Raises OK’d For 2 administrators As Hoefer Returns To School Board

OSWEGO, NY – After a five-year absence from the school board, Fran Hoefer picked up Wednesday night right where he left off.

Hoefer voted no for several extra-compensatory positions, salary adjustments for two administrators and the reappointment of the district’s attorney.

He also proposed money-savings ideas for the district.

Hoefer and newcomer Tom DeCastro took the oath of office during a 30-minute reorganizational meeting.

Sam Tripp was named board president for the coming term and Jim Tschudy was named vice president.

During the regular meeting, the board voted 4-3 to approve the raises for Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Cathy Chamberlain and Assistant Superintendent for Business Pete Colucci.

Tripp and board members John Dunsmoor and Hoefer voted no.

Tschudy and board members Dave White, Sean Madden, and DeCastro voted yes.

The raises bring Chamberlain’s salary to $104,681 (from $101,632) and Colucci’s salary to $101,713 (from $98,750).

“We’re being nice guys by giving 3 percent. It’s a nice thing, it really is. But, we’ve got to stop being quite so nice and quite so generous with other people’s money,” Hoefer said.

“Nothing against Pete or Cathy. They’re both doing a great job, but Pete has told us that next year we’re going to be facing a $7 million deficit in our budget,” Tripp said. “I think now is the time to start working toward that $7 million deficit.”

“We’re giving raises, cutting workloads, making things easier for everybody and our kids are failing. One in three is not making it through the system. We’re paying more and getting less,” Hoefer said. “Our kids are being failed by this district. First off, we need to get our teachers to earn the paychecks we’re paying them.”

They need to have more time on task, he said, adding they don’t spend enough time in the classroom.

“Let’s go to a seven period day. We can extend the class day and get five hours out of them, and we don’t have to negotiate that. It’s an immediate solution to a problem; we’re getting our money’s worth, at least to a larger degree. We don’t have to negotiate with a bunch of junk yard dogs to do it,” Hoefer said.

“Time out, none of that!” White interrupted. “C’mon, none of that.”

“Let me finish,” Hoefer replied.

“I don’t mind you finishing. But, you don’t need to call people junk yard dogs,” White pointed out.

More time on task would go a long way to improve the economic situation of the area, Hoefer said, “So we don’t have a crumbling community under a failing school district.”

If they can cut the tax levy it would bring businesses and homeowners back to the district, according to Hoefer.

Tripp pointed out that the district has been working on that for a long time.

“We’ve talked about it for the last six, seven months,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re moving forward. We’re concerned about the graduation rate, too.

Dunsmoor noted that winning sports teams help instill school spirit, using the past football season as an example. The athletic field, he added, is in need of repair.

“I totally agree with you, Fran,” Dunsmoor said. “I think what Oswego’s lost is our winning edge. We need to respect the things that we have and appreciate the things we have and make them all better and don’t settle for less. And that does take some money in certain things, but you get it back tenfold.”

“You have to feel good about what you do in this world. It just doesn’t come overnight, it doesn’t come easy,” Dunsmoor continued. “These kids need a kick in the butt. And sometimes, other people, too. We need to go back to a little bit of old fashioned tough love.”

There isn’t money for the football field, Hoefer said, because it was spent on “team leaders that we don’t need.”

Superintendent Bill Crist noted that the possibility of more periods during the day has been discussed.

“It’s going to take some time. It’s going to take some time to evolve into that,” he said.

The district’s graduation rate (67 percent) and dropout rate is an embarrassment, Crist admits.

“We’re adding counselors, we’re adding social workers, school psychologists. We’re adding people because we know, we found kids dropping through the cracks,” Crist said. “We are doing something to fix those kids, we are filling in those cracks.”

The students who get their GEDs or take five years to graduate aren’t considered to have graduated, according to state figures, the superintendent pointed out. Yet, many of those kids have gone on to college, he added.

“We are making gains. We’re not making them at the speed that I’m satisfied with and it’s nice to hear that not anyone here is satisfied (with the numbers). This is a district-wide problem. This is not a high school problem,” Crist said.

The district has been showing constant and steady gains on the grades 3 – 8 state test results, Crist noted.

“I appreciate what’s happening here. I appreciate the discussion that is happening here. I have got to be honest with you; it is like moving the Titanic. We’re all pulling the same rope and that ship moves slowly. I’m frustrated by it, just like everybody else,” the superintendent said.


  1. Fran is demanding that things in the district get better and in the same breath calling district workers “junk-yard dogs”. Guess nothing has changed. He is just a mean-spirted person that is going to damage already low morale.

  2. Fran Hoefer is my hero. Everything he says is right on and the way he says it is perfect. “Junk yard dogs” is the perfect descriptor for OCTA.

    Ms. Chamberlain and Mr. Colucci truly astound me. How can these two be so outrageously greedy in such an economy? What astounds me even more are Mr. DeCastro, Mr. White and Master Madden and their blantant hypocracy. Mr. DeCastro, in his interview with the Syracuse Post Standard prior to the election stated that he was opposed to pay raises. White and Madden voted on many occasions against pay raises for these same two individuals, but are now suddenly in favor. Dave White has even stated that he is opposed to six-figure administrators and that the school board should think of the taxpayers once in a while. Now that Dave White and his puppets cannot hide behind Mrs. Tiballi and let her take the heat, they are performing the exact same unethical actions that Tiballi performed.

    Mr. Dunsmoor is one of the only three men on the school board who has integrity along with Fran Hoefer and Sam Tripp. But I do wish he would forget about all of this spots stuff. It is a waste of taxpayer money and has a negligible effect on graduation rates. I like John Dunsmoor but this is getting to be a bit much. We have to cut spending, not invest in more sports. The sports program is not about the kids anyway. It is about finding a way to give stipend checks to the teachers.

    Glad to see the board had the sense to elect Sam Tripp as President. As for Tschudy as VP…..what has he accomplished on the board aside from voting for raises?

    We need seven Fran Hoefer’s on that school board. Good thing Hoefer, Tripp and Dunsmoor have safe seats next year. Hopefully Madden and Tschudy can be the 4th and 5th incumbents in a row to be voted out for their poor decision making and lack of regard for the taxpayers.

  3. Jonathan, I am sorry that Fran hurts your feelings and damages your morale. The fact that the teachers union is in the midst of a 12 week paid vacation while I am working all day every day to pay your salaries is what damages my morale. No, nothing has changed at all, and that is why the public chose to elect Fran. The teachers are probably more upset at the suggestion that they work 5 hours a day rather than 4, than they are at the fact that Fran called them junk yard dogs.

  4. Give me a break…teachers are not on a PAID vacation. Their last paycheck was in June. And he’s not hurting my feelings, I would never call anyone a dog…regardless of their profession. I agree in the fact that there can be some more “teach-time” in the day, but….they do not work 4 hour days. I think if you are going to need to actually set foot in a school and see what is happening before you decide/judge. Any school would be happy for volunteers. Just contact the principal or Home and School president. Oh that’s right, you wouldn’t do that…

  5. The teachers have the option through their credit union to have their paychecks stretched out through the summer and to get less during the school year. Regardless, an average salary of $59,000 for 165 days of work per year while standing in front of the students for only 4 hours per day is grossly excessive.

    Ideally, the teachers should be forced to teach 6 of 9 periods, something that would allow approximately 17% of the OMS/OHS teaching staff to be reduced saving more than 2 million dollars in salaries and benefits. However, their contract only allows the district to assign them to 5 periods of work per day, so Hoefer’s 7 period day is the only solution within the confines of OCTA greed. This would prohibit the district from reducing personnel costs and also take away from the children by giving them less elective options. But the work-averse teaching staff in our school district will always get their way. The kids will always suffer, the taxpayers will always suffer, but as long as OCTA is okay, that is all that has ever mattered to OCSD administration and most board members. Hopefully Tschudy and Madden can be replaced next year with people who have mindsets similar to Hoefer and are unfriendly to OCTA.

  6. So as I said earlier, it is not a paid summer vacation. I’m not sure where you are getting the 4 hours of work from either. Their contractual day (from my understanding) is 7 hours and 10 minutes. They also have a 30 minute lunch period-like every other business or worker under NYS Law. So that brings it down to a 6 hour and 40 minute “work day”. Each teacher also gets a 40 minute planning time. During that time, it is not a “free-time”. It is a contractual time that is used for meetings, copying, anything school related. And don’t tell me that teachers sit around drinking coffee at that time…in my son’s school, I’ve never seen that and I’m in school often. However, I’m in the elementary schools and I can’t speak for the OMS and OHS. I agree there are several things the district can/need to do to raise graduation rates, tests scores (which increased across the board this year), and morale. Can you imagine if a board member at Novelis spoke and refered to the employees of that company the way Fran speaks of teachers? Don’t give me the argument that Novelis is private and education is public…dealing with people are the same. You treat people respectfully and get more productivity out of them. Fran can’t wait to trash teachers in any way possible. In the years he’s been on the board, I’ve never heard him say anything positive about the district or a teacher. I was at a board meeting where a teacher was being rewarded for a grant she received, and Fran yawned through the presentation. I wonder if Fran feels that students should talk about teachers the way he does…that is the example he is setting.

  7. Fran knows how to deal with the teachers and has seen results in the past. His release of contract negotiation material last time he was on the board incited public rage against OCTA. The public pressure resulted in the union taking back some of their insane contract demands.

    Yes, dealing with people is the same, but Novelis shareholders have the option to invest in Novelis. Taxpayers are forced to invest in teacher salaries. We knew that Fran would likely refer to the district employees in such a manner and we elected him regardless. The employees of Novelis work 12 hour days and 52 weeks per year, minus the vacation time that is afforded to them. OMS and OHS teachers work 4 hours per day, and elementary teachers work 5 hours per day (we can argue their work time back and forth but this is the way I see it, regardless of what you or any pro-OCTA person says). The employees of Novelis are held accountable for their job performance and will be fired if they screw up. The employees of the OCSD get tenure and are immune from reprucussions. The employees of Novelis are going without a raise or bonus this year due to the economy. The employees of OCSD got a 4% raise last year, are getting one this year, and will get 4% next year, all taken care of by the hardworking taxpayers of Oswego. The employees of Novelis have to get the job done. OCTA does not have to get the job done, they don’t get the job done, and the school board and school administration does not care about this fact.

    Fran is only doing what the people elected him to do. If the “junk yard dogs” cannot put aside their “morale issues” and be professional regardless, then they certainly deserved to be referred to that way.

  8. So you are telling me, if a teacher is not pulling their weight, the administration is not doing anything about it? I’m sorry, I just don’t see where blatent, non-working, insubordinate, ineffective teachers are. There are teachers that I don’t care for their style, but their students are passing NYS exams. Again, I’m at the elementary level not OMS or OHS. I think you are overstating that teachers are immune from repercussions. Tenure does protect teachers from people with an axe to grind. I can not go to Novelis and complain about a worker and get them fired. But without tenure, anyone from the public could sway enough board members to fire a teacher for no reason. Parents could get a teacher fired because their child failed. Delusional board members could conjure up something to terminate them just because they don’t like that person. Tenure protects teachers from this type of firing/dismissal. It does not protect teachers from being fired with due cause. There is a process that needs to be followed and it starts with an action plan for the teacher. If that teacher doesn’t improve in the 3 months, 6 months, then year, then they can be legally dismissed from their duties. There needs to be action plans first. You make it sound like they can never, ever, ever be fired. Administrators need to be holding teachers responsible for their duties. If they are not, then they need to start the process. You’re right, Fran is doing exactly as he state he would do. I’m just worried about my kids’ future and his decisions. Plain and simple, he hates teachers, what they stand for, what they do…everything about them. It is sad that he is sitting on the Board of Education when he feels that way.

  9. As a teacher, I find it hilarious that you, as a parent of a child in elementary school, think that OMS and OHS run the same way. Most of those teachers work 4 periods a day, maybe, they count standing in the lunch room, talking with fellow teachers “working”. I have done my observations in both schools, as well as student teaching. These teachers ARE failing the students and OCTA is demanding things that are unnecessary. Teachers need to be held accountable. While I agree with Fran in his ideas, name calling is a bit elementary.
    Also, it costs roughly $250,000 (minimum) of tax payer’s money to fire a tenure teacher, and if I go in as a parent, to complain, the teacher does not get fired, and in most cases there is not even a note put into their folder. If you would like you can research that too, I’ll give you my 20 page paper with citations.
    Tenure served its place in the 18th century for university teachers, it’s no longer needed. There are plenty of incompetent teachers, who due to tenure, teach honors classes. So, their failures are rarely seen because the students are doing their job for them.
    The track that OHS currently has for teachers who are ‘not pulling their weight,’ seems to be looking the other way. Teachers who are blatantly disrespectful towards students, unnecessarily, blatantly show favoritism, and just can not teach, are still working. Our tenure track is not rigorous at all, many teachers spoke with me about this, saying that didn’t receive any, “in need of improvement,” but instead received, “excellent” for almost all of their reviews. I asked if this was truly the case, and many believed that the tenured teachers and administrators just don’t want to have to deal with it, it’s just paperwork.
    However, this isn’t all the school districts fault, we could go ahead and blame the universities who are graduating these future teachers, they are not prepared and they don’t have the heart for the job, right? Pointing fingers is a bit elementary as well, and when on earth did Novelis come into this. I see more hard-workers there than anywhere, yes, I did internships there, so I have research with that as well. They are held accountable, there is no tenure, and they continue to do their job. Plus, the companies they serve can come in and complain, and someone does go on the chopping block. So no, they aren’t serving the public, but the people they do serve have more power than parents in this school district.
    You don’t like Fran, that’s fine, he was elected and he’s trying to do what’s right for your kids and hold the teachers accountable… isn’t that what we want?

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