Letter: Off the rails

Dear Editor,

Our OACSD Board of Education is further off the rails than at any time in the past. 

The proposed 2023-2024 OACSD budget, despite no tax increases, sets the stage for much greater problems in years ahead. The Budget increase is much bigger than it looks or ever has been, and no BOE member asks why.

You will pay for this negligence, as you have in the past. The 2023-2024 Budget is derived from the huge funding increase from NYS funding, not need, objectives, or goals.

If there was ever a circumstance for the BOE to stuff money in reserves, THIS IS THE YEAR. The BOE is self-contradictory in this budget. 

However, the greatest threat ever to advancing students and taxpayer interests has been instituted during school years 2022 and 2023. Our BOE is endeavoring to make fundamental changes to their governance charter. Gutting it. This was accomplished unlawfully, with deliberate intent, and in violation of the existing governance charter. 

These changes specifically eliminate responsibility and accountability of the Board of Education. Further, they cut out public involvement. With these changes, public oversight will be removed. Our BOE history makes public oversight an imperative. 

At the April 3 BOE Meeting, it was called to the BOE’s attention that they were grossly negligent regarding the administration of Scholarship monies. “Grossly negligent” is a powerful assertion. 

The BOE was fully aware of this and provided the reasons for. As a matter of courtesy, the BOE was provided a heads up for the April 3 meeting so they could concur or not with this “Grossly negligent” assertion.

Further, pursuant to the legitimate, not illegal, bylaws of the BOE, the Superintendent was petitioned to place Scholarships on the meeting agenda. The BOE President vetoed this. 

When, at the meeting’s end, this subject was raised, the BOE reaction was not in the interests of students or taxpayers. The BOE ignored the premise and refuted this with fallacious argument, in spite of the fact they had previously been provided materials invalidating their anticipated fallacious argument.

Our BOE responded with smoke, mirrors, and red herrings. It’s a shame this wasn’t video recorded.

Our BOE has done nothing wrong, omitted nothing, and has no written (it does) or unwritten obligation of fiduciary duty to manage this $3,000,000 for maximum student benefit. They have wasted more than half of its value. This will not be recorded in meeting minutes.

If not the BOE, then who is responsible? No action item was taken to follow up on this. The Superintendent has been petitioned a second time, in accordance with the legal bylaws, to put this on the April 17 BOE meeting agenda.


Haig McNamee

Owego, N.Y.

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