Board of Education Meeting Discusses Transportation and Tentative 2013 Budget
The Fiscal Year 2013 budget has a $5.5 million deficit.
On Monday evening the Oswego 308 School Board met to discuss several items of interest for both the approaching school year and the FY2013 budget.
Resolution for Intergovernmental Agreement for Transportation
Earlier the Aurora West School District 129 and East Aurora School District 131 discussed transportation bids for special education students who attend programs outside of their districts. The winning bidder was Durham School Services, L.P.
Paul O’Malley, assistant superintendent of business, wanted to approve and authorize the execution of the Intergovernmental Agreement, which would allow Oswego students to use the transportation alongside Aurora students.
Board member Dave Behrens clairified that, for the moment, the transporation would be for students living a long distance away from the schools, which O’Malley said was accurate.
Thirty-three Oswego students, from elementary to high school, would benefit from the service, said O’Malley.
“We used to pay the full amount regardless of how many students we had on the bus,” said O’Malley. “This would reduce our cost.”
The board voted to try it for one year, and if the results are favorable, extend the service to special education and other opportunities. The motion to approve the resolution passed 7 – 0.
Tentative FY2013 Budget
In accordance with a state code, a tentative budget must be made publically available at the present time, said O’Malley.
He said that the board is able to make modifications while it is posted on display for 30 days at the Oswego Public Library and the District Administration Center.
In creating the budget, O’Malley said some of the assumptions used were:
- Blended Consumer Price Index (CPI) of 2.25 percent
- Student enrollment at 17,561
- General State Aid (GSA) funding reduced from 94 percent to 89 percent of per pupil amount for FY2011. Resulting in a cash reduction of $4.1 million
- State categorical grant payments will remain the same as previous years due to various unforeseen cuts by the state
“We are finding more and more the state is reducing,” said O’Malley. “The trajectory is clear. It’s not going up, it’s going down. State categorical aid is decreasing, general state aid is decreasing and the state is shifting more responsibilities on to the schools.”
The current budget has a $5.5 million reduction in the education fund.
Board member Mike Scaramuzzi said he would never approve a budget with a $5.5 million deficit.
Board secretary Laurie Pasteris said the school should be looking at the deficit like it was $7.5 million because the cuts would continue. Board president Bill Walsh agreed and said the board couldn’t look at this as just a one-year problem because doing so might set them up for failure later on.
Lee Hoefer of Oswego spoke earlier to the board at public forum and said he had never seen such a deficit in the 31 years he has lived in Oswego.
“Looking at this $5.5 million I think you need to go back and take another look," he said. "Because I don’t think the public is going to stand for another large tax increase.”
Oswego 308 Superintendent Matthew Wendt said he understood that today’s kids did not choose to be educated in a bad economy and he understands the home foreclosures and job losses.
“But we’ve been dealt a hand of cards,” he said. “We didn’t’ create this on our own and we will not solve it on our own. We need to think about long term solutions. We need to think about school in a different manner, and that will acquire a lot of assistance.”
The tentative budget Wendt said is not the one the board will be presenting at the public hearing.
“Reality looks different in a few weeks,” he said.
The official budget will be presented at a public hearing at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at Oswego East High School.
Student Transportation, Safe Routes to School
Wendt said that last year the board had been presented with information on busing due to the transportation cuts for alternate options, but that some of needed information is not yet completed.
“Intersections that needed to be addressed that have not been completed, studies that needed to be done — hazard, determination if speed limit should be decresad on certain roads — have not come to fruition,” said Wendt. “Due to those lack of decisions, in the best interest of safety for kids and neighborhoods we need to reexamine our information.”
Wendt has been walking neighborhoods with several parents to look at the previously proposed routes to see if changes need to be made before school starts on Aug. 22.
“We are not going to place kids in a situation that is simply unsafe. If there is any question, we are going to err on the side of safety,” said Wendt. He added that if that measure required the school to provide transport for a period or even a year, then that is what would be done.
Board president Walsh said that these decisions were being “based on hazard, true need. Not because the transportation has been removed and neighborhood wants it back.”
The board hopes to have a more concrete plan for the routes by Labor Day weekend.