Like so many school districts across central New York, the City of Oswego is forced to make some tough calls concerning staffing in order to make its $79.9 million budget for the 2014-15 school year.
In an effort to reduce spending by almost $2 million, the school board has elected to cut 27 teaching and administrative positions. The district says that declining enrollment and increasing costs have left it with little choice.
Many parents, however, are calling foul at the way those staff cuts have been made. The bulk of those jobs on the chopping block will spell the end of The BUC Junior/Senior High School, Oswegoâ??s only alternative school.
â??We have different kids with different specialized needs and the regular schools have failed them before,â?? said Teresa Lazarek, whose 7th grade son attends The BUC School. â??Theyâ??re fallen through the cracks before and theyâ??ll probably fall through the cracks again if they integrate back into the main buildings.â??
For two years The BUC school has provided a specialized learning environment. Students are encouraged to study topics that interest them and complete related internships and community service as part of their individualized curriculum. Many students at The BUC School view the small class sizes and community feel as a far more welcoming environment than traditional schools, where some say they have been bullied.
Though the school has never had a permanent structure (classes are currently held in the basement of the district school offices) BUC parents say they were told last summer that the district was looking into purchasing a permanent building to house the alternative school. But just two weeks ago parents were informed that The BUC Junior/Senior High School would instead be closing entirely at the end of this school year. Students currently enrolled will have to integrate back into Oswego High School and Oswego Middle School.
School administrators have yet to personally notify BUC school parents, and many of those parents say they feel both blindsided and betrayed by the move.
â??Iâ??m really starting to think that this is more than just money. Itâ??s pathetic that dollar signs are starting to outweigh children,â?? said Gina Horn, mother of a student at The BUC Junior High School. â??Weâ??re just going to cut these 62 kids and throw them back into a system thatâ??s already failed them.â??
Oswego city residents will have a chance to vote on the budget on May 20th.