A group of Oswego School District 308 parents, clad in green, showed their support for a possible third referendum, during the Oswego School District 308 Board of Education meeting Monday, Oct. 7.
The board heard a presentation on the benefits of a possible operating fund referendum during the meeting, as part of the five-year financial projections, part of the annual budgetary process.
The proposal made at Monday's meeting was the same brought to voters on the April 2019 ballot; seeking voter approval of a 30 cent increase in the district's operating fund, that would go into effect in the 2021 tax collection year.
According to information previously provided by the district, the referendum would 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 annual property tax bill for a $300,000 home would increase by $282.
If the board chooses to bring back the referendum on the March 17, 2020 ballot, several provisions would be attached including: A gradual reduction in the value of tax anticipation warrants issued by the district, and a roll back of the budget cuts and fee increases approved by the board at its Feb. 25, 2019 meeting.
This could include cutting the cost of high school athletics back to $150 per student per sport, bringing back the gifted education model for third grade students, restoring summer school transportation, and bringing back junior high athletics.
That's why parents including Tina Daskocil and Debbie Zahorak went to Monday's meeting; to urge the board to bring back the referendum, in support of junior high athletics.
Daskocil told the board about her younger daughter, who had watched her older sister play basketball for years and always wanted to do it.
"When we found out that she maybe couldn't, it was just very sad in our house," she said. "Because junior high is a time when they are learning their identity and what they like and what they don't like.
"They're not going to join one of the traveling teams if they don't even know if they like it. This is their chance to try out things before the world gets even heavier in high school."
Zahorak, a fellow junior high parent, also encouraged the board to bring back the referendum in support of junior high athletics.
She told the board about the positive impact that cross country and track have had on her son.
"I cringe at the thought of having to tell him he won't get the chance to join either sport next year, because the board didn't even give it (the referendum) a chance to be on the ballot again," Zahorak said.
"The benefits of participating in in-school sports are truly immeasurable, and we don't want our children to miss out on what they have to offer," she said. "I think almost every parent of a junior high athlete would agree with me on that."
As a result of the failure of the operating referendum on the April 2019 ballot, the board voted to switch junior high athletics to an intramural format, saving the district a projected $350,000.
However, the programs were brought back for the 2019-2020 school year, following the adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding between the board and the Oswego Education Association.
The Board of Education will next meet at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 21, in the Community Room of Oswego East High School.