Valley Viewpoints: Difficult choices for Oswego schools

This time of year, which is a season of fresh air, new growth, and our emergence from winter hibernation has also become “budget season” for public schools.   

Financial plans for public schools are built on a delicate balance between reasonable expenditures, and revenue from state aid and taxes.  The balance produces an academic and extra-curricular program in well maintained facilities that a community can support and be proud of.

When that balance is not struck and expenditures do not match your revenue, the difficult task begins. In the nine years I have served as a superintendent of schools, I have to say this season has proven to be the most difficult.

In finding balance with the proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year, the district leaders and members of the board of education have worked diligently to craft a spending plan that is efficient yet supportive of our educational mission.

On April 23, the school board approved a spending plan of $79.9 million that is reflective of a 2 percent increase over this year’s spending plan.

Because our revenue is not balanced with our current expenditures, we had to make reductions of over $2 million. This task was difficult and we relied on close analysis of every department, building and program within the district.

In the end, we realized we are heavy on staffing for a district with declining enrollment and we had excessive costs in many areas that could be reduced.

The result is a reduction in staffing of over 27 positions and a reduction of over $500,000 in departmental expenses.

These decisions were difficult, but necessary. Our focus was to have reductions in areas that will have little or no impact to our students.

I believe that when students return in September they will have very little if any impact to their experience. Cuts and reductions were made based first and foremost on enrollment, and we used attrition to eliminate 12 of the 27 staffing reductions.

By following this guide, we were able to reduce our budget, protect our programs and craft a proposed budget that makes us a more efficient organization while still providing an academic and extra-curricular program of which the Oswego community can be proud.

Over the next several weeks, as your Superintendent of Schools, I will be presenting the budget to various groups and answering questions to inform our community of the budget proposal.

On May 20 the community will be asked to vote on this proposal.  I would be happy to speak with you or your organization as well and I welcome your feedback as we go through this process.

Thank you for your support of our students and school district and I hope you enjoy the spring season as it is intended.

Ben Halsey
Oswego City School District
Superintendent of Schools

Share this story:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>