Smart Table Deal Divides Oswego School Board

OSWEGO, NY – At its meeting this week, the Oswego Board of Education voted not to approve the agreement with Tequipment Incorporated for Smart Table professional development.

The board had recently approved accepting grant funds for the project, but not the actual equipment purchase. Three Smart Tables sat along the wall of the board room Tuesday night.

Smart Tables will allow creative learning experiences for primary age youngsters. They are multi-touch, multi-user interactive learning centers that allows groups of early education students to work simultaneously on one surface.

“I’m not going to approve this thing. I’m not going to pay,” said board president Dave White. “If we said no them that is what it means. No doesn’t mean yes.”

“The board already approved the grant funding,” board member Jim Tschudy pointed out.

“Jim, I don’t care. The fact that we approved the grant, we should have some say in how that grant gets spent,” White said. “We didn’t even know about the Smart Tables; until I walked through the Fitzhugh (Elementary School) office and the secretaries told me what they were. We did not authorize the payment of the thing.”

“I realize a wrong’s been done but we can’t end up with egg on our face this evening. Two wrongs don’t make a right,” board member Tom DeCastro said as he abstained on the vote.

“We end up with egg on our face every time we allow this. That’s when we wind up with egg on our face, which seems to be a constant thing here,” White said. “They spent $45,000 without our permission. We said last meeting that we didn’t want anything done until they got the cost and then come back to us. I think one way to get our point across is not to pay them.”

Tschudy contended that when the board approved the grant that they also approved the implementation of the grant and follow up.

Superintendent Bill Crist said he takes responsibility for not bringing the invoice back to the board in a timely manner. The purchase of the tables came by way of Contract For Excellence, he added.

He said he wanted to have things in place by the start of school on Wednesday.

“We got Smart Tables over here,” White said gesturing toward the equipment. “And, I suppose I’m sitting at the damn dumb table. We are responsible for things around here … I want to know what’s happening. I don’t want to know that we spent $45,000 and the only reason that I knew that was because I walked through that office.”

“This is where it comes to. This is where the decision is made. We are gonna be part of that decision,” White continued. “For us to be sitting here, to have spent $45,000 and we didn’t even know it and now we don’t want anything done with this $2,400 (agreement) and it’s done anyway? Where is it written on me? I mean, I got to have fool written on me because that’s the damn way I’m being treated around here and I’m getting sick and tired of it! This is our responsibility as a board.”

Voting in favor of the resolution were Kathleen Allen, Tschudy and Fran Hoefer, who said he was voting yes because he liked Smart Tables (even though he was reminded by White that that wasn’t what the vote actually was for)

Voting against the resolution were John Dunsmoor, White and Sam Tripp.

DeCastro abstained.


  1. I believe the administrators who took it upon themselves to spend our money should have their salaries docked a sufficient amount so they can pay for it themselves. That would teach them the lesson that the taxpayer’s contributions are not their personal mad money. I think the administration is way overstepping their boundaries just because the current board is adversarial to them.

  2. “No doesn’t mean yes.”

    I agree with Dave White here. Too bad he didn’t follow this philosophy in 2008 after we twice said “no” to the budget and he voted for a higher contingency budget than what we twice voted down. But I digress.

  3. With our business tax base shrinking in part due to already excessive school tax we can not afford this type of excess. Congratulations on making a clear choice to help restrict spending. Smart tables become just unused equipment in a few years that will sit in storage as not being requested or assigned to a class for use. Instead of smart tables let’s use our already smart teachers, and keep that $45,000 dollars for other more realistic needs going forward.
    I salute those board members who took a position and made a choice for or against this issue.

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