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Voters Say ‘No’ To School Budget Proposal – Again

OSWEGO, NY – Voters in the Oswego City School District said no to the proposed budget for 2008-09 a second time.

Tuesday night the district’s second budget proposal for the next school year was defeated by 533 votes.

The unofficial results were 1,666 against and 1,133 yes.

SPECIAL MEETING SET

The Oswego City School District Board of Education will meet in a special meeting on Thursday, June 19 at 5 p.m. in the Education Center Board Rooms to determine the next step toward the 2008-09 budget.

There must be a budget in place by midnight June 30 and the board will move to a contingency budget with details to be determined on Thursday evening.

voting at th education centerThe budget failed in 9 out of the 10 voting districts.

In the city’s Third Ward the budget came out on top 82 to 73. (It was also the only place the May 20 budget didn’t fail. The vote then was 89-89).

Everywhere else more than 100 no votes were cast in each distict. The budget suffered the worst setbacks in the 9th district (Oswego Town) where 329 no votes were cast.

A total of 265 no votes were cast in the city’s Seventh Ward. That was the only district in the city where the budget received more than 100 votes (160).

In Oswego Town, 230 yes votes were cast. In Scriba, 151 people voted yes and in Minetto 135 approved of the budget.

With the exception of the Third Ward, opposition to the budget was in triple digits across the board.

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

The proposed budget defeated Tuesday would have reinstated 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 per $1,000 assessed would have increased from the current $20.67 to $21.87 for the coming school year. That’s an increase of 5.81 percent per $1,000 assessed.

The school board can now either adopt the budget as currently is because it is below the contingency or meet and decide to reduce the budget.

Obviously, people aren’t happy. We have got to take a look at what we’re doing and find a better way,” board member Dave White said.

The board will have to go back to the drawing board, he said, adding he expects a special meeting to be called soon to address the budget situation.

“Some hard decisions will have to be made,” he admitted.

Board President Maggie Tiballi said she believes the budget should be lower than the budget of May 20 (which carried a 3.81 percent tax rate increase).

“My personal feeling is that the teachers and special interest groups got too greedy and didn’t consider that the taxpayers have been stretched way too thin,” she noted. “Their plan backfired and now they will have to see even more cuts than were proposed in May. What this district needs is for everyone to understand that education in general is important, but that their own personal interests may be just that – personal.”

“If we could just identify what is important to the student (reading, writing, arithmetic and music and art to a degree) and we all worked together to see that our students get all of the basics and as much of the enrichment pieces as we could afford, then we could craft a budget that works,” she continued.

When we have all of the competing special interests, with no one willing to give an inch, then the students lose, the out-going board president added.

According to Tiballi, what the district needs to do is to find ways to deliver the same basic education in a more efficient way.

That will probably involve closing a school at some point, she said.

“It may also involve touching the ‘sacred cows.’ Unfortunately, if the board is not allowed to explore the best way to do that, then we will continue to try to apply stop-gap measures every single year to save little pieces of the program instead of looking at the big picture to find a plan to deliver a better education that is more consistent,” she said.

5 Comments

  1. I know the district says that contingency is higher than this budget but I will take New York State’s word over Mr. Fischer’s. NYS rules say a 3.36% increase over last year. That is $65.84 million not $67.51 million.

    I think this vote proves that the taxpayers are not going to accept these ridiculous tax increases from anyone, whether it be Tiballi advocating for it, or White advocating for it.

    Last time OCTA whined and claimed that they were the no voters but the revote obviously proves otherwise. The revote failed by a bigger percentage margin than last time. We didn’t want the 3.81% tax increase and we don’t want the 5.81%. We want 0% and that is what the district needs to give us. First they need to cut out the PE, library, art and music teachers that they put back. Then they need to rescind all administrative raises. Then they need to cut even more.

    It is undeniably what the voters want. It is crystal clear this time, no ambiguity, no question as to the intent of the “no” voters. OCTA can’t whine and claim otherwise.

  2. My first comment was before the story was revised with commentary from Maggie & Dave.

    Dave White said that same “people are made” line almost verbatim last time and then he went and raised our taxes even more. I’ll belive it when I see it from Dave.

    Maggie is absolutely right that the budget needs to get cut below the May level. The question is whether she can get a 4th vote because Tschudy jumped ship to White’s side last time. I sure hope Dan Hoefer will vote to lower taxes. But Maggie’s comments are sure a recent development and inconsistent with her votes this whole year. She is right – the teachers are greedy. So why did she give a 4% raise to anyone and everyone who wanted one? She helped perpetuate their greed. Also I agree we have to close a school but that doesn’t mean lets do it Maggie’s way. Maggie’s way is to close a school and then build a new one. That costs $15,000,000. They should just close a school and not implement a creative idea from Maggie.

    I am sure OCTA is crying about all the program cuts that will come. They are probably calling all the school board members saying “do it for the kids.” But the people with the power to actually “do it for the kids” are OCTA. If they simply gave up their 4% raise for 08-09 and decreased the overall raise from 22% to 17%, they could solve most of the district’s problems right then and there. What do you say OCTA? Are yo going to do it for the kids or not?

  3. Richard, please cite specifically where you have see “OCTA whine and claim that they were the no voters”?

  4. Richard, has your household budget increased at all in the past year? Do you find that you have to pay more for gas, electricity, health insurance, or groceries? If so, can you acknowledge that it may be a bit naive to think that we can have a 0% increase year after year? We can cut the PE, library, art and music teachers that the board majority put back (this was not a unanimous decision), but we absolutely cannot, by law, rescind administrative raises. And if we could rescind raises, wouldn’t we want to rescind all raises, and not target administrators? You have been very vocal and very antagonistic in your comments about school board issues over the past few months. I would invite you to phone me (my number is in the book) to discuss some of these issues one on one at your convenience. Of course, that may require that you actually identify yourself instead of attacking me and others under the safety of anonymity, but I promise not to attack you in return.

  5. Last fall I made the statement that while I could support the reconfiguration proposal as a member of the committee, my support as a board member would depend on the estimate of the cost to build an addition. When that number came in, I stated publicly that $15 million was too much. What I wanted to do was have a board discussion to see if we could accomplish the same goals without an addition. One possibility would have been to have two 5-8 middle schools (one in our current building and one in one of our elementary school buildings) and use the remaining space in the middle school to house the district offices. Because of the clamor from the Minetto School community, we were not allowed to have that discussion. Apparently, no one even noticed that I did not want to build an addition. Perhaps they couldn’t hear me over the outrage of homeowners who were worried that their property values would go down or teachers worried that their day would be disrupted or parents worried that their fifth graders would be corrupted by riding a bus with eighth graders (although no one seems too concerned about kindergarten students riding the bus with sixth graders). If we are ever to solve the problem of maintaining a good school system while at the same time addressing the issues of declining enrollment and a smaller tax base, we absolutely must be allowed to discuss the possibility of change. Richard, you and people like you are part of the problem. We are volunteers. The only compensation for a very time-consuming, thankless, and difficult job is that we feel we are capable of making a difference. Instead of providing us with respectful rational arguments to steer the conversation in a positive direction to find solutions, you and others like you insist on tearing us down at every opportunity. Yet I don’t see you stepping up to the plate to be part of the solution. I don’t even see you identifying yourself so that we can attach a face to the “names” of those who attack us. I understand how you feel about the 4% raises. I sincerely regret that I let Dave White talk me into that figure. I should have known that his goal was to get 4% for CSEA and then blame the rest of us for giving 4% to everyone else, ensuring that we would take every bit of the political backlash of that while he came out smelling like a rose. At this point, what is done is done. Now I just want the teachers to recognize that they, too, will need to be part of the solution by putting their heads together to make their schedules work without punishing the students in ways like by refusing to have an after-school music program (for which they already receive a stipend at the expense of the taxpayers). I want the board to stop doing things like approving a paid day off for CSEA when there is no provision for it in their contract and they were not required to make any concessions to get it. That decision was at a cost of over $50,000 to the taxpayers, but it got a certain board member more votes on May 20th. There are people on the board who work very hard to try to do what is best for the students, the staff, and the taxpayers with no personal gain to themselves or to their family and friends. There are other board members who are just in it for the power and the glory. You and those like you use forums like the Palladium Times as well as this and other websites to completely trash the former and rewards the latter. The community sent a loud and clear message on May 20th. You are not interested in preserving and improving our educational system. You simply want blood.

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