OSWEGO — Oswego City School District employees working at schools engaging in distanced instruction could face a temporary furlough, according to a resolution submitted by the district’s Board of Education Friday.

City schools Superintendent Dr. Mathis Calvin III announced a resolution Friday during a special board meeting that would deem workers engaged in labor at a closed school building as surplus due to a change in demand linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. The district will determine which employees will be furloughed based upon the assessment of Oswego schools’ operational needs, according to the resolution unanimously approved by the board. The measure will take effect starting Jan. 11.

According to board records, the district defines a furlough as “a temporary period of time during which an employee is neither expected nor permitted to perform his or her assigned duties.” Furloughed workers do not report to work or participate in work-related activities, according to the resolution.

Further, employees will be given a 24-hour notice via email, mailing address or personal phone information provided to the district. The resolution also indicates employees can use their personal paid vacation time as part of the furlough to receive compensation. Any use of the vacation period should be notified within 48-hours of the start of the furlough period, the resolution adds.

Employees will also be expected to return to their regular work schedules within 24-hours notice of the termination of the furlough period, according to the resolution. Expected benefits accrued over the furlough period will continue as if the employee was still scheduled to work, the resolution notes, adding that the employee is also expected to pay their health care and dental premiums during the furlough period.

Calvin noted the district faces a “difficult task,” that its staffing levels are commensurate with OCSD’s operational needs, while “respecting the dedication and commitment of the outstanding staff” throughout the district.

“Given this reality and the fact that the district is legally obligated under the New York State Constitution to refrain from gifting public funds for any purpose, the district is now planning to implement furloughs wherever needed as we move forward throughout the remainder of this school year,” the superintendent said in a press release.

The superintendent also noted the district is currently in the process of finalizing an agreement on the terms of any furlough with the district’s collective bargaining unit, the Civil Service Employees Association Local 1000 chapter.

“This was not an easy decision and we want to make sure those impacted have accurate, reliable information as we move forward,” he said. “We will be in touch with updates as they become available and will do everything we can to support our staff during this time.”

CSEA Local 1000 leaders say they remain optimistic about potential federal aid that could help prevent further job losses.

“CSEA and the Oswego City School District have entered into talks about a furlough agreement. We have notified the district that any agreement we come to will have to be voted on by our impacted members,” union representatives told The Palladium-Times in a statement issued Friday. “Everyone is working in good faith to help prevent layoffs and ensure that our dedicated public service employees maintain their negotiated health benefits in the midst of this ongoing global pandemic. It is our hope that we will soon see federal aid to help offset New York State's budget gap to prevent further furloughs or cuts.

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