City School District Voters

OSWEGO, NY – On May 18, voters from throughout the Oswego City School District will be going to the polls to decide upon the proposed 2010-2011 budget, a proposition to purchase three buses and elect two members to the Oswego City School District Board of Education.

Several questions relating to the budget, its increase, zero percent tax levy increase, staffing, the Education Center, buses and contingency have been answered by district administrators as the budget vote approaches.

What caused the budget to increase nearly $6 million this year?

The district faces problems that everyone faces…increases in expenses. Contractually, there will be salary increases, increases in retirement contributions and health insurance costs for employees and retirees. In addition, the district’s debt service will increase by $3,991,735. This increase is attributed to our responsibility for the payments related to the EXCEL capital project that was approved by the voters in 2007. This project is focused on improvements related to the health, safety and educational environment for students.

Did the tax levy increase and by how much?

The Board of Education is committed to maintaining a zero tax levy increase. This was accomplished by using $7,121,401 in reserves and projected surplus. In order to balance the budget the district is using reserves and surplus funds.

In order to balance the budget the district is using reserves and surplus funds. How will these sources be distributed?

The $7,121,401 of appropriated fund balance will be accumulated as follows:

General Fund  Surplus $ 885,339
Indirect Cost from Federal Fund Expenses $636,000
Transfer from Trust & Agency for Employee Health Insurance $615,000
Excess Accruals related to 08-09 Lag Claims $1,572,000
Transfer from the Tax Certiorari Reserve $3,413,054

What would be the estimated tax bill for a $100,000 home for the current year and next year?

The 2009-10 school tax bill for a $100,000 residence with a $30,000 STAR exemption would be $1,507.80.  Assuming no change in assessments district-wide, the bill for 2010-11 would be the same.

There was a suggestion to close an elementary school due to decreasing enrollment. Why did the board decide not to close a school?

A decision was made to research this for future consideration. However, at this time it was determined that the majority of the members of the Oswego City Board of Education did not want to repurpose an elementary school. Last year it was noted that if the Education Center sold, the staff could be placed in an elementary school setting. However, the Education Center has still not been sold.

The voters approved the sale of the Education Center last year. What is the status of the building and what are the plans for its use?

The Education Center remains for sale. If there is a suitable offer then the voters of the district will decide if the offer should be accepted. There is a feeling that if the real estate market improves that the building will be worth more than it is at this time.

Were staffing reductions necessary to establish this budget?

Yes, the district reduced its staff by 29.4 full time equivalent positions which include 14 elementary teachers, five Oswego Middle School positions, 5.4 positions at the Oswego High School, 4 support positions and 1 administrator.
Also removed from the budget were reductions that included conferences, periodicals and some athletic coach and extra-curricular advisor stipends.

Will there be any instructional change for the elementary and secondary students?

Class sizes have been modified to 22 for a maximum number of kindergarten through second grade and 25 for third through sixth grade. The high school and middle school teachers will be responsible for a minimum of 110 students to a maximum of 125 students with a class size objective of 25 students.

Will sports, music and extracurricular activities be impacted by the proposed budget?

Music will remain as it currently exists. However, there has been a reduction in paid advisors for clubs at the Oswego High School, and some stipends related to assistant coaching positions. For the most part sports and music will remain relatively similar as they are this year.

Once again the voters will be deciding on the purchase of three buses. Why is this being done and what will be the cost to the taxpayers?

We continue to focus on the safety of our students. The district has had a replacement schedule program in place for several years and has had the support of the community in purchasing buses to maintain the fleet. The district is seeking three new buses this year to replace high mileage buses that are not as reliable or safe.

What are the salary adjustments necessary for 2010-2011?

OCTA (teachers) 4%
COASA (supervisors) 4%
CSEA (civil service) 4%
AAP (administrators) Negotiating
Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents 0%

What happens if the budget is defeated and the district has to implement a contingency budget?

The proposed budget is $2.2 million above the contingency cap. If the proposed budget was defeated by the voters, then there would have to be additional reductions to meet the contingency threshold. Further staffing reductions would be necessary and there would be an impact on education and extracurricular areas. Many of these programs are valued by the community. However, these are non-mandatory under state regulations and could be reduced first, before additional mandated academic program reductions.

What would a contingency budget be?

A contingency budget would be $72,684,434.

Would it raise taxes?

No. It also would not decrease taxes.

6 Comments

  1. The response to question 1 is pure propoganda.

    “The district faces problems that everyone faces…increases in expenses. ” While it is true that most all districts faced increases in expenses, it is NOT TRUE that this reasonably justifies a 6 million dollar budgetary increase. On average, school districts throughout the state only increased their expenditures about 1.07% this coming year versus 8.78% for the OCSD. Look it up on the property tax report cards. While everyone faced the increased expenses, they handled it appropriately and made associated reductions. Additionally, not every district needlessly made additions to their buildings when enrollment is declining. Not every district purchased flat screen TVs for the hell of it. Not every district handed out 22% raises to everyone and their mother. The poor decisions of the administration and past board members are to blame for these problems, and the further poor decisions of administrators and current board members have ensured that these problems will not be solved.

    The OCSD continues to spend like there is no tomorrow! The use of reserves is a quick fix but it cannot keep pace in the future with the OCSD’s outrageous level of spending.

    A “no” vote is completely justified for this irresponsibly crafted budget.

  2. Vote YES on the budget! Voting no will only harm the students. Voting YES will cost you nothing…it is a zero percent tax increase. Jerry is the one preaching falsehoods and propoganda.

  3. Jim Tschudy can be blamed for the unfathomably high percentage raises listed above. Even the 0% raise for the superintendents is too much — given their performance, they should be faced with a wage cut. Jim has his heart in the right place but is way too generous with other people’s money. We can’t afford another term of him. The moment he voted for all of the 22% raises, this school district’s fate was set in stone. Any reasonable person could see that the 22% OCTA contract would result in the financial ruin of this district. I am sure he can do great things for the community, but hopefully it won’t be in a position where he has the power to tax and spend. He thinks that we have an open checkbook, and we simply do not.

  4. A zero per cent tax levy equals a zero per cent tax increase! What doesn’t Jerry get? NO INCREASE IN YOUR TAXES! Negotiated increases are just that, negotiated in good faith to be upheld by all parties. To say there is a 22% salary increase is deceptive if not an out right lie Jerry!! How can one add up each distinctive bargaining unit at 4% and get 22%?

  5. Vote “NO” on the budget. Vote “YES” for SAM SUGAR for school board. Mr. Crist needs Sam Sugar’s expertise and vision to help guide him. Mr. Crist needs to surround himself with smart people … his current administration is weak. Also, how do the teachers and staff justify a 4% raise right after a 22% raise? Kinda like a slap in the taxpayers’ faces. Districts all over the country are not being bullied by the union and firing entire teaching and administrative staffs and starting from scratch. Let’s only hire those who truly care about the best interests of the students, not themselves, and hire only those WHO CAN TEACH THOSE WHO CAN LEAD !

  6. Just saw on the news this would be a 1.5% tax increase on tax payers..how about reducing the free public assitance and welfare that half of the Oswego County is on where its so easily obtained..now you want me to pay more for parents children that dont pay taxes in the first place in which i pay for out of my check..I wont and im voting no

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