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Board of Education Approves Budget with a Deficit of $2.6 million

An advisory committee will be put in place in upcoming months to help with financial issues.

Oswego Board of Education members voted 5-0 Monday night to approve the 2012-2013 Oswego District 308 budget containing a $2.6 million deficit.

Prior to Monday night’s meeting, the budget deficit had been reported at $3.8 million, said Paul O’Malley, assistant superintendent of business. Most of the deficit is in the budget’s education fund.

O’Malley wanted all present to be aware that the State’s reduction in funding of GSA had reduced District 308’s revenue by $4.1 million, which caused a negative impact on the budget resulting in a deficit of $ 2,634,724. “If we had that $4.1 million we would be having a different conversation tonight,” he said.

Some of the expenditure reductions in the new budget included staff realignment, outside consultants and technology, resulting in a reduction of just over $2.23 million dollars. However, some areas, like transportation, saw expenditure increases that had not originally been planned.

In terms of revenue, District 308 has had totaling just over $1 million due to E-Rate technology and grants but has lost around $220,000 due to Corporate Personal Property Tax.

Board vice-president Alison Swanson expressed concern about approving a budget with a deficit and asked what would happen if the board did not approve.

O’Malley said that by law the proposed budget must be on display for 30 days and there was not enough time in the quarter, which ends this month, to do so. If changes needed to be made, they would need to be made that evening.

“It’s hard for me to approve an unbalanced budget,” said board member Brent Lightfoot. He said he would vote to approve the budget, so long as there was a plan in place to recover the funds, which would be taken from the cash reserves. “We [need to have a] document that describes out in detail with a timeline of when we can expect updates, at least quarterly. We need to be open and public with this process.”

Superintendent Matt Wendt spoke earlier in the meeting about having different advisory committees in place, one being a financial advisory committee to help the Board from a different perspective. He also said that there would be quarterly reports.

Wendt added that if the budget had been looked at earlier, rather than in July, there might have been more ways to decrease the deficit. But he said September was not the time to be looking to reduce. Currently at least 80 percent of the budget is under contract, making it difficult in the short-term to reduce expenditures.

“This is a District 308 concern,” said O’Malley. “We need to work together, for which financial advisory committee would be a part of, and look at where we are and where we’re going to be.”

Board members Lynn Cullick, Brent Lightfoot, Laurie Pasteris, Mike Scaramuzzi, and Bill Walsh all voted yes with Alison Swanson voting present and Dave Behrens absent. 

Judi Haft September 26, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Amazing. For those of us with small businesses, having a budget with a deficit would mean banks pull our loans and we go under. Ridiculous that you can't figure this out.
David Edelman September 26, 2012 at 01:35 PM
DId Lee Hoffer approve this budget?
Rachael B. September 26, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Advisory Committee??? Not necessary! It's the job of the administration (including 2 very high-paid people) and the board to handle financial matters. Committee work just drags things out unnecessarily. Having an outside committee then gives the administration someone to blame when things go wrong. Make the hard decisions!
Logansdad September 26, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Business should have a savings in order to get through the rough times. Just because you have a deficit for a short period of time doesnt mean you will go under.
Martin September 26, 2012 at 06:49 PM
What was the amount of the budget that passed? I don't see that here, just that its $2.6m short. Would be nice to know what percentage we are short by
JimmyJ September 27, 2012 at 01:05 AM
Having served on a "committee" in the past. I can tell you that the committee will start with a premise based on the outcome the Administration wants, it will be given information to support that position and it will be steered in that direction by the "facilitator" which will be an administration member. Any attempt to use outside sources or information will not be impossible but it will be met with resistance. Yo are correct the real value in forming "committees" particularly ones whose members are regular citizens of the community allows the administration to variously blame the committee and point to it as the excuse as in " oh well this is what the citizens wanted" and if there is success...the committee probably won't get the nod.
Jane Enviere September 27, 2012 at 02:12 AM
An advisory committee would be useful if JimmyJ were not so on the money with his comment. When it comes to school district business, any school district, this type of thing serves one major purpose and that's to pacify the public and make them feel as though they have a voice. In the end, the administration already knows what it wants and they generally know the people to choose to ensure that they get it. Again, that's anywhere, not a comment solely on D308.

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