OSWEGO, NY – The school district finally has a budget in place for the coming school year.
At a special budget meeting Tuesday, the board of education voted 4-2 (BOE vice president Sally Nettles was absent) to approve a budget with a 3.81 percent tax rate increase – the same as the original budget which was defeated May 20.
“We went from a 5.58 percent budget (proposed June 17) and reduced it. Revenue from the ed center lease ($62,760) as added, equipment was taken out ($156,000), supplies reduced by 25 percent ($116,188), marching band uniforms out ($45,000), and one teacher on special assignment to general fund ($97,000). That brought it down to 3.81,” according to David Fischer, superintendent.
“We have to, at some point in time, recognize that we’re at a capacity within the community to support tax increases,” board member Fred Maxon noted. “By supporting a higher tax increase, we’d be hastening the downfall of the district.”
The first budget plan was defeated May 20.
Voters shot down the second proposal on June 17, which reinstated 10 positions.
Those positions remain in the third incarnation of the 2008-09 budget.
Looking back, it’s understandable why people said no to the previous budget proposal, board member Sean Madden said.
“If we can get down to 3.81 and still keep and maintain the integrity of these programs then I don’t think that’s a bad thing,” he added.
Maxon pointed out the district could be treading in dangerous waters if it tried to restore positions that had been recommended to be cut and come back to the voters with a large tax increase.
“This is year one of what’s going to be a multi-year effort to reduce the size of our personnel costs in the district,” he said. “It’s going to be a number of years of trying to bring the district into some kind of size that makes sense for our community.”
Over the years of contract negotiations, there hasn’t been hardly any giving back from the bargaining units, board member Dan Hoefer observed.
“I don’t see that happening. It’s not that I hate teachers or anyone else, but I haven’t seen it,” he said.
Over the next few years, the teachers union, for example, should forgo stipends for things outside of teaching in the classrooms, he suggested.
“All these different groups need to get together because if not it’s going to be all these young ones with the new ideas who are going to get axed,” he said. “That will in turn hurt the kids because class sizes are going to expand and things are going to be eliminated. It’s just a bad situation. I don’t think it’s fair for the board to make certain things like that happen. It has to come from within; everybody’s got to give something back.”
“The ultimate responsibility of what happens rests here,” board member Dave White said. “Part of our problem, I think, the last time is we didn’t get very many concessions. Our responsibility is to be as hard-nosed as they are.”
Voting in favor of the spending plan were Hoefer, White, Madden and Jim Tschudy.
Voting no on the budget proposal were Board President Maggie Tiballi and Maxon.