AUBURN — Superintendent Cornelia Brown presented a proposed $54.4 million budget to the Auburn School Board on Wednesday, a 12.6% increase over current spending.
The proposed hike is largely related to the construction of the new Edward Little High School.
Of the $6.6 million increase, $4.2 million would be used to pay loans for the school of $104.7 million. Voters approved the $122 million project, the majority of which the state is paying for, in 2019. The school is expected to open in 2023.
The proposed spending plan would raise taxes by 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $87 on property valued at $150,000.
Auburn Middle School principal Bob Griffin has proposed eliminating the vacant social and emotional learning facilitator position and adding a band and instrumental music teacher.
The band teacher works in the middle school and in five elementary schools. A second teacher would allow the district to distribute responsibilities and create additional musical opportunities for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, according to Griffin.
The middle school group has 20 students, which Griffin says is expected to increase with additional music lessons.
“It would really work to build a much more robust and wonderful (music) curriculum for high school,” Griffin said. “I believe the addition of this position would benefit the entire district.”
He said staff members, including two counsellors, a social worker and an academic interventionist, would be able to take on the responsibilities of the social and emotional interventionist position, which was recently added.
“I think that’s incredibly important, and I’m looking particularly at college,” Griffin said. “I think we’re doing a very good thing with the way we’re doing it.”
He also offered to take over the city college’s recreational football program.
“It could be done for relatively little cost,” Griffin said. “I think it would give more Auburn students the opportunity to participate in football, and that’s for both our boys and our girls.”
Students on school teams don’t have to pay a fee to participate in school sports, while Auburn’s recreation department charges a fee to participate, he said.
Griffin asked for money to pay a councilor’s stipend to start an LGBTQ covenant organization and buy pottery wheels for the art department.
At the high school, principal Scott Annear requested additional funding for athletic transportation, officials’ fees, staff development, and moving equipment from the old high school to the new building.
Eighty percent of the total budget is personnel costs, including salaries, health insurance and benefits, Brown said.
In other areas, the school board voted unanimously to reduce – from $500,000 to $400,000 – the fee for the naming rights for the new auditorium at Edward Little High School.
“The only group that offered us such a large amount can bring in $400,000,” Ward 2 representative Pamela Hart said. “That’s why I’m asking the school committee to lower the amount, so that we can offer it to them.”
The naming fee was originally $1 million, then reduced to $500,000.
The group offering $400,000 has already donated $100,000 to fund scholarships, according to Hart.
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