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September 19, 2018

School Board Revisits Budget


OSWEGO, NY – The board of education gathered briefly Thursday evening to discuss its options regarding the budget for the coming school year.

Last month, voters said no (1,956 to 1,392) to a budget proposal that had a 3.81 percent increase.

Board member-elect John Dunsmoor, left, makes a point during Thursday’s meeting. Traditionally, the board has allowed new members to participate in the last meeting of the year as non-voting members. At right is board member Jim Tschudy.On Tuesday, voters shot down the district’s second budget proposal by almost as much (1,666 to 1,133). That spending plan put back two elementary art teachers, two elementary music teachers, one phys ed teacher, one elementary librarian, one high school technology teacher and three part-time hall monitors. The tax rate, however, jumped to 5.81 percent.

At its meeting Thursday night, the board directed the administration to go back to the drawing board and prepare two drafts. One would show what the budget would be like with a 4.7 percent tax hike and the other reflected a 3.5 percent hike.

The district will refrain from buying equipment (unless for health and safety reasons), not purchase new band uniforms and not fill a vacant administrator’s position at the middle school.

A current administrator could be moved to assist with the duties at OMS, according to David Fischer, superintendent.

“Since we put the budget out to vote, we are leasing space in the ed center,” he added. “That will generate approximately $60,000 in terms of revenue.”

Taken collectively, that would mean a budget with a tax rate increase of about 4.7 percent, he said.

Board member Fred Maxon suggested going back to the original budget plan and applying the changes to it and lower the tax rate that way.

Board member-elect John Dunsmoor proposed coming up with a dollar figure and direct the superintendent and assistant superintendent to come up with an idea of what should be cut.

He also pointed out that with Fischer leaving for a new job next month, the district would have an interim superintendent, likely for about a year, at a lower salary.

Board member Dave White didn’t want cuts at the elementary level.

“If we don’t provide the kid in the elementary school with a good education, we’re gonna lose him. I don’t think (voters) turned this down to come back here and say they wanted us to cut the elementary school positions,” he said.

Board member Jim Tschudy said he would support the proposed changes, but nothing more.

“That would allow us to retain the elementary positions that I think are important for us at this point,” he explained. “I would rather that we not do something impulsive at this point that would weaken our structure at the high school.”

“We’re gonna have to start looking at this stuff, whether we like it or don’t like it. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that we have to teach children,” White said.” So, we have to decide where that money’s going. I think we can get down to a reasonable amount.”

A lot of the people who supported the budget were in favor of keeping programs, Dunsmoor said.

“The people who voted yes still need to be heard, too,” he said.

He proposed a compromise using the changes suggested Thursday night to provide for maybe half the positions that were would have been reinstated if the June 17 budget was approved.

That way, he said, it would show the district was serious about maintaining programs, and would show taxpayers the district was still willing to make some cuts.

“I agree 100 percent with Mr. White that elementary school is vital to getting kids started with a good, solid foundation for their education, Board President Maggie Tiballi said.

But, the district shouldn’t turn its back on high school students, she continued, “Because it’s their last four years to give them a headstart on life.”

“There’s no way, no way, that high school can run on just two principals,” she said.

Tiballi said it would be more efficient if the administration came up with some numbers for the board to consider.

“By Tuesday, our administrators will have sat down together and looked at the entire picture. They will look at the cuts we’ve already made, they will look at the proposals that were given to them by the building principals, and they will decide how to get down to 3.5 percent, how to get to 4.7 percent,” she explained.

On Tuesday, the board will view the proposals and get a better idea of what impact the two numbers would have on the district’s programs and then decide which option makes the best sense for the students and taxpayers, Tiballi said.

It is a better pan than to make an impulsive decision, she said.

“We’re trying to consider everyone’s wishes and everyone’s needs,” she said. “It’s not easy to do. It’s not easy to reconcile those two things.”

The board will meet at 5 p.m. June 24 at a location to be announced.

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10 Responses “School Board Revisits Budget”

  1. Richard
    June 20, 2008 at 7:08 am

    These comments are with all due respect to all of them.

    Mr Tschudy: you had your chance 9 times to do it for the kids. Instead you chose to award raises to Fischer, Crist, Chamberlain, CSEA, OCTA, COASA, Crist, Chamberlain and Colucci. It is too late now. Your personal opinion should not override the collective opinion of the the 1670 people who voted no.

    Mr White, you say the no voters did not want elementary cuts. Well no not necessarily, but we did want cuts, plain and simple. I don’t care where they come from but this board needs to give us a budget lower than the one from May 20. If that means elementary cuts, then give us elementary cuts.

    Mr. Dunsmoor says that the people who voted yes still need to be heard. No, they don’t, we live in a society where majority rules. A clear decisive majority voted no. When the budget passed 7 years in a row did anyone say “well lets make some cuts to think of those who voted no.”? No, that was never said. The no voters finally got a victory and the board shouldn’t turn it into something else.

    To Mrs Tiballi yes the school can run on 2 principals because it used to only run on 1. The taxpayers have ALWAYS asked why we need 4 principals at the high school. The taxpayers do not want that many. Your refusal to get rid of 1 or 2 of them seems to contradict your earlier statement that you want to lower costs for taxpayers. (also notice Maggie I made not 1 single attack in this posting, nor have I ever. I simply criticize your line of thinking and/or decisions. If you can’t take respectful criticism then it is probably for the best that you are leaving the board).

  2. bb
    June 20, 2008 at 9:11 am

    how about they sell the Ed Center shut down Kingsford as a school, make that the Ed Center, and disperse the students and teachers from Kingsford to Minetto and Leighton

  3. Richard McClellan
    June 21, 2008 at 8:28 am

    My truest, deepest hope is that Richard above who posts with such vehemence for cuts to the arts has his own job and/or any and all of his salary taken away by a bunch of voters.

    This community looks less and less desirable to live for new families moving to the area verses Baldwinsville, Liverpool, or other areas in New York, like Oswego is some bumpkinville with a “what’s in it for me” attitude. Well those families that would add taxpayer monies to the community and make the community stronger would be right, this is a community that is only it it for each other and clearly does not want there to be a good, diverse education. People like Richard and others prove time and time again why this community and area will continue to die a long slow death, and it’s sad that the people aren’t educated or intelligent enough to care.

  4. TS
    June 21, 2008 at 10:38 am

    In response to Richard: There have been 4 principals at OHS for decades – true. During that time, student behavior has deteriorated, not improved. It is important to be educated about the realities. Assertions and wishful thinking by John Q. Public do not make those statements true. Look into the rising number of referals, discipline problems and other eductional disruptions caused by some students before claiming there is no need for 4 administrators. Teachers are supposed to teach ALL students; however, when a handful of those students make teaching impossible, the other students suffer – is that fair to them? What role do/should administrators play in this situation? Would you want your child’s learning regularly disrupted by a few cut-ups who prevent the teacher from doing his/her job?

  5. George
    June 22, 2008 at 5:16 am

    The majority of people no longer vote on school budgets because they know it is a waste of time. It does not matter whether we vote down a budget since the contingency budget that goes into effect usually only excludes a few extracurricular activities. Those people that vote to approve school budgets are mostly teachers and school district employees voting in their self interest. The school boards of Oswego and Fulton just refuse to listen to the general public. To submit a higher budget for re-vote after the first one was voted down is the height of arrogance. They must live in isolation and only listen to those school district employees around them. Hello!!!! The public didn’t vote down the first budget because it eliminated positions. It was voted down because it didn’t reduce enough. It is too expensive.

    WE CANNOT AFFORD AND DO NOT WANT TO PAY HIGHER TAXES FOR SCHOOLS. WE DO WANT BETTER COST MANAGEMENT. WE ALREADY PAY, BY FAR, THE HIGHEST SCHOOL TAXES IN THE COUNTRY… WITHOUT THE BEST RESULTS.

  6. Jonathon
    June 22, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    George- Can you please provide proof or support for this statement, “Those people that vote to approve school budgets are mostly teachers and school district employees voting in their self interest.” I’m curious how you had access to names and voting results.

  7. Richard
    June 23, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Mr. McClellan, it is funny that you are blaming the “no” voters for the loss of OCSD jobs, because the irony is that it is actually the fault of most of the “yes” voters (OCTA). OCTA chose gigantic raises and benefits, and the price they must pay is the loss of jobs. Those jobs could have been protected but OCTA chooses to pad the salaries of their most veteran members over protecting the jobs of their youngest. That is OCTA’s fault, not mine. OCTA can feel free to renegotiate their contract and give up a portion of their 22% raise. Or they can choose the art/music/PE/library cuts. The ball is and always has been in their court. But greed has always prevailed and there is a reason this community has contempt for the teachers.

  8. Jonathon
    June 23, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    Richard, I’m curious if you’re willing to give up your raise or pay if your place of work is having a financial issue. Maybe if you are collecting money from the government, you can give some of that back so I’m not paying so much in taxes. Maybe if you work for a local grocery store, you can give up some of your pay so I don’t need to pay so much for bread or milk. Maybe if you are working in a restaurant, you can ask for your pay to be dropped so my meal is less expensive. If you are asking the teachers to do this, will you?

  9. Richard
    June 24, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Jonathan, that is quite simply an apples to oranges comparison. First of all, the salary of a private sector employee is not your business. Secondly, you have the choice as to which grocery store to shop at. You have a choice as to which restaurant to visit (if at all). I have no choice but to pay the teachers. If I was getting poor service from the grocery store or restaurant, I would not spend my money there. I would find somewhere else and would contribue to the employees salaries in a place I felt was doing a good job. Thats a decision I can make when dealing with the private sector. But not when taxes are involved. While I hold the belief that OCTA’s peformance as a whole is of especially bad quality, I still have to pay my taxes, and in turn, their salaries. Not only that, I am forced to reward them with raises for although I certainly think an overwhelming majority of them deserve salary cuts instead of salary raises for the (lack of) quality performance and (lack of) work ethic among OCTA. And I did not explicitly ask the teachers to give up their raise as you said I did. But the teachers think they should have the best of both worlds – a bloated number of staff members to make the job easier, and the 22% raise. They are upset with potential staff cuts when they are doing nothing to remedy the situation though they certainly have the power to do so. OCTA already gets enough from me in terms of my hard earned money. Unfortunately when we have a pro-OCTA school board, the only thing I can choose whether or not to give these people is my respect, and not one single OCTA teacher will ever get an ounce of respect from me until they stand up and actually do something good for the kids.

  10. Jonathon
    June 25, 2008 at 6:25 am

    Richard, with that argument then no state workers should ever get raises because it seems like they always stand around, no police officers should get raises because there’s still crime out there, basically anyone my tax money is going to should work for the bare wage. Richard, I understand that no one wants to pay higher taxes. In NY, we are taxed to the extreme. However, your animosity towards the teachers does not help to solve the problem. And if you don’t have respect for what they do, try it and see. I’m sure it’s not easy, just like many other jobs in the world are not easy.

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