Higher taxes are only a part of the problem

Dear Editor,

The purpose of four years of Letters to the Editor that are critical of our Owego Apalachin Central School District has been to arouse public attention in an effort to stop the waste, fraud, and abuse of Superintendent Russell and some tenured members of the BOE. It is waste, fraud, and abuse and fully documented!

In 2011 the Superintendent and BOE were advised that their finances were unsustainable. This public domain information was or should have been known and understood by the Superintendent. He should have provided the BOE in sound guidance, management information and foresight. We got gross negligence and an unsupervised Superintendent.

On March 11, 2008, Superintendent Russell instituted (signed) a slickly worded healthcare giveaway program into the OAEA union contract. He takes no responsibility!

NYS ED data shows that in School Year 2006 there were 181 OACSD teachers, after the 2014 budget meeting it is 160 or less, this is a reduction of 13 percent and does not include teachers’ aides and assistants.

OACSD teachers’ salaries went from a rank of 17th to 1st since 2006. Ithaca City School District reduced its teachers by 3 percent for the same period and went from 5th to 39th in salary ranking for the same period. More than any other District in the Southern Tier, we have gone to more for less than any other.

Before the School Year 2014-15 Budget was in place your BOE passed out more salary increases in secret session to the already most highly compensated (salaries, pensions and benefits) school employees in the Southern Tier.  The Budget story line was a “structural deficit.” No, this is only a deficit of accountability, responsibility, and due diligence.

It took eight years of Superintendent Russell and BOE fiduciary absence to get here. This year District management was provided documentation of OACSD’s highest teacher salaries, pensions, and the 2008 healthcare giveaway program. They still refuse to acknowledge it and answer questions about it to this day.

When abysmal Common Core tests results were revealed, Mr. Crosby said something to the effect that it will be a long time before we graduate adequately educated students. The only action taken has been to very substantially reduce teaching staff now and for the foreseeable future.

Students are not a concern but union compensation is, however, it may deny a better life for our children. However, you evaluate the numbers; it is continual damage to those who are to be served by the District.

If parents do not get involved in District business, they will negotiate new Collective Bargaining Agreements with the unions in the few months ahead, passing out increased wages and benefits without any thought of their negative effect on our children. This trail can be documented back to 1997. Any new contracts must be reviewed by the public, prior to signing, if we are to protect our children.

Realtors already steer young families away from OACSD to the better Districts. Fewer teachers and unnecessarily higher property taxes only make it worse.


Haig McNamee

Owego, N.Y.

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