OSWEGO, NY ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ 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.
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.