AUBURN | Auburn Enlarged City School District board members adopted a final budget proposal Wednesday and will send a budget of about $68.6 million to voters in May.
The proposal is an overall spending increase of 4.7 percent from last year's budget, though business manager Lisa Green explained that a large portion of that is strictly due to an increase in state-mandated pension plan that the district has no control over.
Since being reclassified as a high-needs district and receiving an additional $2 million in state aid last month, the district has focused on allocating as much money as possible toward restoring programs and positions that have been lost in recent years due to budget restrictions. As a result, the 2013-14 budget proposal includes the addition of a full-time elementary music teacher, a full-time technology teacher at the high school and the increase of an elementary art teacher from part-time to full-time.
Superintendent Constance Evelyn said earlier this week that these improvements are just the first step in the restoration process and said that being able to provide a competitive education for children in Auburn comes at a cost. On Wednesday, she reiterated that, saying that there is more work to be done.
"This is just the beginning," said Evelyn. "This money is being used to support ongoing restorations."
The budget also includes a tax levy increase of 2.5 percent, against a maximum allowable amount of 4.2 percent under the tax cap. If approved, that increase would give the district just under $700,000 in additional revenue in 2013-14.
"It's an increase, but its the lowest increase we've had in a few years," Green said. "We're headed in the right direction and hopefully that trend will continue."
If the budget is approved by voters, a number of modified sports teams would also be restored, letting students in grades seven through nine participate in competitive sports rather than being overshadowed by older students on high school teams.
Board vice president Jason Lesch said the administrators worked hard to satisfy many of the district's needs and hopes this is the start of a better time.
"I really think it's a solid financial budget," he said. "Hopefully we've turned a corner."
A public hearing on the budget will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 14, in the Auburn High School library. The community will vote on it on May 21.