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OSD 308 residents to Board: Don't look to taxpayers for more money

Don't look to Oswego School District 308 taxpayers for more money.

That was the message two long-time school district residents had for the Board of Education during a meeting June 17 at Oswego East High School.

"I've been a resident here since 1966, and I just keep seeing the taxes going up, and I know that a $200, $250 tax increase doesn't seem like much, but it just keeps going up," Gary Eagleton an Oswego resident said. "I would just beg you guys to somehow keep the real estate taxes as they are. I can't keep affording to pay a higher tax."

Eagleton acknowledged the Board has made budget cuts in recent years.

"But yet, I don't see any cuts for the administrators and I think Oswego is and has always been administrative top-heavy, and I wish that you guys would reconsider all of the assistants and the assistants to the assistants that are there," he said.

"I know that it takes many to run the system, but are you trying to keep Oswego and Kendall County at the top of the taxpaying districts in the state of Illinois?...Can't you cut something more so that we don't have to raise the taxes?"

Leland Hoffer, a former school board member, also encouraged the Board to seek alternative sources for funding.

"I know School District 308 did make a $1.3 million budget cut and I see that there are parents wanting a referendum, but I don't think the answer is more money, it's better spending and cuts in non-education," Hoffer said.

"There are other areas, too, that can be cut," he said, acknowledging cuts that had been made to the district's extracurricular programs.

"I think we need to take a look at how much is being spent for administration in this school district," Hoffer said.

"I do know that we are probably not at the top for Illinois (administrative spending), but I'll bet we're over the middle within the state and it's not due specifically to real high salaries of some of the administrators, but there are some that I think are high, and I do think that we have too many administrators," he said.

Hoffer pointed out several action items on the Board's June 17 agenda, including the early redemption of $25 million in Tax Anticipation Warrants, saying, "There needs to be some changes in your financing, and some cuts in non-education areas, and I really think that administration should be one of the areas."

Since the district began making budget cuts and fee increases in 2016, several cuts and changes have been made to district administrative staff, including: a two-year administrative salary freeze, district department budget reductions, and the elimination of several district administrative and administrative support positions.

When building and district administrative contracts were approved at the June 17 meeting, the vacation buy-back program was eliminated for all administrators, and the in-district travel allowance was eliminated for all school building administrators. While the contracts did include a 1% raise for administrators, district leaders projected $170,000 in savings through cuts in areas including the vacation buy-back program.

The Board of Education will next meet at 7:30 p.m., Monday, July 15, in the Community Room of Oswego East High School.

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