Now we need the ‘rest of the story’

Dear Editor,

At the March 26 meeting of the Owego Apalachin School District, Dr. Russell presented his 2015–16 Budget. He asked YOUR board to approve a $43,705,160 dollar spending plan. That’s $1,313,225 over this year.

This 3.1 percent increase will require a 3.95 percent increase in YOUR Tax Levy, $626,447 dollars in additional taxes from YOU!

Dr. Russell told YOUR Board that his budget would stop the erosion of programs and services to the students. Dr. Russell pointed out that the 7-year average tax levy increase will be held at 1.36 percent per year. Dr. Russell also focused on the number of “positions” and “programs” cut over the past six years. All of Dr. Russell’s statements seemed accurate and factual.

What was missing from Dr. Russell’s presentation was, as Paul Harvey liked to say, “The Rest of the Story.” From memory, I’ll attempt to fill in for Paul Harvey and the “The Rest of the Story”.

Dr. Russell did not say:

1) While the Tax Levies were being held to an average 1 percent, your school tax bill increased 30 percent since 2004 (i.e. your $1,000.00 tax bill in 2006 is now $1,300.00 this year). Don’t take my word for it, go look! Did your family income increase 30 percent?

2) Dr. Russell identified 26.5 teaching positions which were cut in the past six years. What he did not cover were the new teachers hired during that same time. I recall being at Board meetings where votes were taken to approve hiring an English teacher and two elementary teachers. How many others? I can’t recall, perhaps Dr. R will fill us in.

3) Dr. Russell continued with a long list of cuts in “Electives Courses” such as

“Women in History” and “Marine Biology”, etc. What was absent was the addition of an AP (Advanced Placement) History Course, is one I recall.

4) Next came the six year cuts in “Extracurricular Activities” which cut out “field

trips,” coaches, and athletic programs. What Dr. Russell missed here was the new, highly successful, well received, Indoor Track program with its’ paid coaches and trips. And also there was the new three year contract for an “Athletic Trainer” (may not be the correct title), to make out and track “concussion” reports and interface with physicians. “SO MUCH FOR “NO MORE FIELD TRIPS”; immediately following the meeting in the presentation called “District as a Whole” it was announced that a group of students would be making a “trip to Lockheed.“ I suspect this is not a field trip but an “Educational Excursion.”

So what’s the point? I am asking that the Board and Dr. Russell give YOU, the taxpayers of OACSD, the “Rest of the Story” BEFORE approving the budget on April 23. If that does not happen, IF YOU are not given a true accurate “State of the District” without “spin” and with details of what support, staff and services, YOUR $16,483,989 tax dollars (an increase of $626,447 dollars) will add, then on May 19 the date for the next OACSD Budget Vote – YOU best VOTE  NO!

I will continue to attend board meetings, acting as your Paul Harvey and trying to bring you “The Rest of the Story” – BUT ONLY YOU CAN VOTE!


Joe Chartrand

Tioga Citizens for Affordable Education and Excellence

Owego, N.Y.