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Local News

OSD 308 Board to vote on additional cuts, fee hikes - if referendum fails

The Oswego School District 308 Board of Education will hold a special meeting Thursday, March 21, to vote on additional cuts and fee increases that would go into effect if voters reject the April 2 operating fund referendum.

The referendum, placed on the ballot by the board to offset a projected multimillion-dollar deficit, would increase the tax levy rate for the district’s operating fund by 30 cents for every $100 of equalized assessed valuation and generate an additional $5.6 million to $5.7 million in new revenue for the district.

District officials have estimated 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.

“I know this is not easy for anybody,” Board of Education President Brad Banks said to his fellow board members during a meeting Monday evening.

Banks said the board’s approval of further cuts and fee increases would be contingent on the passage or failure of the referendum.

“We know where we stand as a board if the referendum does pass, we’ll be in good standing ... for now we need to create that second course of action if it doesn’t pass,” Banks said.

Cuts and increases approved at Thursday’s meeting will help the district to reach its goal of $1.3 million in additional savings to carry it through the remainder of the current fiscal year.

Up for consideration are an increase of full-day kindergarten fees from $300 a year to $550 a year, elimination of literacy specialist release time, reduction of non-grant funded Teacher on Special Assignment positions and replacing one seven-hour a day general education elementary teaching assistant with a three-hour a day lunch-recess supervisor at each elementary school.

Some board members questioned why a vote on the presented list was not held Monday.

“I thought we were voting on something today. I thought we knew we needed to get to $3.5, and that was going to be our next step tonight,” board member Heather Moyer said.

Moyer raised concerns over the timeline, adding, “We want to have a clear direction, if it does pass, or if it doesn’t pass; and if it doesn’t pass, I think to have a clear direction we should be making some of those decisions tonight.

“How do people know what is at stake here, and what they can give up? The community doesn’t have all of the information going into April 2, if we’re not really clear on what the options are,” she said.

As Moyer noted, the board also has approved about $1.6 million in rollbacks to budget cuts and fee increases that would go into effect if voters pass the referendum April 2.

The special meeting of the board will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21, in the Community Room of Oswego East High School.

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