The Oswego School District 308 teacher union has issued a statement in support of the district's April 2 operating fund referendum.
Posted on the "Vote Yes to Invest in 308" Facebook page on Tuesday, March 12, the statement reads, "The Oswego Education Association supports the referendum for schools as the foundation for success comes from a solid educational school system. Continued cuts to educational opportunities for our students will significantly impact our school communities. Vote yes to invest in our students' futures!"
The OEA represents 1,368 certified teachers in the school district.
The district is seeking passage of the referendum to offset a deficit budget and prevent the need for further budget, program and personnel cuts. If voters approve, district officials estimate the referendum will cost the owner of a home valued at $200,000 an additional $182 annually, while the owner of a home valued at $250,000 would pay an extra $232. The tax bill for a $300,000 home would increase by $282.
The board has approved more than $14.4 million in program and personnel cuts and fee hikes since 2016. However, if voters approve the referendum, the board has voted to restore several of the program cuts.
Elizabeth Palatine, co-president of the OEA, said the decision to support the referendum was made by the union's representative assembly, comprised of members from all of the district's 24 schools.
Palatine described the vote as "nearly unanimous."
She added, "The RA voted in favor of supporting the referendum in order to bring stability to the classroom, opportunities for students, and programs offered in our schools. The OEA will support the district by encouraging voter turnout and communication of referendum materials to our members."
Palatine said, "The continued uncertainty and reduction of services provided to our students is a continued concern. The district has made cuts in recent years with an attempt to minimize the impact on the classroom. If the district continues to implement reductions, students will be directly impacted."
The OSD 308 Board of Education will meet Monday, March 18, at 7:15 p.m. in the Oswego East High School Community Room.